Buzzfeed uses R for Data Journalism

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(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Buzzfeed isn’t just listicles and cat videos these days. Science journalist Peter Aldhous recently joined Buzzfeed’s editorial team, after stints at Nature, Science and New Scientist magazines. He brings with him his data journalism expertise and R programming skills to tell compelling stories with data on the site. His stories, like this one on the rates of terrorism incidents in the USA, often include animated maps or interactive charts created with R.


Image Credit: Peter Aldhous / Buzzfeed

The underlying data and R code is often included via a link to a Github repository, as in this story on race and police shootings in the USA (Github link), and this one about animal experimentation featuring an interactive table created using the DT htmlwidget (Github link). Aldhous describes the process and tools he uses for data journalism at Buzzfeed in an interview with Storybench:

I do most of my data analysis in R. You can go straight from your data and code in R to a JavaScript visualization. I’ve been using a package called rCharts to make charts using NVD3, which is a JavaScript library that sits on the top of D3. I also use QGIS a lot, which is an open-source mapping program with a lot of plugins.

While Aldhous works on the science desk, Buzzfeed also has dedicated data team, led by Jeremy Singer-Vine and working mainly with Python. For more data journalism, check out this index of stories and code repositories from the data team, or read the interview with Peter Aldhous linked below.

Storify: Using Buzzfeed’s Listicle Format to Tell Stories with Maps and Charts


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