Data Storytelling

The move in recent years toward open and Big Data brings with it opportunities for information re-use, increased transparency, and new forms of civic participation in data analysis and communication. At the same time, digital transformations in communications have led to the increasing popularity of infographics, data visualisations and the use of maps for representing complex data and communicating its significance. But while datasets and digital archives grow bigger and more open, information remains difficult to collect, complex to analyse, and challenging to communicate to the public. More data does not necessarily lead to better data stories.

Responding to these changes in recent years, a wide range of industries and organisations, from journalism to health charities to city councils, find themselves increasingly wanting to work with data. This has led to the demand for more professionals trained to engage with data in innovative ways. Likewise, the increased emphasis on visual communication, as found in infographics and mapping, has brought greater attention to the importance visual storytelling for engaging audiences.


The Data Storytelling Workbook

The Data Storytelling Workbook responds to this emergent market for data storytelling, exploring the rise of ‘data storytelling,’ or the different ways in which we tell stories using data. Drawing from practitioners’ first-hand experience, as well as the latest social science research, this workbook introduces readers to the emerging, interdisciplinary field of data storytelling and the challenges and opportunities that come with it through practical applications and activities. It is informed, in particular, by our experiences over the past three years founding the Bournemouth University-based, Civic media Hub and BU Datalabs with our cross-disciplinary team of journalists, media scholars, computer scientists and geographers. The workbook will be designed by Minute Works and published by Routledge in 2019.


The BU Datalabs Project

In efforts to address the growing need for reflective and practical pedagogy in working with data, in January of 2015 our interdisciplinary team of faculty, students and support staff at Bournemouth University launched the BU Datalabs project.

We worked in collaboration with NGOs, journalists and digital designers to develop hands-on, data aggregation, visualisation and digital storytelling workshops designed specifically for dealing with civic and humanitarian issues.

Over six months we hosted a series of BU-based and public workshops, funded by a BU  Fusion Co-Creation and Co-Production grant. These activities and our reflections on them were first documented in our final project report, ‘Telling Data Stories Together.’ You can read our full report here: Datalabs final report_pdf and our article for Journalism Education here journal_20issue_205-2

Based on our project findings, we are currently creating new workshops and professional development classes, as well as designing bespoke session with our project partners.