Data Visualization for Journalists

With the rise of easily accessible information and datasets, it is becoming increasingly important for journalists to know how to extract stories and create an accurate visualization of the data. The goal of this podcast is to introduce data visualization and explain its importance.

In this episode I discuss the key concepts of creating an aesthetically pleasing infographic, as well as suggest some tools and software that journalists should learn to use to represent their data. Additionally, I define several terms that are used frequently in the field, and discuss the importance of being truthful and transparent.

I incorporate ideas from two prominent figures in the field of data visualization, Alberto Cairo and Enrico Bertini through out my discussion. Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Communication at the School of Communication at the University of Miami. Bertini is a professor of visualization at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering.

Bertini states that a great visualization has five qualities:

  1. It is truthful.
  2. It is functional.
  3. It is beautiful.
  4. It is insightful.
  5. It is enlightening.

Check out the first episode of Data Viz for Journalists to learn more about these qualities:

Links from this episode:

Chartsbin:
chartsbin.com/

ICharts:
icharts.net/

Geocommons:
geocommons.com/

My website:
www.chancebrinkman-sull.com

The newsroom: not just a place to write

If you walk the opposite way down Court Street of all the people heading to bars you will come to John Calhoun Baker University Center, which inside is where The Post newsroom sits.  Going to the newsroom is not just about a place to write article but where your friends are located. Food is another factor that attracts people and  most days there is food around the room that people eat that someone else brought in.

6 cat pictures describing the process of writing an article

Being in college is hard and frustrating. Daily assignments, a part-time job at the dining hall and classmates who can’t seem to pull their own weight in group projects are just a few of many problems that most of us face. But combine all of these with having to write weekly articles can make us struggle to comprehend what we ate for lunch, much less how we feel.

However, rest assured because these cat pictures are here to help you express your true feelings during these trying times.

1. The planning stage

Photo by GalgenTX via flickr

Trying to figure out a good angle for your article is always the hardest part. But this time, you planned ahead by talking with your editors and doing some background research prior to starting, so you should be fine, right? Wrong. Suddenly, your sources aren’t replying, the Pew Research survey you wanted to use is irrelevant and you’re up at 3 a.m. screaming at your empty inbox because no one wants to reply.

 

2. Interviews and more interviews

Photo by Christopher Sessums via flickr

You begin interviewing random people on the street out of desperation. These interviews are more miss than hit, but by chance, you meet someone who seems genuinely interested in the subject! You eagerly begin to record your conversation, listening to every word they say and asking the right questions. Maybe everything will be alright, you think to yourself as you thank the stranger and run home to your laptop.

 

3. Typing it out

Photo by Wilson Afonso via Wikimedia Commons

Armed with your caffeine of choice, you seat yourself in front of your laptop and begin reading your notes and transcripts of your interviews. The clock ticks as you stare at a blank screen. You type something down only to furiously smash the backspace key because it didn’t seem right. This step will repeat itself for the next few hours until you suddenly realize you have less than three hours till your meeting with your editors. By then, inspiration finally strikes and you find yourself able to type clearly with a goal in sight.

 

4. Killing your darlings

Photo by wenliang chen via flickr

At this point you start crying. You’re 20 inches over the maximum inch count and you know deep down that your editor is going to tell you to cut out a lot of graphs. It’s difficult to decide which graph is less important than the others, especially when you have spent a long time researching this topic. The deed has to be done though and you do it, shedding silent tears over the loss of your babies.

5. Stressed and kind of a mess

Photo via Max Pixel

It’s done. Your glasses sit on your face messily and you blink anxiously at your editors while they proofread your article. While peering over your editor’s shoulder, several AP style errors seem to appear out of nowhere. You consider crying because you’re sure you reread this article at least three times before submitting it for editing and those errors must have came crawling out of AP style hell just to spite you.

 

6. A finished product

Photo by Steve Jurvetson via flickr

But at the end of the day, all the anxiety of finding sources and crying over the article seemed to be worth it. You produce a pretty cool clip that gets compliments from your peers and you’re proud to add to your collection. Lying in your bed, you tuck yourself under the blankets, comforted by the thought that you’ve already started the research for your next story… But did you?

7 times you went, “aaaaargggh Jaden Smith”

Argghhh Jaden Smith. There are some dumb tweets in the world but his just might be the hardest to forget. It’s tricky to pin the guys angle. Does he intentionally take a new spin grammar because he is such an individual? I’ll let you decide.

For the record, there are no spelling mistakes here on my part.

1.) “There Is No Nutrients In Our Food Anymore Or In Our Soil OR IN OUR WATER.”

