Articles

  • Northeastern University’s Reinventing Local TV News Project kicks off a year of experimentation
    Northeastern University’s Reinventing Local TV News Project (RLTVN), supported by the Stanton Foundation, is embarking on an exciting new phase in 2024 with the hiring of four fellows who are working in new roles for television stations around the country. Building on its foundational work since 2017, the project continues its journey to revolutionize local
  • How the Urban Institute democratizes access to education data
    Debates about education have taken center stage everywhere from local school board meetings to debates between presidential hopefuls. Yet, beyond the rhetoric, getting the hard data to answer questions like, “How have student demographics at the school down the street changed over time?” and “How have student outcomes changed over the course of the pandemic?”
  • Reuters: Journalism and technology trends and predictions
    News organizations are covering huge stories, like wars in Ukraine and the Middle East and climate change, all the while facing economic challenges and the rapid development of artificial intelligence. What are the potential new hurdles in the industry? How will newsrooms grapple with them? Nic Newman, senior research associate at Reuters Institution, explored these
  • Here’s a look inside the data team at the Associated Press
    Founded in 1846, the Associated Press is perhaps best known for its quick and accurate breaking news reports, widely republished worldwide. But, just like in other newsrooms, AP journalists are actively working to incorporate more data storytelling into their coverage. With data reporters embedded on local desks across the country, the AP is committed to
  • Getting started with stringr for textual analysis in R
    Manipulating characters – a.k.a. non-numerical data – is an essential skill for anyone looking to visualize or analyze text data. This tutorial will go over a few of the base R functions for manipulating strings in R, and introduce the stringr package from the tidyverse. The datasets being used are being analyzed as part of
  • Step by step: Exploring the sneaker lifecycle through data physicalization
    Laces. Sole. Heeltab. Toebox.  An exploded axonometric model of a single blue Nike Air Jordan sat at the entrance of “The Secret Life of Sneakers,” revealing individual components of the shoe’s structure. Walking past it, viewers entered a data physicalization exhibit aimed at raising awareness for more sustainable practices in the sneaker life cycle. The
  • Chris Perry explores the impact of AI on future media
    What has changed since digital media was invented? How will the future media change as we enter the age of artificial intelligence?  These are two questions Chris Perry, chairman of marketing firm Weber Shandwick Futures, brought up in his presentation on AI&Future of Media/Comms Work on Jan 26, to Northeastern students and scholars at Northeastern’s
  • How OpenAI is changing the way we process information
    “Is AI another Gutenberg moment for journalism?” Jill Abramson asked.  The Gutenberg printing press was a significant turning point in the history of journalism. Before Gutenberg, only wealthy people could afford to read due to the complicated and costly printing process. The new and affordable printing technique marked increased accessibility to reading and knowledge for
  • How Brian Romer approaches data visualizations
    With the endless information in the media every day, creativity almost seems like a necessity. That includes crafting data visualizations to tell stories that are easy-to-read and impactful. Brian Romer, who previously worked on data and design projects at Reuters, is accustomed to producing meaningful insights from complex data sets. Now as a freelancer, some
  • Your start of the year updates on artificial intelligence in journalism are here
    This is third in our series of round-ups on the latest in artificial intelligence and journalism. Here are some recent links you might want to read. These insights are brought to you by Northeastern University data professor Rahul Bhargava. Public understanding of AI and news There is growing public concern about the impacts of AI
  • How ProPublica’s Craig Silverman uncovers Big Tech deceptions
    The rise of Big Tech and social media has led to a wildfire spread of misinformation. As fact-checking tools across platforms like X, Facebook and Instagram continue to be misused and ill-prepared, concerns surrounding the power of these platforms linger. Craig Silverman is a journalist for ProPublica, formerly the media editor of BuzzFeed. He works
  • Island17: How a college student made a gamified metaverse to explore diversity, equity and inclusion
    Island17 is a gamified metaverse that bridges youth to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals through skilled gameplay. 18-year-old changemaker and Northeastern University student Bonisha Maitra makes a commitment to social entrepreneurship, purpose-driven technologies and youth-centered innovation through her unique project. In 2022, Maitra and two other high school students won a Social Innovation
  • How this former public school teacher helped uncover education inequities for The Boston Globe
