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Data Visualization for Storytelling with Alberto Cairo & Microsoft Power BI

Headshot of article author Miguel Martinez

From the election of Pope Francis to the passing of Nelson Mandela to Miley Cyrus’ MTV #twerk heard ’round the world, 2013 was full of big headlines and viral hits. Yet The New York Times’ top story of the year was the humble result of a vocabulary survey of 350,000 randomly selected Americans conducted by a then-intern at the paper.

Instead of presenting these findings in a written article, “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk” achieved breakout success as an interactive data visualization. It asked readers 25 questions such as “How would you address a group of two or more people?” or “How do you pronounce ‘aunt’?” and then heat-mapped their responses to the most similar regional dialect in the U.S. The interactivity and colorful visuals transmuted survey data into a fun, insightful tour through the contours of contemporary American English.

Visualization no longer just complements a written story — it is the story. In our increasingly data-driven world, visualization is becoming an essential tool for journalists, from national papers to blogs with a staff of one.

Microsoft News Center recently spent two days discussing the state of data journalism with Alberto Cairo, the Knight Chair of Visual Journalism at the School of Communication at the University of Miami. While he stressed the importance of data visualization for efficient communication and audience engagement, Cairo argued that “Above all else, visualizations — when done right — are a vehicle of clarification and truth.” You can read more about Alberto’s thoughts in the Microsoft Story Labs article.




Make your impact with Data Visualization and Storytelling Courses

Microsoft Power BI wants you to have all the essential tools you need to tell a great data story, which is why we’ve collaborated with Alberto to develop five courses on visualization methodology for effective data storytelling. The Data Visualization and Storytelling courses include an introduction to visualization, an overview on data exploration, detail on truthful visualization, tips for choosing the right graphics, and insights on design and narrative. Additionally, the classes feature Power BI demos throughout, so viewers can follow along and apply their learnings.

We welcome you to check out the Data Visualization and Storytelling courses now, and look forward to seeing your data stories come to life.