School buses and infographics

Blog, News, Portfolio

Bus incidents infographic3

How do you convey large amounts information in an engaging way with limited newspaper space?

Statistics can provide interesting news stories, but reams of data can be difficult to present in print.

There is also the danger of bombarding readers with so many figures that they just give up.

This was the familiar challenge for me when I put together a story on complaints and incidents recorded on school buses in Northern Ireland.

Through a Freedom of Information request, the north’s transport operator Translink disclosed details of more than 800 complaints and 75 accidents or injuries on school bus services.

The extensive data also included specific information on each individual incident and complaint including the location of bus services involved.

After sifting through and categorising the information, I used Photoshop to experiment with ways to display the details through an infographic.

The first attempt was less than successful. Squint and you might be able to see the text is supposed to look like a bus:

School bus from text

In the end I settled for the graphic at the start of this post.

The idea is simple, but presents the information in a more eye-catching way than a bland bullet point list.

With limited space in a busy Saturday paper, it helps to make the story stand out:

Web-based applications also provide opportunities to present stories in new ways that engage readers.

Here’s the same information in the form of a Google map:

And Datawrapper is perfect for creating simple charts and graphs. This helps to show how the number of complaints and incidents varies across Northern Ireland.


The late-night weekend violence plaguing north’s towns and cities

Blog, News, Portfolio

Irish News map4

Amid concerns over binge-drinking, anti-social behaviour and violence at weekends in Northern Ireland, I created a graphic for a story to show the scale of the problem.

The image is based on FOI figures detailing weekend violence (assaults, etc) recorded by police in each town and city.

It illustrates incidents that happened between 10pm and 6am on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from October 2012 to September 2013.

I used Open Heatmap to plot the data before creating a print-friendly version in Photoshop.

I think it worked rather well to catch the reader’s eye and show the scale of the problem across the north of Ireland.

Weekend violence1

Here’s a Google map of the data:


Coalisland Post

Coalisland Post logo

Coalisland Post logo

The Skins TV series ended last Thursday after eight weeks on the air, and the blog was very enjoyable to do. Taking this experience along with my X Factor blogging, I am now finally moving towards a more permanent niche blog project, by creating a hyperlocal site for my home town.

The new website is called the Coalisland Post. It is a hyperlocal space for news and views on the Coalisland area. The aim is to attract young and web-savvy Coalislanders to write for the site, and develop content a bit more opinion-driven than what currently offered by the local weeklies.

It’s now up and running, but it is a work in progress. The website is sure to evolve over time as we (myself and co-founder Catherine Wylie) understand our audience more and get more people on board to contribute.

The obvious difficulty at the minute is the fact that I’m living in Wales, rather than Northern Ireland. Hopefully by establishing links with people, organisations and businesses by phone and email, this won’t be a massive problem.

Have a look at the site and follow its progress over the coming months:

New Blog: Skins Afterparty


BLOG: Skins Afterparty logo

I have decided to put my interest in E4 drama series Skins to good use by creating a new experimental blog. Following on from my 10-week X Factor blog-athon, I’m hoping to review every episode, as well as provide relevant news and insights into the programme.

I am also using the blog to test out what can be done with WordPress. This time I am aping the navigational style of the Daily Mail website, both to create ease-of-use and to attract a younger crowd.

Results Week 3: The Cheryl show rides into town once again, leaving Nadine Coyle in the sticks


Alouette uette uette

The Cheryl Cole PR machine has been busy this weekend. The Sun championed its “world exclusive” interview with the singer on Saturday – on the same day that The Guardian also “exclusively” interviewed her. To top it off, she also gave an “exclusive interview” to Piers Morgan on his Life Stories chit-chat show last night.

“It has been the worst year – the worst in my life ever,” Cheryl told The Sun.

“I thought I was going to die,” she told Piers Morgan when speaking about her malaria scare. Most incredibly of all, she told The Guardian, “From now on, I will never talk about my person life again.” Aye right.

But Cheryl, after your months of silence, what’s with all this opening up? Why now?

What’s that? You have a new song out tomorrow?


One Million Percent Yes blog entry

X Factor finalists’ guilty pleasures serve up some rare treats


Matt Cardle, or Matt "Car Dell" if you're Dermot O'Leary

The definition of a “world class” performance in X Factor land usually involves a Maria Carey power ballad, a final-chorus key change, and shouting a singular, high, never-ending note. This week’s “guilty pleasures” theme therefore was one of the more ingenious decisions of the X-execs, subverting whatever you expected the programme to be.

One Million Percent Yes blog entry

TV Review: Channel 4 makes an event of The Event


Look at how serious we all are - oooohh!

To Channel 4, The Event is clearly as big a deal as its haughty name suggests. After weeks of careful marketing to cultivate intrigue, last night’s double dose of the hyped American import hit the channel’s schedule on the same day as they launched their all-new, souped-up idents and ad buffers.

Five years ago, Channel 4 also made considerable fuss over another American show. That show was the now-iconic Lost. From the opening few minutes of The Event, it is clear Channel 4’s meticulous marketing is not the only similarity between the two programmes.

TV Review: X Factor – nul points?


From malaria scares to autotune scandals, prostitution to deportation, The X Factor has continued to set the news agenda. After weeks spent listening to warbling wannabes for which fame is life itself, the reality juggernaut stepped into frenzied overdrive last night as the live stages began. But you could be easily mistaken for thinking you were tuning into an entirely different show, as last night’s X Factor had more than a passing resemblance to the Eurovision Song Contest.