    Mandy McLaren, a reporter for The Boston Globe, witnessed how low-quality education can impact students during her former career as a public school teacher in New Orleans. Taking it to heart, McLaren is now a member of The Great Divide, a team at the Globe that investigates imbalances within education systems. Storybench sat down with
  • What Works: How Dan Kennedy and Ellen Clegg offer solutions to the local news crisis
    As local journalism continues to struggle for survival, Dan Kennedy, a veteran journalist and professor at Northeastern University, is spreading the word that there are solutions out there. Kennedy and co-author Ellen Clegg’s WhatWorks site and podcast are full of information about the local news crisis and potential solutions, as well as updates from projects
  • These tools will take your data to a new level — or decibel
    As data visualizations become more prevalent in news coverage, more and more people are looking to data sonification as a new frontier. Sonification is a process that translates data, such as numbers on a chart, into musical notes and sound. Organizations like the Financial Times, BBC, The New York Times and the Tactical Technology Collective
  • Unraveling beer’s evolution with The Washington Post
    In the effervescent tapestry of human history, few threads weave a tale as enduring and universal as that of beer. From the murky origins of Stone Age sludge to the meticulously crafted brews of today’s artisanal breweries, this amber elixir has been a companion to civilizations, a cornerstone of culture and a testament to the
  • Why TV executives should listen to their interns
    Internships are more than just a learning experience and an occasional coffee run. NBC Chicago interns are part of the team making some pretty important decisions on behalf of the company. If someone had told me I was going to make a mark on NBC on the first day of my summer internship, I would’ve
  • How The Pudding visualized the evolution of “wonky” grooves
    Have you ever wondered how the beat of a song can emote? Or how the transcendent nature of loose grooves can make your body want to move? The Pudding’s “Wonky” explores exactly how rhythm and grooves broke out of their traditional boxes. Journalist and musician Michelle McGhee used her background in computer science to create
  • How an intern’s “Dadaist” economic skits took over NPR’s TikTok
    Legacy news outlets like NPR are historically concerned with maintaining a consistent brand. But when Jack Corbett, a former intern at NPR’s Tiny Desk, started making explanatory skits for the outlet’s TikTok account in 2020, they were happy to “hand off the reigns,” Corbett said. “It felt like the stakes were lower,” Corbett said. “Because,
  • From radio to TikTok: How Matt Shearer has transformed WBZ’s coverage
    If the new frontier of reporting is on TikTok, Matt Shearer of Boston’s WBZ Radio is a pioneer. His short-form videos highlight the best Massachusetts has to offer, from the Water Country Jingle to the impassioned followers of Market Basket.  An Emmy-nominated reporter, Shearer was awarded the National Murrow Award for Excellence in Media Innovation.
  • How CNN’s guide visualized real-world impacts of a government shutdown
    The latest near shutdown of the government confused a lot of people across the United States. Many don’t know or understand what exactly happens during a shutdown and which federal agencies shut down with it. Amy O’Kruk, a CNN data and graphics editor on their Digital Visual News team wrote, created and led a guide
  • ‘Reeling’ in your audience: Emily Schario discusses The B-Side’s social media strategy
    The B-Side, Boston Globe Media’s witty daily newsletter covering local news, has been reeling in readers with an engaging social media presence on Instagram and TikTok. The B-Side is led by Emily Schario, head of content and lead writer.  The “Daily Dose of News” newsletter launched in Oct. 2022 and has since gained quite a
  • Unearthing the devastating earthquake strikes in Morocco
    The Reuters article “Buried under the bricks” effectively communicates the impact of an earthquake that devastated Morocco in early Sept. 2023 showing the fundamental weaknesses of mud-brick constructions in the High Atlas mountain areas. The piece emphasizes the risks associated with old construction techniques, which are vulnerable to seismic natural disasters such as earthquakes. By
  • How The Washington Post visualized the Republican primary debates
    From the very first moments of the Aug. 23 Republican primary debate, Hannah Dormido was furiously scribbling in her notebook. Each time Trump’s name was mentioned, check. Hunter Biden, check. Ukraine, check. Her process is a cluttered scramble, but the finished product is a clean, easily-digestible series of visuals explaining the debate’s key themes and
  • How The New York Times visualized the decline of clinics offering abortions after Dobbs
    When Amy Schoenfeld Walker of The New York Times began reporting on abortion clinics after Roe v. Wade was overturned, she and her colleagues were shocked by how drastically the abortion landscape had changed, mere months after the decision. It began with “the Pink House,” the abortion clinic featured in the Dobbs v. Jackson case.
