We Asked Journalists and They Answered - Are You Afraid of Data?

01.12.2015 by Marisa Krystian

Are you a journalist who feels intimidated by data? You’re not alone! We interviewed pioneering data journalists from around the globe to figure out if the data fear is real. We asked about their experience writing data-driven stories and were surprised by what we learned.

Is it Fear of Data or Deadlines?

Milton and Vera at Observador claim journalists are afraid of the time it takes to create effective and informative graphics. As the deadline approaches, journalists often feel they don’t have extra time to design a chart or graph – even if it adds more to their story.

Vera and Milton feel this can be overcome by introducing hesitant journalists to online data visualization tools that are quick and easy to use. This taps into your natural curiosity and gives you a convenient way to add depth to your stories. 

Too Comfortable with the Familiar?

We asked if the fear of data was real and Vera brought up an interesting point – most of the staff at the Observador came from print backgrounds and ‘didn’t know what infographics could do for their work.’ Vera’s challenge was to introduce the staff to infographics and dataviz tools they could use to tell better stories.

Likewise, Ezila Kamari at The Establishment Post said journalists are not afraid of data they are simply unfamiliar with infographics and don’t have the time to learn more about them. If you are new to infographics you may need help, coaching, and time. But, once you’ve figured out the basics you’ll be ready to add data to your story in minutes. 

Lack of Coding Skills Stressing You Out?

Dr. Bahareh Heravi at Insight New Lab told us that with the growing number of online tools like Infogram, it’s becoming easier for journalists to build visual stories without needing to code. In short, no coding required! 

“As long as the journalist has a basic understanding of how software works, a little understanding of  how numbers work – what’s significant and what’s not – then they are not afraid of playing with data.” – Dr. Bahareh Heravi

Myth or Truth?

It may seem like fear, but from our interviews it appears to be more about comfort level, familiarity, and time constraints. Looming deadlines and lack of coding skills can hold you back from creating more detailed work. If you learn the benefits of integrating infographics and see how easy they are to make online, you will end up writing more engaging pieces. 

We’re currently writing an eBook about how to build a data-driven newsroom. Have you tried incorporating data in your work? Pitch in and tell us what your experience has been like so far!