Report from the front line: Empowerment Workshops Autumn 17

22. January 2018, by Eva Goldgruber, Christina Niederer, Robert Gutounig

Two half-day workshops were organized for journalism students and journalists in autumn 2017 with the aim to spread data journalism as a practice, and to make the topic more accessible to journalists, who would not primarily describe themselves as “technophile”.

The empowerment workshop series developed as part of the VALiD project took place in October 2017 in Graz (for both genders) and Vienna (women only participants). During these workshops, we gave a short overview of the tools and working practices of data journalists. Katrin Nussmayr, an Austrian data journalists acted as a role model and was the lead mentor of our workshops.

The workshops were designed using the free data visualization tool Datawrapper and the prototype Netflower, a tool for interactive data exploration, developed by FH St. Pölten in the VALiD project. The used datasets (e.g. UNHCR refugee statistics)  were selected by the mentors of the workshops. In teams, supported by mentors the participants had the opportunity to “play” with different datasets. The handling of the tools and background knowledge to question the data are both essential in dealing with huge (unstructured) data.

Working with the groups was quite challenging because the participants developed their own ideas to ask the data. After preparing and cleaning the data sets, the interactive visualizations were quickly created. The participants presented their results as a show and tell session at the end of the workshop.

Eight journalism students attended the first workshop in Graz on 6th October 2017. This workshop served also as a proof of concept. Not only the participants, also the mentors got new insights (e.g. for tool development) and learned a lot.

Datenjournalismus Workshop FH JOANNEUM 2017 - Präsentation der Ergebnisse

Eight journalists attended the second workshop in Vienna on 12th October 2017. An additional workshop was held at the Journalistinnenkongress, an event organized by the Austrian women journalists and media women, on 7th November together with the Swiss data journalist Sylke Gruhnwald.  For more information  see (in German)

Journalist analyzing data on her laptop

More info on the VALiD Workshop Series


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Help us develop our code on GitHub:

netflower – Visual exploration of flows in dynamic networks
mtdb2 – Visual exploration of media transparency data