Big DataData JournalismPredictive Analytics

Data Driven Financial Journalism

The most wonderful thing about financial journalism, is the fact that its impact is quite consistent no matter what country or language it is published in. This is for the reason that it provides information to individuals, governments and businesses that help them make informed economic choices, and understand how those choices impact their financial situation within the context of the broader political economy.

Around the 16th century, financial journalism consisted of little more than the publication of prices of commodities or other goods for sale. However, the increased integration of the world economy since the late 20th century has increased the importance of financial journalism, while the spread of mass market investment opportunities and defined benefit retirement accounts in many countries has expanded the pool of individuals exposed to moves in financial markets. This has helped in making both the hard and soft copy financial publications among the world’s most-read articles.

An Excerpt of an Article by Predictive Analytics Founder Timothy Oriedo in a Recent Issue of the PRISM a Kenya Revenue Authority Publication

Financial journalists who focus on stories that are clear and accessible in different platforms help their audiences in making better decisions. This demanding and dynamic fields in journalism, can’t be done without an excellent grip of data. As a financial journalist, you can find yourself doing a quick turnaround on earnings reports to filing briefs on corporate comings or maybe you follow some well performing companies with a contact list of insiders who can give you stories. Yet, no matter how you cover your financial news, be it through blog posts, LinkedIn posts, YouTube videos or newspaper articles, financial journalism should be in your tool kit.

These genres of journalists naturally look for figures for their stories since their job revolves around comparing and contrasting things. For Instance, how this telecommunication company, differs from that telecommunication company; the estimate of a startup and what it would need to achieve to make that figure seem practical; and consumer trends and financial pressures. Journalists, editors and everyone in the news room do all this without giving much attention to details since to them it’s what they are paid to do.

If you want to advance in your financial journalism career, then it’s time for you together with your colleagues to learn how you can use data for financial journalism. It’s evident that, the more you understand the data aspect, the more you will improve your performance.Herein, I have shed some light on how you can use data for Heightened Financial Journalism.

Role of Data in Financial Journalism

Financial journalism has ruptured beyond the traditional business pages as majority of the important issues debated today among them taxation, Brexit and trade agreements involve not only politics but also business and economics in some form. Today, an understanding of data and the underlying economics enables financial journalists to cover critical stories with both accuracy and deepness, and in so doing they help their readers make sense of the world. Some outlets like The Upshot in the New York Times journal, regularly use data as the main device in business journalism. The Markup, is another example of a non-profit venture, which develops and builds its own datasets to report on large high-tech companies.To get the most important skill in business, watch this Video

Data sets can become characters in their own right. A story for instance might address a curious pattern someone noticed in information, accompanied by explorations of how the results came to be and why they are relevant to readers. On the other hand, a story could be about the existence and use of the data itself, like the NBC News article on how Facebook has used its data to fight rivals and help friends. Data can also support more traditional coverage, whether inverted real estate companies’ hard news coverage or a feature story. For example, a financial journalist can use data from web searches and financial filings, to figure out whether a company is making profits or losses.

The most important thing to do as a financial journalist, is to let data highlight and magnify the answer to an investigation, or even the existence of the question itself. You should avoid using data for its own sake as you might end up losing your readers.

Get the Whole Study NOT a Summary

Journalism is known to contain traditional story tale elements as characters, plots, development, and expressive hooks.

Predictive Analytics Founder in a Past Breakfast Show Interview with Jeff Mote on K24 TV

Despite these elements being useful, their approach should be limited. Journalists and editors might pass over stories that lack that dramatic elements yet they are important for an audience.

To add power to reporting, Data journalism relies a lot on Technology and Mathematics which are different from spoken and written language. Technology is useful as it allows the storage, manipulation, and analysis of all sorts of data, while Mathematics essentially specialized languages are used for conveying certain types of truths and relationships. Data and analysis can blend with the narrative desire of many journalists. However, it should not be used as a replacement, as majority of readers won’t take up a probability essay along with descriptions of the data structures for their leisure reading. Instead, you as a financial journalist should aim at strengthening your current information sources and story concepts. To get to learn how Technology and Mathematics are crucial in the financial journalism field, click here:

Framing Coverage

Attaching data visualizations onto stories doesn’t add any value especially if they are not required. Before considering how data journalism can help, it’s best to start with some analytic thought about your coverage. Just as the journalism industry believes in the 5W’s, a financial journalist who covers everything from startup issues to multinational controversies should start by asking themselves a set of questions and finding answers to those questions. Such questions can include:

  1. What is the nature of my beat and where does it connect with information?
  2. How do people in the financial industry measure their businesses’ performance?
  3. Are the measures they use realistic?
  4. Is there information that might lighten aspects of what I’m trying to describe?
  5. Can data support or counter claims that people I’ve interviewed are making?
  6. What information puts an individual or organization into a larger context?
  7. Can I generalize the specific, finding larger frameworks of data that extrapolate from an example and find a matching trend?
  8. As a here are some examples where I’ve asked such questions and found answers and applications in my own work:


When it comes to statistics, a financial journalist should forget about mathematical calculations and instead consider what a given set of statistics claims to show. For instance, who released the figures? how were they collected? Are you interested with a collection of data over time, like from private sectors? Or does the poll require additional information to understand its validity and limitations? One should get the whole story and not just a summary of that data as a combination of interviews, data, and some easy analysis sets up an entire story.  will help you learn how to apply statistics in business journalism. Application of Statistics can be split into:

Predictive Analytics Faculty and Mentor James Kimani ,a Robotics and Mechatronics Engineer in a Past Lab Session Talking About Robotics Process Automation

i. Examining Metrics

Metrics are measurements of ongoing activity, like production figures of a company’s plastic bags line and a country’s unemployment rate when half of the plastic bags makers are laid off. They may be the product of regular data collection for an article when journalists gather information and then categorize it before counting. Public companies frequently compile metrics as required by government agencies.

