7 August 2016

Q&A with Inga Ting – Storyology 2016


Data speaks louder than words.

“You can’t really hide anything with data” 

Inga Ting is The Sydney Morning Herald’s data journalist, specialising in number analysis and visual storytelling using interactive graphics. 

At journalism and storytelling festival Storyology, Inga will join a panel discussing how to use personalisation and interactivity on data-heavy stories to optimise engagement.   

Here is a sneak peek on her number-crunching background and what she is looking forward to most about STORYOLOGY 2016.


Tell us a bit about your Storyology panel discussion on data journalism. The panel is about personalisation of data, so my understanding of it is looking at how you can use personalisation to make data-heavy stories more engaging. So it might be things like if you get a massive data set of economic data for instance, or census data, you might create an interactive that says plug in your postcode or plug in your details and it will tell you how you compare to the rest of the population. That’s one way of making data more engaging because it’s like turning it into a game. At the same time, we are then able to collect that data.

What are you looking forward to most about the discussion?  I will be interested to hear how the different backgrounds of the people speaking compare. I know some of the data journalists out there are from a coding, or a programming background and they picked up storytelling skills on the way, which I think is quite different from people who started as journalists and storytellers. I think it’s such a new area that people fall into it in different ways and different people bring different skills to it and that really influences how you tell your stories. I was more from a journalistic background and picked up skills from visualisation, design and coding through my work.

What made you want to decide to become a data journalist?  I have always liked numbers and statistics. I think one of the main things that gave me the skills to be able to adapt to the area were the projects I did as part of my masters and honours in journalism.

I find now that I have been a data journalist for almost three years, I change the way that I take people through stories. I spend a lot more time writing and presenting the story, scanning and analysing the data and telling people how to read charts, which I didn’t do before (in traditional journalism storytelling, you don’t tell people how to read things.)

I think it’s a more open way of storytelling now as well … you can’t really hide anything with data. People respect data and numbers in a way that they sometimes don’t with anecdotes, or with stories – I find that really powerful.

Are there cases when data is not always accurate or completely true?  So much of data is up to what you select as data. Data only tells you what is included – there’s so much left out and it depends on what you measure, how you measure it, how the data is collected and all of that changes the meanings that you can get from a data set.

Statistics lie and people can use them to say anything they want, depending on how they phrase it.


Catch Inga Ting at Storyology 2016, Australia’s premier journalism and storytelling festival, from August 10-13 in Sydney. 

As a special offer for Express Media members and subscribers, the first 20 to enter the code VOICEWORKS will save 20% across all Storyology tickets.

For more information visit The Walkley Foundation