08.09.2015 by Nika Aleksejeva

Data Journalism

Deadlines, story pitches, going out to report and drinking coffee constantly are all a part of being a journalist. Writing the truth and letting the public know is something journalists strive to do with every story. Where does data fall into this? We will answer that question for you and why it is so instrumental as a working journalist.

1. Data makes your argument stronger

When writing a story, you often make claims that are backed by sources, either it be people or websites. Data can be another resource you can use as back up. Gathering numbers from a reliable source and using that in your claims/arguments is important because numbers can’t lie. They are sitting right in your face. Those numbers serve as proof. Readers often cannot be persuaded with just words and quotes, but numbers are concrete. There is no way of twisting data around. And using this data will only make your argument much more impactful. Numbers speak for themselves.

2. Visualizations attract readers

Having a beautiful and crafty data visualization will only attract more readers to your story. It is sad to say, but audience today is not looking for strict news articles with just words and photos. They want something that will sum up a story without having to read the 1000 word story. The audience is always looking for something more and that’s what data visualizations do. They will bring more clicks and increase readership within a story and the overall publication.

For example, if you are writing a story on rent increase in a certain part of the world. The audience wants to see those numbers. Visualizing those numbers only makes it easier for the readers to know that information instead of them digging in the story to find it. Those numbers will be lost in the story, but if you visualize it people will notice.  

3. Having dedicated data journalists in a newsroom

Data in the newsroom is crucial in following the point made before on readership. Typical newsrooms have editors, reporters, photographers, etc. Newsrooms are continuing to evolve due to the shift of print content to online. Creating a data team in a newsroom can only help the overall publication. Although journalists should learn the basics, having a specific team in that field will help your publication become that much stronger.

4. An alternative for “he-said-she-said” stories

Utilizing the power of data is a whole new perspective in telling stories. When first delving into a story, a journalist will try to find a new perspective or point of view in which the story can be told. Data is that option. You are not just out there searching and running down people to interview. You are developing a whole new set of skills. This gives the journalist a new perspective in which to tell stories and write original content that is theirs.

5. Competitive advantage for reporters

Learning and visualizing data, will only broaden and enhance your skills as a journalist. Publications are looking for a dynamic reporter, a person that could do it all. They are not just looking for someone that is a good reporter. Expectations are a lot higher now than they were 5 years ago. Having data skills could only make you stand out from the rest when trying to find work for a publication.

6. Explore the open field of data

Data can be found anywhere and at your disposal, but journalists need to infuse this data into their stories. Data visualizations can impact the reader in a different way than words can. For you journalists, explore the open field of data. There is so much to find out there, you just have to dig.  

Do you find any other reason for journalists to use data? Perhaps you disagree with this post. Feel free to comment below.