Remembering David Donald
It is with great sadness that we are writing to tell you of the death, from cancer, of our dear friend and colleague, investigative journalist and data trainer David Donald.
David was diagnosed early this year, but appeared to be responding well to treatment - even discussing teaching at next year's Summer Conference - so his death comes as a shock.
For many years, David was one of the stars of the #CIJSummer Conference and was pivotal in bringing data journalism, or CAR, as it was then known, to the UK. Along with the CIJ's then director, Gavin MacFadyen, he kept the faith through the early days of data before its potential was realised.
His dedication and perseverance paid off when newsrooms across the UK suddenly woke up to the value of David's skills and the stories they could uncover, and he found himself more frequently called over to the UK to teach on CIJ courses.
David's five-day bootcamps and workshops at the Summer Conference became a fixture on the CIJ calendar and many data journalists working in UK newsrooms today owe their skills to his teaching.
What was particularly special about David was his desire to share his experience, encouraging others to follow in his footsteps as trainers and he was always happy to offer advice and support. Most of the CIJ data trainers teaching today are proud to call themselves secondhand Davids!
Marina Calland, the Summer Conference organiser remembers David
We used to joke in the office that everyone should ‘Be more like David’. Clearly, one of the world’s leading experts on data journalism, or Computer Assisted Reporting (CAR), David never showed any signs of celebrity ego. He was kind, considerate and always willing to help.
David was instrumental in the success of the Summer Conference. It is because of him and his fellow journalist Aron Pilhofer, who started teaching CAR for the CIJ over a decade ago, that it became the trademark of this annual event. And for that we at the CIJ and everyone in the UK media should be grateful, for data journalism transformed the media in this country and internationally.
Most of our current trainers were trained by David first. He was so inspirational, that everyone who took his courses caught the data bug, including two staff members - Juliet Ferguson and Minal Da Gama Rose.
It was only due to his illness that he didn’t teach at theSummer Conference this year, but the CIJ data team pulled together to create three excellent data strands that would have made David proud.
We will miss him an awful lot. In fact, it hasn’t yet sunk in. He was a great teacher, journalist and friend.
His wife Joyce, in the email to his friends and colleagues said: “In humour I have been telling my family... now David is in heaven teaching!”
We can quite believe that!