When most people hear the word “data,” they think of numbers. Many people think numbers are confusing. Thus, many people think data, a set of number or informational values, is confusing. The purpose of data-journalism is to make data easy for people to understand through the use of maps, graphs, charts and other “infographics.”
A good example of an effective piece of data-journalism is The New York Times’ “Nation on the move: Mapping migration in the United States” interactive map edited by David Leonhardt and published on August 15, 2014. The map is meant to serve as a follow-up summarizing another piece of data-journalism created by The New York Times: “‘Where we came from and where we went, state by state,’ a series of interactive charts showing how Americans have moved between states since 1900.”
The New York Times effectively told the story of migration patterns within the U.S., and how they have changed over time from 1990 to 2012. Readers can choose to analyze migration patterns within these years at three intervals: 1900, 1950 and 2012. The map, which changes in appearance depending upon the interval selected, is read using a color-based key, with each color representing the region in which people living within the U.S. were born.
Thus, readers can ascertain Americans’ migration patterns within the U.S. through comparing the size of the different colored portions of each state by time interval. These colored regional portions are further divided by state, where applicable.
What I found most interesting when using this map was that two percent of Alaskans and two percent of Hawaiians were born in New York in 2012. What does that mean? I’m not 100 percent sure, but it sure looks like Americans are on the move…and, in some cases, are moving thousands of miles from their home states.