MP: Data journalism and Visualization

Journalists and all other communicators often deal with huge amounts of data which they must

communicate to others to help in making sense of the statistics and figures being communicated.

More often, we need to show trends or extents of the issue or occurrence in given data.

Online media offers varied platforms for visual representation of data and trends, creating and

embedding interactive graphics, managing and manipulating data in interactive ways that your

audience members will enjoy/ understand better.

The common visualization include pie charts, bar charts, line charts, flow charts- all of which can

be achieved in using Microsoft excel or even Microsoft word 2007 and above. With online

media, these can be made as interactive (alive) as you wish. To achieve this, we especially

recommend the use of google documents, using spreadsheets so you can get web friendly

embeddable code to present your interactive visualizations.


Other visualizations like maps, timelines, word cloud, heat maps, bubble chart or mashups mi ght

need specially made tools or platforms. The good news there are many such free platforms to

help you create your own visualistions of data, trends or extents.

Data Visualisation tools

One of the favourite tools for data visualization is startplanet (changed to ) which can be downloaded here It has maps with data sets for many

countries, including Uganda upto regional level. An example of this visualization is here This platform can be used to present

visualizations for simple or massive data on a given topic or many topics. There is also a great

option for large data projects in

You can also use basic maps to visualize your data or facts in addition to better telling of

location based (rich) stories. Just go to or and

create your maps with location and given statistics and embed the map in your website


We give a practical lesson of how to create useful maps, but you can always look at the google tutorial on

how to create maps and share them or see our online tutorial on mapping and journalism.

For more advanced use especially for mashups, you can use services like Umapper , Map Builder or Atlas These tools

allow you to create custom maps and mashups presenting facts, trends, data of any kind on map

layers (relevant geographical locations). You can easily embed the maps/ mashups into your

website pages or share them as is. Each of these has a practical guide on how to use them.

Timelines are another way to visualize your data/information. We recommend dipity where you

can register for free at and create awesome timelines. They have a tutorial on

how to make your timeline better and integrate video, photos, maps, audio.


There are other global maps service providers like open street maps, yahoo maps etc. Our Practical training on creating maps done online uses google maps and tutorial also available at is also another free timeline tool to consider. All timeslines once created

and fully saved can be shared by picking the url, sharing direct on social networks or picking the

embed code which you can use to publish your timeline in your website or blog pages.

But the tool you most likely find easy and helpful is google fusion tables. This free program

offers a range of options for you to visualize your data and get embed codes or links to produce

or share your visualizations in your website, blog or social networks. Access them at You can see the interactive visualizations and can create

your own so long as you have your data and sign in with your google (gmail) account.

Below are general links to help you be good in this area.

Examples of good use of interactive online maps /mashups By Mark S. Luckie of the

Washington Post and 10,000 words (now with twitter) direct link

22 free data visualization tools

How to create Visual interactive in news time

google refine


7 innovative online maps

Inspiration from new York times interactive

Pro publica dollars for doctors project

Here are good example of a data-driven journalism stories online posted on Delicious

by mark S. Luckie

 database + examples direct link

 data + informationdesign direct link

Google Maps: 100+ Best Tools and Mashups: from direct link

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