In our Digital Storytelling class today, we were visited by Northeastern University professor and data visualization expert John Wihbey. After a lengthy discussion about the history and value of being able to graph and visualize data for stories in order to make the information more accessible and digestible to readers, we were given the opportunity to create some sample graphs based on data samples provided.

Data visualization is something I encounter fairly often in the stories I research for this blog, but it’s something I myself as a reporter rarely get the opportunity to play with. Using infographics, charts and images greatly add to the value of a text story, particularly an in-depth investigative piece or anything involving good meaty statistics (something we see a lot in politics).

Here is a graph I created via Google which depicts the rise and fall of cases of whooping cough in the U.S. between 1920 and 2014, according to this data:


As it was my first attempt, the graph appears a bit basic. On the next graph however, I was able to give a bit more detail and synthesize more information on the topic at hand. The data (supplied by Wihbey) depicts the gross gender disparity in the four major tech companies by showing how the percentages of men and women compare in the makeup of the company overall, versus how the disparity widens in just tech jobs within the company:


My partner and I chose to couple the genders together so you could see just how the percentages of women in the company decrease when you move to specifically tech jobs (thus delineating the still present bias against women in STEM fields). We all hear about how this gender bias exists, but to see it in graph form makes it that much more starkly visible.


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