Tech Tips & Tools to Empower effective Data-driven Journalism

By M. Antoinette Jerom, November 11, 2021

At the second workshop of the SIGNIS Asia Journalism Desk’s webinar, “Journalism in a Fragmented World” on 9th November 2021, Google News Lab’s first Southeast Asia Teaching Fellow, Trinna Leong focussed on the digital skills needed for the job. She also suggested some freely available technical tools and resources to facilitate impactful reporting and effective storytelling.

Reliable Data: Where does it exist?

In an era where the credibility and legitimacy of data published by even reputed and established sources is being questioned, Trinna emphasized the value of media literacy among the readers. “We need to educate people to be able to think critically and to analyse information before making a rash decision or judgement on what to believe or what not to believe.”

She mentioned some online sites – Data Commons, Google Public Data Explorer, Google Dataset Search, and OpenCorporates, among others – as examples of where to access data. Government websites are also a reliable source of data, as are bodies like the World Bank, IMF and the CIA World Factbook.

How to produce visually captivating data stories?

Purpose of visual data representation is to convey your message faster and help readers grasp the message immediately. It is also important to keep it simple without cluttering your story with too many graphics. “Most effective stories are the ones you are able to connect people with… When you can connect with the people through your story, then your story will have a much wider and higher readability among the audience.”

Tools to help convert data to visually appealing charts and graphs include Google Spreadsheets, Data GIF Maker, Flourish.Studio and GitHub Templates, although Github templates require coding knowledge.

SIGNIS Asia Journalism Desk and LICAS News Asia are the organisers of the SIGNIS Asia Journalism Fellowship Programme on the theme “Journalism in a Fragmented World,” a seven-week programme for lay Catholic and like-minded journalists working in the secular media. Offered virtually, the seven-week webinar brings together 25 selected participants from 14 countries to build capacity and promote exchange among media professionals and journalists who want to use their platform for social change. Programme details: https://www.signisasia.net/journalism-in-a-fragmented-world-webinar-2021/