Data journalism: more than numbers and charts

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Data journalism: more than numbers and charts

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I have been a Visiting Tutor at Birmingham City University on and off for more than a year, but today I experienced that mythical “sense of satisfaction” that teachers talk about.

I held a short data visualization workshop for some 2nd year Online Journalism students today  – who were incredibly hungry for the information. For the past few weeks they had been gathering spreadsheets and reports and were now desperate for interesting ways to show this. Some were also concerned that they didn’t have any data as such, just lots of information

 

  • data is not just numbers – it is information, lists, reports, structures, things you’ve found out  – anything that could be displayed visually
  • expand the data – add new information – i.e. bring value to a list of companies by adding company type, location, size etc.
  • shrink the data – a list of spending at every university could be rehashed into a smaller dataset of spending in the West Midlands – compare across region.
  • compare the data – download the same dataset for previous years, so you can compare over time.
  • confused.com? – untangle a complex situation with an organisational chart – help the reader understand who does what.
  • processes – have you found out how something gets done? Then, why not create a flow chart showing the process – ie the flow of money, responsibility, communication
  •  missing information? – start a partial organisational chart – flag up where data is unavailable due to corporate privacy protection – ask why
  • tell the backstory – create a timeline showing key events. Helps the reader understand the context of the story
  • compare lists side by side  – a list of UK universities by League table position, next to a list of UK universities by satisfaction rating  – draw lines between the same establishment in each list, and you show any general patterns, are satisfying universities generally the best performing?
  • Word Clouds – not to be used for academic/journalistic analysis but definitely interesting as a bit of illustration/front cover.

 


About Author

Caroline Beavon

A communication professional with 12 years journalism experience and a genuine passion for new technologies. An experienced blogger and social media user

1 Comment

5 ways to gather data

June 21, 2012at 8:57 pm

[…] Want more? – DATA JOURNALISM: MORE THAN NUMBERS AND CHARTS […]

"Caroline took a complicated set of facts, figures and processes and turned them into something that now only gave them clarity but also brought them to life visually. She was a pleasure to work with through, suggesting ideas and ways we could use and display information more creatively. Very much looking forward to working with her again." Jenni Fryer, Communications Manager, University of the First Age