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Jaden_smith_2009.jpg
Photo via Google Images

Part of this is true.

2.) “The Great Gatsby Is One Of The Greatest Movies Of All Time, Coachella.”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jaden_Smith_2015.png
Photo via Google Images

Fitzgerald would have disapproved of Toby Maguire, although can’t speak for Coachella.

3.) “Just Watched Doctor Strange, Im Completely Blown Away, And I’m Going To Dedicate The Rest Of My Life To Those Practices. Thank You”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Montreal_Comiccon_2015_-_Harry_Potter_(19432448076).jpg
(Photo via Google Images)

Remember Jaden, it’s Leviooosa not Leviosaaa. You’ll need that knowledge for your next defense against the dark arts exam.

And good luck with transfiguration, charms and potions.

4.) “If Everybody In The World Dropped Out Of School We Would Have A Much More Intelligent Society.” 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kanye_West_at_the_2009_Tribeca_Film_Festival.jpg
(Photo via Google Images)

He has found his niche, and it is fixing this nations education system.

5.) “Education Is Rebellion.”

https://fa.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D8%AC%DB%8C%D8%AF%D9%86_%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%AA
ugh (Photo via Google Images)

 

…unless you’re learning karate

6.) “If A Book Store Never Runs Out Of A Certain Book, Dose That Mean That Nobody Reads It, Or Everybody Reads It.”

https://www.flickr.com/photos/112923805@N05/20504030189
(Photo via Flickr)

To be pondered on my next walk in the woods.

7.) “The Age Of Adaline Might Be The Best Movie I’ve Ever Seen, Excluding Twilight.”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Will_Smith_2011,_2.jpg
We’re all proud of you (Photo via Google Images)

aaaaarghh, but I hear the first one isn’t all that bad.

“Ill Never Forget The Blogs That Believed In Me Since The Begging.” J. Smith.

Happiness and memories thrive in newsroom

What makes something your favorite place? Do you feel happy when you are there? Does it make you most comfortable? Does it help you achieve your dreams? There are so many different questions that could be asked about someone’s favorite place in Athens?

Every person takes into factor different things but for me my favorite place in Athens is John Calhoun Baker University Center Room 325. This is the location of the place that I feel happy and most comfortable.

Students work in The Post newsroom. (Photo Credit: Eric Walker)

In that room is located the newsroom for The Post, the independent student-run newspaper of Ohio University. There is not much glamour in the room as it is filled with computer and papers lying around.To me happiness is one of the most important things due to events happening in my life that had me have less value in it so know it is what I value over most things. That is why the newsroom is my favorite place as it makes me happy and if I ever am in a bad mood when I go in it will immediately change.

This is the place where I met most of my friends and helped me grow as a person along with some awesome memories. You really do get to know someone after midnight when you work together on editing the paper. One of my favorite memories in Athens happened in the newsroom after 1 a.m.It was my day to do the late night editing with a few others and OU President McDavis announced in the afternoon that he was going to leave OU after his current contract ran out. We had an idea this was going to happen but were not positive so the layout of the paper was changed greatly and meant that all the stories would come in late.

As usual everyone was late on sending in their stories so we all spent the first couple hours of the evening talking as there was nothing to do. Once midnight stories started to come in and as we all became more delirious the more important stories started to come in. Even though it was a lot of work to make sure everything was correct it was fun to edit the stories and see how each person had slightly different styles of writing that all worked.

I do not have a single memory of ever being sad when I walk into Baker 325 as even if you are not “great” friends with some of the people in the newsroom there are always things in common and everyone is in it together.

The place where my friends are and makes me happiest should be anyone’s favorite place but for me it is. Room 325 is my favorite place for many reasons and it has brought me my favorite memories.

7 stages of a journalism major in statistics class as told by cute animals

I don’t know about you, but I’m a journalism major because math is not my forte. Does Mr. E.W. Scripps himself really expect me to be able to calculate z-scores and find the standard deviation when all I want to do is write listicles for Buzzfeed? Alas, I’m stuck in Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences with the other Scripps kids, lost in a sea of numbers.

Here’s the 7 stages of an aspiring journalist in a PSY 2110 lecture:

1. Lethargy

Flickr, Aldo Tapia
Flickr, Aldo Tapia

You start off with an apathetic sigh as you crack open your PSY 2110 textbook to prepare for the next 55 minutes of hell.

2. Drowsiness

Flickr, K-nekoTR
Flickr, K-nekoTR

Ten minutes in, you eyes start to close as you snuggle up next to your stats equations and dream about winning a Pulitzer for your groundbreaking exposé on the gender wage gap.

