Articles

  • Storytelling + STEM!: Northeastern’s new Master of Science (M.S.) in Media Innovation & Data Communication
    For years here at Storybench, we’ve been exploring what you might call the “science of stories.” It can seem a paradox: How can something so human as storytelling — so subjective, so dependent on context, so humanistic — be something that can be reduced to a few underlying scientific theories or principles? OK, perhaps a […]
  • The TV Animator: Chris Chmura Breaking Ground in Traditional Video-Storytelling Methods to Grow Audiences
    Over the last few years, local television news stations have been finding ways to implement graphics and animation more effectively to tell their stories while trying to engage a younger audience. It’s an effective strategy backed up by research from the Reinventing Local TV News Project at Northeastern University. Newsrooms are hiring animators, designers, and […]
  • How investigative journalists followed the money in the Pandora Papers
    The day when Miranda Patrucic got a call from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists about the Pandora Papers leak, her jaw dropped. The Pandora Papers are leaked documents that revealed hidden wealth, tax avoidance, and in some cases, money laundering by some of the world’s most powerful government officials, business leaders and celebrities with […]
  • Managing big data for investigating disaster emergency and recovery processes
    Editor’s note: This article is from virtual reporting from the live streamed panel on March 3, 2022. How do journalists handle big sets of data when they cover natural disasters or climate change related topics?  It can be difficult to provide accountability while covering disasters, said Ren Larson, a data reporter with The Texas Tribune […]
  • Mobile and desktop data reporting tools
    Editor’s note: This article is from virtual reporting from the live streamed panel on March 3, 2022. Journalists need to have good tools on hand at all times for efficient reporting, especially while on the field. Mike Reilley, founder of Journalist’s Toolbox and a journalism professor at University of Illinois Chicago, shared a handful of […]
  • How To: Use investigative techniques to hold algorithms and artificial intelligence accountable
    Editor’s note: This article is from virtual reporting from the livestreamed panel on March 3, 2022. Many tech companies, including Silicon Valley giants, are beginning to grapple with the ethics of using algorithms, which can lead to unintended biases in society.  At the NICAR 2022 conference, which began Thursday in Atlanta, journalists Surya Mattu and […]
  • Federica Fragapane on Using Minimalistic Shapes, Lines and Tree Branches to Convey Powerful Stories
    Editor’s note: This is the second of two stories featuring information designer Federica Fragapane. This article focuses on design choices for her Hearts and Minds, Key Workers and The Stories Behind a Line projects, and maintaining harmony in data visualizations that accompany stories. It’s no secret that political and media narratives influence public perception of […]
  • For information designer Tiziana Alocci, it’s all about the process
    When Tiziana Alocci sits down to work on a design, she doesn’t start by thinking about the end product. Instead, she begins with the data, the message it all conveys and the discovery that’ll come through the design process. Alocci, an information designer and data artist based in London, creates robust visualizations centered around everything […]
  • Of Data, Theater and Healing: The Art of Federica Fragapane
    Editor’s note: This is the first of two stories featuring information designer Federica Fragapane. This article focuses on the importance of information design, her attention to detail, collaboration and her relationship with theatrical work that influenced her visualizations. For Federica Fragapane, an independent information designer with a love for theater, combining elements from the two […]
  • Nadieh Bremer on thinking outside the (x,y) axes
    When data visualization is taught in the classroom, basic bar charts or scatter plots with trend lines are commonly used. But Nadieh Bremer, a freelance data visualization designer operating under the name Visual Cinnamon, likes to break these conventional rules. From the conception of a potential project to printing the end result, Bremer’s favorite part […]
  • Mapping disinformation and igniting insight with Media Cloud’s Emily Boardman Ndulue
    Editor’s note: Danica Jefferies is a graduate assistant for the Co-Lab for Data Impact and works with Emily Ndulue. Emily Boardman Ndulue recently arrived at Northeastern University, but she has been conducting research for several years, including working alongside interdisciplinary analysts at the MIT Media Lab. In 2018, she joined the Media Cloud project, featuring […]
  • How Kirell Benzi’s data art balances creativity and scientific accuracy
    Kirell Benzi is a self-taught artist whose art is not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but it’s also rooted in data visualization principles and often embedded with a message. Using artificial intelligence, or machine learning, Benzi creates visuals not only with as many as 335 million parameters, but also to generate text and summaries […]
  • Analyzing gender differences in music themes and lyrics
    Music is a form of self-expression, allowing for a range of human emotions and creativity that can unite people of diverse backgrounds. So it may come as a surprise to some that there are widespread gender differences in the music industry. According to a diversity in music report released by the University of Southern California […]
