Data Journalism Top 10 for 2020: COVID-19, Saving the Nile, Shape of Dreams, Visualizations for the Colorblind

For those unfamiliar with GIJN’s Top 10 Data Journalism roundup, each week we select the most popular data journalism items on Twitter. We do this by using NodeXL to map use of the terms #ddj and data journalism, and then add a bit of old-fashioned human curation to highlight the most compelling items. At the end of the year, we survey the entire period and pick the best from hundreds of tweets. This year — the year of the pandemic — in which the coronavirus dominated public conversation and news headlines, our mapping reflects that reality.

Data Journalism Top 10: Chocolate Box Audit, Vaccine Lineup, COVID-19 Antigen Testing, Scraping Is Not a Crime

As the United Kingdom begins its rollout of the first COVID-19 vaccine this week, the world is watching with bated breath. Our NodeXL #ddj mapping from November 30 to December 6 found Bloomberg tracking the development of nine of the most promising vaccines around the world, The New York Times creating an interactive for Americans to establish where they are in the line before they can get vaccinated, and Spain’s El Pais examining the advantages of using antigen testing for COVID-19 infections. Meanwhile, ITV News’ Stephen Hull did a fun data analysis of the assorted chocolates in a Quality Street tin.

Data Journalism Top 10: Scented Candles, COVID Risk Simulator, Trump’s Final Regs, Sigma Awards

Are scented candles a casualty of the coronavirus crisis? Our NodeXL #ddj mapping from November 23 to 29 found researcher Kate Petrova’s data analysis revealing that scented candles have suffered a blow in online reviews and a decrease in ratings, possibly linked to the coronavirus’ ability to affect people’s sense of smell. Elsewhere, Germany’s Zeit Online created a COVID-19 infection risk calculator, the COVID Tracking Project explained how holidays and weekends disrupt the recording and publishing of virus data, and Reuters analyzed the shortcomings of the coronavirus contact tracing system in England. Meanwhile, the Sigma Awards, which celebrate the world’s best data journalism, have opened for entries.

Data Journalism Top 10: Thanksgiving Dangers, Vaccine Tracker, Crosswords Diversity, Golf Swings, Facebook Fact-checks

Around the world, people are toning down their celebrations in a bid to mitigate spread of the coronavirus. The latest casualty: Thanksgiving. Our NodeXL #ddj mapping from November 16 to 22 found FiveThirtyEight’s timely piece explaining the risk of COVID-19 transmission from even small Thanksgiving dinner gatherings. Also popular: The New York Times tracking the status of all vaccine trials in progress, and The Pudding analysis of race and gender in crossword puzzles from five major US news publications.

Data Journalism Top 10: Simple Google Searches, COVID Contracts, Mining Indigenous Land, Nashville Hot Spots, Blackstone in Berlin

Have you ever noticed how your Google search results now appear with boxes of information extracted from the websites by the search engine? Our NodeXL #ddj mapping from November 9 to 15 found The Markup’s new “Simple Search” browser extension, which allows you to view the best results in the “traditional” Google search format. We also discovered a visualization of the connection between members of the ruling British Conservative Party and COVID-19 contracts, InfoAmazonia’s investigation into mining requests in protected Indigenous land in the Amazon, and German daily Der Tagesspiegel showing that the American private equity group Blackstone is a major private property owner in the German capital, Berlin.

Data Journalism Top 10: Animating COVID Masks, Mapping US Campaign Cash, Homeless Arrests, Berlin Protests

Research shows that masks are an essential defense against the coronavirus. Our NodeXL #ddj mapping from October 26 to November 1 finds The New York Times using animation and augmented reality to show just how masks work to filter and trap air particles that may carry the virus. This edition also includes several pieces on the United States presidential election: FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver talks to Vox about polling errors and uncertainties, freelance journalist Betsy Mason explains common shortcomings of US election maps, and NYT analyzed more than 25 million donations to Trump and Biden’s presidential campaigns.

Data Journalism Top 10: A Stunning COVID Data Blunder, Beautiful News, Arctic Fires, Eviction Abuses, Isolating Students

The advancement of technology and availability of complex data tools has been a real boon to society, but utilizing the wrong tools for the job can have dire consequences. Our NodeXL #ddj mapping from October 5 to 11 finds British media organizations the BBC and the Guardian reporting on a blunder by the English national health authority: it used the wrong Excel file format to store data, resulting in the loss of thousands of COVID-19 test data results. Meanwhile, German television news program ZDF heute highlighted how the Arctic has reached record high temperatures this year, DCist and Spotlight DC examined problems in the process of evictions, and we find Information is Beautiful offering a daily feed of uplifting news among the gloom of 2020’s news cycle.

Data Journalism Top 10: Black Voter Suppression, K-Pop, Data Privacy Rights, and Global Coronavirus Deaths

Personal data is big business, and not only for private firms. Our NodeXL #ddj mapping from September 21 to 27 finds a number of troubling investigations: Channel 4 News revealed that Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign used personal data from Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to deter Black voters from casting their ballot; Consumer Reports found that companies were making it difficult for people to opt out of having their data sold despite a landmark California law that protects individual data rights; and Noteworthy and The Business Post highlighted a concerning lack of clear regulation surrounding access to, and use of, genetic and patient data by private firms.

Data Journalism Top 10: Death and Wealth, Internet Privacy Tool, COVID Under Control, Dataviz Colors

“Death is the great equalizer,” or so the saying goes. But our NodeXL #ddj mapping from September 21 to 27 finds an investigation by The Boston Globe Spotlight team that proves otherwise: race and income influences how and when people die. In this Top 10 #ddj edition, we also found The Markup launching its new privacy tool, the Financial Times examining how Finland, and the cities of Madrid and New York City handled the pandemic, as well as a great guide by Datawrapper’s Lisa Charlotte Rost to choosing better colors for your charts.

Data Journalism Top 10: Mapping the Pandemic, Shrinking Japan, Data Recipes, Extreme Temps, Google Election Searches, FinCEN Files

How fast is the coronavirus spreading in countries around the world? Our NodeXL #ddj mapping from September 14 to 20 finds data visualization designer Jan Willem Tulp simulating the speed of COVID-19 infections and German television news program ZDF heute mapping how the pandemic traversed the globe. Meanwhile, Thibi Recipes explores tutoring data journalism as if you’re following a cooking recipe, the Financial Times reports on climate extremes, and ICIJ and Buzzfeed bare suspect financial data.