It seems like data is going through something of an identity crisis. Whether it’s being hacked, stolen or left in the back of a taxi, the range and depth of the ‘data trail’ that we all leave has been firmly planted at the forefront of national consciousness.
In many ways data, personal or otherwise, appears to primarily lend itself to negative stories. The twin spectres of security and surveillance provide ample ammunition for the more sensational sections of the media.
Privacy issues abound, and no one wants to incur the wrath of the much-discussed Data Protection Act. However, when data is distilled, collected in a comprehensive fashion and, crucially, made anonymous, the resulting statistics provide the base for many successful stories.
As traditional media looks to expand its online influence further, journalists and news outlets have to find ever more innovative ways of grabbing users’ attention. This is especially true for those wishing to target social media sites, where a link is often shared with a minimal amount of accompanying text. In this situation, original data combined with an interesting headline statistic can be a crucial tool.
For example, if I told you that if you search ‘Is this the world’s…’ on the Daily Mail website, it would bring up over 26,000 stories, would you believe me? Either way, it’s fairly likely you’d at least be tempted to click on this link to see the corroborative data and a spectacular example of journalistic repetition.
Data in its raw form is a fantastic resource, but it takes skilful presentation to ensure that it is framed in a way that generates interest amongst the mass market, or indeed, with the journalists it is being pitched to.
One good example of data being used in an innovative and effective way comes from Opta Sports, a sports data gathering organisation. Its UK Twitter feed had 103,388 followers at the time of writing and they have secured lucrative partnerships with the likes of Sky Sports, BBC Sport and ITV Sport, as well as a host of other broadcast and print media.
It has successfully turned potentially dry statistics into the story and has effectively promoted this across a wide variety of media channels. The lesson that can be taken is that, despite the occasional scaremongering campaign, data isn’t necessarily all negative headlines.
If a client can produce a snappy visual to illustrate a sound base of data, then the story can gather real momentum. This animation, detailing the spread of messages from Japan in the wake of the March 11th tsunami is a prime example of an innovative way of attracting readers’ attention and is something that is likely to gain significant social media buzz.
Therefore, data and the implications associated with its use should be respected. If managed correctly, the inclusion of a well-placed, relevant data can encourage a reader to engage with the piece across a variety of media platforms.