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Data Journalist

Data Journalists create the "data story" from a data stream that typically originates from an artificial intelligence (AI) output to facilitate executive-level decisions that enhance business performance.

What is a Data Journalist?

Data Journalists create the "data story" from AI output to facilitate executive level decisions that enhance business performanceThey bring data to life, helping stakeholders understand what the data means in real-life scenarios, from multiple perspectives to future projections.

Skills That Set Them Apart

Data Journalists are the technical writers who have basic scripting skills, and know how to apply them to data visualization or data analysis, and then can build the story based on the data. They’re self-starters who can put their research abilities to good use. Some of their other skills may include: 

  • Understanding of statistics and statistical analysis 
  • Knowing how to clean, parse and query data
  • Creating data visualization by using either tools or scripts

The Educational Foundation That Sets the Stage

Most Data Journalists are liberal arts majors, one of the few data disciplines that come from a B.A. background. It’s directly attributable to their primary work responsibilities that include writing and editing. Even so, Data Journalists also need to be stat-savvy, too. 

Knowing how to read statistics is a primary advantage for Data Journalists. After all, they have to know how to read the output and analyses from a variety of platforms. And from there, they must be able to interpret what the information reveals, recognize the possibilities and then capture the high points in writing. For example, your numbers may show that you have more traffic to your website at night and more people buying a certain item during select times, but a Data Journalist can create the data story. They put into writing what’s really going on, using the data to help you see the right connections. Once you’re aware of those relationships between the events, you can build your future strategy with more confidence and purpose. 

Throughout their careers, Data Journalists develop a broad knowledge base, especially how understanding the data and applying its findings can truly drive the marketplace. Like most jobs in the 21st century, they have to remain students for life, as technology is at the core of what they do, and how well they do it.

Specialized Training

After graduation, Data Journalists may pursue more technical, specialized training. For example, they may want to hone their natural abilities to understand basic relational statistics that can tell a more three-dimensional story. Does data support the gut reaction? Oftentimes, the Data Journalist starts with a question and does the research to find the answers.


Many times, the data is out there, but it’s a matter of understanding what to do with it that creates the defining moment of proof. One such methodology is simple linear regression. Simply put, its application determines the relationship between two defined items. How is that simple? This type of statistical analysis uses only two items, rather than a handful, to establish an if/then relationship. Data Journalists will then use this statistical method to prove select cause/effect markers. 

What happens when there are more than two items to compare? Data Journalists acquire a few programming skills to help them uncover more possibilities. 

Finding Data 

When Data Journalists have to dig through information to find exactly what they need, it’s helpful if they can leverage the appropriate technology. This is why they often learn Python or MySQL. Having these open-sourced relational database language skills under their belts can help them gather preliminary information, sort and discard intelligently or even supplement what they have to further their findings. The key for Data Journalists is discovering how the information relates to and answers their initial questions.

Testing Data

Great Data Journalists aren’t going to take their initial findings at face value. What they want to know is whether the uncovered information stands up to additional questioning. That’s where knowing SQL basics can come in handy. SQL allows its users to store, query, and manipulate data. Its versatility is why it is used widely in a huge number of apps and within many organizations.

Visualizing Data

Many Data Journalists learn to work with visualization software, such as Tableau, ggplot D3.js, FusionCharts and other such tools to present their findings, using graphs, tables and charts. Being able to present data visually can help all members of your audience, technical and non-technical, to understand what all of those numbers mean. Data Journalists can use those visual aids to emphasize the key takeaways and deliver a more compelling story.

Bringing Data Together

So often, data isn’t coming from just one pipeline. There are multiple sources, and in multiple formats. How do Data Journalists bring it all together to create a meaningful understanding? They use tools like Dremio or WSO2 to aggregate information together into one easily read data interface. This is particularly important when the collected data is unstructured and therefore unformatted.

Leveraging Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) utilizes algorithms based on logic and data patterns to solve specific problems. Data Journalists use AI to sort through mountains of information to discover patterns and trends, helping them understand more about customer behaviors. Most importantly, however, AI automates a very tedious, time-consuming effort, allowing Data Journalists to focus on the findings, once they know how to use AI to their benefit. 

Chat bots are a prime example – the information gleaned from an AI chat bot with your customers can tell you more than a simple survey because customers can type in their own responses. While it makes gleaning the specifics more difficult, the results can be much more revealing. Data Journalists who can query a chat bot’s conversation history using software, such as BotFuel, will find a gold mine of information. Driverless AI is another example. Driverless AI provides insights into connections that humans are unlikely to identify.

Typical Data Journalist Compensation

Data Journalism is a relatively new field, but as technology continues to advance, demand is expected to grow. See what Data Journalists are worth:

What to Expect from a Xperra Data Journalist

Xperra Data Journalists find the "data story" from AI output to facilitate executive level decisions that enhance business performance.

They’re your team of experts who are responsible for: 

  • Uncovering the real narrative within your data, from gathering to filtering and finally visualizing information that show relationships, predict trends and draw conclusions.
  • Revealing where your current and future business opportunities can lie – helping you enhance your business relationships and enrich your clients’ experiences.
  • Answering your biggest customer questions through smart data use.
  • Helping you shape your future with your customers, clients and employers.

Xperra’s Data Journalists can change the abstract into the concrete, by proving those hunches and disproving faulty if/then statements with data insights. They can transform the way you do business by using your data to help you uncover real truths about how your customers do business, how their transactions define their company and ways they can further capitalize on their successes.


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