“Data journalism is really just another way of gathering information,” says Steve Doig, Arizona State University journalism professor and data expert. “It’s the equivalent of interviewing sources and looking at documents, instead except with data journalism you are essentially interviewing the data to let it tell you its secrets.”

In our research session today, we will turn our attention to several data visualization tools.  It will be more an introduction to these tools, rather than a comprehensive look at all that goes into mastering the craft of data journalism.

We will spend much of our time familiarizing ourselves with, and conducting searches in each of the products, to the end that you will gain an understanding of what each can do, and the facility for using them in your reporting and research exercises to add greater value to the stories you produce.



Statista is a massive, easy-to-search database; an aggregation of statistics, studies, dossiers, infographics and more, from over 100,000 vetted sources.  Topics cover a wide range of issues – from social networks and the organic food industry to eCommerce and prisoners in the U.S.  Includes comparative international data.

To find statistics on a specific topic, enter your keyword(s) into the search bar, e.g. “minimum wage”, or click on any of the linked Topics, Industries, Digital Markets, etc. in the menu bar.

Results of a Topics search will be returned with filtering options on the left side of the page. Select results by publication year or region, or narrow search results to retrieve infographics or statistics, studies or reports, market analytics or forecasts.

Each record is thoroughly sourced and includes additional reading and supplementary notes; results may be downloaded and/or shared in a variety of formats. Statista provides embed codes for each record as well as citation formats for proper attribution.

Note:  Always cite the original source; Statista is not the source of the data; it is simply the aggregator.

In Class Drill: Drones

  • Most recent data on the number of drone strikes overseen by the CIA and carried out in Pakistan and Somalia
  • Most recent data on the projected revenues (worldwide) for 2025, from the commercial use of drones.



Data-Planet is a statistics aggregating tool; it pulls and standardizes data from authoritative open source, public, private, domestic and international sources, 40% of which is proprietary.

Find data on popular topics in the news, and on key economic indicators.

There are several ways of conducting searches in Data-Planet:

  • Enter a keyword search in the search bar at the center top of the page.
  • Select popular topics in the news
  • Search by key economic indicators
  • Browse by subject
  • Browse by source.

Depending on the issue being researched, users can find and view charts, maps, and rankings at a number of levels including the country, state, zip code, and census tract levels; filtering options will be determined by the topic being investigated.

The data is easily exportable to other software; Excel is the most frequently used application for downloading data.

Let’s plunge in with a Sample Search:

Looking for the number of mortgage loan applications which were denied by lending institutions in each of NYC’s five boroughs in the most recent year for which records have been compiled.

  • From the left navigation bar:
  • Click on Browse by Subject
  • Select Housing and Construction
  • Choose Home Mortgage Disclosure Act
  • Click on Application – Denied by Financial Institution

Review the results appearing in the middle of the page.  Notice the available filtering options at your disposal:  year, geography, name of lending institution, purpose of the loan, and race and gender datapoints.

  • Select 2015
  • Choose the county geography, select New York state and highlight Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens and Richmond counties
  • Let’s select  All Lenders
  • And let’s specify the purpose of the loans – Home Purchase
  • Lastly, let’s add Gender demographics

Review the comprehensive information of the sources and description of the dataset.

Use the Chart Options to view results by Trend, Map, Pie or Rank.

Create a (portable) link: http://dx.doi.org.journalism.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/10.6068/DP15B1103D5CE7

Download to .PDF or Excel 



Launched in November 2015, the DATA2GO.NYC website is an easy to use data visualization tool, ideally useful to anyone – community-based organizations, journalists, Jane Q Public – who needs accurate information but may not be proficient in gathering research and/or performing statistical analysis.

The website includes over 300 indicators for New York City’s 59 community districts, half of which are also available by census tract, and brings together for the first time federal, state, and local data vital to understanding a broad range of issues critical to the well-being of all New Yorkers.

Users should expect to find a blend of datasets, analytic tools and interactive maps that show the connections between the social and economic realities that New Yorkers face – useful information on living conditions and public safety, schools and jobs, political engagement, health and family structure.

Users can create unique maps, find relationships and draw comparisons between indicators across neighborhoods, and print or share their results at the click of a button.

Let’s have a look at each of the three ways of searching for data using Data2Go.NYC:

The MAPS feature allows the user to apply a single indicator, e.g. meal gap, to each of the 59 CDs and most of the census tracts in NYC’s five boroughs, and to make comparative assessments of the results.

