Exploring the Stories Behind the Data

Cheryl Phillips (The Seattle Times)

A story on the U.S. Census will tell the broad themes behind the data and use people to exemplify those themes. But what every reader also wants to know answers to more specific questions: How did my community change? What happened where I live, in my neighborhood? And being able to provide those answers through an interactive visualization is what story-telling through the data is all about. A story or report on a subject by its very nature summarizes the underlying data. But readers may have questions specific to a time, date or place. Visualizing the data and providing effective, targeted ways to drill deeper is key to giving the reader more than just the story. The visualization can enhance and deepen the experience. Cheryl Phillips will discuss data visualization strategies to do just that, providing examples from The Seattle Times and other journalism organizations.

Photo of Cheryl Phillips

Cheryl Phillips

The Seattle Times

Cheryl Phillips is the Data Enterprise Editor for The Seattle Times and a former board president with Investigative Reporters and Editors, a national journalism training organization, where she served on the board for a decade. Phillips coordinates data-related enterprise journalism across the Seattle Times newsroom. She has edited a number of award-winning stories that made compelling use of data visualizations. One of the most recent was an investigation into the myth-busting reasons behind the foreclosure crisis, “Rescue From Foreclosure? Frustration, Anger Grow.” The joint project with The Seattle Times and ProPublica received The Gannett Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism and a first place award in the National Association of Real Estate Editors’ 61st annual journalism contest. She also was the sole journalist in the newsroom in 2009 when a gunman shot and killed four area police officers in a coffee shop. She was integrally involved with the subsequent breaking news coverage, which received a Pulitzer Prize. Phillips also worked as deputy investigations editor and a reporter on the investigations team, writing or editing several stories which received national awards and has twice been a member of reporting teams that were finalists for a Pulitzer Prize. Previously, she has worked at USA Today and newspapers in Michigan, Montana and Texas.

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