What I look for when looking for junior data and graphic journalists

By Joe Murphy

First published

This is what I look for when evaluating junior job applicants who are looking to be hired for a data / graphics job or an internship.

What data and graphics work you can do

Do you know what it means to clean data? How comfortable are you with spreadsheets? With HTML? Javascript? Adobe Illustrator? Are you familiar with the command line? Saying yes to these questions shows me you have some of the bread and butter skills at the core of the work.

A list of skills in your resume is one thing, but showing what you can do is another. A portfolio page — it doesn't have to be a whole site, one page will do — that shows the best of what you've done (with links, if possible) help give a sense of your capabilities.

There are plenty of paths to publishing a graphic, and being familiar with one you can use on your own shows initiative. Whether that's with python, r, d3 or another tool, understanding the technical elements that go into graphics matters. Understanding the visual elements that make a chart a chart matters too.

Which data journalism path you're interested in

In data journalism there are at least two significant paths: graphics-focused and data-focused. Not everyone hews to one of those, so getting a sense of what stories you're interested in telling and how you're interested in telling those stories is helpful. And if you have subjects you know a lot of and are interested in telling stories about, even better.

Data journalism resources

If you're not on the NICAR-L, Walt Hickey's numlock and Jeremy Singer-Vine's email lists, get yourself on those.

Here's how to subscribe to NICAR-L: Send "subscribe NICAR-L" in the body of an e-mail message to "listserv@lists.missouri.edu".

Other useful links:

You can email me at joe.murphy@gmail.com, or tweet me @joemurph.