Visualize with Tableau Public

I have previously written that I consider working with data part of a good investigative journalism. The inevitable further step is the ability to represent them in a way easily understandable by the reader.

Fortunately, and unlikely a decade ago, the web is plenty of useful tools that can accomplish this target for different kind of users expertise.

But let’s try to start from the problem. Let’s say we want to visualize a specific kind of data, like the ecological footprint of every country in the world. To make sense of the data that we are going to look at, we need to picture them in a way the state’s different levels can be compared with each other.

This is what my final work looks like, after had experimenting with the software Tableau Public.

Tableau experiment

Asking why I have embedded an image rather then the actual infographic?The reason is explained in this post. What I have tried to do here is a sort of infographic which aims to make sense of the data collected in an indipendent way. In other words I have embedded some text to describe what is visualized, so that the user have the chance to understand immediately of the figures.

Would it make sense to embed this entire work in a blog post? In my opinion absolutely not, because, having done this work for a course about infographic, it can be sold alone. But the versality of tableau allows to resize the infographic from the I-pad “landscape format” to a “medium blog post” one, and to eliminate the written parts.

What we firstly need is the raw data in a spreadsheet. I have found them in the United Nations Development Programme website, where there are a lot of interested indicators worth to work on. And in case you want to assemble different kinds of them in one spreadsheet to see any correlation, like for instance   between the GDP per capita and the gender inequality. 

Downloaded and cleaned the spreadsheet, it is all about following the instructions of the staff in this video.

The good 

creative versatility: with Tableau you can create a dashboard, that is what the viewer actually watch, assembling different visualisations tools, like charts, map and scatterplot in the same context, without just embed them separately in a website.

multiple dataset: one workbook support as many dataset as you need, even if it is  more likely to get confused among multiple pages and field names.

The bad

a bit fussy:  during the project I wasn’t often able to visualize what I needed correctly because the values weren’t set in the right format. With a bit of trial and error I made it, but sometimes wthout really know the reason.

The ugly

my data management knowledge: what I really wanted to do was a filter based on continents, but I was’t able to insert a continent columns near the country’s names. With my actual knowledge this had would mean to write near every country’s name the specific continent manually. Unthinkable for more than 170 countries.

Any idea useful to solve this problem?


Entrepreneurial Journalism. #1st step: Blog!

The exploration of/on the field is demonstrating to be the best part of the Enterprise module so far. Perhaps, the ideal and maybe big project that you had in mind when asked to think about an enterprise activity has evolved so much during this period that now in the 5th week, you’d likely to have decided to take just a part of it.

But my case is different. My big project still stands on, but differently. After having investigated what I can expect from being an entrepreneur in journalism nowadays, the most part of the sources I have found converge on the fact that I MUST have a strong on-line presence. Which I have not. The book about the basics of entrepreneurial journalism, written by Mark Briggs has been really helpful in that.

This step comes before any business plan and any revenue model. In fact while the incomes working in such activity may be characterised by a variety of sources (I am thinking about custom contents for NGOs or other organizations, collaborations with newspapers or new journalism start-ups, crowdfunding for single projects, ecc..), without showing any capabilities in the field, it will be impossible to obtain any work proposal.

Additionally, a deep study of the ways to do good journalism in the enviroment sector has to be carried on in parallel. For this purpose I have found a few courses or workshops held, among which this course held by the Poynter’s News University attired my attention. Even if such knowledge can surely be built through the experience in the field, attending workshops or various courses of this kind may result in a speeding-up of the process and a deeper study of the niche audience that I refer on. 

Then it’s all about reputation as an eco-journalist and demonstrated quality the service. After having set the showcase on my activity I can at least hope to appear more interesting to any possible client, raise money for single projects by crowdfunding or even “sell” an eventual audience to an advertiser specialized in green products.

A last curiosity: can we see a shortage of environmental journalism in the UK as, what in the entrepreneurship world is called, an opportunity? 

Would you be interested to do journalism in this ever more pressing topic?

The big step: from pen and notepad to data journalism and visualization

The main purpose that has led me up to Birmingham from the sunnier Ancona is to innovate and widen my journalism skills.Indeed this is more important then any mark that I will get for my projects in this MA.

