Visual Network Exploration for Data Journalists

Venturini, T., Jacomy, M., Bounegru, L., & Gray, J. (2018). Visual Network Exploration for Data Journalists. In S. I. Eldridge & B. Franklin (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook to Developments in Digital Journalism Studies. Abingdon: Routledge. (forthcoming)

Networks are classic but under-acknowledged figures of journalistic storytelling.  Yet, journalists have so far made little use of the analytical resources offered by networks. To address this problem in this chapter we examine how “visual network exploration” may be brought to bear in the context of data journalism in order to explore, narrate and make sense of large and complex relational datasets. We borrow the more familiar vocabulary of geographical maps to show how key graphical variables such as position, size and hue can be used to interpret and characterise graph structures and properties. We illustrate this technique by taking as a starting point a recent example from journalism, namely a catalogue of French information sources compiled by Le Monde’s Decodex. We establish that good visual exploration of networks is an iterative process where practices to demarcate categories and territories are entangled and mutually constitutive.

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