  • How podcasting helped these social media influencers expand their brand
    Influencer culture has become increasingly mainstream. From promoting products to sharing lifestyle tips, influencers have created significant online identities and brands to interact with tuned-in users across several platforms. Among them are Caroline and AnnCatherine Conneen, both also enrolled at Northeastern University. The twins share valuable insights into fitness, self-confidence and nutrition on their respective
  • The Boston Globe opinion section showed what it’s like to be a teenager today using essays, poems and art
    It’s no secret that being a teenager comes with many ups and downs. The Opinion team at The Boston Globe wanted to learn more about what these were, so a simple question was put in the paper: “What is it like to be a teenager today?” Kelly Horan, deputy editor of Globe Ideas, and Heather
  • The host of ‘Java with Jimmy’ on how a quarantine hobby became a community-based career
    In a slew of mainstream media, it can be difficult to find a voice that feels familiar and genuine, like a conversation with a next-door neighbor. For James “Jimmy” Hills, the host of “Java with Jimmy,” creating an impact while maintaining authenticity is crucial to his brand and ethos. When Hills went live on Instagram
  • How Qing Wang connects her podcast ‘The Weirdo’ to a young Chinese audience
    The rise of podcasts is transforming the way the public in China receives news. As it shrinks the information gaps between different parts of the world, podcasting is a powerful way to fill the demand for foreign affairs coverage among a young audience. Storybench spoke with Qing Wang, founder of the award-winning Chinese podcast, “The
  • How to use R to analyze racial profiling at police stops
    Working as a data journalist for Eye on Ohio, along with a team of reporters at the Cincinnati Enquirer, I developed a project on the role of racial profiling in police stops in Ohio’s largest cities. The work was part of Stanford University’s open policing project. Stanford developed the base R script for this —
  • What’s a college worth to you? These data sources go beyond the rankings.
    College rankings and university data don’t always paint the full picture. These institutions  typically show numbers that look good for them, and ranking sites may only focus on metrics like acceptance rates and graduation rates to determine the “best.” While there are plenty of sources out there — like QS World University Rankings and Times
  • The song remains the same: How The Pudding used data to uncover sexism in the music industry
    The Pudding, an online publication that focuses on data journalism, digs into the overlap of gender and songwriting in their article “Women are superstars on stage, but still rarely get to write songs.” Chris Dalla Riva, who writes a newsletter about music and data, discovered that very few songwriters behind hit tracks are women. Storybench
  • How to begin making your data visualizations more accessible to people with disabilities
    How can you make data visualizations accessible? What factors should be considered and prioritized? And how do you write alt text when you have a visual that has dozens (or hundreds) of data points? These are questions I’m regularly asked as a consultant and accessibility trainer. This tutorial will help you think about ways to
  • Mapbreaking: Why cartographic flaws can sometimes be a good thing
    I love this ugly map. I found it in a hospital in Baltimore and at first glance instinctually looked over the part where I live (New England) and found a dense saturation of pins. Each pin represents where one of the patients who came to Baltimore was from. The entire East Coast is densely represented,
  • How a local nonprofit news organization found its readers on TikTok
    You don’t often run across local news on TikTok, and it’s not because the idea hasn’t hit newsrooms yet. TikTok only recently became a vessel for news outlets to directly disseminate content. The trend started when The Washington Post launched a TikTok account in 2019, eventually becoming a trailblazer in the industry for how to
  • How to scrape a table from a website with Python
    Getting information is always the starting point for data journalism. Sometimes, the information we want lives on web pages we come across and Python is a great tool to get it so we can analyze and filter it. This tutorial, based on “Web scraping with Python” by Cody Winchester from the Investigative Reporters and Editors
