The research project “VALiD – Visual Analytics in Data-Driven Journalism”, coordinated by the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences, analyses and develops methods for data journalism and data visualisation. Results of the project include practice-oriented instructions and an open-source analysis tool.
Every now and then, fascinating stories are hidden in large amounts of data waiting to be discovered and interpreted. Data journalism extracts complex information from large amounts of data and presents them in a clear and vivid manner. Often, however, suitable analysis methods are lacking. For this reason, the research project “VALiD – Visual Analytics in Data-Driven Journalism” has developed new techniques to support journalists in this effort.
The result of the project of several years is a manual for journalists – and everybody else interested in the subject – which has now been published. The manual describes workflows in data journalism and presents further education possibilities and tools for practice-oriented use. In addition, the project team has developed its own analysis tool “Netflower” which allows for easy visualisation of dynamic network data and is available as an open-source software.
“It is becoming increasingly important to understand complex phenomena in order to reach a decision. Traditionally, journalists play an important role in this endeavour by uncovering hidden patterns, informing about links and correlations, clarifying and entertaining. With the manual and analysis tool, our project supports journalists interested in data journalism and offers an insight into current developments”, says Wolfgang Aigner, head of the project and of the Institute of Creative\Media/Technologies at the St. Pölten UAS.
Teamwork in Production and High Demand for Data Stories
“Our research has shown that data journalism is more focused on collaboration than traditional journalism. Typically, the individual ‘data journalist’ does not exist. In most cases, the teams consist of three people working together: someone in charge of programming, someone responsible for graphics, and one author”, explains Aigner. The work stages examined in the project include the procurement of data, processing, analysis, data-storytelling, visualisation and, ultimately, the publication.
According to the study, Twitter is a central platform regarding the distribution and discussion of data journalism. In any case, media consumers seem to be interested in data journalism: as reported by the study, people spend more time reading and sharing data-intensive reports.
The research project “VALiD – Visual Analytics in Data-Driven Journalism” develops new techniques to support journalists. The project is funded by “ICT of the Future” of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG (project 845598), a programme of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT). Project partners are the University of Vienna (Department of Computer Science, Visualisation and Data Analysis research group), Landsiedl, Popper OG – drahtwarenhandlung film & animation as well as the FH JOANNEUM (Institute of Journalism and Public Relations).