Tag Archives: data journalism

27 Apr

Current Projects – mystery clients, Olympics, forums and rockin’ maps!

After a relatively quiet period, recently I’ve had a flurry of work  and opportunities – and some very interesting ones at that. Excuse the lack of client names, but many of these are active projects.

If you are interested in hiring me – you can find me on Twitter (@carolinebeavon) or email carolinebeavon at gmail.com

Thanks

PROJECTS

Infographic > Local Authority Olympics

I was recently asked to create an infographic of information about the Olympic Torch relay, for a local authority.

This was an unusual project for me as it involved text instead of numbers. Instead of creating charts and diagrams, the project involved illustrating blocks of text and using colour and glyphs to support the issues.

Whilst this infographic was concerning the Olympic Torch Relay, the client was not an official partner of the event. Hence, there are a host of restrictions on use of logo, branding, symbols and colours.

You can read the official guidelines here – and I was genuinely surprised at the extend to which these restrictions extend. For example – the Olympic rings, even if used in silhouette, are restricted, as are the Olympic colours used together in a design.

Working with the client, and based on a website they had already drawn up for the coverage, we opted for simple red, white and blue theme and avoided ALL Olympic shapes or suggestions.

Multiple data graphics  > Communicate Magazine

Communicate Magazine is a monthly B2B (business to business) magazine within the Stakeholder Relations field. As their in-house Data Visualization Specialist I work with research data and create 3/4/5 quarter page graphics to support articles in the magazine.

You can view past work for Communicate here

The task at hand here is not wrangling a huge dataset. In fact, it is often a small set of numbers and the challenge comes in making a few results look appealing and interesting.

The focus here is definitely on design, that works at a small quarter-page scale.

Over recent issues I have used the official brand colours (shades of red) but I was delighted when the client asked for a change – using blues and greens instead.

Infographics > Mystery Client

I have also had the privilege of being contacted by a well known international tech brand (my lips are sealed) who asked me to create a few simple infographics for use in a ideas pitch to a 3rd party.

My contact was based on the West Coast of America, so the time difference has led to a few phone calls at 11pm at night – no problem for me!

Fingers crossed it comes off as it would be a fascinating project to work on.

Infographic > Kerrang! Radio

As a very quick favour to my old friends at Kerrang! Radio, I was recently glad to help out with a map visualization of listener postcodes.

I initially gave some advice to the in-house designer/web dude on tools that would be able to create intensity circles on a map (using Fusion Tables etc) but in the end I stepped in and assisted by using Tableau.

Social Media Strategy > Wolves Civic

I have worked with Wolves Civic (a set of 3 music venues in Wolverhampton) for some time  – formerly looking after their social media content, and now as a consultant.

They are a very innovative team and are keen to embrace the new developments in social media.

I have been working with the Marketing Team on a shake-up of how they deal with their Facebook and Twitter accounts – it’s something pretty innovative and I will be watching with interest.

EVENTS

Thanks to my former tutor, now work colleague Paul Bradshaw, I have been receiving some very interesting offers to get involved with media conferences, workshops and forums.

AOP Data Journalism Forum – 16 May 2012

I will be featuring on an expert panel at the AOP Data Journalism Forum. I am awaiting more information so will update you when I know more!

The Specialist Media Show – 24th May 2012

I will he holding a workshop on Data Journalism for Publishers at the Specialist Media Show on 24th May 2012

Data is the new buzz word. As public bodies bow under increasing pressure to be transparent and open, so companies are coming under the same pressures. The new breed of savvy consumer is not content with the story that YOU give them. They want the background, they want to interrogate, play, sort, visualize and they want to share across their social networks. It is up to publishers to be more open with their research, and present it in an accessible, interesting and honest way. From simple downloads, to high-end interactive pieces, there are a host of opportunities for publishers to get involved in this data revolution.

(extended blog post on this workshop here)

28 Feb

Data journalism: more than numbers and charts

 

 

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.

