• 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 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 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
  • 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 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