  • Assembling a searchable interface of Boston police misconduct data
    The public’s desire for transparency about police misconduct in Boston has never been greater, yet the city’s police department makes finding that information difficult. That’s why I built Boston Cop Track, an online prototype documenting police misconduct claims within the city of Boston, designed to serve as a tool for civilian use. A user can […]
  • Finding Embedded Tweets in Online News with Python
    Seeing embedded tweets in an online news story has become quite normal. As a platform especially well suited to breaking news, Twitter is a favorite for journalists and politicians alike.  Researchers have taken on the question of the use of Twitter in news, leading to published studies and datasets. However, digital news norms continue to […]
  • Visualizing Uncertainty in the Time of COVID-19: New York University’s Enrico Bertini on the role of uncertainty
    Editor’s note: This is the third of three stories Storybench is publishing about the recent “Visualizing Uncertainty” conference at Northeastern University An ongoing issue journalists and graphic designers face as the pandemic drags on is dealing with their own uncertainties about uncertainty. It’s something Enrico Bertini, an associate professor of computer science and engineering at […]
  • Covering TikTok’s algorithm: How one tech reporter demystified a TikTok trend
    Frances Haugen, a former data scientist at Facebook, recently revealed several allegations against the social media giant at a U.S. Senate subcommittee. In gripping testimony, she described how Facebook and Instagram harm young people, purposefully sowing radical divisions and amplifying misinformation in favor of profit. But perhaps the most popular social media company is the […]
  • ProPublica’s Emily Hopkins encourages students to consider careers in data journalism
    The way journalists tell stories is constantly evolving, with data increasingly becoming an integral tool for reporting daily news. That’s something journalist Emily Hopkins learned as a graduate student at Northeastern University School of Journalism in Boston. She now works as an Abram Reporting Fellow at ProPublica and she said her data journalism skills are […]
  • Visualizing Uncertainty in the Time of COVID-19: The New York Times’ Josh Holder on leading with questions when demonstrating uncertainty
    Editor’s note: This is the second of three stories Storybench is publishing about the recent “Visualizing Uncertainty” conference at Northeastern University. Read the first one here. Visualizing uncertainty with data-rich stories is how New York Times graphics editor Josh Holder and his team tackled reporting the ambiguity that underpinned the COVID-19 pandemic. Holder was part […]
  • Visualizing Uncertainty in the Time of COVID-19: The Washington Post’s Chiqui Esteban on the Power of Words
    Editor’s note: This is one of three stories Storybench is publishing about the recent “Visualizing Uncertainty” conference at Northeastern University At the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic lay uncertainty. For journalists covering the pandemic, finding ways to visualize this uncertainty was particularly challenging. Creating graphics from clear and conclusive data is one thing, but creating […]
  • How The Scope mapped their way to accessible 2021 Boston election coverage
    This year’s Boston mayoral and city council election is being covered in new, dynamic and interactive ways by Boston-based digital experimental magazine, The Scope.  Using engaging data visualizations, The Scope has created two accessible and interactive maps within their “A Guide to Boston’s 2021 Mayoral & City Council Race” piece by reporter Ha Ta to […]
  • Lauren Sandler on the ethics of human-interest reporting
    Brooklyn-based award-winning journalist and author Lauren Sandler has spent her career considering the ethical implications of human-interest reporting and how to navigate this often tricky corner of the journalism world. Sandler’s new bestselling book, “This Is All I Got: A New Mother’s Search for Home,” is a nonfiction account of a young, single, homeless mother […]
  • How FiveThirtyEight’s Julia Wolfe addresses data literacy
    As the demand for a statistically literate workforce grows, the ability to produce data-driven stories increasingly provides journalists with distinctive and cutting edge career paths. Effective visualizations are crucial for clearly communicating substantial amounts of information in often interactive and captivating ways. Julia Wolfe, now a senior data editor, has worked at Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight […]
  • The proof is in The Pudding: How one online publication is using cutting-edge data visualizations to tell meaningful pop culture stories
    The Pudding is a digital publication that explains ideas debated in culture through visual essays. Founded in 2017, The Pudding dives deep into issues and topics surrounding popular culture and reports on them using cutting-edge data visualizations and interactive design. Using longform data journalism, the publication is known for interactive and experimental stories like “The […]
  • Sky-high expectations for The New York Times, but Empire State data visualization falls short
    In light of the gradual reopening of New York City following the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of journalists and data analysts from The New York Times attempted to summarize the impact of the pandemic in an interactive story titled “Why the Empire State Building, and New York, May Never Be the Same” which analyzes the […]
  • How stuff.co.nz tells the tale of two pandemics in Auckland with an interactive timeline.
