8 fantastic examples of data journalism

Data journalism is exactly what it sounds like, journalists using data to enhance their stories. If you’ve ever seen a graph or an infographic in a news story, then you’ve been exposed to data journalism. Data is a great source for journalists to use because it lends credibility to their sources and can help explain complex topics to the public in a visual way.

And, as with any medium, there are some who do it better than others. Here are 8 examples of data journalism that absolutely nailed it.

The Guardian: NSA Files Decoded

The Guardian has long been an outstanding example of data journalism since they launched their data blog back in 2009. But, 6 months after Edward Snowdon leaked the famous NSA files they went above and beyond to help people understand the implications. Creating this awesome website the weaves together video interviews, test, documents, timelines and interactive infographics to give readers a sense of what the story might mean to them. Plus, you feel a bit like a spy reading it.

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Bloomberg: Most dangerous jobs

When it comes to building easy to understand, informative and interactive data vizzes; no one does it better than Bloomberg. Their data graphics section is full of highly interesting data vizzes that are actually fun to play with. A recent one that caught our eye is there analysis of the most dangerous jobs in America.

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ProPublica: A Disappearing Planet

ProPublica is a  is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. One of their most interesting and beautiful data journalism projects focused on animal extinction across the globe. Using data from recent biology studies, they found that today’s extinction rates rival those during the mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

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SF Chronicle: The Airbnb effect

It’s not just national news organizations who have become adept at data journalism, local publications are beginning to invest heavily in the new medium as well. Airbnb, and its effect on local housing housing markets, has become a hot button issue in many large cities, especially San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle recently ran an article examining Airbnb’s growth in the city along with the change in housing prices.

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BBC: Which sport are you made for?

Proving that not all data journalism has to be super serious, the BBC used data to create an interactive quiz in preparation for the Commonwealth Games. The quiz asked participants to rank themselves on a number of categories to determine which sport they were most suited for. They then encouraged people to get active by finding all the places near them where they could practice that sport.

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Gapminder: Wealth & Health of Nations

Gapminder is a nonprofit organization with a self proclaimed “fact-based worldview”. Their goal is to help explain elements of the world we live in through data. One of their most famous stories, featured a time lapse bubble chart which plotted a country’s life expectancy by its average national income overtime (the size of the bubbles is proportional to the country’s population). The best thing about Gapminder though, is that they publish all of their data so you can see how they reached their conclusions.

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El Financiero: Does school pay off?

You may not be able to use this Costa Rican data app (unless you speak Spanish), but it is a sterling example of interactive data journalism none the less. The app, created by El Financiero, helps people work out what salary they are likely to earn based on seven personal characteristics (years of schooling, age, labor market, labor branch, gender, location and weekly worked hours). The best part is that once you’ve calculated your score, you can play with each variable to see what effect it has on your salary.

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WSJ: The Impact of Vaccines

The Wall Street Journal is another publication widely recognized for its use to interactive data visualizations in stories. Most recently, they published a (rather beautiful) visualization showing the impact vaccines have had over the last 70 years. Each chart show the number of cases in each state for a given diseases along with a line indicating when a vaccine was introduced.

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How can you get into data journalism?

Despite what you might think, you don’t need to have a degree in statistics to be a data journalist. You don’t even really need to be a journalist – anyone with a blog (or Medium account) can report stories with data. If these stories have inspired you to try your hand at data journalism, there are plenty of resources that will teach you the basics. Not to mention many companies like Silk.co (data visualization) and ourselves offer to help journalists for free.
Check out our free Data Journalism service!