What has attracted me during my experience in studying and working in journalism is the completeness of storytelling that a good investigative journalism style needs. With this in mind and the hunger to explore, I have started months ago, before the enrollment in the on-line journalism course, to research about the way of doing proper data journalism, starting from basic (really basic) data scraping up to some visualizations experiment. Then I have slightly improved these skills during the Massive On-line Open Course (MOOC) held by the Knight Center of Journalism in the Americas.

Now during the Multimedia Production module I’ll approach more the data journalism world, with the intention to explore also other thematics and media, like the mobile revolution and the miscellaneous products that can be made in the Web.

These two are part of my favourite examples:



And below there is an infographic made during the MOOC about the States ecological footprint.
Please be nice, it was just an experiment.

Ecological Footprint 1 and .

My first business canvas

So the time to shape a bit your Enterprise project has just come.

In fact, what it has been done so far is just thinking and imagining yourself and your life fitting in an enterprise, but when it comes to plan its various elements, it requires to focus about some more details then just say “I want o be a freelancer!”.

One of the best tools that can help at this moment is surely a Business Canvas. It forces you to concentrate on different aspects and of what you have in mind as well as the subjects that will be involved.

For a canvas sample visit this website; it gives also some advises about how to draw a good one and how to deal with a lack of ideas.

For what concern my freelancing activity, what it needs mostly is to have a strong network of media activists, newspapers, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and much more.

In case you want to see my canvas here you are:


As I said now is time to focus a bit in the details. What can really help at this moment is a sort of timeline in which we can set every single step of our project. Not just general stuff like “build a contacts network”, but even “say hello in Facebook to Mr. Smith of Friends of the Earths” or “participate at that environmental journalism workshop”, and so on. The more specific and simple the better.

In case of laziness on draw a timeline on a paper check out this on-line tool, it just needs a quick registration and may help contributing to the deforestation (!).

Enterprise project decision (maybe)

Think about an enterprise project that you would carry on in this course.

Simple. I mean, the recipe shouldn’t be complicated. Just take what you love most, add the reasons that moved you to join the course, a wedge of imagination and a dusted of passion. Or this is what I thought initially. But then, after letting the mind operating on its own, some disparate projects started to crowd, and I needed a huge selection to come up with an idea, even if I am still not sure.

This is represented by setting a journalism free-lancing business about environment, eco-sustainability and development using mainly data and visualization.


A free-lance business is probably, like the word itself suggest, the way through which creative people ideally want to support their work. No office and no fixed timetables may represent a good incentive to be more focus on oneself development rather than a company one.

But the negative downside embodies the risk to be unable to find someone interested to buy your product. Mostly in journalism, where the free-lancing competition is tough. However, considering my interest in covering a topic a bit neglecting by the mainstream, I aim to collaborate with some NGOs or other organizations in order to collect and study data to find interesting story.

In case of a lack of support by any organization, I thought about the increasing fame of the micropublishing phenomenon, that is basicly a way to publish your own work by yourself, finding in an interested niche of people one of my sources of revenue.


This is probably the most viable of the projects that came in my mind recently, even if, again, others may be better.

What do you think about? 

Here we are! My first post from the BCU

Hi everybody,

as its description declares I have started this blog as part of my MA On-line journalism course at the well-known Birmingham City University. To be completely honest I was intuitively thinking to keep everything I would have learnt in secret, like a martial artist doesn’t want to show her/his most powerful techniques, but this concept simply doesn’t fit in the New Media world.

BeFunky_Samurai Fighters

It’s likely wiser for every journalist wanna-be to have a sort of showcase of her/his ability and to practice them frequently through as many media as possible. Like the successful video-journalism entrepreneur Adam Westbrook suggest in this old article:

“You have no excuse. Get a blog. Get writing. Get used to it. Blog about what you’re learning, or what you want to learn. Use it to get involved in the debate about the future of journalism”.

And considering that a lot of experts have the same idea on learning to do good journalism, who is Cristian Giulietti to claim the opposite?

So, here we are and hope for the best!