    We have witnessed various stages of COVID-19 response here in the United States. As early surges and lockdowns led to debates over school openings and mask mandates, now we grapple with signs of renewed hope as more people are vaccinated and communities begin to reopen. New Zealand pursued a strategy of “COVID zero,” closing borders […]
  • Zach Silber — how to influence public opinion with data-driven analytics
    What are the best strategies for shaping public opinion? Can organizations persuade people to change their minds? Zach Silber said his company, Kivvit, applies news and social media analytics to inform public advocacy strategies. Silber, the company’s chief innovation officer and former political director of the New York Observer, spoke on Thursday, Sept. 30 at […]
  • Does better news coverage lead to greater voter engagement? The answer: It depends
    Meaningful participation in civic life isn’t possible without access to high-quality news and information. Consider the most fundamental aspect of community engagement: voting in local elections. If prospective voters lack the means to inform themselves about candidates for the select board, the city council, the school committee and the like, then it follows that they […]
  • TikTok is changing the way journalists share information
    Short-form video-sharing and social networking app TikTok has evolved from a dance-centered social networking service created in 2016 to the often humorous and even informative video blog community it is today. Journalists around the world are utilizing the app to connect with a billion monthly active users in over 150 countries. According to the Wallaroo […]
  • Reporting on public health crises: Jamie Ducharme’s beat from e-cigarettes to global pandemic
    Jamie Ducharme could never have predicted the opportunities that would come her way as a reporter.  Ducharme, who graduated from Northeastern University’s School of Journalism in 2016, is not only a correspondent at Time magazine but also a newly published author.  Ducharme spoke on Sept. 16 at “Pizza, Press & Politics,” an informal speaker series […]
  • New-age storytelling: How Bianca Graulau used social media to reinvent reporting during the pandemic
    The coronavirus pandemic has impacted most industries, forcing professionals to adapt to new forms of remote work culture. Even journalists have had to adapt. This has reinforced the importance of digital platforms in journalism and how reliant people have become on social media as the primary means of communication. While many media publications are still […]
  • Lance Oppenheim on heightened observational filmmaking and treating sources like performers
    Twenty-four year-old filmmaker, Lance Oppenheim, stuck out like a sore thumb when he moved into America’s largest retirement community. He made his home amongst the retro decor, meticulously groomed golf courses and blocks of identical white-picket-fence lined houses. His neighbors, all over 55, wanted to know whose grandson he was, but Oppenheim wasn’t there to […]
  • Breaking the traditional TV news storytelling format: A conversation with TV reporter Danae Bucci
    Danae Bucci is a reporter for Hearst-owned WJCL-TV, the ABC affiliate in Savannah, Georgia as well as a 2020 graduate of Northeastern University. She talks about trying to break the traditional local TV news storytelling format at her reporting job at WJCL, which is in the same station ownership group as Boston’s own WCVB-TV. Bucci […]
  • Experiential experiment: Abdullah Saeed’s approach to covering taboos
    Chances are, you live in a state where cannabis is legal. While the positive or negative impacts of the plant’s legalization are up for debate, the lucrative legal cannabis industry is getting a lot of media attention. There may be no such thing as bad press, but overwhelmingly positive reporting on cannabis legalization risks different […]
  • How David Schechter sees the future of local climate coverage
    In November 2019, David Schechter of WFAA-TV Dallas and the award-winning Verify Road Trip video series took conservative Texan Justin Fain on a journey to see if he could convince him that climate change was indeed real. The two went from Texas’ prestigious university campuses to the most adversely affected parts of Alaska to see […]
  • Using animation to transform the oral history of America
    Humans have been telling stories since as far back as we can be traced. Storytelling has evolved from writings on cave walls to troubadours to modern day multimedia platforms that bridge the world. Journalism has played a vital role for decades in keeping people informed and preserving our history and identity. However, in the ways […]
  • Filmmaker and storyteller Annalise Pasztor on using experimentation in journalism
    TV news has had largely the same storytelling formula for decades. This past year, during a digital age in the middle of a pandemic, where Zoom has become the new form of communication, video storytelling was forced to experiment. From animation to historical content to graphics, news organizations like The Atlantic and The New York […]
  • Animation and the future of TV news storytelling: A Q&A with Animation Professor Jason Donati
    Substack newsletters. Podcasts. Social media. With every passing year, local TV news is facing new competitive mediums and gradually losing its share of the attention market. But experimental outlets like Vox and VICE News are using animation in their storytelling and proving that video-oriented outlets can engage new and younger audiences. Research from the Reinventing […]
