DIY: Telling Stories With Data

DIY: Telling Stories With Data

Introduction to Data-Driven Storytelling

When people hear the word “data,” they immediately conjure up mental images of spreadsheets, clipboards, and math equations. But in truth, data is a key part of the way we make stories, fun, relevant and accurate. Rather than rely on opinions or subjective speculation, data allows us to find and capture trends, answer investigative questions, and visualize complex relationships. 

PRESENTATION/VIDEO: Data Storytelling: Case Studies from YR Media


So when it comes to data-driven story telling, where do you start? Journalist and graphic designer Teresa Chin walks the viewer through various ways that YR has incorporated different types of data into its online and audio storytelling. From lead-laced candy to teen narcissism, you’ll learn how you can use data to inspire your reporting, or start with a question and find evidence to answer key questions about how the world works. You can go through the slides in the video, or explore at the examples at your own pace.

In Part 1, you’ll learn about some examples where reporters started with a data set and built a story around it:

In Part 2, you’ll learn about some examples where reporters had a story idea and had to find a corresponding source of data to backup their reporting:

Slides are available here:

TRY IT: “What Does An Engineer Look Like?”


A picture is worth a thousand words — but that doesn’t mean those words are helpful or accurate. Societal stereotypes are often reflected (and reinforced) through the images we are subjected to every day. For example, if most engineering job postings depict white men, it can be tough for someone outside that box — say a young woman of color — to feel like she “belongs” in that field.

This activity uses creative commons image search to generate a simple data set of what the Internet suggests a given STEM occupation “looks like,” creating a space for students to discuss how that message may differ from reality.

Download the entire lesson plan including all materials and handouts here:

FULL LESSON PLAN- “What Does An Engineer Look Like

  • Grades: 6-12
  • Time:  30 minutes – 1 hour
  • Materials: Computer with Internet access, worksheet (included), pen/pencil
  • Tags: Media Literacy, Data Science, STEM careers, Photography

Q&A – Understanding Privacy and Data – web cookies

Even if you’re not a data journalist you probably interact with data on a day-to-day basis. Youth Radio’s Myles Bess asks Product Manager and privacy expert Michee Smith to explain why ads follow you around online, and what you can do to protect your information. Video produced by Youth Radio’s Chaz Hubbard.


  • How to make an infographic (Part 1) –  Video + Lesson from Youth Radio
    • In this DIY lesson plan from Teach Youth Radio, producer Teresa Chin and intern Soraya Shockley walk students through the process of visualizing data, starting with what type of graph best matches your data.
  • Youth Radio Interactive Portfolio Page – Data-rich interactives, games and apps
    • Youth Radio interactive is a digital makerspace where young people at Youth Radio combine programming and journalism to develop new tools, and to tell dynamic stories about issues facing their community. Check out their interactive portfolio, which includes several data-rich storytelling projects, games and apps.
  • Data Storytelling Tips – Tableau
    • Tableau is a free online tool that you can use to turn data sets into meaningful visualizations.  The company released a free white paper with tips and examples of successful data storytelling projects.
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