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Training your newsroom to look for data and interactive ideas

By Raven Nichols 

Training a newsroom to look for data and interactive ideas isn’t always easy. At the 2016 CAR Conference, Dana Williams of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Rachel Schallom of Fusion explained how to introduce these concepts to your newsroom.

The first step is to hold a training session. Here are a few suggestions:

  • You don’t have to train everyone – or, at least, everyone at the same time
  • Show people what is out there and what can be done
  • Use IRE/NICAR training resources
  • Tell reporters what to look for and what the constraints are

Host these training sessions frequently. Exactly how often you run them can sometimes depend on newsroom turnover.

Some people may not understand techniques for finding data. Showing examples and offering hands-on training can help mitigate this problem. It can also be useful to pair journalists with others in the newsroom who understand data journalism techniques.

Some reporters won't know how to incorporate data into their stories. Schallom suggested reporters create a mockup storyboard in Adobe Illustrator to visualize how the text would look in an interactive. This would be beneficial if, for example, you wanted to add a slideshow to your story.

A data journalist or editor sometimes has to veto an idea if it doesn’t make sense. There is a respectful way to do this. Tell the writer why the idea doesn’t work and show him or her examples of interactive or other ideas that have worked in the past.

Remember, this process takes time. Introducing new skills to a newsroom is never easy, but keeping an open mind will help with this process.

Raven Nichols is a sophomore mass communications major at Louisiana State University. She is the entertainment and news editor for

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