Data Visualization: Workshop for Business Journalists

by December 6, 2013

The Particulars

When: 9 a.m. to noon,
March 28, 2014

Where: Room 414,
Walter Cronkite School
of Journalism and Mass
Arizona State University,
555 N. Central Ave.,
Phoenix, Ariz. 85004

Instructor: Dianne Finch,
visiting assistant professor of
communications at Elon University

Hosts: This workshop will be held
during the Society of American
Business Editors and Writers
(SABEW) Annual Conference
March 27-29 at ASU’s Walter Cronkite
School of Journalism and Mass

Registration is now closed.

Lodging:  Lodging is available at
a conference rate of $199 a night,
plus tax, at the Sheraton Downtown Phoenix.

Parking: A visitors’ lot is just north
of the Cronkite School, with entry
from Fillmore Street. | Directions

Copyright Daniel Hom and

Data visualization is revolutionizing journalism, and on a business beat, where numbers often serve as a story’s backbone, understanding when and how to use this tool equips reporters with a highly marketable skill that also enhances their daily reporting.

In this hands-on workshop, you will discover how data visualization – turning data and numbers into images –  strengthens stories. You’ll also learn the basics of whipping spreadsheets into a format ripe for visuals.

And you’ll delve into basic data visualization concepts, such as how to visualize categories and ordinal numbers, as well as how to avoid “chart junk,” or info that doesn’t add to the value of the visual. Participants will produce tree charts, bars, bubbles and maps, plus leave with a list of tools to use once back in their newsrooms.

For examples of data visualizations, many of them produced by journalists, please see’s gallery.

This workshop is part of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) Annual Conference and requires paid conference registration. Please register and tick the box for “Data Visualization hands-on workshop.”


  • How data visualization is used for not only supporting stories, but also discerning trends in data that lead to new stories.
  • How data looks when reporters receive it from an accountant or economist and how to clean and prepare it for visualization software.
  • How to build visuals from data sets using Google tools and its API
  • How to place visuals on a simple Web page.


This workshop is for any journalist who wants to learn basic techniques of data visualization. No previous database skills are required to attend this training.


Dianne Finch is a visiting assistant professor of communications at Elon University. She joined Elon in spring 2013 as the Reynolds Visiting Professor in Business Journalism. She used her software programming skills to spot story ideas in Census 2000 data for The Associated Press. She then acquired a master’s in journalism at Columbia University, adding it to her economics degree. She reported for Bloomberg News on finance and worked the health-science beat at New Hampshire Public Radio. In 2008, she was awarded a fellowship at MIT’s Knight Science Journalism program – and stayed there to build a multimedia training program and oversee design of a custom website. Her stories have been aired or printed by NPR, Marketplace, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and others.


Please do not register unless you are sincere about participating. Because this workshop offers hands-on training on individual computers, space is extremely limited, with spots allotted on a first-come, first-served basis. Signing up and not participating deprives someone else of the opportunity.

Those who successfully complete three regional workshops or online seminars presented by the Reynolds Center are eligible to receive a “Circle of Achievement” certificate.

This workshop is sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. If you have any questions about the workshop or the center, please call 602-496-9187.