  • 5 ways news organizations are visualizing election data
    Believe it or not, the first presidential primary is only three months away.  Let us take a look at five smart ways that news organizations are presenting election data, such as candidates’ profiles, voting demographics and districting, so you can make your data visualizations more powerful and better inform readers. Let users try out different scenarios
  • How animated data visualizations helped the Economic Innovation Group explain the impact of skilled immigration
    How do you measure the economic impact of skilled immigrant workers in the United States? The Economic Innovation Group (EIG), which describes itself as a bipartisan organization focused on public policy, recently published a multipart scrollytelling project titled “Immigration Policy Is Innovation Policy” that not only answers that question, but also presents the information in
  • How to analyze the screen times of presidential candidates
    Who and what is being discussed on cable television news can reveal a lot about our current media landscape or political state of affairs.  The Stanford Cable TV News Analyzer, built by Stanford University’s Computer Graphics Lab and John S. Knight Fellowship Program, provides the data for us to look at trends in cable news
  • How CNN’s foreign correspondent Clarissa Ward uses remote technology and local connections to report abroad
    When the words “breaking news” are displayed across television screens and news apps, people around the world stop to look, their eyes glued to the screen as they wait for the story to unfold. Clarissa Ward, CNN’s chief international correspondent, currently spearheads the news organization’s global reporting efforts, going wherever the story takes her. Recently,
  • How analytics are driving decisions at The Boston Globe
    In the age of shrinking newsrooms and content powered by artificial intelligence, readership is vital to the livelihood of news media. For The Boston Globe, analytics play a key role in both driving new readership and retaining lifelong readers. From immersive multimedia projects to curated content, the Globe uses a variety of tools to build
  • Technology companies and journalists must build public trust of AI together, experts say
    “Can we trust AI?” asked Rupal Patel, a Northeastern University professor who also founded synthetic voice company VocaliD. “Who should take responsibility for AI?” Northeastern hosted a celebratory event for the new AI Literacy Lab, Oct. 18. Even after two hours of questions with artificial intelligence scientists and journalists, there were no simple answers to
  • How The Washington Post turned a year-long investigation into a graphic novel
    In August, The Washington Post unveiled vivid findings from a year-long investigation into a disturbing secret at the Smithsonian Institution. To help the powerful story reach a new audience, they used a nontraditional storytelling method: the graphic novel. The Post has experimented with this format before, in stories such as “The Mueller Report Illustrated.” Since
  • Here are the updates you need on artificial intelligence in journalism
    We’re continuing our series of round-ups on artificial intelligence and journalism. Here are some recent links you might want to read. These insights are brought to you by Northeastern University data professor Rahul Bhargava. Reuters/Oxford and Journalism AI reports on what’s happening in newsrooms The Reuters Institute and University of Oxford interviewed more than 40
  • How to build a map-based guessing game using React and MapBox
    Introduction This tutorial will explain how to build a version of the Boston public transit mbtaguessr.com app which I developed. In this game, users have to guess the location of an MBTA stop chosen at random on a map without streets or transit lines. The scoring and game structure is similar to GeoGuessr: each guess
  • How The Washington Post uncovered the sources that make AI chatbots sound so smart
    How did AI chatbots get so smart? We set out to show our readers at The Washington Post in “Inside the secret list of websites that make AI bots like ChatGPT sound so smart.” Our journey started with an attempt to understand the underlying websites that shape chatbot knowledge. Accessing the data To start, we
  • How do you use the Census API to pinpoint data?
