"Data journalism is absolutely critical to our future," said NZME managing editor Shayne Currie when speaking to StopPress about the restructure of NZME's news teams.
As part of the shift to a more digital-centric publishing operation, Currie said NZME would be investing more into data journalism in the near future.
This seems to have now come to fruition with the launch of Insights, a website dedicated to the Herald's data journalism.
“The world we live in means there is no shortage of data," said Currie in a release announcing the launch of the site. "By using technology and investing in specialist skills over the past 12 months, the Herald has been able to report on stories in a much more interesting and compelling way via the use of data and statistics. It’s resulting in high standards of in-depth analysis and enabling us to explain issues in a way that is easier to understand and for our audience to appreciate their significance.”
These sentiments resonate with those previously expressed by NZ Herald data editor Harkanwal Singh when chatting to StopPress about his work.
“It’s sort of like writing a feature or in-depth story, because your aim is to present it in a way that anyone who comes across it will be compelled to read through the story," Singh said. "Similarly with a data visualisation, you’re trying to attract someone who would not look at data otherwise. You’re trying to tell a compelling story.”
At the 2015 Canon Media Awards, Singh twice walked onto the stage to collect gongs—in the ‘interactive graphics’ and ‘best multimedia storytelling’ categories—for data visualisation projects developed at the Herald over the last year.
The first of these awards was won for the deprivation index visualisation, which provided an interactive glimpse at the deprivation levels across the nation, while the second was awarded for his real-time coverage of last year’s election.
"And today we are presenting a new interactive where you can explore how ethnic makeup of your neighbourhood in Auckland is projected to change by 2038," says Singh. The interactive also shows projections for every territorial authority in the country.”
But not all data journalism is about serious political issues. Singh and his team collaborated with sport editor Dylan Cleaver to produceda data visualisation showing where every All Black to have donned the black jersey was born.
As well as providing interesting content for readers, NZME group revenue director Laura Maxwell says content created with data journalism is also attracting interest from the clients and advertising agencies that hold the purse strings in the industry.
She says that because data journalism delivers "personally relevant information in a highly interactive way," it creates new "opportunities for advertisers to align with these engaged audiences."