Frequently Asked Questions
Here at The Pudding, we get asked our fair share of questions. Maybe you can find the answer to yours here!
Why are you called “The Pudding”?
When was The Pudding founded?
The Pudding was founded in January 2017.
Do you have an RSS Feed?
Sure do! Get it here.
What tools do you use? How did you make that thing?
Some of our static/non-interactive graphics are created using other tools like R, Figma, or Flourish. For interactive maps, we frequently use Mapbox.
But before we can create the visualization on the internet, there’s lots of data acquisition, cleaning, and general design involved. You can learn more about our process for those things here or here.
- scrollama for scrollytelling
- scrollmagic also for scrollytelling
- enter-view to detect when elements enter the screen
- d3-annotation for annotations in D3.js
- moveto for scrolling to DOM elements
- noUiSlider for cross-browser range sliders
- lodash for general JS utilities
What is your team’s educational/professional background?
Our team’s backgrounds are pretty varied. There is certainly more than one way to enter this field! Here’s the short version of each of our stories:
- Amber: Studied marine biology & chemistry in undergrad and grad school. Worked as a marine biologist before transitioning to data/data journalism.
- Amelia: Worked in neuroscience research, then switched to front-end development & design for analytics dashboards.
- Caitlyn: Started in psychology and neuroscience research—ended up with a Bachelors in computer science (focus in data science and journalism). Worked in music journalism throughout college. Currently a part-time Masters in data visualisation student.
- Ilia: Studied psychology and political science before pursuing psychological research in graduate school; took a detour into freelance journalism before finding data-driven storytelling through Columbia's Lede program.
- Jan: Began journalism career covering middle school sports for the local paper while in high school. Studied journalism & photojournalism in college. First job was doing newspaper page design. Transitioned to web design and data journalism from there.
- Kevin: Studied philosophy in college, then wrote about tech and culture for a bit before attending Columbia’s Lede program (like Ilia) to pick up data journalism skills.
- Matt: Self-taught, with a degree in business and 7 years of experience making powerpoint slides.
- Russell: Computer science > creative coding with Processing > interactive documentary > making games for civic engagement and data vis > data journalism!
What skills do you recommend I learn to do what you do?
The answer to this question will vary depending on who you ask. For us, we always recommend that people learn how to solve problems (and fail at things) since that’s a huge part of our daily work. It’s also important to be curious about the world.
As far as technical skills go, we’ve found that it’s more important for you to find tools that you are comfortable with and can use well rather than trying to learn any (or all) specific programming languages. You’ll need to know how to find or collect data, clean messy data, and make accurate data interpretations before you worry too much about making fancy data visualizations. We typically use and recommend R, Python, SQL or Node.js for data collection and processing work. You can find more about our data process here.
Once you’ve got those skills down in your language of choice, having a good understanding of basic design principles and human perception of data visualization becomes important. Again, we use a wide variety of tools to create our story designs (everything from Google Docs and hand-drawn sketches to software like Figma or Adobe Illustrator). You can find more information about our design process here.
Do you release your data or code?
Yup! Whenever possible, we release our data and data analysis scripts in a GitHub repo for public use.
We also have a public GitHub repo for our front-end builds.
What’s the relationship between The Pudding and your client-focused agency, Polygraph?
You’ve probably noticed we don’t have any ads or subscription walls on The Pudding. However, we need to keep the lights on somehow. Enter: Polygraph.
We run Polygraph with the purpose of sustaining our work on The Pudding. This allows The Pudding to operate in a purely journalistic space, giving us full creative autonomy on our articles. There’s no brand or client or advertisement contract controlling our Pudding projects, nor are we beholden to what gets the most page clicks. We just do what we think is interesting.
Basically, the wall between The Pudding and Polygraph is a business model embodiment of the editorial/advertising wall in journalism. The Pudding cannot exist without Polygraph, and Polygraph would have no need to exist without The Pudding.
The only time a brand finds its way on The Pudding is through sponsored posts, like this one we just did about congressional tweets with Saleforce’s Einstein API or this one about Dear Abby letters with IBM Watson. Sponsorship allows us to do what we think is interesting with tools we wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
Despite being for-hire, we make sure our work at Polygraph does align with our mission at The Pudding: tell cool, public-facing stories with data and visuals, just for a purpose-aligned client rather than for… ourselves (and our moms).
Interested in wielding The Pudding’s power for your brand? Check out the Polygraph site here, and send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How long do projects take?
Our projects usually take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete.
What is your process for writing a data story?
You can find our process in its entirety here. In short, we each keep a backlog of story ideas (you can find our public one here) and then routinely pitch those ideas to the rest of the team. Our story ideas tend to take the form of a question that we will then attempt to answer using data. The team provides feedback and then the author can decide which idea(s) to pursue.
They then find/collect/analyze data, determine whether they have successfully answered their driving question (or if they should change course to a different question). Once the data has been analyzed, the author creates a storyboard of how they imagine the story to go with any graphics needed to help the reader understand the topic at hand. Last, the story is coded out and put on the internet.
Will you speak at my event/conference? Can I interview you for a class/project?
We are a small team, so as much as we’d love to speak everywhere and to everyone that we’re invited, we just don’t have the time. If you’d like to invite us to your event, please send us a message at email@example.com.
Are you hiring?
Any open positions we have would be posted on our site and on our social media platforms. We’re generally always open to hear freelance pitches, though, so feel free to send them our way.
If you’d like to be notified the next time we are hiring, sign up for our mailing list.
Do you have any internship positions?
In the past, we have taken on an intern or two during the summer months. We are still working out whether we will have internships open for summer 2020, but will post to our site and our social media platforms in the spring if we are looking for interns.
If you’d like to be notified the next time we are looking for interns, sign up for our mailing list.
Can I have your logo on clothes/stickers/other fun things?
Sure can! We have a shop here.
Who else have you worked with in the past?
Alec Barrett, Alexandra Saizan, Amanda Shendruk, Andrew Thompson, Antal van den Bosch, Arjun Kakkar, Ash Ngu, Beatrice Jin, Charlie Smart, Colin Morris, Damar Aji Pramudita, Dan Kopf, Divya Manian, Durand D’souza, Elaina Natario, Elle O’Brien, Hanah Anderson, Henrik Lindberg, Isabel Carter, Jared Wilbur, Jason Li, Jess Peter, Jordan Dworkin, Josh Comeau, Julia Silge, Kishan Sheth, Maarten Lambrechts , Malaika Handa, Malik Yusuf, Matthew Conlen, Oliver Roeder, Owen Phillips, Rosie Cima, Sacha Maxim, Sam Vickars, Shirley Wu, Simran Vatsa, Swati Murugappan, The Data Face, Wessel Stoop.