Data Journalism

Chris Knox

Data Editor at the New Zealand Herald

chris.knox@nzherald.co.nz

Recap

  • If you can only remember one thing, remember Figure.NZ
  • If you can only remember two things, remember to add /data.csv to Figure.NZ urls

Data processing

  • Make a copy of your original data
  • Delete unnecessary columns (but don't forget what the units were)

Do you need a pivot table?

Sometimes data jobs like this:

YearVariableValue
2016tui10
2016kereru15
2016kākā8
2017tui12
2017kereru11
2017kākā13

When what you need is:

Yeartuikererukākā
201610158
2017121113

Then it is time for a pivot table.

  • Select all the data your need to pivot
  • Click on 'Data' -> 'Pivot table'
  • Select your columns - probably the variable name
  • Select your rows - probably time
  • Select your values - probably value
  • Deselect the 'Create totals' options
  • Copy the result into datawrapper

What is a graph?

Using the tools at hand; size, colour, shape, and position to represent (encode) the values in the data.

Coloured pencil time

Chart choice

  • Different charts will highlight different aspects of your data more effectively.
  • Choose the chart that shows the aspect of the data that you are interested in
  • Line and Bar charts are often a safe choice
  • Take care with maps and pie charts

FT Visual Vocabulary

Bad or deceiving charts

  • Charts and graphs can be used to deceive
    • Don't do this.

The best way to get a sense for bad charts is to peruse vis.wtf or /r/dataisugly. There is also a good writeup here

The most common bad things are:

  • Incorrect, missing, or misleading labels
  • Inconsistenct scales
  • Truncating scales
  • Comparing things that shouldn't be
  • Too many things

A few rules

  • Barcharts always start at 0
  • Line charts don't need to start at 0, but always ask yourself if the range you select is going to make an insignificant change look important
  • Only use pie charts for parts of a whole and only when there are less than 5 categories
  • Avoid maps for showing quantities
  • LABELS

Exercise

Pick a couple of charts from Figure.NZ and remake it.

  • Have you made them better or worse?
  • If you have improved them is the data being shown in a different way?

Workbench

  • Workbench Data is built for journalists
  • Replaces spreadsheets in your workflow
  • Pivot is called reshape

This is long data

YearVariableValue
2016tui10
2016kereru15
2016kākā8
2017tui12
2017kereru11
2017kākā13

This is wide data

Yeartuikererukākā
201610158
2017121113

Maps

Data wrapper supports 3 types of map

  • Choropleth
  • Symbol
  • Locator

New Zealand is a mess (this doesn't cover DHBs, Police Districts, Civil Defense, or Fire and Emergency areas)

Ask for help!

Accessment

  • Select some data from Figure.NZ
  • Create a chart, map, or table from the data in Datawrapper
  • Email the chart link to chris.knox@nzherald.co.nz
  • Include a sentence about why you choose this data - why would it be newsworthy
  • Include a sentence about why you choose that chart or map type.