    This article was originally published as an Observable notebook. Searching and parsing variables from the American Community Survey (and other datasets) The Census Data API is an incredible resource that makes a huge universe of data available programmatically. However, it can be hard to find the exact variables you need for your query. Also, commonly reported
  • Opioid pill flood: How The Washington Post presents the American drug crisis
    The drug overdose epidemic in the United States is no secret. But how high are the numbers? And where are opioid pills really coming from? The Washington Post’s new article, “How deeply did prescription opioid pills flood your county? See here” addresses those questions, and more, through engaging visualizations. Steven Rich, the database editor for
  • Myth: ARIA has perfect support
    This article was originally on The A11Y Project. Accessible Rich Internet Applications is an extension of HTML. It is a technology that adds roles, states and properties that are designed to help with the accessibility of websites and web apps. Background ARIA works by supplementing, adding, removing or overriding information the browser uses to communicate with
  • How Alex Lim visualized the colors of Singapore for The Straits Times
    How do you break a country down into a color palette? For Alex Lim, it took five months, thousands of photos and intricate coding and data visualization skills. Lim, a data visualization developer at Singaporean newspaper The Straits Times, created an innovative scrollytelling piece that describes and celebrates Singapore’s wide-ranging colors, from Lion Dance Red
  • How to get census data in 5 minutes using R and tidycensus
    This article was originally published on Medium. Do you get tired of grabbing data directly off of census.data.gov? Or has the Census API been throwing errors in your code? Maybe you are just like the rest of us, wanting to streamline your workflows as much as possible. Well, Dr. Kyle Walker had all of us census
  • How Nature visualized the impact of overturning Roe v. Wade
    The Supreme Court had just issued the Dobbs decision, striking down the right to abortion, when Nature editor Brendan Maher reached out to me in June 2022. Was I interested in putting together an infographic showing the impacts of the ruling, he asked? I didn’t hesitate — Dobbs showed that the Supreme Court was willing
  • How to use R to dig for story ideas
    Many people think of R as a way to visualize data, but it can also be a useful tool to explore datasets and seek possible story ideas. At the 2023 Investigative Reporters and Editors conference, Charles Minshew, the digital storytelling editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, walked through using basic R code to question datasets. Knowing
  • Here are the latest updates on artificial intelligence in journalism
    It seems like artificial intelligence is everywhere in the news, particularly in digital journalism circles. Here at Storybench, we’re keeping an eye on ongoing developments and will share an occasional round-up of links that might be relevant to you. These insights are brought to you by Northeastern University data professor Rahul Bhargava. Here’s what was
  • How Alvin Chang designs visualizations for everyone
    “How do I explain this to my mom?” That’s the question that data journalist Alvin Chang asks himself whenever he creates a piece. He considers how his mother, a first-generation immigrant from Korea who is not fluent in English, would best understand the projects he works on. “It’s very clear that so much of journalism
  • How to clean data with OpenRefine
    If you have ever been tripped up by mistyping or other errors in datasets, OpenRefine could be exactly what you need. As one of the better tools for exploring, cleaning and reshaping data, OpenRefine runs in a web browser, even if you’re offline. At the 2023 Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Orlando, data specialist
  • Smoke, fires, floods: How John Keefe and The New York Times use data to explain extreme weather events
    With Hurricanes Hilary and Idalia lashing California and the South, deadly wildfires in Maui displacing thousands and the smoke from Canadian wildfires blanketing huge areas of the United States, newsrooms across the country have increased their efforts to provide innovative coverage of weather and climate. Last year, The New York Times launched the Weather Data
  • The Reinventing Local TV News Project is hiring researchers
    The Reinventing Local TV News Project is back. The initiative, at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism, is aimed at exploring the future of streaming video news content and reaching a younger audience. Now, the project is entering its third phase of research by partnering with three leading news stations across New York, Chicago and Boston..
  • How the New York Times visualized the mental struggles Olympians face against fear
    There’s a new generation of athletes on Olympic podiums — but they might not be the fearless daredevils we imagine them to be.  Ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, a team of six New York Times reporters set out to answer the question: does fear play a role in the minds of Olympians?