 

28 Feb

The Age You’re Most Likely to Win a Brit Award

Checking the latest data from the Brit Awards (courtesy of the Guardian Data Blog) is seems 24 is the age a musician is most likely to win a Brit Award

Age of Brit Award Winners (2005-2012)

Since 2005 12 awards have gone to pop stars at this age including Amy Winehouse, Kate Nash and Ellie Goulding. Similarly, Mumford and Sons, Florence and the Machine and JLS all tapped in at this age when they picked up their awards.

Could it be down to our education system, 3 years at uni, where they perhaps form a band, and 3 years focusing on it when they leave? Is it the power of the Brit School (London’s very own pop factory – which has produced Brit Award winners Adele, Amy Winehouse, Jessie J, Ed Sheeran and more) putting its alumni on a sure fire Brit success route within 2/3 years of them leaving? (see Brit School chart below)

Or could it simply be a co-incidence?

Other Charts

It is also interesting to see the spread of ages, over the last few years. It’s no great surprise to see the 20’s (olive green) is the dominant age group, but it is interesting to see the gradual shift to younger artists (although 2012 bucks this trend slightly).

Age of Brit Award Winners over time

This chart also shows an increase in age coverage as a whole, as the bulk of the chart takes a triangular shape, with younger and older artists being represented. (the average age of the charts, however, remains the same.

How about by category? Well, again – no great surprises – although it is interesting to see the change in categories over the years (a removal of genre specific awards, for example)

Issues with the Data

As I worked out their age from the year they were born, as opposed to the exact date, their exact age at the time of the award is a guess. Hence there is a very real chance that the actual date is a bit wonky. However, I had problems finding the YEARS of some peoples birth, finding their exact birthday would be a bigger job for another time.

What I would like to do now is explore more interested elements – perhaps carry out a an age study of the album charts (using the data from my MA Project) and see if there is a similar pattern.

The Brit School

Known Brit School alumni marked in orange

27 Feb

Actors Working in Teams [infographic]

Sometimes I’ll start a data project, and duing the process one of several things may happen:

  • I lose interest
  • something more important comes along
  • I realized it’s just not “working”

The latter happened as I was working on a piece for the latest Information is Beautiful challenge – which involved chomping through a large and very interesting data set regarding Hollywood movies.

These challenges encourage you to use a data set provided by the website to create either a visualization, napkin drawing ( sketch) or an interactive piece.

After several hours of looking through the data, looking for interesting angles, and hunting for more data I could add to the set (via Google Refine) I settled on looking at the connections between the actors involved in the top films.

Ask anyone who’s watched a film with me and they’ll tell you that I have a VERY annoying habit of opening Wikipedia to find out where I’ve seen a particular actor before. It’s annoying in everyday life, but for this – it was a dream.

I was also intrigued by the success of the films starring Seth Rogen / Jonah Hill et al, and the idea of teams working together – and how prevalent this was across other areas of Hollywood.

(see below for more details and why I eventually shelved it)

 

 

 

What it Means

Yes, it’s a bit of a headache isn’t it? The original dataset with featured the films coming out of the major studios, over a certain time period.

I added actor information to the cataset from Freebase (within Google Refine) and worked out which ones had appeared in the most films over the time period. I then cross referenced the films and created the above chart.

I had originally intended to give each film a different colour but this became unworkable – so I limited the colours to the films featuring 3 or more actors on the chart. The rest I coloured in grey.

Why It Didnt Work

For one, it was too damn complicated – no chart should take 3 paragraphs to explain. Kinda defeats the point, right?

Secondly, the choice of resulting entries was nonsense.

  • Original Data (limited to major studios)
  • Actors added to each film (according to Wikipedia, via Freebase)
  • Top 26 hardest working actors selected (based on original list, so ignoring independent or smaller budget films)
And thirdly – it didn’t really say anything. I always put the success of my last Information is Beautiful entry down to the quirky subject matter (comparing the lifespan of important earth resources to celebrities). This didn’t have that element. Yes, it was interesting to see which actors work together, but the dataset was too limited to show any major patterns. 
I eventually decided to stop working on the design (hence a few wonky areas) and shelve it.

So why am I publishing it here?

Because I spent all day on it, I like the IDEA and design and I wanted to share my experiences of when to walk away.

I’d love to hear your experiences of when you’ve had to walk away – and why.

All content (c) Caroline Beavon 2020