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Data journalism: visualizing data for reporting and storytelling

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Data journalism: visualizing data for reporting and storytelling

  1. 1. NASW annual meeting November 6, 2010 David Harris
  2. 2. It can help you: • find a story • understand a story • tell a story “Finding ways to visualize datasets can be as important as ways to analyse them." (in Maltz, from Unwin, quoting Ripley)
  3. 3. It makes you truly understand the data It can help you find errors in the data • More common than you think! You can find manipulated data • More common that you’d hope!
  4. 4. Most of them are terrible at it! • They are too close to the data • They want to include too many details • They can’t see it from the audience’s viewpoint Journalist can be better at it • We can take a reader’s perspective • We know how to find the story in the data • We ask different questions
  5. 5. When: • Only use it when it’s genuinely the best way to tell the story – text is still powerful! How: • Get the data and try it out • Test you visualization on some audiences • Remove some of the information • Learn by studying good examples
  6. 6. A big question in criminology: how did criminals get to where they are? Can we see an individual’s criminal history and relevant life events easily? People have been trying to do this for decades without much success (based on uptake from others in the field)
  7. 7. Start by sketching a design (scrap paper) Prototype it (Adobe Illustrator) Design your data structure (Excel) Program it (Processing) This data comes from a study of 800 civilly committed sex offenders in Massachusetts. Thanks to: • Danielle Harris, San Jose State University • Ray Knight, Brandeis University

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