Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Data visualization tools available for journalists

There are plenty of data visualization tools available on the internet for journalists. A website called Data USA "bills itself as 'the most comprehensive visualization of U.S. public data' and aims to make open data more user-friendly," Shaunacy Ferro reports for Mental Floss. The site allows users "to explore the nation by pulling from data sources like the Census Bureau, the Department of Education, national health rankings, and more. With that information, Data USA helps you create data visualizations and breakdowns on topics as diverse as local commute times, a state’s most popular college majors, the average age of podiatrists nationally, and the highest paid construction-related occupations."(Data USA map: The average median age in every county in the U.S.)
Many sources of help are available. Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets "are good places to experiment and learn," John Wihbey reports for Journalist's Resource, a service of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University.

"Of course, one of the biggest hurdles beginners face is figuring out how to organize the data properly in rows and columns. Storybench has an excellent primer on examples of how to do this." Good examples of applications with increased design and storytelling capabilities are: CartoDB (makes uploading and visualizing geographical information easy); Plot.ly (good for beginners and experts); Chartbuilder (designed to empower more editors and reporters, not just specialists, to do their own data visualization); Datawrapper (allows for quick, easy visualization of many kinds); and Silk.co (great for exploring interactive data presentations and helps journalists tell interactive stories).
    "Quartz has an excellent guide to 'bad data' – the typical problems inherent in datasets," Wihbey writes. "There are some go-to blogs on data and data journalism that are worth following. The Journalist’s Toolbox has a huge roundup of tools and resources related to data visualization. And the Data Journalism Handbook has some great case studies."

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