The numbers that hit hard

When it comes to news stories, what often attracts people is the headline or at least the first line of the piece. Sometimes that may be some dramatic, exquisitely written opening statement. Other times, it can just be a number that catches the eye. The latter case comes in the form of data journalism.

According to VOX, data journalism is just “journalism based off of data.” It is still reporting on an event, but the basis of the report is based on a new or collected piece of data. It’s an investigation of why there is a large or small number of something.

An example of this can be found in The Upshot, a section of The New York Times. A recent report claims that there are 1.5 billion black men missing in America today, primarily due to death and prison sentences. The Upshot uses collected statistics taken of the number of young black men in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. The report also uses various graphs to give a visual description on the issue mentioned in the report, including a bar graph about the distribution of whites and blacks and a map of the United States highlighting where black men are missing the most. These pieces of data is given in various formats to express the issue in the report as many ways possible. In fact, each new subject the report highlights opens with a graph, with the written aspect breaking down the parts of the graph.

What makes this story proper data journalism is that it takes each piece if data and breaks it down to separate portions. This way, each element to the report is focused on and easy to understand, almost like putting together a puzzle piece by piece. Data journalism relies on numbers and figures to start a report, but one has to be able to research and investigate those numbers to highlight why it is something that is newsworthy.


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