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Telling Stories With Data
“The Data is Dead! Long live the Data!”
#ddj
#ejc
Alan McLean
                                             •
                                                 @alanmclean
                                             •
                                                 Art/Design/Development background
                                             •
                                                 Worked at CBC.ca 2005-2007
                                             •
                                                 Working at the NYTimes in 2007-Present




                                             •
                                                 Afghanistan War Logs
                                             •
                                                 2008 Election
                                             •
                                                 2008 Olympics
                                             •
                                                 2010 Olympics
                                             •
                                                 Guantanamo Docket
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                                                 Document Viewer
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                                                 more...

Dom Data: flickr.com/photos/ogil/2499892047
Interactive
   News
Technology
 @
Interactive
                                    News
                                 Technology
                                       @




Eric - flickr.com/people/74486811@N00
The old
        newsroom/developer
           relationship




Developer                Journalist
The new
newsroom/developer
   relationship




  Developer/Journalist
Use the web to tell a story, not
 just as a delivery medium.
Newsroom Tools
Developing at close to newsroom pace
          is now possible
Journalism Saved!
It’s almost too easy...
  •
      Lots of tools, often free or very affordable.
  •
      Progressive Enhancement.
  •
      An unlimited supply of “pages”.




<3m
Data Dumps
Large collections of source material that aim to
    inform, but ultimately over-saturate.
Data Dumps

 “ Your scientists were so
  preoccupied with whether or not
  they could, they didn't stop to
  think if they should.”

  Dr. Ian Malcolm
  Jurassic Park (1993)


  via @kevinq, Graphic Editor at the NYT
Data Dumps

 “ If you won't find narratives in
  the data, you might as well be
  posting the phone book.”

  @harrisj via Twitter
Why are data dumps a problem?
•
    Fail to inform clearly.
•
    It’s very easy to get lost.
•
    They take up precious time.
•
    They are usually low impact.
•
    Often bland.
It’s far too easy to distract or confuse
    an already compromised online
             attention span.
Editing is crucial online
•
    Should we be doing this?
•
    What is the point?
•
    Will any of our readers/users care?
•
    Is this going to be a core component of the story, or
    merely supplemental?
Design Decisions Are Editorial
         Statements
The Afghanistan War Logs




<5m
The Afghanistan War Logs


•
    Three publications with access to the data under a
    release agreement.
•
    90,000+ incident reports.
•
    Spans several years of the conflict in Afghanistan.
•
    A lot of metadata...
The Afghanistan War Logs

      What can we do with this data?

•
    Data Dives!
•
    Maps!
•
    Timelines!
•
    Charts!
•
    and so so much more...
The Afghanistan War Logs

    What should we do with this data?
•
    Aggregate representations of the reports were out.
•
    Maps needed to be “Locator Maps”.
•
    Timelines? Yes.
•
    Incident Charts?
•
    Story integration? Yes! Context was needed.
•
    Could not publish them all... redactions were necessary.
The Afghanistan War Logs

                      The Package
•
    3 articles.
•
    1 note to the readers from the Editor.
•
    1 background article on the data.
•
    An incident report interactive.
•
    A page tying it all together.
The Afghanistan War Logs
                                                Locator Maps
The Article
                                                     Timeline
•
    Lead with a Map
•
    Removed the ads
•
    Flopped the columns
•
    Forced a single page view
•
    Relevant maps and photos                    Photos/Maps
    were loaded alongside text
•
    Stylized report text within article
                                          Incident Report Text
The Afghanistan War Logs
The Maps
The Afghanistan War Logs
Context
The Afghanistan War Logs
Context
The Afghanistan War Logs / The Interactive
Real Titles   Stylized NYT Redactions   The Jargonizer   Real Summaries


The Afghanistan War Logs / The Interactive
The Afghanistan War Logs / The Series Page

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Data Driven Journalism - Telling Stories Online

  • 1. Telling Stories With Data “The Data is Dead! Long live the Data!”
  • 3. Alan McLean • @alanmclean • Art/Design/Development background • Worked at CBC.ca 2005-2007 • Working at the NYTimes in 2007-Present • Afghanistan War Logs • 2008 Election • 2008 Olympics • 2010 Olympics • Guantanamo Docket • Document Viewer • Run-Well • more... Dom Data: flickr.com/photos/ogil/2499892047
  • 4. Interactive News Technology @
  • 5. Interactive News Technology @ Eric - flickr.com/people/74486811@N00
  • 6. The old newsroom/developer relationship Developer Journalist
  • 7. The new newsroom/developer relationship Developer/Journalist
  • 8. Use the web to tell a story, not just as a delivery medium.
  • 9. Newsroom Tools Developing at close to newsroom pace is now possible
  • 11. It’s almost too easy... • Lots of tools, often free or very affordable. • Progressive Enhancement. • An unlimited supply of “pages”. <3m
  • 12. Data Dumps Large collections of source material that aim to inform, but ultimately over-saturate.
  • 13. Data Dumps “ Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.” Dr. Ian Malcolm Jurassic Park (1993) via @kevinq, Graphic Editor at the NYT
  • 14.
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  • 18. Data Dumps “ If you won't find narratives in the data, you might as well be posting the phone book.” @harrisj via Twitter
  • 19. Why are data dumps a problem? • Fail to inform clearly. • It’s very easy to get lost. • They take up precious time. • They are usually low impact. • Often bland.
  • 20. It’s far too easy to distract or confuse an already compromised online attention span.
  • 21. Editing is crucial online • Should we be doing this? • What is the point? • Will any of our readers/users care? • Is this going to be a core component of the story, or merely supplemental?
  • 22. Design Decisions Are Editorial Statements
  • 23.
  • 24.
  • 26. The Afghanistan War Logs • Three publications with access to the data under a release agreement. • 90,000+ incident reports. • Spans several years of the conflict in Afghanistan. • A lot of metadata...
  • 27. The Afghanistan War Logs What can we do with this data? • Data Dives! • Maps! • Timelines! • Charts! • and so so much more...
  • 28. The Afghanistan War Logs What should we do with this data? • Aggregate representations of the reports were out. • Maps needed to be “Locator Maps”. • Timelines? Yes. • Incident Charts? • Story integration? Yes! Context was needed. • Could not publish them all... redactions were necessary.
  • 29. The Afghanistan War Logs The Package • 3 articles. • 1 note to the readers from the Editor. • 1 background article on the data. • An incident report interactive. • A page tying it all together.
  • 30. The Afghanistan War Logs Locator Maps The Article Timeline • Lead with a Map • Removed the ads • Flopped the columns • Forced a single page view • Relevant maps and photos Photos/Maps were loaded alongside text • Stylized report text within article Incident Report Text
  • 31. The Afghanistan War Logs The Maps
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  • 34. The Afghanistan War Logs Context
  • 35. The Afghanistan War Logs Context
  • 36. The Afghanistan War Logs / The Interactive
  • 37. Real Titles Stylized NYT Redactions The Jargonizer Real Summaries The Afghanistan War Logs / The Interactive
  • 38. The Afghanistan War Logs / The Series Page