The Associated Press trials Microsoft Power BI for data visualisation

The Associated Press trials Microsoft Power BI for data visualisation
The news cooperative will trial Power BI to expand the way in which it shares data with members

Richard Humphreys |

Microsoft has announced that global not-for-profit news cooperative The Associated Press (AP) will trial Microsoft Power BI to expand the way it shares data with its member news organisations and customers. The pilot program will enable local and regional news outlets to more easily uncover and report the data-driven local stories most interesting to their audiences.

“Today, when news is frequently accompanied by massive quantities of data, reporting means making sense of all that data,” explains Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Communications. “… AP regularly provides robust, deeply researched and credible raw data to its members and customers and knows that they have a huge appetite for local angles available in the AP data. However, many local and regional news organisations need help transforming that data into easily digested information that’s pertinent to their audiences.

“The AP’s water quality data set is a great example of the news agency providing a highly relevant and timely data set to its members. Large and complex data sets that are deeply researched and credible, but not easy to quickly interpret, can present a challenge to news organizations that lack the time, resources and tools to uncover local stories in national or global data.

“By including interactive visualisations along with the data, the AP will make it easier for its members and customers to discover local stories and, with just a few clicks, create and publish localised interactive data visualisations to illustrate those stories with Power BI.”

Shaw goes on to explain that sharing data encourages a greater level of transparency and understanding, but comes with the great responsibility of being accurate, useful, significant and comprehensible. “The ability for people, businesses and the media to see and touch data is creating a dramatic change in the way stories are being told and reported. Interactive data visualisations invite readers into the role of a journalist, enabling them to dig deeper and uncover the story that is the most relevant, meaningful and personal to them.”

In a recent release from the AP about the new data journalism section in the AP Stylebook, the AP wrote, “Data journalism has become a staple of reporting across beats and platforms, no longer reserved for specialists. Government agencies, businesses and other organisations all communicate in the language of data and statistics. To cover them, journalists must become conversant in that language.”

The end goal is to help create data stories that are more relevant to readers. This increased engagement will enable readers to benefit from the interactive data visualisations by being able to discover their own findings and explore insights pertinent to their markets.

“The collaboration with Microsoft to enhance our data journalism efforts with Power BI helps take data storytelling to the next level,” said Troy Thibodeaux, AP data journalism team editor.

“At The Associated Press, we’ve always been forward-thinking about the role data plays in journalism. Including interactive data visualizations with the data we provide our members and publishing the new section on data journalism in this year’s AP Stylebook are just two examples of ways we’re making data journalism more accessible and efficient for our members and customers, ultimately helping us all better understand the world in which we live.”

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