  • We’re back! Reinventing Local TV News Project results published through RTDNA
    Hello again, from the Reinventing Local TV News Project at Northeastern! It’s been four years since we started researching the future of local television news. It’s been quite a journey as we’ve examined the types of stories TV stations cover, how they produce their content, and what they can do to innovate and appeal to […]
  • Bike-friendly Boston: These five datasets let journalists track the city’s progress
    A bike is a simple contraption, but making cities bike-friendly? Not so easy. After decades of cars dominating the streets, integrating bike-friendly traffic lanes and traffic patterns is a slow process. Nevertheless, Boston aims to increase biking four-fold by 2030, and there are a plethora of data sources available to judge how well the city […]
  • Exploring climate data using the Python libraries Matplotlib and Pandas
    If you’ve just grabbed a new dataset and you want to look for interesting trends, making some exploratory graphs in Jupyter Notebook is a good way to start. I usually explore data in R Studio, but I wanted to become more familiar with the analysis and graphing capabilities of two Python libraries: Matplotlib and Pandas. […]
  • Mapping toxic waste release sites using the Python library GeoPandas
    Plotting positional information on maps can reveal geographic trends and makes for an effective visualization to accompany an article. In this tutorial, we’ll use Jupyter Notebook and a Python library called GeoPandas to map where toxic waste was released in Massachusetts in 2019. Parts of this method are adapted from a post that Ryan Stewart […]
  • How journalists use the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory to report on environmental justice
    In 1984, a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, leaked 45 tons of toxic methyl isocyanate gas, killing thousands of people and injuring hundreds of thousands. A few months later, another Union Carbide plant in West Virginia released a mix of less toxic chemicals into the air that caused over 100 people to be […]
  • Jan Diehm of the Pudding brings human-centered design to storytelling
    At first glance, crossword puzzles, “gayborhoods,” and the fashion industry don’t have much in common, but a look through journalist-engineer Jan Diehm’s portfolio at The Pudding reveals that there are often important stories beneath the surface waiting to be told with a new kind of data and design-informed storytelling. It certainly wouldn’t come as a […]
  • Boston lacked a system for the public to keep tabs on police, so the Boston Globe built a public database
    The killing of unarmed people of color at the hands of the police led to protests and calls for change last summer. As popular support for the Black Lives Matter movement grew, so too came increased scrutiny of members of law enforcement and calls for them to be held accountable for their actions. Seeing this, […]
  • The other side with photogrammetry: How Taylor Lorenz went behind the camera with some of LA’s most illustrious influencers
    Taylor Lorenz is no stranger to the enigmatic world of social media. Having jump-started her journalistic career writing for the Atlantic and the Daily Beast, Lorenz, 35, moved into the realm of internet culture and technology before landing her position as a full-time reporter at the New York Times. In 2020, Fortune magazine included her […]
  • How Stamen turned a photo archive into an interactive art experience
    In 1966, Ed Ruscha mounted a camera to the back of his pickup truck and drove slowly down Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. He photographed every building on each side of the street and assembled the photos into the book Every Building on the Sunset Strip. Ruscha continued to photograph all 23 miles of the […]
  • Storybench Founder Aleszu Bajak on the moral call of the pandemic and his return to daily data journalism
    After running Storybench at Northeastern for many years, instructor and program manager Aleszu Bajak decided to leverage his knowledge of data and passion for journalism into a senior data reporter role at USA TODAY’s data team. He is a long-time science journalist whose work has influenced many at Northeastern.  Bajak has written multiple articles for […]
  • How Sean Evans made Hot Ones an Internet Sensation
    Hot Ones is a YouTube web series created by Christopher Schonberger and Sean Evans in 2015. The show is produced by First We Feast and Complex Media. It puts the traditional interview show standard on its head as host Sean Evans and celebrity guests go over the celebrity’s career as they both eat increasingly hot […]
  • How disinformation fuels political polarization
    Ten years ago, scores of messages and videos about freedom and democracy shared on Twitter and YouTube by activists in Egypt triggered the Arab Spring, which brought permanency to the media’s coverage of digital and social media activism and continues to be actively researched in journalism.  Deen Freelon is an associate professor at the University […]
  • Newsworthiness in content moderation: Using Media Cloud to look at patterns of attention
    The moderation of content on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has increasingly garnered public attention in recent years. It’s not difficult to see why as more of the information we receive comes from these sites, and they continue to influence major political events with large digital footprints such as the 2016 […]
