This chapter looks at the production of data visualizations (dataviz) in newsrooms and audiences’ everyday engagements with them.
Keywords: data visualization, audience engagement, newsrooms, dataviz, storytelling, data publics
This chapter looks at both the production of data visualizations (henceforth “dataviz”) in newsrooms and audiences’ everyday engagements with dataviz, drawing on two separate research projects. The first is Seeing Data, which explored how people make sense of data visualizations, and the second is INDVIL, which explored dataviz as a semiotic, aesthetic and discursive resource in society. The chapter starts by summarizing the main findings of an INDVIL sub-project focusing on dataviz in the news, in which we found that dataviz are perceived in diverse ways and deployed for diverse purposes. It then summarizes our main findings from Seeing Data, where we also found great diversity, this time in how audiences make sense of dataviz. This diversity is important for the future work of both dataviz researchers and practitioners.
Data Visualization in Newsrooms: Trends and Challenges
How is data visualization being embedded into newsroom practice? What trends are emerging, and what challenges are arising? To answer these questions, in 2016 and 2017 we undertook 60 interviews in 26 newsrooms across six European countries: Norway (NO), Sweden (SE), Denmark (DK), Germany (DE), Switzerland (CH) and the United Kingdom (UK). Interviewees in mainstream, online news media organizations included editorial leaders, leaders of specialist data visualization teams, data journalists, visual journalists, graphic/data visualization designers and developers (although some didn't have job titles, a sign in itself that this is a rapidly emerging field). We present some highlights from our research here.
Changing Journalistic Storytelling
The growing use of data visualization within journalism means that there is a shift from writing as the main semiotic mode to data and visualization as central elements in journalistic storytelling. Many interviewees stated that data visualization is the driving force of a story, even when it is a simple graphic or diagram.
The reader stats tell us that when we insert a simple data visualization in a story, readers stay on the page a little longer. (SE)