Picture This (WW1)

Journalism students gain information on the importance of visualizations while attending Scholastic Journalism Day at the University of Missouri.

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Picture This (WW1)

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Thirteen Hundred journalism students are packed into the seats of Jesse Hall for this year’s Scholastic Journalism Day at the University of Missouri. The students erupt into cheers as keynote speaker Brian McGill steps out onto the stage. He lectures them on the importance of visuals in journalism.

Visuals are important in order to share information quickly and effectively.

“It is a way to convey information quickly and grab the attention of the reader and is a great way to break down large sets of data,” McGill said.

The two basic types of visuals for journalism are pictoral and data visualizations. Pictoral visuals can be interactive and are used to show differences in a way that will attract the attention of an audience. Data visuals show differences in sets of data that has been collected.

“Studies have shown that when people look at articles 82% of people look at the visuals first,” McGill said.

Studies have shown that when people look at articles 82% of people look at the visuals first,”

— McGill

McGill also shared ways that he goes about collecting data for his visuals.

“When finding data you should ask your beat, you want to ask your sources. There are two specific places I like to go to find data. The first is the US Census Bureau, but sometime it can be hard to find data there, so you can go to the Census reporter website and type in where you want your data and it will give you a lot of data,” McGill said.

Another way McGill engages with readers and interacts is through News Games.

“We can also do news games. Since it is around that time for March Madness we have a match generator that you can put the teams you want to match up in and it will tell you what team is expected to win that match up,” McGill said.

McGill provided examples of websites students can visit to recreate some of the visuals he presented during the lecture.

“When you go to put your data into a chart there are some websites that will do it for you that are easy to use. There is the website Data Wrapper that is really easy to use as well as GGIS, and Tableau,”McGill said.

McGill concludes his lecture and presentation and the students cheer loudly before heading off to the Journalism Day sessions. The students walk away from Scholastic Journalism Day with more knowledge on a form of storytelling they can use in their own publications.