  • How Aaron Williams visualizes his own story to talk about economic mobility
    The idea of upward mobility in the United States is often defined in terms of money, but it can also be defined in terms of opportunities such as schools, or exposure to certain kinds of thinking or forms of education.  It was this thought, paired with a recent move from the East Coast back to
  • Why We Should Cheer, Not Fear, More Visual Storytelling in the News
    No one should be upset that text-based journalism is dying. While this may be hyperbolic, it is undoubtedly the case that the future of media consumption lies away from the written word. New forms of media are taking us away from the practice of deep reading, and it is no longer an essential part of the news business.  Visual storytelling is the revitalization the industry desperately needs for a
  • Northeastern Student gives us a sneak peek at micro-influencing
    Maria Jose Salazar is a college student turned sensational micro-influencer. She was born in Argentina and was raised her whole life on the island of Puerto Rico. She came to Boston to study business and communication with a concentration in marketing at Northeastern University, she is a dedicated student but began making content on the
  • How fitness creator Alyssa Pannozzi became a social media trailblazer
    Alyssa Pannozzi is an athlete and fitness instructor at the indoor spin studio Rev’d. Pannozzi has a large social media following, with 250,000 followers across her various platforms — most notably Instagram and TikTok. In addition to teaching 13-20 fitness classes a week and working on the business side of the spin studio, Pannozzi juggles family,
  • Unlocking heartfelt narratives: The power of vulnerability
    Journalists and writers differ. The world of journalism doesn’t always depend on emotional depth and creativity like traditional storytelling does. Journalistic writing is rooted in truth and clarity — that combination can lead to one-dimensional writing lacking deep themes to analyze or hidden gems to unlock. However, journalism doesn’t always have to be that way.
  • How FiveThirtyEight covered the daylight savings discussion
    If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you probably have an opinion on whether or not you like daylight savings time changes. When we set our clocks forward an hour in March every year, we are bound to hear grumbles about dark mornings. American’s strong opinions on the topic even led the U.S. Senate to
  • Adam Davidson talks Mastodon, @Journa.Host, and content moderation
    You may recognize Adam Davidson from NPR’s “Planet Money” podcast or his reporting in The New York Times, The New Yorker, or Harper’s — to name just a few of the outlets he’s been published in. Davidson is one of the most successful economics reporters of his generation and has made a name for himself
  • How Laura Morel is helping to uncover the truth behind anti-abortion pregnancy centers
    Women with unwanted pregnancies face one of the most challenging decisions of their lives — being able to explore their options in a non-judgmental, medical setting is therefore crucial in ensuring that women can make these decisions armed with as much knowledge and education as possible. Anti-abortion pregnancy centers are taking away this option from
  • Journalist Lindsey Metrus shares her journey with generalized anxiety disorder
    In the last few years, mental health has rapidly grown as a topic of interest, particularly on the internet. Once stigmatized and too taboo to discuss, sharing personal mental wellness stories is quickly becoming normalized — this helps individuals with feelings of loneliness feel not so alone and makes not being okay 100% of the
  • Beyond hashtags: A behind the scenes look at ByHolguin
    Gone are the days when stories were only told in books, and when influencers were only known for lengthy hauls or how-to videos. Enter 2023 — a time where storytelling and influencing now go hand in hand, and social media platforms and digital creators hold the same power that many news organizations do.  Storytelling via
  • Santiago Arau Pontones’ bird’s eye view: On evoking Mexico’s femicides and the art of emotion
    In 2021, around 81,000 women and girls were killed on the basis of gender globally — of the 81,000, about 45,000 were killed by family members or intimate partners. As the years progress, this number only increases. In Mexico alone, there were 3,155 murders of women from January to October of 2022 — making up
  • Influencer marketing 101: Collaborations, seamless product placement, and authentic narrative
    Have you ever wondered how your favorite content creators partner with brands? How do the products seemingly fit so well into their narrative? As a multi-platform influencer, Holly Reardon, 25, knows the in and outs of working with brands and how to stay authentic through that process. Reardon began her content creation journey on Instagram
  • Liza Donnelly on the power of cartoons
    People always say a picture is worth a thousand words. Liza Donnelly took that sentiment to heart, so when it comes to reporting on politics she takes a different approach: cartoons. Political reporting has never been an easy job, and current U.S. politics makes the job even more unapproachable. Consumers don’t want to read formal
  • Michala Sabnani: The media executive behind Equanimity Podcast and the innovations of South China Morning Post’s Morning Studio
    Michala Sabnani is a media executive with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. She began her career working in television broadcasting at the Asia headquarters of CNN in Hong Kong. There, she quickly identified her passion for storytelling, which led her to become a producer crafting stories and documentaries for the celebrity
  • From radio to TikTok, WBZ News’ Matt Shearer is redefining local news
    There’s no question that news is slowly migrating to TikTok — but different outlets are taking different approaches. For Boston’s WBZ News Radio, radio reporter Matt Shearer is using his fun personality, authentic storytelling abilities, and news-gathering skills to take the station’s account to the next level. As of Monday, Feb. 13, the account has
  • How the duo behind @twotastebuddiez uses social media to connect with their followers and offer them a seat at the dinner table
    Big cities like Boston and New York City present exciting opportunities and new challenges for students and young professionals who are eager for a change of scene. With the expansion of networking and convenience in these places, there also comes the challenge of tracking down the most affordable places to eat and have fun. This
  • Data journalism? You can do it.
