Innovation in 2017

Data Journalism: Our Current Need for Numbers and Graphs

Written by Georgia Bell

Data. We see it all the time and probably don’t even realise.

Data is a tool that has been strategically put in place as a journalism technique. Graphs, charts, numbers, statistics – all examples of data that are there to serve a purpose.

Journalists in the modern world are relying on data as an effective tool that will enhance their stories for the readers.

In this article written on the ABC website by Ashlynne McGee, data have been embedded throughout the story to create an array of statistical evidence. This has been done so frequently that many of the graphs and charts are used a substitutes for words that would otherwise tell the story.

In modern journalism though, this is acceptable. What the article is lacking in written communication is a powerful and effective story told by data visualisation.

Audiences are still being told the same story, they are still receiving the same information, but it is being communicated in a different format.

The article itself, about the results of the 2017 Australian Census, is brimming with examples of how data is used by journalists.

Journalists will often utilise the data to present the hard, and sometimes unpleasant, facts about a situation. This can leave a reader understanding the story but not necessarily feeling an emotional connection to what ever the subject may be about.

In the hopes of counterbalancing this, the layout of an article will also be structured to include photographic images of people or places so that it can humanise the subject of the stories.

In a more advanced display of data journalism, this article, also published by the ABC, presents and entire website page devoted to the story of the “ordinary Australian”.

There are considerably large amounts of data in this article, in the form of video, graphs, charts and basic of numerical information.

This visual and interactive webpage not only allows readers to scroll through the data but also incorporates decent pars of text.

The authors have created a format that is inclusive for all readers and their preferences but also highlights

Using data as a journalistic tool is easy, but effective. The inclusivity and simplicity of data journalism makes for reliable and compelling storytelling.


(Image: Pixabay)

About the author

Georgia Bell