Class Notes: Infographics and Data-Driven Journalism
- Graphics that use digital representations of information, data or knowledge.
- Infographics can make information more accessible, more enjoyable, easier to understand, can be incredibly viral, have potential to drive traffic and generate interest and adds a relatively unused multimedia effect that has only reached the cusp of digital journalism.
Inverted Pyramid of data
- Find: Searching for data on the web
- Clean: process to filter and transform data, preparation for visualization
- Visualize: displaying the pattern, either as a statistic or animated visual
- Publish: Integrating the visuals, attaching data to stories
- Distribute: Enabling access on a variety of devices, such as the web, tablets and mobile
- Measure: Tracking use of data stories over time and across the spectrum of uses
Tips for creating an Infographic
- Be concise: Design your infographic to make one main point.
- Be visual and be creative: Although infographics do combine text and images, the emphasis should be on a visually appealing graphic.
- Be self-explanatory: The visualization should explain the data, with minimal exception.
- Be relevant
- Be transparent: Cite your sources.
- Be different: Pie charts and bar graphs are readily understandable, but they can be pretty biased.
- Be accurate: The visualization should not misrepresent your data.
- Say something: Your infographic should convey a message, and not be an infographic for the sake of itself.
- Be judicious: Not every story warrants an infographic.
- Copy Edit: As with any copy you plan to post online, it’s good to run your infographic by another set of eyes – to assess and edit both content and format.
- Strong examples of stories with data include: Employee salaries, test scores, government issues, polls, sports stats, crime stats, all the stats!
More tips for Working with Data
- Make it manageable. Break the data down into chunks you can use.
- Keep it simple. Ask simple questions of the data and try not to get too complicated.
- Mash it up. Some of the best journalism is about joining datasets together you wouldn’t have thought of.
- Don’t be scared of the numbers or don’t trust it too willingly. Journalists are often terrified of numbers to the extent that they don’t question them properly.
- Try not to go native. Remember that you’re a journalist and your mission is to explain the data and interrogate it properly.
Data in Journalism
- Make sure your sources are accurate.
- Where did you get that data?
- Polls and surveys can be conducted to create data from thin air, and this can be a story
- After you have said data, it’s up to you, the multimedia journalist, to figure out how to use it
- Broadcast/print journalists (TV/internet/print): charts, graphs, infographs, screen shots, diagrams, etc.