  • How and why journalists must navigate the uncertainty of political forecasting
    How do journalists explain the world of polling and forecasting to the public? This question came into sharp view after the last two presidential cycles and was discussed in a webinar during the Computational and Journalism Symposium co-hosted by Northeastern and the Brown Institute for Media Innovation in February. The “Political Forecasting Meets Journalism” event […]
  • The New York Times’ Kevin Roose illustrates how memes radicalize users in online spaces
    Valerie Gilbert is a Harvard-educated New Yorker and self-proclaimed “meme queen.” A QAnon soldier, Gilbert spreads information far and wide, fighting the global cabal of “Satanic pedophiles” that former President Donald Trump has been recruited by top military generals to dismantle. Her medium of choice, of course, is virtual ephemera in the form of internet […]
  • How the Boston Globe encouraged readers to support restaurants through #ProjectTakeout
    On Jan. 15, the Boston Globe launched Project Takeout, an initiative spearheaded by food writer Devra First, which encourages Boston residents to order takeout and support the restaurant industry while in the midst of the pandemic. The project features a variety of stories that highlight different restaurants in the Boston area and present the issues […]
  • How the Wall Street Journal conducted a video investigation into the role of the Proud Boys at the Capitol
    On Jan. 6, 2021, the United States Capitol was breached and stormed by supporters of Donald Trump to protest the results of the 2020 presidential election. Of the many participating groups, the Proud Boys, a white supremacist group, appeared to be particularly prominent, despite their ongoing denial of significant collusion or instigation.  The Wall Street […]
  • How Lazaro Gamio of the New York Times visualized the COVID-19 death toll
    As the number of Americans who have died of COVID-19 has climbed beyond 500,000, it’s become increasingly difficult to conceptualize this number. The New York Times has been tracking COVID data throughout the pandemic, and turning these numbers into graphics we can comprehend. In early February, the Times published “How 450,000 Coronavirus Deaths Added Up” […]
  • C+J 2021: How the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped data journalism
    As COVID-19 cases surged throughout the last year, so did data visualizations. Graphical concepts like flattening the curve became household terms, and even non-epidemiologists began talking about R numbers and exponential growth.  “It was the first time I had seen data journalism and visualization making their way into everyday language,” said multimedia journalist Javier Sauras. […]
  • How the Parametric Press explains the environmental cost of digital consumption
    Have you ever wondered how much carbon dioxide is released when you stream or download eBooks or videos? How about when you opened this article on your phone or computer? There are environmental costs when the packages purchased on Amazon are transported through warehouses and shipping centers to get to our homes. In a similar […]
  • The New York Times’ Stuart A. Thompson on opinion writing and making a career in journalism
    Even during this golden age of technology, many journalists struggle to find a place for technology within print stories. The New York Times did just this, publishing an opinion piece on Jan. 26 which featured audio bytes in place of quotes – making the story an interactive and immersive experience. The piece is a first-person […]
  • The creator of Slow Burn and Fiasco on why you should try podcasting
    Leon Neyfakh, the host of hit podcasts Slow Burn and Fiasco, made it into the podcasting world at just the right time. While speaking at “Pizza, Press, & Politics,” a speaker series presented by the Journalism School at Northeastern University, Neyfakh and co-producer Sam Graham-Felsen urged prospective podcasters to follow in their paths. Neyfakh conceptualized […]
  • A group project in the age of COVID: What worked, what didn’t, and what we learned about making it better
    The COVID pandemic made the fall semester a challenge for everyone. As someone who teaches journalism, I found that challenge to be especially acute. I wanted to give my intermediate-reporting students the same real-life experience as I have with my previous classes, but I needed to do it with the understanding that pavement-pounding and door-knocking were out of the question.  The previous […]
  • Behind the scenes at ‘How to Save a Planet,’ a climate solutions podcast
    Climate change can be overwhelming to think about. But Gimlet Media’s new podcast, How to Save a Planet, is informing listeners about tangible climate solutions. The show is hosted by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, marine biologist and climate policy expert, and Alex Blumberg, co-founder and CEO of Gimlet Media. The show’s first season began in […]
  • How Reuters visualized the influence of K-pop on social justice issues
    For the past several years, racial injustice in the United States has been trending on social media and in the news. Movements such as Black Lives Matter have increased awareness of racial injustice across the country. Many artists and celebrities, as well as ordinary people, have been spreading awareness for these causes, too.  The Mobilizing Power of the BTS Army written by Aditi […]
  • Join Us Soon! Computation + Journalism Conference: Data Journalism in an Expanded Field
    Who will be there, and why you should be there, too. Virtually, of course.
