Entry type: Portfolio
Country/area: United Kingdom
Publishing organisation: DC Thomson. Articles appear in both The Courier and the Press and Journal.
Organisation size: Big
I started working as a data journalist in 2021 after working as a news reporter for four years. In that time, I’ve taken on numerous types of projects while working across The Courier and Press and Journal brands. As the only data journalism team of its kind in Scotland, I have made democratising data my focus, breaking it down into digestible chunks for our readers, whether that be for more serious stories or more light hearted topics. I have tried to ensure a balance of understandability with eye catching visual journalism, alongside writing stories that are informative for readers. These stories are a mixture of storytelling, and making data available that may otherwise be difficult to access for the regular person, such as cost of living information and data on the air quality in Scotland. I am constantly trying to think of new creative ideas, and find different ways of giving information.
Description of portfolio:
In my portfolio, I have provided a number of different examples of different types of storytelling. The first two articles on baby names in Scotland showcases data analysis skills, as data was extracted from a spreadsheet of every instance of baby names from the 70s to 2022. It plays with fun visualisations that present the information to readers in a different format to previous baby name articles, helping to attract people in and keep their interest. There is examples of numerous types of charts and maps within both pieces. The air quality tracker involved setting up an external spreadsheet that is linked to a map, where when a point on the map is clicked, it brings up information and a chart that shows the air quality in that location over time. The spreadsheet is utilised by our transport and environment team, and spikes in the data have given the newsroom stories in the past. To create it, formulas had to be written to allow the data to be as automatic as possible once pasted into the spreadsheet, and each chart linked in the points on the map was created individually and is all linked back to the spreadsheet, The living wage data example was an opportunity to use data journalism to help make a topic that was on everyone’s minds, the cost of living crisis, more digestible and easy to understand, while being informative. It mixes descriptions of what terms in the cost of living crisis mean with visualisations and charts that show how things are broken down, and how they have changed over time. The elections data piece is a further example of mixing lighthearted content with important topics. During the 2022 Scottish Council elections, I wanted to create a piece in the run up to the election day with information on who was standing in each council ward. But I found a data source which asked more fun questions to humanise candidates – such as what is your favourite biscuit- so that became the hook of the story. It’s important to get people engaged in what is important where they live, and one complaint around elections may be that people don’t really know who they are voting for, The piece was designed to supplement other election work being carried out by the newspaper at the time, and it saw a lot of interaction due to the hook of the story. All of these examples show how I have used data journalism to fit in with the current trends, and also big stories to try and interest new readers, as well as providing something different for those who have been with the newspaper for years.