Data in Journalism

Data journalism seems simple and straightforward. For the exercise we plugged in a simple .crt file into Google Maps and were presented with a spread of visual information. The creative part of it comes with the interpretation of the data. What stories could a single set of data provide? How would that change when you add more sets?

Yesterday, The Colorado Sun published a piece about discussions happening around antisemitism and racism. In it they link to a data map from the Anti-Defamation League presenting the amount of hate acts and propaganda across the United States. While the entire piece isn't solely focused on that set of data, it's use bolsters the story.

Numbers don't speak for themselves, so humans have to make assumptions, assertions, and interpretations to put together a cohesive story with them. Otherwise it wouldn't be useful – data journalists step in to provide these stories. But people make mistakes, there are gaps in information, and sometimes the stories that get told aren't accurate, or can be disenfranchising for minority groups. Ethics standards of journalism apply to data journalism with some additional considerations. Being thorough about checking the sources of data, but also if there are people unrepresented in the information, is crucial.