Lecture 5 – Part 2: History of Data Journalism at The Guardian

Part two discussed the evolution of data journalism. According to Rogers, it realise entirely on the the technologies of the environment and didn’t exist before 2009.

Screenshot 2016-08-22 15.45.34.png
(The Guardian, 2013)

He presented the very first bound edition of The Manchester Guardian from 1821. It held the first example of Guardian data journalism – a really long table of data which, consisted of topics that today, wouldn’t be consisted as controversial. Essentially, it was a list of every school in Manchester with how many children in each and how much it cost.

Screenshot 2016-08-22 15.51.08.png
(The Guardian, 2013)

In replace of using photographs from those days, they used graphics. The first graphic in the Guardian according to Rogers was the New South African tactics from the war which, was essentially a graphic made up of type. All of the elements were consisted of letters and circular shapes which represented the men at war.

Screenshot 2016-08-22 15.52.28
(The Guardian, 2013)

Then he represented a line chart from The Manchester Guardian Commercial, which was a regular commercial supplement that came out along side the paper. The chart consisted of various patterns and explanations to differentiate results – something that colour would do for visual designers today.

Screenshot 2016-08-22 15.57.43
(The Guardian, 2013)

Rogers also presented a graphic that was used as a reassurance technique. The icons in the second box conveyed icons of food that were being exported from America to the UK – this reassured people during the period of the war, they would be ok.

Screenshot 2016-08-22 16.01.21
(The Guardian, 2013)

In contrast, Rogers presented The Guardian Data Blog from 2013, which represents every meteor right on earth that was known at the time. The data was sourced from the meteorological site which, consisted of latitudes and longitudes in the data and meant they could map the whole design in roughly ten minutes. This interactive data blog allows people to zoom in and out of the image as well as share and search. According to Rogers (2013), “We have speed on our site now, in a way I think people would envy 20 or 30 years ago”.

This short YouTube video was informative in regards to the history of data journalism within a popular company such as, The Guardian. It portrayed how the technologies surrounding us are always inspiring the level of sophistication in the work of visual designers and how informative tools such as, interactive design and design elements such as, colour, have developed over the years. This is especially significant when comparing the very first bound Manchester edition of The Guardian from 1821 to The Guardian’s online Data Blog from 2013.


The Guardian. (Writer and Producer). (2013). History of data journalism at the guardian [Motion Picture]. London: The Guardian YouTube.


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