    Data is still *hot*, but the new skills, math, and technologies can feel overwhelming. In my experience journalism students and professionals approach learning data journalism with both excitement and trepidation. However, over a decade of teaching data literacy to many types of learners I’ve found that journalists are some of the best positioned to dive
  • Digital Storytelling to Support Connective Journalism
    Journalism serves many roles in society – informative, investigative, normative, and more. As the tools and pratices of interactive digital storytelling continue to grow, how can they help the connective role journalism plays in society? Read on for some background and a recent experiment I did in creating a digital story focused on building community
  • Interested in doing graduate work in video innovation? Apply now for a Video Innovation Scholarship in Fall 2023!
    For prospective graduate students interested in video innovation — new techniques and approaches in journalistic storytelling and documentary, as well as VR, AR, and XR — Northeastern’s School of Journalism is offering special Video Innovation Scholarships. Funded Scholars will get deep research experience while earning their MS in Media Innovation & Data Communication or MA
  • Investigating megabits: How Leon Yin and The Markup uncovered the story of ISP inequality and digital redlining
    In the pandemic transition phase of 2022 and onwards, it has been common for many people’s workdays to take place at home, fully remote. But in most large cities across the United States, the quality of equally-priced internet service experienced in two households just blocks apart can be worlds away. In a recent data-driven investigation,
  • How Felippe Rodrigues at New Zealand’s Stuff brought to life a chart of Earth’s changing temperature
    In conversations about climate change, climate skeptics frequently raise the point that the temperature has always fluctuated and has been on the rise for millennia. In fact, this is true. But the average temperature of the Earth has never risen so drastically or as quickly as it has during the last 100 years. Felippe Rodrigues,
  • How the Marshall Project dug into the FBI’s new crime statistics collection program
    The process of how crime data is collected by the FBI has significantly changed in the past year. This change has caused an increase in law enforcement agencies not submitting any data, leaving a gap in information that can be exploited by politicians, especially in campaigns. Weihua Li is a data reporter for The Marshall
  • The art of fear: How the YouTube channel ‘Spikima Movies’ made film analysis its own cinematic experience
    Still from Hereditary: What the script teaches us
  • How visual storyteller Alvin Chang uses cartoons to illustrate data findings
    Chang’s cartoonsplainers are used in many of his pieces to explain a variety of different topics and data findings. After reading an article in ProPublica, Chang decided to break down Facebook’s algorithm and explain to readers how the internet discriminates against certain users. The piece titled “How the internet keeps poor people out of poor
  • Breaking down “The Big Bang Theory,” Chinese censorship, and data journalism with Manyun Zou
    Growing up in China, Manyun Zou spent many of her teenage years unwinding with episodes of the popular American sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.” Little did she know, her favorite pastime would lead to a powerful data story.  While streaming from Youku, a Chinese entertainment company, Zou began noticing inconsistent jump-cuts in the middle of
  • Scrollytelling innovation: New York Times journalists on climate change, visualization, and intense teamwork
    As visual storytelling libraries clutter newsroom servers, multimedia projects involving data visualizations, photos, videos, and even augmented reality components are becoming more and more popular. But it is unclear to today’s up-and-coming journalists whether those interested in reporting are also expected to master these complex technologies. “The Coming California Megastorm,” a New York Times story
  • Vox Atlas: Producer Sam Ellis on his distinctive map animations
    If there’s a news story that you may need to draw out on a napkin for it to make sense, it might be a good story for Sam Ellis, senior producer and graphics editor at Vox. In his role, Ellis dedicates most of his time to producing videos that contextualize a story through animation and
  • How Vox and the Pudding used data to follow what happens after TikTok songs go viral
    If you’re a TikTok user, then you’re familiar with hearing a snippet of a song you’ve never heard before in a video, and then subsequently hearing that same song under thousands of other videos in your feed in the following weeks. Sometimes this song comes from a completely undiscovered TikTok user who posts for fun.