3. TERROR

Flickr, Alex Ulanov
Flickr, Alex Ulanov

You when the professor calls on you for the answer but you’ve been drooling on your histogram instead of figuring out what the standard deviation is.

4. *eye roll emoji*

Flickr, Luz Rovira
Flickr, Luz Rovira

The smug look on the stats major’s face next to you when he knows the answer and you don’t…

5.  Confusion

Flickr, John C Bullas
Flickr, John C Bullas

You and the kid in VICO staring blankly at the next problem on the PowerPoint because statistics is a foreign language.

6. PANIC

Flickr, Nina
Flickr, Nina

The face you make when class ends but you leave in PANIC because you need this class to graduate and the midterm is next week but you know NOTHING.

7.  ¯\_()_/¯

Flickr, Christin Gain
Flickr, Christi Gain

And finally, you when you’ve given up on life and drop PSY 2110 because you’re a journalism major and not a mathematician.

 

You’ll still be the next host of the Today show even if you’re three credits short of graduating, right?

7 things to do when one of your back-to-back classes lets out early

You created your schedule so you’d have all of your classes in a row and be done for the day. But your 80-minute class was only 30 minutes long today. What do you do now? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Homework you’ve probably been putting off
Homework, via Flickr, by English106
Homework, via Flickr, by English106

Whether it’s something due in your next class or a research paper you haven’t even thought about starting yet, unexpected free time is the perfect opportunity to force yourself to get work done.

  1. Eat food or grab some coffee
Bagel & coffee, via Flickr, by Magnus D
Bagel & coffee, via Flickr, by Magnus D

College students forget to eat sometimes. It’s just a consequence of how ridiculously busy our schedules are. Use your free hour to grab some to-go pizza from the dining hall or even just a bagel from a cafe. Or maybe down an espresso or two.

  1. Read a book
IMG_3550.JPG, via Flickr, Jay Cross
IMG_3550.JPG, via Flickr, Jay Cross

It could be assigned reading for a class; it could also be a something you actually enjoy reading. Fifty minutes is more than enough time to make a dent in that literature you’ve been wanting to or are forced to read.

  1. Bond with your professors
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons, AlbertHerring

Look up the office hours of the professors you’ve been meaning to go see but haven’t. Even if you don’t need help with the subject matter in that class, it’s always a good idea to get to know the people you’re spending a semester with.

  1. Watch Netflix
Source: Youtube
Source: Youtube

If doing anything productive actually sounds like a nightmare, find a cozy spot near your next class and catch up on “Mad Men.” You only have a few episodes left in season four anyway. Just give in to the urge.

  1. Sleep
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons, D Sharon Pruitt

Were you up all night in the library working on that research paper you finished an hour before class started? Does the idea of facing the rest of your classes without getting any sleep make you want to curl up in a ball in a corner? Find a comfy couch. Take a nap. You deserve it.

  1. Write your listicle for Fundamentals of Online Journalism
Source: Pexels
Source: Pexels

What better homework to do during your free time than an upcoming project due in the class that granted you that magical hour? Grab a beverage loaded with caffeine to double your productivity and maybe even come up with some witty subheads.

Clean or Dirty: The Fine Lines of Social Media in College

Since high school many students have always been told to keep a “clean” social media presence. In regards to “clean” students have assumed to not post anything that would come back to hurt them in the future. However, not all students have a similar belief in regard to social media.

Junior Brian Beckstedt feels social media is a form of free speech that should be used to express himself.

Ohio University Student tweet
Ohio University Student tweet

“It helps me to express myself better, and it let’s people know my feelings on a certain subject,” Beckstedt a business major said.

Beckstedt feels social media is for the benefit of getting the message out that he wants in the moment. Being a business major, he finds himself in a unique situation. Following college, he is going to join the family business.

Beckstedt recognizes not censoring his thoughts can be a potential threat to other employers but he wants people to appreciate him for who he is and what he believes.

“Social media can be threatening if you are using words too often it may shy a potential employer away,” Beckstedt added. “But for me I have a special circumstance where I work for my father, and other family.”

For Laura Garotti, a senior studying journalism she has a different tone in regard to social media. Garotti has to create a brand and an image around who she is for potential employers.

“I keep (social media) clean because as a journalist, I like to be transparent and be able to make all of my profiles public,” Garotti explained.

What employers think is important for Garotti. She feels future coworkers could additionally alter work life due to a social media experience.

“You also never know when a coworker will request to add you on Facebook and potentially show others what you post.”

Being a journalism major plays a big role in keeping her social media clean according to the senior. Having a major that is in the public eye is a major part of keeping social media clean.

