The Use of Data Journalism

As a journalist, one can always be looking for new ways to avoid being too wordy. One crossroad in particular is writing a data journalism story and incorporating all of the data and statistics needed.

A writer can easily lose their reader and cause them to become side tracked to what exactly they’re talking about. For instance, writing a story, or videography discussing the rise of zombie houses or the rate of domestic violence arrests amongst NFL players. There is going to be a lot of information and numbers.

Luckily, a writer can incorporate graphs, or even videos, to their stories.

Courtesy of USA Today NFL Player Arrests Database
Courtesy of USA Today NFL Player Arrests Database

Here, as you can see, is a graph showing the rates of NFL related arrests. Instead of writing out all of the numbers and names of the specific arrests, a detailed graph can be used instead. This also adds a nice visual to the piece as well. Now that you can save time on explaining step by step each piece of data, you can discuss other important things instead.

Another example is Newsday’s lifecycle of a zombie house. Rather than going through a written step by step explanation of the procedure that goes into the maintenance and problems of a zombie house, they instead inserted a slide show. This also makes the reader interact with the story as well.

Another thing Newsday had, which was different for me to see, was how you can type in a specific zip code and get the exact number of zombie houses in that particular area.

I find what both news organizations did were compelling to their stories. They left less confusion, numbers, statistics, etc. After awhile when you’re only reading a story through text it can become boring and tedious. Instead, I enjoyed the use of graphs, videos, and interactive slideshows to keep the story interesting, and it held my attention the entire time.

Definitely something to know for future reference.

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