Data Journalism at the forefront: The Dos and Don’ts

Data journalism is a powerful skill for interpreting sources to create insightful stories and news.  Standalone data is worthless if not analyzed and interpreted, and the same goes for news that is not based on credible evidence.

A great editorial narrative comes from great analytical processes of repeated and relevant data. The same process works with evergreen content and investigations, as well as the daily news cycle.

Handling the data and a newsroom’s pressing demands could easily turn chaotic. These are the dos and don’ts of data journalism.

  • Do set a clear angle

Ask why you want to tell this story, what it will mean to your targeted readers, as well as the effect it will have on your company. Stay on track and don’t be swayed by promising data – save it for other stories. 

  • Do combine data and real people

Real people provide the “why” of a backstory, compared to data that provides the “what.” Combine statistics with interviews or quotes from relevant people.

  • Do make it easy for the readers

Just stating facts by the numbers or other raw information will leave your readers missing the point. Help them realize what the data means in an engaging and persuasive manner.

  • Don’t force data

Ask the critical questions over and over again: Is the data truly relevant? Are there any weaknesses to this dataset? The first priority is to find data that is relevant to the story, not shoehorning data in.

  • Don’t forget to add simple visualizations

People love charts and graphs because they make data far easier to understand. Simple visualizations will also help to break up the story and allow readers to assess the story at a glance, leading to more circulation.

  • Don’t just publish

Without any SEO or social media integration, a piece of great news might not reach any readers. Everything will be in vain if the data is outdated or not readable by search engines.

If your newsroom is having issues making use of data, reach out to see if working with us might help. We’ll work with you from getting the data to turning it into readable content. Contact us at:

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