WASHINGTON – Rethinking the approach to a story can be challenging even for the most weathered of journalists. Many of us know our medium and have not ventured too far beyond it when it comes to storytelling. Data visualizations are becoming a more popular way for journalists to do their jobs, either in finding a story in the numbers or as a supplement to a larger investigation.
Since some of us are just venturing into the world of data vis, it may seem like a relatively new medium. But experts like Joshua Hatch have made a career out of specializing in data-driven reporting. Hatch is the senior editor of data and interactives at the Chronicle of Higher Education. He’s an Online News Association board member and adjunct professor of journalism at American University in Washington, D.C.
After working with data for years, Hatch understands its storytelling value. We discussed the best use of data is when it answers a question.
“You’re getting data you can then act on. So the same is true with … knowing the point spread of a game, or it might be what stock is tanking. So, I think a lot of times data is really a step towards answering questions, solving a problem, that sort of thing,” Hatch said.
Hatch was kind enough to write us a how-to guide to aquainting yourself with the basics of data visualizations. For those of us who aren’t looking to become experts, he says it’s still important to understand the capabilities for story telling with data — not only to increase your knowledge base, but to better understand the challenges and lingo of the data experts in your newsroom.
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