INBA Sessions: How To Turn Data Into Stories

The first session at INBA’s spring convention was focused on data and the many options and tools journalists have to create unique stories from this information. The session was led by Ryan Denham of WGLT-FM in Bloomington-Normal.

By Josh Morgan

The first session at INBA's spring convention was focused on data and the many options and tools journalists have to create unique stories from this information. The session was led by Ryan Denham of WGLT-FM in Bloomington-Normal. Ryan's presentation revolved around what he called the "Spectrum of Digital Awesomeness." And true to its name, there were a number of awesome ideas on how to turn a boring data story into an informative and unique story.

WGLT-FM's Ryan Denham demonstrates how to use embeds to enhance your digital content.

The "Spectrum" he shared focused on four main areas (1) The Basics, (2) Next Steps, (3) Stretch Your Legs & (4) That's Cool.  Here's a short breakdown of ideas he had under each category:

1. The Basics – Ryan focused on simple ideas here, like linking to other sites and content in your web story.  Give people the opportunity to find more resources from within your web article.  Even better, if that extra content comes from your station.  He also reminded people about the importance of callouts on social media.  Facebook & Twitter can be gold mines for story ideas.  Crowd sourcing these sites can lead to a number of good, unique story ideas.

2. Next Steps – In this step, Ryan focused on different tools to add nice visuals to web stories, including ideas like infographics, quote graphics and embeds.  He talked at great length about separating your content from your competition.  If everyone is going to do a similar story, going the extra mile to create infographics or quote graphics-or insert extra content through embeds, your story will be deeper and stand out from the competition.

3. Stretch Your Legs – In this step, Ryan shared a number of ideas that take a little bit more work and technical skill, but for many journalists, they are all doable given enough time to focus on it.  He gave further, more unique graphic options through programs like Infogram, Tableau, Scribd and Document Cloud and also talked about ways to utilize Google Maps to showcase photos coming in from viewers/listeners.  In this step, he also talked at great length about Facebook Live best practices.  Don't just use it to use, use it for behind the scenes activities, "must-see" content and station events. One very unique idea he had was to actually create private Facebook pages for specific topics that the community is highly interested in. That way you can have a specific, engaged conversation on a platform that anyone who is interested can access.

4. That's Cool – He actually had another term for this step, but I'm keeping it family-friendly. Here he shared a number of examples of how some news organizations are taking creativity and engagement to another level across the country.  If you want to see some of what he was talking about, check out ProPublica, "NBA Desktop on The Ringer," and NPR Skunk Bear.

This was a great segment to get the ideas flowing for all journalists.  Now, time to challenge ourselves to use some of what we learned!

You can see Ryan's Power Point presentation below:




Jeff Bossert

When I was working in radio for the first time, I had no idea whether I could truly handle the demands. But INBA made me curious and want to improve. Even now, when I’ve maybe worked a lot of hours or planned some stories that didn’t come together for one reason or another, what I learn from an INBA conference gets me re-invigorated about the business.

Andrew Tanielian

INBA taught me how to network in a meaningful way. The scholarship process taught me how to endure a hard job interview and thrive.

Bob Roberts

INBA is as much about friendship and as it is about achieving common goals. It provides two things individual newsrooms cannot: in-service training, and the ability to speak out on issues affecting the profession. But most of all, it brings newspeople together.

Michelle Eccles McLaughlin

INBA is an organization that really caters to continuing education for professionals. It offers a relatively inexpensive way to learn new things, reinforce best practices and network.

Jennifer Fuller

INBA is not only a great networking tool, it also provides advocacy and support for journalists in an ever-changing world.

Brian O'Keefe

One of the greatest benefits for me has been getting to see and know other parts of the state. I’m not from Illinois and traveling to spring and fall conventions over the years has transformed dots on a map to memories of places that enhance my story telling process.

Alexis McAdams

INBA played a huge part in preparing me for my broadcasting career. The INBA conventions connect students with on-air talent and news directors who give feedback on now to improve your work. Through relationships I made at those conventions, I was able to obtain my first on air reporting job.

Aaron Eades

As a student, it's often difficult to picture what working in the real world will be like. For me, the INBA bridged that gap by giving me the chance to talk to professionals who used to be in the same shoes I'm in now.

Ryan Denham

“I recently attended my first INBA conference—and it won’t be my last. The combination of professional and student journalists learning together is electric. Everyone learns from each other and walks away with new friends (and LinkedIn connections). I know I did.”

Nora Baldner

The support INBA gives to student journalists is vitally important as we all discover how technology is changing news dissemination, INBA monitors and actively encourages truth, transparency and accountability from students and their universities.

Molly Jirasek

One of my top goals in my career was to get to Chicago. Thanks to INBA I met Margaret Larkin. She remembered our great conversations about Chicago and first alerted me to a job opening in the city I might be interested in. Lo and behold, I got that job! INBA helped me reach my dream.

Mike Miletich

Joining the INBA was one of my best life decisions. I met some of the best broadcast journalists while I was still a college student. Plus, I ended up getting a job through the connections I made!

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