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The Diffusion of Data Journalism at
The New York Times
Cindy Royal, Ph.D.
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Texas State University
Find this presentation at slideshare.net/cindyroyal
• Programming and data techniques are rapidly influencing the
ways organizations tell stories
• Few organizations currently have the resources to deliver
comprehensive, online, data-driven, interactive news
presentations, but many are seeking to gain these
• The Olympic Games provide engaging content and visuals,
potential for multimedia, and a plethora of data for presentation
• Starting with the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, the influence
of Interactive News team on the graphic work of the
organization can be observed.
•This study analyzes the evolution of graphic and data
visualization at The New York Times through the lens of
Olympic coverage since 2008.
•By comparing the graphic coverage
of NYT for the 2008, 2010, 2012
Olympics, this provides a good
barometer for the types of graphic
work being done and the diffusion
of innovation influencing the field
• “Excellence in statistical graphics consists of
complex ideas communicated with clarity,
precision and efficiency” - Tufte
• “Knowing what to do with data is the essence of the new precision
journalism” - Meyer
• Programmer/Journalist - Holovaty
• Very few articles in mass communication on data journalism
• The Journalist as Programmer
• Data-driven journalism and the public good: “Computer-assisted-reporters”
and “programmer-journalists” in Chicago - Parasie & Dagiral
• Interactivity research – McMillan/Downes, Rafaeli, Sundar, Kiousis
• Diffusion - “The process by which an innovation is communicated
through certain channels over time among the members of a social
system.” - Rogers
• RQ1: How has the presentation of
online graphics on The New York Times
website changed since the 2008 Olympics?
• H1: Over time, The New York Times will present more
Olympic graphics that are interactive.
• H2: Over time, The New York Times will present more
Olympic graphics that display data.
• The main visual Olympic stories done by NYT
since 2008 have been conveniently captured
and archived on topic pages.
• Each interactive was coded for interactivity and
presence of data
London 2012: Oympics Graphics -
Number of Interactives
Beijing 2008 30
Vancouver 2010 29
London 2012 22
Assessed on a scale of 1-4
1 – limited interactivity for the user; pushing a play button; no ability
for non-linear navigation
2 – some interactivity and ability for non-linear navigation, i.e.
stepping through a slideshow to select any slide from within any
3- more advanced interactivity; ability to interact with more than one
event or section
4 – very advanced interactivity; non-linear navigation; ability to
interact with multiple events or sections.
• Data, for the purpose of this study, is defined as numeric
results, times, scores, medal counts, etc.
• Assessed as follows:
• Embedded - the presentation of a limited amount data
within a slideshow or animation, but does not offer any
or much interactivity with the data.
• Data - the presentation of large amount of data, with
the ability to interact with the data or with different
sections of the presentation.
• Presentations with animations and limited data
• Photo slideshows or simple audio supplement
• Animations to explain and demonstrate techniques
Advanced Data Presentation
• 2010 Snowboard Halfpipe Library – allowed users to submit their own
tricks via video.
• 2010 Picturing the Olympics – allowed users to contribute their own
photos from the Vancouver games.
• Interactivity, data and integration with multimedia and
• Abandoning Flash
• In 2012, almost half the projects met the criteria for level
3 or 4 of interactivity (compared with 23% in 2008 and
27% in 2010).
• Over time, The New York Times introduced
graphic presentations that were more interactive
and relied more on data
• Understanding how data-driven interactives contribute to
storytelling challenge many aspects of mass communication
• content analysis
• application of theory
• ways in which data is applied in a meaningful setting
• Unclear how revenue is to be generated
• Interactive presentations have the potential to attract users with
data that is unique and customizable.
• Interactivity may aid in learning and provide an entertaining use
• Metrics that identify time and engagement may influence future
Potential in academic programs
• Few programs have the ability to teach these skills
• Vast opportunity in providing these skills to journalism
students and other communicators
• Potential to reach more females to develop tech and data
• News delivery via digital methods is the future, and all
participants must become familiar with, if not skilled at,
concepts that include programming and data.
Find this presentation at slideshare.net/cindyroyal
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