Data Visualization & Journalism Combine to Increase Understanding

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    As the amount of data in the world increases and becomes easier to access, journalists are giving us information in new and exciting ways that help us understand complex data in simpler terms.

    Journalists know that to tell a complete story, complex data needs to be explained clearly and concisely. Facts usually need to be supported with background information to provide a frame of reference that has meaning for the reader or viewer.

    To do that, journalists must interpret data into something people can understand and relate to. Depending on the data, the “something” journalists use can be words, pictures, graphs, animation, charts, maps or any type of image.

    This is because data alone often doesn’t reach people in a meaningful way. When National Geographic says there are 5.25 trillion pieces of trash in the ocean, you think that is bad.

    But when you watch the 3-D animation feature on plastic’s life cycle, and then view the three computer-generated global images of trash accumulation zones in each ocean, you start to really understand just how bad it is. You start to feel the depth and magnitude of the problem because you can see firsthand the evidence for yourself.

    In this way, the story of data can often be best expressed through visual images. Data visualization and journalism in today’s digital world combine to provide context and meaning to facts, figures and statistics in storytelling.

    Visualization to get your message across

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    Visualization of data allows facts to come through and reach us emotionally and intellectually. Reaching people on an emotional level is key. When a journalist reaches people on multiple levels, people become engaged and active. They know they can trust a journalist who provides a complete and accurate picture of a story they understand.

    Through data visualization, the data a journalist uses becomes:

    • accessible
    • relatable
    • understandable, and
    • emotional

    Scripps’ ABC news affiliate, KNXV, in Phoenix experienced success on this level. One year ago, they overhauled their newsroom to realign their focus toward using digital journalism and data visualization.

    According to the article by Diana Marszalek at Broadcasting & Cable, KNXV hired digital-specific journalists to create stories on digital platforms and provide information visually through media such as Facebook live reports, short-form videos, infographics and interactive online features.

    In one year, KNXV’s efforts have yielded:

    • an increase of 28% in late-night news viewership
    • a double-digit viewership increase of the 4:00, 5:00 and 6:30 p.m. news
    • an increase of website traffic by 77%
    • 100,000 more Twitter followers, and
    • 50,000 more Facebook fans.

    KNXV gets more people to tune in, tweet, Facebook and visit their website because people see and feel – through data visualization – how KNXV’s stories relate to them.

    As data continues to increase, and the methods of data visualization grow, we can expect to be informed and understand more thoroughly and more clearly than ever before.

    Feel free to contact us to help bring the strength of data visualization to your business.