As an avid news junkie, I’m always trying to figure out how to get information as quickly as possible. I’ve struggled with trying to access websites like the U.S. Census Bureau or the Labor of Labor Statistics on my phone to fact-check something I’ve recently read. There are some apps that I’ve found really useful for those quick checks.
Three Apps for the Economics Obsessed
- Gives economic indicators for both the national and state level
- Gives not only the most recent data available, but also clearly states where the information is coming from and when it was aggregated
- Highlights general trends in the data for quick analysis
- Organized into categories, from unemployment to gas prices to mass layoff statistics
- Gives the source and date for data
- Push notifications, which is helpful for staying updated on the latest information and trends
- Organized through different categories, but also through releases and sources
- Economists and other professionals commonly use FRED, so it’s a great resource to check out online even if you’re not using the app.
Why should we pay attention to Stats?
Now more than ever we run the risk of being overwhelmed with information, especially data. Often the slightest change in data measurement can lead to new results, but whether it’s correct or not depends on the change in measurement. As journalists, we need to organize data in ways that the general audience can understand. More importantly, we need to put the data into context. A general number or statistic means nothing if it’s not compared to anything. As journalists, we can’t report our government deficit without the context of GDP.
There are a bunch of new data journalism sites launching now and in the coming year. This increase in data journalism emphasizes the need for context and, overall, the necessity to focus on evidence.
- Fivethirtyeight.com – This site is being re-launched with a new backing from ESPN instead of the New York Times. The blog’s writers are skilled in more than just statistical analysis, but also computer programing, data visualization and more. This was launched on March 17, and has had a lot of criticism, but I still hold out hope for the site in the future.
- The UpShot– New York Times will launch this site, which will focus on explaining the world and connections so that everyone can easily understand. They will also use data as a tool to describe events and issues. But they make sure to state that data is only effective if it is used properly and to clarify reality.
- Vox.com– this is a new blog to launch soon by former Washington Post Blogger Ezra Klein that will also focus on this new form of journalism.
How do you stay up to date on data? Have you found that data visualized engages you in a story more? What would you like to see in journalists’ explanations of data?