  • How the podcast ‘Science Vs’ investigated a 1971 virus conspiracy
    In November, Gimlet Media’s podcast Science Vs published a two-part story on a viral outbreak in Cuban pigs in 1971. The Cuban government had ordered all their pigs burned to contain the spread of the African swine fever virus, which is deadly to pigs but not a health risk to humans. To some people, this […]
  • Quarant-TV: How Traditional Outlets Can Win in an Age of Uncertainty
    The coronavirus pandemic has devastated many industries. But according to recent statistics, TV news isn’t one of them. In fact, this challenging circumstance may be just the wakeup call stations need to reverse dwindling viewership and breathe new life into the medium. Audience research and consulting firm SmithGeiger has been working with Northeastern’s Reinventing Local […]
  • How the Wall Street Journal visualized the 2020 election results
    Each time an election year dawns, it brings changes – the candidates campaigning, how the battleground states are polling, and, of course, changes in our national obsession: election maps. But even before 2020 arrived, the Wall Street Journal was having conversations about designing maps. In fact, they were brainstorming around November 2019 — a full […]
  • How IndyStar’s Emily Hopkins helped break a nursing home scandal in Indianapolis
    Emily Hopkins, a data reporter on the Indy Star Investigations team, spoke with Storybench about their reporting on improperly funded nursing homes in the time of COVID-19. Hopkins spoke about data collection, the importance of data visualization for complex subjects, and how smaller newsrooms handle investigative and resource heavy stories. Hopkins graduated from Northeastern University […]
  • How we used math to explore racial segregation in Pennsylvania public school districting
    American life is based on American thought. American thought is based on American values. And American values have a foundation in the public school system. So what happens when the American public school system is flawed? Although the “separate but equal” school system was deemed unconstitutional in the 1954 ruling Brown v. Board of Education, […]
  • How the Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism is reporting on water access around the world
    There is nothing more vital to life on Earth than water. Yet from rural, sub-Saharan Africa to Asia’s crowded megacities, there is a global water crisis with one in 10 people lacking access to basic drinking water.      That’s why “H2OFAIL,” the Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism’s current investigation, is focusing on the causes and consequences […]
  • How Cultural Survival is mapping the impact of the pandemic on Indigenous communities
    As the Covid-19 pandemic unfolds, Indigenous communities across the globe are finding themselves excluded from case data. In response, a Cambridge-based human rights group called Cultural Survival has created a map that documents outbreaks in Indigenous populations around the world. The project is led by Bia’ni Madsa’ Juárez López, a 31-year-old biologist and project manager […]
  • Four tips from the Wall Street Journal’s Yan Wu on visualizing police data
    News organizations interested in exploring different ways to cover policing can draw inspiration from a piece by Yan Wu, a graphics reporter at the Wall Street Journal and alumna of the Media Innovation graduate program at Northeastern’s School of Journalism, on New Jersey police officers that use excessive force. After graduating, Wu worked with NJ.com […]
  • How Nature magazine visualized 150 years of scientific discovery
    In honor of the 150th anniversary of the seminal scientific journal Nature, the publication spent months producing a special “cover” for the 21st century. Through a colorful interactive tool, a set of exclusive analyses, and a “data movie,” users can explore the entire network of multidisciplinary research published throughout the journal’s history. “150 Years of […]
  • How interactive, visual storytelling helps readers better retain information
    Earlier this year, you may have seen the Washington Post’s wildly popular coronavirus simulator explaining how pandemics spread exponentially. But have you played the Financial Times’ Uber Game? What about the New York Times’ “You Draw It?”  The quantity and quality of interactive, visual storytelling has grown tremendously over recent years, boosting learning and engagement […]
  • How Kate Sosin told the story of transgender individuals in California prisons
    How often do transgender people get the opportunity to tell their own stories at major media outlets? According to Kate Sosin, LGBTQ+ Reporter for The 19th, organizations with a particular focus on queer stories focus on bringing marginalized voices to the front. Queer media is expanding, and historically underrepresented groups of journalists use their lived experience […]
  • How the Boston Globe’s Mark Shanahan made a podcast about his battle with prostate cancer
