Data visualisations that tell the news

The Linked and Open Data conversation is extremely relevant for news telling and I’m hoping this week’s Linked Data meetup – Web of Data – will introduce me to some new ideas which could be used effectively in journalism. There’s some incredibly inspiring stuff going on outside traditional newsrooms, but some media organisations have also been building some fantastic interactive features on their sites, which allow users to customise the way they view and consume data.

Last month at the first official UK Future of News Group meeting, the Financial Times deputy interactive editor, Cynthia O’Murchu, shared some inspiring ways of news storytelling. She later sent me a list of inspirational links, which I’ll share with you here.

O’Murchu believes that data visualisations can add so much value to a story, and allow more user control, too. The great thing about various data visualisations was that “you allow people to choose their story”, she said. Here are some of the visualisations she flagged up in particular:

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This Financial Times feature from 2007 mapped the different factors affecting food prices around the world: export restrictions, price measures, civil unrest, trade balances and inflation. Additional text boxes, brought up by clicking on a certain location, give additional information.

Another feature brought together video and slide shows that explain why food prices are rising.

It was about presenting things in a comprehensible way for users to understand, said O’Murchu.

She flagged up how the New York Times had used geolocal information to show what people were talking about on Twitter (see below, for example).

O’Murchu urged the room of journalists to go and play with data tools: “If you’re inclined to do a type of story telling, just do it!”

Some of the other interactive packages at the FT:

Data visualisations:

She also showed examples of applications that helped users customise information, to help with a particular problem:

O’Murchu also mentioned the non-profit information site Gapminder. In this video, Gapminder’s Hans Rosling shows users how countries have developed since 1809, based on individual life expectancy and income. [You can see another Rosling video here, ‘Let my dataset change your mindset’].

O’Murchu also recommends taking a look at these links, for further inspiration:

And finally, for even more examples of interactive graphics:

What are your favourites? Add them in the comments below…

5 thoughts on “Data visualisations that tell the news

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