While working on The Hackney Post during City’s production weeks, I was seconded away from the web team for a day or two in order to create some visualisations for the paper.
This requires a slightly different approach to data visualisation. On the web you don’t necessarily need to display the data points on a bar graph, for example, as the reader can hover their mouse over the relevant bar and see the specific data point in a pop-up window. The same can be done with Google Fusion maps and other types of embedded visualisations to display more information in a cleaner way.
The same approach obviously doesn’t work for print, which means you have to think a little more carefully about how to cram all of that vital data into a visualisation without ruining its readability and therefore the reader’s subsequent comprehension.
A knowledge of photoshop can come in handy here, as you can tweak and fine-tune to your heart’s content – much more so than with the built-in options available to you with most free web tools.
For a story on drug raids in Hackney that was to appear in the next day’s paper, I created the map below, using crime rates available from the Met Police, a screenshot of a Google Fusion map I created containing the colour-coded Hackney Ward boundaries by crime rate, and the locations of those recently arrested under a Hackney Police operation.
The font for each ward name was chosen as it matched the Hackney Post’s new logo, which I also created as part of the paper’s redesign:
While the key could be a little clearer, the image caption in the paper also clarified what the reader was looking at, and how to interpret the map.
A versatile data journalist is also one that can work with traditional print media. Amassing any sort of transferrable skills in data journalism will make you a worthwhile addition to any organisation.