    In a recently published six-part podcast series, Mr. 80 Percent, Boston Globe entertainment writer Mark Shanahan went into granular, personal detail about his treatment journey with a disease that affects one in nine men according to the American Cancer Society: prostate cancer.  The goal was to take an honest, nonclinical approach to the disease to […]
  • How Stuff.co.nz told the story of New Zealand’s coronavirus lockdown
    Felippe Rodrigues creates data visualizations for stuff.co.nz, New Zealand’s largest online news publisher. One of his recent pieces, “The story of New Zealand’s COVID lockdown, in graphs,” uses smoothly animated computer graphics to demonstrate the effectiveness of New Zealand’s precautionary measures against the coronavirus, while walking the viewer step-by-step through the data. Rodrigues, a former […]
  • Journalists don’t need to do what a bot does
    Last August I decided to hire a journalist to produce content for a project. This person would help me with social media posts, newsletters and reports, with the goal of providing other journalists with scientific knowledge coming from social media. After a few weeks, having worked on the budget and the targets I had in […]
  • Analyzing the top links, domains, and keywords from 29 million tweets about Covid-19
    Today, in collaboration with Lazer Lab at Northeastern University’s Network Science Institute, I published an interactive dashboard exploring the prevalence of Covid-19 news and misinformation on Twitter. The analysis is based on 29 million tweets collected between January 1 and September 30, 2020 from over half a million registered American voters for whom we have […]
  • How the Allen Coral Atlas is mapping and monitoring coral reefs worldwide
    Although coral reefs occupy less than one percent of the ocean floor, their importance extends well beyond their size. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that 500 million people survive on coral reefs for income, and their economic value in the U.S. is estimated at $3.4 billion each year. More importantly, healthy coral reefs […]
  • Pandemic news coverage is falling, but cases keep rising
    The Covid-19 pandemic has yielded unprecedented media coverage. Over the last six months, no single topic has taken over online news quite like the coronavirus has. In fact, at its peak in late March, almost 75% of all stories in top U.S. online media sources mentioned coronavirus in some way. But that attention seems to […]
  • How The New York Times visualized racist historical redlining and urban heat
    In late August, The New York Times published “How Decades of Racist Housing Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering,” a visual reckoning on historical redlining, persistent racial inequality and who feels increased urban heat across U.S. cities today. The project, led by Times climate graphics editor Nadja Popovich and Times climate reporter Brad Plumer, opens with a […]
  • How The New York Times is tracking Covid-19 cases in the U.S.
    Published June 30, 2020. The New York Times’ map of U.S. cases of Covid-19 is a living webpage that changes with the numbers and relies on a team of over 70 in-house and freelance journalists for data collection and design of Covid-19 cases for U.S. counties and states. In January, Times graphics editors and international […]
  • How Circle of Blue investigated freshwater issues in Texas
    While 70% of our planet’s surface is covered in water, only 3% of it is fresh water – and most of that is packed away in glaciers and polar ice caps, out of human reach. The limited freshwater resources that we do have access to — groundwater, lakes, rivers and ponds — are shrinking under […]
  • Reopen schools narrative spreads across shadowy local news sites
    Americans are divided about reopening schools this fall and polls show that this disagreement falls along party lines with Republicans more in favor of children returning to schools. Which is why it wasn’t surprising when we found a pro-school reopening narrative popping up this summer on a large network of local and business news websites […]
  • How NASA’s Earth Matters blog sparks conversations with satellite images
    Exploring NASA’s Earth Matters blog is like walking into a candy store. The various categories featured on the blog include photographs of Earth by astronauts, news and research roundups, and pictures and mails sent in by readers.  Among these, the EO Satellite Puzzler stands out for the way it engages with the readers. Since May […]
  • How FlowingData’s Nathan Yau thinks about data stories
    Nathan Yau, the founder of the website FlowingData, has been creating and discussing data visualization projects since 2007. Browsing through the site reveals no single theme; instead, there is a mix of traditional data analysis, compelling visualizations and commentary on popular visualizations published around the web. Yau’s own projects cover a wide field, from labor […]
  • Animating the pandemic: TV storytelling techniques in the time of Covid
    The global Covid-19 pandemic has forced every industry to evolve as a new normal sets in. This is no different for local television news. Having to work from home, tell stories with limited visual elements, and not get close to any story subjects provides an extra layer of difficulty for those out in the field. […]