With statistics, financial journalist should not automatically take them at face value. Data handed to you might be arranged or correct to create an effect, as the pro forma financials. Again, historic trends can lead to wrong conclusions. Focusing on sales history as a guide to how a new product will perform in the market doesn’t help if the product and sales area are outside of what the company had previously done. offers you a variety of resources that will improve your skills on Examining metrics.

ii.Estimates and Projections

As the current worldwide turmoil over globalization demonstrates, economics and business are among the strongest forces shaping people’s lives. Each business owner and investor are eager to know what the future holds.  Estimates and projections try to scratch that itch. However not all editors are comfortable with such work as there was a case where an editor in some company asked a reporter to take out similar types of modelling in a piece she was working on and only use a number provided by another source.

Predictive Analytics Founder Sharing his Thoughts and Ideas at the Marketing and Social Research Association of Kenya Annual Conference in November 2019 at Kempinsiki Hotel

Most of the time, third parties give their projections. For instance, they might project, how quickly consumers will adopt smart phones, or where the real estate market might be in two years. Projections are almost always wrong and if they were regularly correct, then those who make them would find more effective ways to profit from their predictive talents. As a financial journalist, you should always avoid estimates and instead consider the background of who creates them, their potential motivations, and the history of their previous estimates. Such guesses should be taken inquisitively while keeping in mind that data are often uncertain. It’s important to recognize the limits while using it. To learn how to make better projections visit this page

Data Sources

Financial journalists naturally look for some figures for their stories because they want to compare and contrast things. Data must be obtained before incorporating it which is both an easy and challenging task. The easy part is you can gain a lot of economic and commerce data from many government agencies as it is easily available through official agencies. Again, many countries have clearing houses whose function is to generate and disseminate data.

In Kenya there are tremendous data resources at the National level, Ministries, County Level agencies, regulatory bodies and financial institutions. Similarly, you may find data, though not as much at local levels. You will also find data available through lawsuit court filings, universities, thinktanks, corporations, political groups, industry groups, international institutions, polling firms, and analysts among many other sources.

Predictive Analytics Lab CEO, With Catherine Mukoko the Kenya Association of Manufacturers Academy Manager After a Training Session on Data

Nevertheless, before you embrace that discord of information, always remember that relying too much on existing data sets can intensify the tendency to amplify issues already considered a priority, and to downplay those which aren’t on the radar screens of major institutions. When everyone uses the same data, the minority group of people and issues are left out and again it becomes challenging to find a story that is not available to everyone else.

Attaining the Required Tools

Mathematics plays a major role in Financial Journalism as it helps to improve your understanding of what you are looking at. A bigger part of analysis requires a combination of some technical skills, patience, and fundamental math like: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and working with percentages and fractions. Moreover, a grip of basic probability and statistics helps identify shortcomings in data analysis and source material.

Networking with fellow financial data journalists plays a big part in improving your performance. Click here to have a glimpse of how different professionals meet up. If you have the chance to work with a data journalist on a project, that person can also potentially provide help and strengthen your weak areas.

To ease your analysis, you need tools like calculators and spreadsheets. Databases can also help, but they are more complicated for those journalists that lack experience while sometimes more specific statistical analysis is helpful. When it comes to Microsoft Excel, it has many applicable functions, but you need to understand what it does and how it works. To add on that, you will also require data visualization tools that can help build images that can often better portray data. Gives you an opportunity to learn how to use data visualization tools and statistical analysis.

Final Thoughts

There is strong demand for financial journalists since they help meet the information demands of clients in search of investments, workforces seeking data, and an audience who value fascinating stories. Using Data for financial journalism offers an opportunity to combine the best of big data, economics and storytelling. Undertaking all of these things well, allows you as a journalist to discover stories that others cannot see and tell those business stories in a more personalized and appealing manner.

Still, through your Data Journalism career, do not expect to become an expert in any of this overnight as using data for financial reporting requires more than providing context to readers and sorting fact from fictions in huge volumes of data. You should first enroll for some short course at which will enable you to attain some level of ability before starting to incorporate data.

After attaining the certification, you can look for ways of incorporating data into developing stories or see what ideas data itself might generate. Continuous Coaching and Networking are important tools as they will help build your confidence. offers you an avenue to meet a mentor who will walk you through the data journalism journey. I can assure you that when you follow this advice your data work will become better over time, enriching your financial journalism coverage.To get to learn how data science can help you handle business data, watch our orientation class for a recent introduction to Data Science cohort here


Related Articles


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker