Schuneman Symposium Wraps Up With Poynter Speaker

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An affiliate faculty member at the Ponyter Institute closed the sixth annual Schuneman Symposium Tuesday by discussing the art of storytelling with a myriad of data. 

The symposium is a collaborative effort between Ohio University's E. W. Scripps School of Journalism and the School of Visual Communications and is part of Communication Week which is scheduled to last until Friday. 

"Stories give us context, stories help us understand the things around us," Sara Quinn said during her talk entitled 'Finding the Heart of the Story.' 

Quinn was the last of five speakers who spoke about data reporting from various angles. This year's symposium titled 'Data Reportage: Seeing Stories in Numbers' also hosted Juan Velasco from National Geographic, Lisa Strausfeld from Bloomberg, John Sale from The Commercial Appeal and Zach Wise from Knight Lab and Northwestern University. 

At this point in time, Quinn states that there is "a tidal wave of big data" and handling it is more of an art rather than a science. 

"People remember much longer what they feel than what they know," Quinn said. She adds that behind every piece of data, big or small, it is vital that journalists find the aspect of a story that people care about. 

When faced with massive amounts of data, Quinn advises that people still critically judge information and not blindly accepting it as truth. 

"We live in this visual age where everything is available and data is available and we have so many different platforms where we get information. We need to be savvy consumers."

Event organizer and OU journalism assistant professor Dr. Aimee Edmondson believes that times have changed from when there would be one designated person to handle data and everyone needs those skills now. 

"Gone are the days where you have a nerd in the corner (who handles all the data.) Everyone, I believe, in journalism needs some data skills, spreadsheets, databases, some type of ability to analyze data." 

Huyen Nguyen, a graduate student originally from Vietnam sees this as an opportunity to bring data reporting back to her home country. 

"People at home right now are fascinated with storytelling. Basically, they want to learn more about graphics and data visualization," Nguyen said.