Journey Through Jordan: Day 8

Day 8

JHR workshop in Amman

As predicted, today’s workshop was a whirlwind!

The focus was on data visualization – what it is, how we do it, and it’s they’re important.

We discussed the importance of data journalism in this day and age. It’s not always an easy process to work with large amounts of data or information, and turn it into a story, but it’s an important skill to have in your back pocket as a journalist.

So what exactly is data journalism?

It’s the process of gathering and filtering large amounts of information and turning it into a story, usually a visual (ie. in a chart or graphic) story, or including it in addition to a written or broadcast report.

It’s a creative and interesting way to enhance a story, or let the data speak for itself and lead you down a path towards an entirely new topic that you may not have thought of.

So how do we actually convey these stories visually?

That was today’s lesson.

I walked the participants through the steps: first you collect data (through surveys, research, etc.), then you clean or filter it (getting rid of any clouding information or doubled up information), and finally visualize it so that it makes sense to your audience.

JHR workshop in Amman (CTV News)

It was interesting to learn that a lot of the data collection tools that we might use in Canada aren’t necessarily available to journalists in Jordan.

For example, many freedom or access to information requests go unanswered, official websites or departments give the runaround, or people simply don’t want to talk.

Together, the group and I discussed ways to get around these challenges.

Based on my lessons from our very helpful online team, I explained how to create charts/graphs through Google Drive, maps based on location and relevant information (ex: gun licenses per province), online survey creation tools to gather information, and finally, Google Heat Maps, which show the intensity of whatever your data is, framed neatly on a map.

The struggle was apparent today when it came to the language barrier. It’s never an easy task learning something complicated, let alone by a teacher speaking in another language.

The interpreters went back and forth between Arabic and English to relay my message and also to ask any questions from the participants.

Luckily, today’s workshop was about just that, working! A lot of the day was spent actually using these tools and having something to show from the lesson plan.

I sat down with most participants individually – some understood more quickly than others – and we both tried our best to understand one another and the material at hand.

JHR workshop journalists (CTV News)

Once everyone got the chance to try out the various tools for themselves, I showed them examples of work that CTV has done over the last few months.

We looked at a long report on World Refugee Day, an in-depth breakdown of the Fort McMurray Wildfires, and the recent terror attacks throughout France.

(Below: with JHR trainer Mohammed Shamma and workshop participant Abdallah Momany)

Mohammed Shamma

You could tell it was eye opening to the participants of the workshop just what kinds of multimedia can be incorporated into any old story, to make it interesting and keep your audience coming back for more.

The questions from the students were passionate and I tried to make my answers as clear as possible, and overall, the day ended on a high note.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s final session, where we’ll discuss how to cover an election. The election on September 20th in Jordan is quickly approaching, so it’s a very pertinent issue to cover.

Everyone will create their own visualizations and do a presentation, in order to earn their “passing” certificate from the program.

It’s going to be a great final day to see how far everyone has come, including me!

Until tomorrow,


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