  • How the Marshall Project presented the thriving underground economy behind bars
    Beth Schwartzapfel is a staff writer for The Marshall Project, a media organization focused on the criminal justice system. Her beat includes addiction and health, probation and parole, and LGBTQ+ issues. Her August 2022 story “Prison Money Diaries: What People Really Make (and Spend) Behind Bars” provides an in-depth look at the informal economy that
  • Founder of The Pudding and Polygraph, Matt Daniels, on the shift in content consumption and digital storytelling
    Consumer behavior is dynamic and ever-changing. Recently, content consumption within society has shifted from traditional news outlets to smaller newsletters and short, video-based content. Publishers must constantly reconsider the best way to go about their work. Matt Daniels, a writer and founder of The Pudding, an award-winning digital publication, and Polygraph, a data journalism agency within
  • From the frontlines of the meme war: Taraneh Azar pioneers new forms of internet reporting
    Everyone is familiar with memes. We share them with our friends, and they’re always good for a quick, low-effort laugh. Some people even make their own, and online tools have only enabled that further. This ease of access is incredibly helpful to online communication, and a meme’s overall usage for comedy and camaraderie has only
  • A stunning multimedia lens on mass incarceration and its aftermath: The story behind “Facing Life”
    After a decade of state prison reform, California has approved record levels of early releases in an attempt to reverse the tide of mass incarceration that saw deadly overcrowding and unlivable conditions become the state prison system’s norm. But what do you do when granted another chance at life? After decades inside, where do you
  • How NPR used voicemails to explore national grief 20 years after 9/11
    Every year, the anniversary of 9/11 comes around again, and news organizations are left wondering how to cover it in a way that has not been done before. Twenty years after the attacks, NPR found an innovative method of telling a story of national grief and exploring what that grief is like for those left
  • Deep fake learning: How a University of Washington AI game is teaching us to be better information consumers
    Artificial intelligence, or AI, has the capacity to create images of people who have never existed in seconds. A LinkedIn connection, Facebook friend request, or dating profile now has the potential to carry an AI-generated photo. Digitally altered videos called “deep fakes” have employed the likeness of presidents and celebrities so that they appear to
  • How Marco Hernandez visualized humanity’s plastic waste problem — and changed the way we think about pollution
    Around the world, the human race manufactures and sells nearly 1 million plastic bottles every minute. That means each year, we produce over 480 billion bottles – many of which aren’t properly discarded. This rapid pace of plastic production – coupled with deficiencies in the recycling process – continues to pose a significant threat to
  • USA TODAY’s coverage of the 2022 midterms and polarized language on Twitter
    How does the media usually cover politics? Is it all based on opinion polls or anecdotes or is there a way to simply show the data? For the 2022 midterms, USA TODAY launched a series called Red Words, Blue Words which provides a data-driven look at the campaign trail, based on social media posts from
  • Mount Greatness
    The tool I chose to review for this project is called “slices”. Slices is an online platform where one can create, manage, and publish multimedia content accessible to anyone on the web. Slices is a beautifully created software that allows you to create your own interactive stories and publish them in a blink of an
  • Vox’s Emily Stewart on the necessity of financial literacy: ‘Money is the most important thing’
    The current state of the economy is considered convoluted even to those who specialize in the fields of economics, business and finance. Emily Stewart, a senior corespondent at Vox, focuses her reporting on the intersection of politics and finance, aiming to make these topics more accessible and visible to the general public. Stewart authors a
  • How The Washington Post’s Angel Mendoza uses Reddit to seek out new audiences
    When Angel Mendoza interacts with other users on Reddit, he’s not doing it behind an anonymous username. He’s u/washingtonpost.  That’s part of his job as The Post’s newly-minted social media editor for Reddit. The account has existed since 2017, he said, but Mendoza is the first editor to take the helm as of August 2022,
  • 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