Ohio University student tweet
Ohio University Student Tweet

“(Some other majors) aren’t in the public eye, but I also believe they don’t completely realize how little privacy you actually get when you go online,” Garotti added.

Most students have slipped up on social media from time to time and Garotti explained she is no different, but in regards to future job security she feels she is safe.

“Oh, I’ve definitely had bad posts that I’ve regretted, but nothing that I think would cost me a job, thanks to thinking before I post.”

Potential grad students should understand the challenges and opportunities of their programs and community

Being a graduate student is a life changing experience, and students often take on a dual role as both a student and teacher.

Students considering Ohio University have a lot to consider before they enroll. First, there is the classroom where students are going to be asked to do much more than they did as undergraduates. There will also be the addition of research expectations, and finally many will have to get used to living in a new community.

There is certainly an adjustment that must be made in the classroom. Amber Damiani, a graduate student in sociology, stated the expectations increase and students have to change how they take on assignments.

Graduate students need to start planning their project immediately, there is no room for procrastination, she said. In the following video Damiani talks about developing good habits for classroom work.

The additional reading and writing isn’t the only adjustment. Students at the graduate level also have more freedom to choose what classes they will take to help them meet their professional goals.

Students at the graduate level need to change their mindset from one of simply taking classes to fill requirements to one where they consider how classes will impact their future career, said Jamie Beth Boster, a doctoral student in communication sciences and disorders.

“You can really expand and build on things that you are interested in,” Boster said.

While students can still explore in classes, they also can really dig deep into certain areas, she said. Graduate school is much more about the individual and developing as a professional.

This leads Boster to provide advice in the following video about thinking deeply about the program you choose.

Entering Grad School

When considering what school to attend there are a lot of things that should be considered.

First among them should be a true interest in the area a person is considered studying.

Students getting into graduate school shouldn’t be afraid to take a year off and truly consider what they want to do. In psychology taking a year off is not uncommon, said Allix Beauchamp, a doctoral student in OU’s psychology department.

“They should organize their thoughts, think about what they want to do, where they want to go, and what field of research is most intriguing to them,” she said. “There’s a lot going on in your senior year, people start feeling burnt out they’re wrapping up this major part of their life.”

Such a big change in life can be overwhelming. Once a student has made it to the interviewing process the school has acknowledged the student is a good candidate, Beauchamp said.

The goal for the student should be to determine if they are “a good fit for the type of program that (the school) likes to foster,” she said.

Some programs are more involved with mentoring while are less so, Beauchamp said.

“These are questions you really need to know because this sets the foundation for the rest of your life,” she said.

The student can’t be afraid to ask questions about the type of program during the interview process, Beauchamp said. This is because as Beauchamp talks about below graduate school has an significant impact on the rest of your career.

Potential graduate students get a lot of bad advice from people about what they should do, according to Elizabeth Keenan in an article on Vitae.

Furthermore, potential students need to be aware of the challenges they will face while seeking an advanced degree. For example an article from Inside Higher Ed warns that students must be prepared to take charge of their own program, understand why their work is important, and finally comprehend that most of the problems that face graduate students are psychological.

Research and Teaching Expectations

 There are research expectations that come with being a graduate student. Students are expected to contribute to the body of research in their field.

Students should understand that once they turn in a paper they shouldn’t just forget about it. Most graduate students want to do something with their work, said Ryan Dunham, a doctoral student in media arts and studies.

“In graduate school your goal should be to turn term papers into conference papers,” he said. “Use the feedback from the professor to improve your piece.”

Then if the paper is accepted by a conference take the feedback received at the conference and edit the paper again so it can be submitted to journals, Dunham said. The final goal is to get the paper published in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

As a second year doctoral student in Journalism, I believe that graduate students need to take the role of researcher seriously.

 

It’s hard to understand when you first arrive, but having confidence in your work and understanding not just what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how it ties into existing research will be what leads to a job when you finish your program.

In addition to research, graduate students often teach classes. This places students in the position of being both a student and teacher. Students also should understand they have to take the teaching responsibility seriously, make it a priority and not simply focus on their own work even if you might feel overwhelmed.

You have to remember the teaching is often your job as a graduate student and why you don’t have to pay for school. The reviews from students will also influence your ability to get a job.

Around Athens

Not every student focused on the academic side of being a graduate student, some sought to inform incoming students about interesting things to do in and around Athens. The town of Athens and the surrounding area has a number of things for students to do outside of class.

Damiani recommends outside of class enjoying the bike paths. The library allows you to check out a bike and check it back in.

“It’s a good way to see the area. It’s a way you can see the outdoors and not always be cooped up and studying,”

It would be helpful if the university offered tours, or some other type of resources, to new graduate students to learn about the history of the area and see some of the more interesting sites like Bong Hill or The Ridges, which does have tours. It would be a way for students to understand some of the rich culture within the area.

