Computer Assisted Reporting: Using Data to Enhance Articles

“If you can dream up a story, think about what type of data could be out there. It enhances any type of writing style.”
– Aimee Edmondson

This week we discussed how Computer Assisted Reporting is more in-depth than simply using a computer to write stories–it’s using data and information efficiently to research, find and support your stories.

Professor Edmonson began by demonstrating how to filter data and find patterns in spreadsheets, showing the effectiveness of spreadsheets versus paper filings. She revealed how Spreadsheet data can unveil interesting information that contributes to research through a campaign contribution search. She quickly found students and housewives who have donated the maximum amount of campaign contributions to Kasich and taught us how to create new filter graphs to find family members, connecting those students and housewives to one family.

Afterwards, Lawan Williams joined us via Skype to explain the use and practical application of Tableau Public. We were able to see how data processing is not just for math geniuses or programmers—something useful to show to students in a major that is often stereotyped as hating math.

Tableau’s website describes it as a software that, “transforms stubborn databases and spreadsheets into sources for easy investigations. You can connect to data in a few clicks, then visualize and create interactive dashboards with a few more. It’s so easy to use that any Excel user can learn it. Answer questions as fast as you can think of them.”

Williams agreed, citing it as a user friendly tool and demonstrated to our members ways in which she has used it to create charts, maps and other visuals to aid articles and even simply to stand on their own such as this site graphing tornados. Proof that with proper interpretation and display the data can be strong enough and attractive enough to stand on it’s own. Examples:

Use data correctly to become a better reporter instead of a repeater!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s