Issue Salience and Data Visualization
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Interactive data visualizations have created a new way for online journalists to tell a story. With the overwhelming amount of data available, these visualizations make it easier to compare similar data. The data available on different controversial topics from vaccination rates to mass shootings in the United States could actually make a real impact on comprehension of complex topics. This is where interactive data visualizations come into play. Journalists, designers, and computer programmers team up to create new ways to tell stories based on data so the audience can learn from it and draw their own conclusions. This topic is important to look into because with more newspapers and magazines moving into online platforms, there is a growing need for different story telling techniques to grasp the attention of readers. The goal of this project is to see if the salience of controversial topics are affected upon seeing a data visualization, a traditional story or a mix of both. Whether or not interactive data visualizations are making a real difference has not been investigated. The specific research question of this project is: Does the use of data visualization in online media affect the salience of the story from the audience’s perspective? Journalists and data collectors alike can draw from this research to determine whether or not audiences will pay more attention to story forms where they are able to draw their own conclusions based on what they see in front of them.