Data journalism turns spreadsheets into visualisations that can show stories impossible to explain otherwise.
I have asked several data journalists about their favourite projects and have listed their responses.
1. Out of sight, out of mind
Out of Sight, Out of Mind (2013) visualises every known attack with drones by the US in Pakistan between 2004 and 2015.
Using the data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Pitch Interactive team shows the 3,341 people that have been killed in a decade. Less than 2% were high-profile targets.
2. The Joy of Stats
Professor Hans Rosling is one of the most well-known statisticians in the world.
This video is one of his most famous talks: The evolution of life expectancy in 200 countries over 200 years.
Hans Rosling’s challenge is to work with huge amounts of data and explain them through attractive visualisations.
You can find more information of Hans Rosling’s work and the data of his projects in the Gapminder Foundation.
3. England riots
In 2011, England was shaken by the worst riots in decades. The Guardian reported the story, connecting the riots with poverty and depravation.
The team, then led by data journalist Simon Rogers, mapped suspected addresses and related them with poverty indicators. . The result was a map that is considered a classic in data journalism.
4. Mapping the Human ‘Diseasome’
Data visualisation is not only a technic used by journalists or designers: it can be helpful to other fields. The New York Times published in 2008 a map created by researches that linked different diseases and the genes they have in common.
The map shows how, for example, asthma has gens in common with obesity and dementia with parkinson. This project was one of the first to show the power of data journalism to draw relationships.
5. Home and Away
CNN worked with Stamen Design to create “Home and Away“, an interactive visualisation about U.S. and coalition war casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Black, white and grey are not usual colours for a visualisation. Stamen Design said in their blog that they used these colours to reinforce the sobriety and the human point of view of the story:
“It’s not been the easiest subject material to work on, but we’ve come away with a keen sense of the human face of these conflicts and hope you’ll take the time to look around a bit at the stories that these kinds of maps can tell”.
6. Science Isn’t Broken
It is easy to find online news about fabricated papers with bias conclusions or without a scientific method.
Does it mean that the science is not reliable? Of course not, but how to show the readers how complex the science is? This was the challenge undertaken by Fivethirtyeight.
They created a simulator where the reader could play with different variables and understand how difficult it is to have strong results. The article also showed how the same data could lead to different conclusions.
7. The refugee project
The Refugee Project shows the refugee migrations around the world in each year since 1975.
Agency Hyperakt created the project with the UNHCR Refugee Data and the UN Population Data. They added historical content to explain the events that caused some of the largest refugee movements.
You can read more about the sources they used here.
8. How the Recession Reshaped the Economy, in 255 Charts
We are used to read about economic indicators separately, but what about analysing all the variables at the same time? The New York Times had this idea on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis.
They published a wide range of charts about how different sectors were affected before and after the recession to analyse the evolution of the economy. The project collects a huge amount of information impossible to explain otherwise.
What is your favourite data journalism project? Please leave a comment or share the conversation with the hashtag #bestddj.