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Highlights from Chat 3.10.10: Numbers: Not the Nightmare You Think They Are

March 25, 2010 - Posted in Highlights , Web Journalism Posted by:

Q1: What role does data play in your job?

Chronotope: Data is always useful, especially good for enriching content and framing stories. #wjchat

gotoPlanB: Q1. Numbers play bigger role than most realize. Every study and budget meeting is framed based on numbers. #wjchat

tchance121: #wjchat Q1 Data plays a big role. Esp. in small community papers. Transparency goes a long way here. Esp. with school budget cuts. big help.

10000words: @tchance121 Don’t forget there are “lies, damn lies, and statistics.” #wjchat

Q2: Do you generate data from stories or stories from data?

UPIU: Q2: A mix, you have to do research to craft a story, but you often have some sense of the story you are aiming for before you start #wjchat

gotoPlanB: Simplistically, you can find some data set and dig for a story or have a story and then dig for a data set. #wjchat

KelseyProud: Q2 As with using data at all, have to make sure there IS a story if given numbers to start. It’s news judgment with a caveat. #wjchat

Q3: What data obstacles have you faced and how did you overcome?

mattwaite: Getting data before you have a story leads to a lot of “no shit, Sherlock” journalism. The story is always the thing. #wjchat

salvadorduran: Q3 is always an issue of verification. Why should I believe the source. Is the source impartial? Show me proof. #wjchat

10000words: @wjchat The hardest part of gathering data is wrestling it out of the cold hands of government agencies #wjchat

jaosullivanx: Q3: Verify the numbers, but also get your boots on the ground. Do they fit in with what you see in the community? #wjchat

Q4: Do you ever feel insecure about your ability to report data? Who do you go to for help? Best piece of advice they’ve given you?

ethanklapper Q4 YES. Data is intimidating. Like I said before, the sources are best to clear questions up. Mentors help too #wjchat

newswithnumbers: Q4: I think this is a process… you report, someone finds mistake, you fix, it gets better. Bad if you don’t report at all. #wjchat

kimbui I used to joke all that time that math is why i became a journalist. But really, it was organic chemistry. #wjchat

reneejperron: Q4: as a major nerd, data is actually where I feel more comfortable. If used correctly, it gives your reporting authority #wjchat

reneejperron You overcome insecurities with data the same way you overcome bad grammar: check it, again and again. and practice #wjchat

Q5: What is the best visualization you’ve seen recently and why? How did you know it was useful?

gotoPlanB I also love this viz of Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. http://bit.ly/d27nHC #wjchat

SuziSteffen Q5: I *LOVE* the interactive graphic at the new @spotus story about Mid-Market in San Francisco: http://wkly.ws/f1 #wjchat

kimbui …NYT blew me away with this one: http://nyti.ms/oiNKz #wjchat -6:06 PM Mar 10th, 2010

KatieRogers Q5 This is kind of old, but this NYT interactive graphic about unemployment was amazing: http://nyti.ms/3dLjAe #wjchat

Q6: How do you put numbers into context for your audience?

SuperDu: Q6 Putting ANYTHING into context for your readers, including numbers, is what makes storytelling/reporting a skill. #wjchat

gotoPlanB: Q6. Don’t publish numbers that aren’t statistically significant in a way that implies significance. #wjchat

ethanklapper: Q6. Also, always be clear about your sources. Don’t steal/always attribute! And explain the sources too. #wjchat

kaitlinflanigan: Q6: It also helps to make sure YOU understand the numbers, otherwise it’s poor reporting! #wjchat

SuziSteffen @ethanklapper Fascinating to see who understands the link economy & who doesn’t. Works for numbers too (& transparent pres of data). #wjchat

jessicamalnik Q6: I always try to put numbers into a larger context. Using everyday comparisons and analogies are generally helpful. #wjchat

HoltzReport @killbutton Q6. I try to use “one out of ten” type phrase rather than 10% etc. #wjchat

Q7: What tools can I use to break out of the beginnner league of data visualization?

gotoPlanB @wjchat I love Google Chart Tools — except the default 3D pie which is of the devil. http://code.google.com/apis/charttools/ #wjchat

kmcurry Q7 @Tableau is powerful viz tool #wjchat

ethanklapper Q7 It’s not a question of tools, it’s a question of skills. Keen design sense to be exact. #wjchat

oemurph @wjchat Q7: Knowing your HTML and CSS will help you avoid making data presentations unnecessarily complex. #wjchat

gotoPlanB If you have don’t mind some code or have a Python friend, check out NodeBox: http://bit.ly/kbVPy #wjchat

kimbui http://maker.geocommons.com/ is one of my favorites lately. #wjchat

ethanklapper This one’s for everyone, especially in re: @kimbui’s last comment: http://bit.ly/c9OgEy #wjchat

johnfcampbell: Q7 Most powerful tool: ask someone who’s been at it already. #wjchat

Q8: What do you want to learn about using and understanding numbers?

jeffsonderman @wjchat Q8: Difference between percent increase and percentage points increase #wjchat

gotoPlanB @wjchat Tricked by averages. Head in oven, feet in freezer, on average feel good. #wjchat

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