  • How The New York Times produced a visual explainer of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus
    The novel coronavirus is much more than a sphere wrapped in spike proteins. Back in April, The New York Times published a visual explainer of the proteins and genome of SARS-CoV-2, based on an analysis of an early strain isolated from a patient in Wuhan, China. The project is one of several visual explainers of […]
  • How to calculate a rolling average in R
    Rolling or moving averages are a way to reduce noise and smooth time series data. During the Covid-19 pandemic, rolling averages have been used by researchers and journalists around the world to understand and visualize cases and deaths. This post will cover how to compute and visualize rolling averages for the new confirmed cases and […]
  • How The New York Times visualized trends in white extremist attacks
    In April 2019, The New York Times published an interactive article on white extremist killings from New Zealand to Norway to the United States. Using maps and a timeline to plot the data, the Times’ Weiyi Cai and Simone Landon reveal the troubling frequency and, in some cases, strange connections between the events. Storybench spoke with […]
  • Update: How to geocode a CSV of addresses in R
    This post is an update from the previous post, “How to geocode a CSV of addresses in R”. We will be using the ggmap package again, and be sure to investigate the usage and billing policy for Google’s Geocoding API. The API now has a pay-as-you-go model, and every account gets a certain number of requests free per month, For […]
  • How Gimlet’s Science Vs podcast produced a season on Covid-19
    Science Vs host Wendy Zukerman begins every coronavirus episode with the reassurance that she’ll bring some clarity through science. In tackling Covid-19 for its eighth season, the popular science podcast has been able to provide listeners with thoughtful answers to questions like “Should I Disinfect Everything?” and “Was It Made In A Lab?” For over […]
  • How Radiolab produced “Gonads,” a podcast series on human reproduction
    Listening to Radiolab’s “Gonads” series is a lot like hearing a science documentary about human reproduction and having an epic narrative play out in your mind’s eye. The podcast series, which features an ethereal soundtrack, has six parts that cover scientific and personal stories on ovarian tissue freezing, sex chromosomes, sex determination, sex organs and […]
  • How Paraguay’s El Surti is adapting to the age of Covid-19, boosting its fact-checking on Whatsapp and launching a new podcast
    Four years ago, Paraguayan media outlet El Surtidor — known as El Surti — was created to address deep-seated issues of media accessibility and information inequality in the country. The digital-native media organization was built to serve a younger population with illustrations, vivid colors and infographics that synthesized and described the issues of the day […]
  • How Núcleo Jornalismo is tracking Brazilian politicians on Twitter
    Late last month, Brazil’s justice minister Sergio Moro resigned in protest after President Jair Bolsonaro fired his police chief. According to Moro, a prominent politician who may be seeking a presidential run in 2022, Bolsonaro was interfering with the justice department. Last month Bolsonaro also fired his health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, for contradicting the […]
  • A roundup of coronavirus dashboards, datasets and resources
    Access and availability of data on the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, Covid-19, are essential for understanding how the virus spreads, who is most likely to get it, and how to keep them safe. This post is an attempt to round up a list of dashboards, datasets, media, and resources reporters and researchers […]
  • Behind the Sports Illustrated COVID-19 Issue
    This story originally appeared on Game Plan, a publication exploring the future of sports journalism from Northeastern University’s School of Journalism. When NBA star Rudy Gobert announced he had contracted the coronavirus on March 11, the sports world shockwaves were swift. The NBA postponed its season within a couple of hours. A few days later […]
  • How Tifo Football is making soccer analytics easier to digest
    Soccer –  or football, as most of the world calls it – is the most popular sport in the world. As in other major sports, advanced data analytics are being used more frequently in football, both in the front offices and by the media reporting on the sport. Football clubs and journalists alike are always […]
  • How Reuters Visualized the Chilean Economic Crisis
    Ally Levine has a firm grasp on what it takes to turn meaningful data into a compelling story. Having jump-started her journalistic career as an intern on the graphics team at the Los Angeles Times, Levine, 24, moved on to become a data visualization fellow for ProPublica before landing her current position as a full-time […]