Sample Search:

Click on Select an Indicator

Choose Food Systems from the list of categories

Click on the meal gap indicator (# of meals needed per year for food security)

The graphic appearing on the left offers a visual that immediately identifies the CD with the most food insecure households.

As you click on each CD on the interactive map, a demographic profile of that CD appears on the right side of the page.

Note:  the i in the upper right corner identifies the source and provides further explanation of the indicator; clicking on the ‘get data’ tab will produce a .pdf of the results of your search.

The option to share this data (Facebook, Twitter) is also available from the main menu bar.

Users may also use the Features of Interest tab on the main menu bar to find data on government funded, licensed, or operated facilities e.g. schools, libraries, parks, liquor stores, etc.  

Sample Search:

Click on Features of Interest tab

Select a category, e.g. soup kitchens/food pantries.

Click on the dotted map to find the name of the shelter and number of beds.

Note:  While charter schools are included, private universities and colleges or for-profit schools are not.  These data were all obtained from the licensing source, and that source is accessible by clicking the i in the data box.

You can now look for relationships between communities where there are large meal gaps with those where food pantries and soups kitchens abound. 


The DASHBOARDS feature shows multiple indicators for a single CD; it doesn’t include data at the census tract level.

DASHBOARDS allows you create a custom page with your choice of indicators, lets you view the source of each data point, and provides the option to share or print your custom view. 

Sample Search

Find your CD on the map on the left side of the page, e.g. BK 12 Borough Park, Kensington and Ocean Parkway

A set of indicators will appear on the page

To create your custom view:

Hover over each indicator to delete (x), find out more about the indicator (i) or reposition the indicator (+).

Let’s get rid of (x) all indicators save for Race/Ethnicity.

Click on Select Category

Choose Political Engagement

Click on Add Module

Click and drag (+) all indicators onto the main page

You’ve now created a custom view of the face of the electorate in your CD


The CONNECTIONS feature asks the question:  Is there a connection between x and y, and if so, how strong is the relationship?

View the relationship between two variables across all CDs, and draw comparisons (on those variables) between CDs.

Sample Search

Select an x value by clicking on the blue dropdown menu

Choose from anyone of a list of variables; e.g. % of households with broadband internet

Select a y value by clicking on the yellow dropdown menu

Choose one from the list of variables e.g. % of households receiving SNAP benefits.

A graphic showing each CD (represented by dots), and a statement describing the relationship between the two variables across the city.


To cite DATA2GO please use this form of attribution: Measure of America, Social Science Research Council. 2016. DATA2GO.NYC. http://www.data2go.nyc.

A Helpful Tutorial  http://www.data2go.nyc/tutorial/

DOWNLOAD button brings you to a short form to complete before being able to download all DATA2GO.NYC data in a .csv or Excel file. Data are organized in the twelve categories. The only data not available in this form are the philanthropy data, which are available by subscription from maps.foundationcenter.org. The source data (accessible by clicking i) will bring users to the website where the data can be extracted. DOWNLOAD offers users the data already downloaded, extracted, and cleaned.



There’s more there, there!  The familiar NYC Open Data is more than a source for finding stats on 311 calls.

Before beginning a search, sign in; you will not be able to save your search results unless you’re signed in, so if you haven’t yet registered, do so.

Sample Search:  Looking for Art Galleries in Brooklyn, NY

Click on Data in menu bar and enter your search “art galleries”

The results reveal a map which can be shared via Twitter and Facebook

You may also view the data in tabular form and filter by city.


You may be interested in determining how many contracts the city’s Department of Aging has secured for home delivered meals.  A quick look at datasets provided by the Department for the Aging will prove quite productive.

Select DFTA Contracts

The information provided about the dataset if of tremendous value; in particular, the data contained in the various columns.  And in this example, the contract service type

Select View Data near the top of the page

Filter the first column by Home Delivered Meals

You can also filter by Borough, e.g. Brooklyn




DATA.GOV Home of the U.S. Government’s Open Data

HealthData.gov Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services



Media Experts  American Statistical Association (ASA) members with expertise in fields of statistical application

Data Journalism Handbook an initiative of the European Journalism Centre and the Open Knowledge Foundation.  

5 tips for getting started in data journalisman article by Associated Press editor Troy Thibodeaux

Resources for learning and doing data journalism Courtesy of American Press Institute