Planning for your Data Journalism Projects

As we move into the data journalism module of the course it is important that you begin to work out what information you will need for your data visualization and/or info graphic  and where to find it.,   Google Public Data Explorer and data sets provided by sites such as might be sources for broad, national and international data on a variety of issues ranging from health to education to industrial development.

An assortment of information about both New York City and New York State can be found at sites like these. Specific government agencies will also have data available, as will professional associations, universities and non-profit research centers.

You might use data from these sites to back up data more specific to your project or more local in scope. Don’t underestimate the value of original data that you might collect through the use of simple polls or a survey using Google Forms, which were introduce last semester.

As you begin to think through what kind of data you will need to support your visualization, it might help to have a sense of what it is you will want the data to illustrate.

  • Are you trying to track something over time? A timeline or stream graph might be your best bet.
  • Is geography important to what you want to do? Some form of mapping would work
  • Are you trying to show (complex) relationships — how different data sets influence or overlap with each other? You might think about some sort of tree or matrix graph
  • Does your graphic analyze text? A word cloud or phrase net might work
  • Do you envision some sort of illustration to compare/showcase different data sets — how things compare in how they influence an object or issue? Data-filled pop-up/roll over windows or an accompanying bubble graph might work best

Protivis and Manyeyes both offer examples of different kinds of data vis graphics mentioned above. NOTE: The final project should be produced in Flash but component parts could include visualizations produced with Manyeyes or Protovis.

‘Journalism in the Age of Visualization,’ is a terrific project produced by multimedia journalist Geoff McGhee at Stanford as part of a Knight Fellowship. The site offers lots of discussion about data visualization’s growing importance to journalism as well as resources and examples. In total the videos run about four hours. Not required viewing, but if you’re interest in data visualization you should make the time to watch it.

This entry was posted in Glenn - Mon, Glenn - Thu, Smock - Fri, Smock - Mon. Bookmark the permalink.