Telling stories with data visualisation

In this week’s #PotatoSpotlight, we have Gwyneth, Kontinentalist’s talented writer and assistant editor!

Telling stories with data visualisation

In this week’s #PotatoSpotlight, we have Gwyneth, Kontinentalist’s talented writer and assistant editor!

Amongst Kontinentalist’s many amazing stories, you can definitely spot Gwyneth’s work! (Hint: she is really passionate about how the Earth works and writes mostly about the environment).

Read on as Gwyneth shares about how she started her career at Kontinentalist, what tips she has for writers, and what is a forever-food item she will eat!

1. Tell us a little about yourself! (Doesn't have to be centred around work!)

I’m an introvert who is pretty “basic"—I like all the popular shows, animes, games, and music. Very much a homebody, which is why working from home has been great for me, though Pei Ying (my boss) has been putting in considerable effort to try to lure me out of my house and back into the office a few times a week.

2. Share with us more about your role as the assistant editor at Kontinentalist!

My main tasks are writing, researching, and editing work that goes out onto our website. I also do quite a bit of data collection and analysis for our stories and projects.

3. What led you to your current career at Kontinentalist?

I was supposed to start my PhD 6 months after graduation, so during this period I had nothing to do and thus applied to be an intern at Kontinentalist. I ended up really liking the job as it combined my love for research and writing. At the same time, my PhD wasn’t going as planned for a few reasons, so after much deliberation I let go of it and asked for—and was fortunately granted—a full-time position at Kontinentalist. I started in January 2020, right before the pandemic!

4. You have written many amazing stories which have been published on Konti’s website such as Fengshui, Wild Otters, and more! What is your thought process when you are researching and writing these stories?

I usually start with figuring out what my audience would like to read, in terms of content, angle, and style/tone of writing. I do a lot of environmental stories because I’m passionate about how the Earth works and it’s my background, but environmental topics have often been said and done too many times, and while urgent, they’re not more exciting or enticing than fun, cultural topics.

So the challenge is often to create a piece that is eye-catching and makes the reader want to stay to the end—to do this, our team has tried using cute illustrations, cool visualisations, many different sorts of interactive elements, and various storytelling styles.

5. What led you to your current career at Kontinentalist?

Singapore Where Got Ghost?

Born to fly: The life, journey, and trials of a migratory bird

Inside the sacred Hajj pilgrimage

Abandoned at sea: The desperate journeys of Rohingya refugees

What can we tell from the evolution of Han Chinese names?

6. What do you think are some important attributes a good writer should have?

I think a good writer should have a willingness to accept constructive feedback and to use that to improve their writing style. I also think patience is important—getting good results from research usually takes a while, and even more so when data collection is involved.

7. What about data storytelling that really intrigues you?

I like the whole concept of data storytelling being the bridge between research and a general audience. I think there’s a lot of good data out there, and usually they’re results that researchers have worked many, many years for. However, the general audience often don’t have the time to read detailed academic articles or have access to these articles, since many are hidden behind paywalls. So data storytelling makes such research accessible to an audience that can take relevant action if needed.

8. If you could share one interesting fact about Kontinentalist, what would it be?

About Kontinentalist—a few of us just took a trip to Jakarta to attend the wedding of a team member!

9. (Just for fun!) If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Potato (ha ha). If it's for the rest of my life, I'll need something versatile and delicious in every way you choose to cook or prepare it.

If you want to have a chat with Gwyneth to find out more about her experiences or Kontinentalist, click here.