Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Visual Network Exploration for Data Journalists

Forthcoming, Venturini, T., Jacomy, M., Bounegru, L. & Gray, J. (2018). “Visual Network Exploration for Data Journalists.” In The Routledge Handbook to Developments in Digital Journalism Studies, edited by Scott Eldridge II and Bob Franklin. Abingdon: Routledge.

17 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2017  

Tommaso Venturini

médialab Sciences Po; French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation; Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) de Lyon

Mathieu Jacomy

Sciences Po - médialab

Liliana Bounegru

Ghent University; University of Groningen; Digital Methods Initiative

Jonathan Gray

King's College London

Date Written: July 12, 2017

Abstract

Networks are classic but under-acknowledged figures of journalistic storytelling. Who is connected to whom and by which means? Which organizations receive support from which others? What resources or information circulate through which channels and which intermediaries enable and regulate their flows? These are all customary stories and lines of inquiry in journalism and they all have to do with networks. Additionally, the recent spread of digital media has increasingly confronted journalists with information coming not only in the traditional form of statistic tables, but also of relational databases. 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 The 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. To enrich investigation we suggest ways in which the insights of the visual exploration of networks can be supplemented with simple calculations and statistics of distributions of nodes and links across the network. We conclude with reflection on the knowledge-making capacities of this technique and how these compare to the insights and instruments that journalists have used in the Decodex project – suggesting that visual network exploration is a fertile area for further exploration and collaborations between data journalists and digital researchers.

Keywords: visual network analysis, visual network exploration, networks, data journalism

Suggested Citation

Venturini, Tommaso and Jacomy, Mathieu and Bounegru, Liliana and Gray, Jonathan, Visual Network Exploration for Data Journalists (July 12, 2017). Forthcoming, Venturini, T., Jacomy, M., Bounegru, L. & Gray, J. (2018). “Visual Network Exploration for Data Journalists.” In The Routledge Handbook to Developments in Digital Journalism Studies, edited by Scott Eldridge II and Bob Franklin. Abingdon: Routledge. . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3043912

Tommaso Venturini (Contact Author)

médialab Sciences Po ( email )

27 rue St Guillaume - Paris Cedex 07
Paris, 75337
France
0033 01 45 49 53 71 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.tommasoventurini.it

French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation ( email )

46 allée d'Italie
Lyon, 69007
France
666229217 (Phone)
666229217 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.inria.fr

Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) de Lyon ( email )

15, parvis Rene Descartes BP 7000
Lyon Cedex 07, 69342
France

HOME PAGE: http://www.ixxi.fr

Mathieu Jacomy

Sciences Po - médialab ( email )

27 rue St Guillaume - Paris Cedex 07
Paris, 75337
France

Liliana Bounegru

Ghent University ( email )

Coupure Links 653
Gent, 9000
Belgium

University of Groningen ( email )

P.O. Box 800
9700 AH Groningen
Netherlands

Digital Methods Initiative ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Jonathan Gray

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

Paper statistics

Downloads
118
Rank
200,654
Abstract Views
623