Practising Data Journalism

storymap
Screenshot of storymap/data visualisation

During my fieldwork in Central Philippines one year after the typhoon disaster, I got the opportunity to practice data journalism and visualisation. With an increasing number of free applications, software and online tools that allow the creation of purely online content, journalists are given enough resources to enhance the news. I presented two forms of data journalism in my multimedia package – the infographics in slide show format and the interactive map that shows the sources of foreign aid for the Philippines. Both contents are meant to add story context for my non-Filipino audience. The infographics remind the audience about the intensity of the disaster while the chart of the most fatal typhoons compares Haiyan with previous calamities that hit the Philippines. The interactive story map, on the other hand, shows 64 donor countries that contributed in rebuilding the Philippines, and is comprised of 128 data entries. This package is meant to visualise the sources of foreign aid funding for Philippines’ recovery. Each clickable content bears a photo of the country’s flag for better visualisation. These forms of data journalism highlight the capacity of the online platform to visualise content in appealing and interactive ways.

timeline
Screen shot of interactive timeline

Let’s do some analysis here. Prior to digitisation, journalists have limited space and airtime available for big data. For instance, the complete listing of foreign aid pledges and donations would require at least two pages in a newspaper and might be too cluttered for print publication. Likewise, a reporter for broadcast would usually highlight one or two examples of donations using graphics and then simply state the sum total. But data journalism extends the range of storytelling by allowing journalists to showcase complex data through engaging and interactive visuals and providing the audience an option to choose the content that is important to them.

Online news is transforming from the basic inverted pyramid style to an immersive and interactive means storytelling (Pavlik, 2000). But advancing one’s technical skills does not depend on multimedia journalism textbooks alone. Digital tools of multimedia reporting are increasingly becoming more user-friendly which means despite having no extensive background in computer science, journalists are still able to take advantage of them. In my next blog, I will list down the software I used to create my data journalism packages.

Note: The examples given here are all part of my multimedia package titled A long recovery: Rebuilding after a superstorm.

Further reading:

Pavlik, J. (2000). The impact of technology on journalism. Journalism Studies, 1(2), 229-237.doi: 10.1080/14616700050028226

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