“It’s a small town so there’s the movie theater, a bowling alley, and of course the bar scene,” she said.

Steve Richardson, a master’s student in geography, focused on the number of hiking trails in the area.

 

In addition, he talked about the number of breweries in the area as something grad students like to visit.

“Most people don’t know there are actually four breweries within the Athens area you have Jackie O’s, you have Little Fish (Brewing Company), you have Devil’s Kettle (Brewing), and there’s another one that’s being built,” Richardson said. “It’s great to have local breweries creating fresh local beer for you whenever you want.”

I also believe that graduate students shouldn’t be afraid to venture away from Athens and explore the surrounding communities. Those who simply stay within the city will not understand all the area has to offer or really comprehend the culture of Southeast Ohio.

While graduate school is demanding Dunham has some advice for keeping your sanity.

Finally this slideshow shows a few of the offices where graduate students at Ohio University engage in research and meet with students.

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Flying with Scripps PRSSA

Eight rows of colorful, cushioned chairs were set up across the Friends of the Libraries room on the third floor of Alden Library. The week 5 meeting of Scripps PRSSA was set to begin at 6 p.m. on Monday, February 8, 2016.

Scripps PRSSA or Scripps Public Relations Student Society of America, is a student-run organization within the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. The chapter’s main goal is “to offer members beneficial relationships with public relations practitioners that facilitate the learning, acquiring and development of professional skills -supplemented by educational knowledge- to be applied in everyday decisions”.

Jess and Megan have both created strong relationships and friendships through Scripps PRSSA.
Scripps PRSSA President Jess Carnprobst and Executive Vice President Megan Newton after Monday’s meeting.

A little after 6 p.m., Scripps PRSSA President, Jess Carnprobst, took the floor to kick off the night’s meeting. As a senior and member of Scripps PRSSA, I know the meeting’s typical routine. Every Monday night begins with announcements from the executive board regarding opportunities for dues-paying members, networking trips, and committees. After the exec board makes their announcements, members have the chance to make announcements of their own.

Then, it’s time for the “Member Spotlight” and on Monday, Grace Driscoll was the lucky member. The Member Spotlight is a chance for PRSSA members to share his or her accomplishments, passions, and goals with the rest of the organization. Once the Member Spotlight concludes, a professional speaker is introduced. Monday night’s speaker was Brie Strickland, a Social Business Specialist for Southwest Airlines.

Brie Strickland, a 2014 Southern Methodist University grad, stood up out of her chair and made her way to the front of the room. As Scripps students, most of us were used to hearing job titles involving the words “social media”. So, when Brie mentioned her title as a Social Business Specialist, many eyebrows were raised. Brie went onto explain that social business is “so much more than just tweeting”. Social business is a strategy form that looks at how social media impacts every aspect of a company.

“If you want to work in the social business industry, you need to get as much experience as possible. It’s such a new industry so any chance you get have a social media presence, take it,” advised Brie Strickland.

Scripps PRSSA provides great opportunities for networking.
Brie Strickland, Social Business Specialist, distributed her business cards at Monday’s Scripps PRSSA meeting.

Scripps PRSSA members were given an inside look at how Southwest Airlines operates their social media.

With nearly 4.8 million likes on Facebook, 1.9 million followers on Twitter, and 185,000 followers on Instagram, it seems like it would be impossible to keep up with all of the user activity. But Brie shared that Southwest Airlines has a Listening Center of 35 employees that work 24/7 answering questions, comments, complaints, and compliments via social media. Brie is involved with a lot of the goodwill engagement and pointed out that social listening is a major key to Southwest Airlines.

The laughter, chatter, and smiles that were shared throughout the meeting helped show how close-knit the Scripps PRSSA chapter truly is. After every Scripps PRSSA meeting, the organization gathers at The Pigskin to have dinner and socialize with that night’s speaker as well as with one another. This chapter will not only provide you with professional relationships but it will also open the door to many new friendships.

Scripps PRSSA is more than just networking trips and Monday night meetings. “PRSSA has taught me not to underestimate the power of people,” tells Scripps senior and Executive Vice President Megan Newton. “We might not be doctors or lawyers but we still have the opportunity to help people and tell their stories. Everyone in PRSSA has different personalities that we can showcase.”

Scripps PRSSA meets every Monday at 6 p.m. in Alden Library’s Friends of the Libraries room. Visit their website for more information on the chapter. And be sure to follow Scripps PRSSA on Twitter and Instagram, @scrippsprssa, for all things PR.