View profile

🏅Paralympics with a dash of data

🏅Paralympics with a dash of data
By Dan Mason • Issue #6 • View online
Greetings All,
This week’s newsletter is all about two of my favourite topics - the 🏅Paralympics and 🤓 data. And, yes indeed, there are tools 🛠🚀
👋 New here? Welcome to Useful Stuff for Storytellers, for friendly creatives who like practical tips and fast, free tools.

Paralympians in action during the IBSA Judo Grand Prix in Baku. Picture: Dan Mason
Paralympians in action during the IBSA Judo Grand Prix in Baku. Picture: Dan Mason
Journalism and Paralympics - we’re on the same team
One of the things I learned leading an MA Sport Journalism programme is that sport is a great introduction to our craft.
Sport is all about people, passion and community. If you can excite an audience by communicating the endeavour, energy and drama of sport - at speed - you are on the way to becoming an accomplished storyteller.
I was especially proud of our partnership with the Paralympic Committee of Azerbaijan, which resulted in our students acting as the official media team during international events. A Paralympic first, I’m told.
The Committee’s mission is not only to facilitate sporting success, but to encourage stronger, more inclusive communities at every level. Which is exactly what I believe good journalism should do.
Exposing my students to some of the most inspiring people they will ever meet, and learning how to tell their stories in an open but respectful way, was a great learning opportunity.
The Paralympic Games: Prepare to be amazed
As you may have heard … the Paralympic Games are about to start in Tokyo.
If you can, share stories about your local Paralympians, or just turn on the TV now and again. You will be doing more than supporting some of the most dedicated athletes on the planet. You’ll be casting a vote for diversity and celebrating the power we all have to triumph over adversity. Thanks 🙏
On your marks, get set, visualise 📈
OK. What kind of stories could you tell? Any kind, but the Paralympics are bursting with data. So let’s start there.
There are three steps to telling any story with data:
  • Gathering the data.
  • Cleaning the data. Sometimes, but not always, requiring a few spreadsheet skills.
  • Visualising the data. Which doesn’t always mean charts.
But there’s something that usually comes before these: What question do you want the data to answer?
Diving into a sea of numbers isn’t just scary, it can result in generic, over-complicated charts. The more focused the question, the easier it is to find the data and deliver it with a visual punch.
The result might be snappy data posts shared on social media. Insights more than stories. The more creative the better.
Data gets social: Top row, two posts from an Instagram series by Nielsen (@lifeatnielsen). Below left: every different ball used at the Olympics (@VisualCap). Right: Channel 4's Paralympic countdown (@C4Paralympics)
Data gets social: Top row, two posts from an Instagram series by Nielsen (@lifeatnielsen). Below left: every different ball used at the Olympics (@VisualCap). Right: Channel 4's Paralympic countdown (@C4Paralympics)
You could also create charts, embedded within a story. Either way, the trigger is a question, like these examples from the Olympics:
All these could be applied directly to the Paralympics, together with others such as Which athletes have competed in both Olympics and Paralympics? and Who has won the most medals among Olympic and Paralympic champions?
The data mantra: Keep it simple
To answer this last question, I scraped some Olympic and Paralympic data from Wikipedia, did a little light cleaning in Google Sheets, and created a stacked bar chart in Canva.
I left out a LOT of data, but simpler is better. Another tip: look for ways to repurpose the content. This chart could appear in a story following a series of social media posts spotlighting the greats.
Incidentally, only Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps appears in the top ten. Have you even heard of any of the others? They all have incredible stories. That’s the Paralympics for you.
The long road to gender equality
Much has been made of Tokyo being the first gender equal Olympics in history, with 49 per cent of participants being women. But what about the Paralympics?
The International Paralympic Committee is confident that 40.5 per cent of all athletes will be women, which equates to 1,782 women participants, just over a hundred more than competed in Rio.
Mmm … I feel a chart coming on.
Visualising data with a Flourish
Let’s turn to THE hot data tool: Flourish. It has been going since 2016, delivers standard charts with panache, complex stuff that will blow your mind AND fun visuals that just shout share me.
All Flourish features are included with a free account, but your projects are public. Since Flourish templates are populated with example data, just swap it for your own data to get started then dive into the beautifully-presented customisation options.
Treat yourself to a look at Flourish’s Olympic chart suggestions.
I pulled data from the IPC website for this simple Flourish animated chart tracing women’s participation in the Paralympics (with the IPC estimate for Tokyo).
From Rome to Tokyo: The road to gender equality (Tap for animation)
From Rome to Tokyo: The road to gender equality (Tap for animation)
Enjoy the Paralympics! ❤️
Did you enjoy this issue?
Dan Mason

Practical tips and fast, free tools for journalists, content creators and communicators in a hurry

In order to unsubscribe, click here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Powered by Revue