For the past six months, I’ve been writing stories and creating data visualizations for The DataFace. I’m involved in all aspects of my projects from start to finish - collecting and cleaning the data, finding insights, designing and building visualizations, and writing the piece.
I’m attracted to data journalism because of how powerful of a medium it has become. Large datasets packed with information are available everywhere (and if they aren’t, open-source tools for scraping have made it easier and easier to create them) that contain new, exciting findings. Libraries for data analytics and visualization continue to mature and improve, allowing us to analyze and present information in ways that were previously very difficult. I hope that my portfolio showcases my passion for this ever-growing form of storytelling.
What makes this project innovative?
What makes my portfolio unique the breadth of topics investigated, and the amount of data collected. I don’t focus on a specific part of the news, but instead tackle any topic that piques my interest. I’ve done projects on the top memes from 2017, the growth of gun sales, and U.S. parental leave policies -- none of which are related, but all of which (I think) are an interesting story.
I strive to enable our readers to explore topics and information that was previously unable to them through interactive visualizations. Three projects in particular make this goal clear. 1. My article on parental leave contains an interactive beeswarm chart of 1,500 U.S. companies’ policies, which were scraped from FairyGodBoss.com. This gives the reader the power to sift through the entire dataset and see what companies fall towards the top or bottom. 2. My interactive scatter plot of every TED Talk can be sorted by both topic and sentiment, and contains the video itself embedded in the tooltip, making it a very powerful exploratory tool. 3. My visualization of the greatest receivers in NFL history shows the trajectory of these athletes over their whole careers, providing a fresh and more holistic view of how your favorite players stack up against each other.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
I evaluate the success of my projects in a variety of ways. From a business perspective, we look at a combination of social shares, site views, and press mentions. The pieces I’ve done have all been amongst the highest viewed articles on our site, and have garnered some attention from the press.
I also measure the impact of my projects in terms of personal development. Any project that pushes me to utilize new analytics and visualization tools has an impact on my progression as a data journalist, which is extremely important to me. While my goal for every project is to provide new, exciting content to as many readers as possible, it’s also to hone my skills and ultimately become a valuable contributor to the data journalism community -- and I believe that each of these projects have helped me move closer and closer to that goal.
Source and methodology
My projects’ data come from various sources - sometimes I build web scrapers, other times I use APIs, and sometimes I do manual collection. The source and methodology is different for every project, but in general I choose a topic, figure out a way to get the data, analyze it, visualize it, then write the story.
See the “Methodology” section of each piece in my portfolio for more details about a specific project.