How data journalism is powered by Glitch

A growing community of journalists and data enthusiasts are creating apps to tell meaningful stories with public data–we wanted to share a few examples of what folks have built.

The Congress Tracker app by Jason Crane searches the ProPublica Congress API for bills and statements related to gun violence. At a glance, it shows us how active Congress is on the issue as well as what elected officials are doing and saying. It’s a great starting point for exploring other questions related to the subject and, in fact, most Glitch apps that include public data operate this way. We’ll explain.

Let’s say you want to know the answer to an important policy question: what has Congress done to address gun violence since 2016? You could use this same data to build a data visualization app by plotting the number of related bills and statements over time. Our Developer Advocate Lyzi Diamond has created a data visualization starter using Chart.js that’s perfect for getting a project like this started.

Democratizing data with Glitch apps

You can use Glitch to build tools to make data more accessible. It’s especially useful to democratize public access to large datasets. For example, we teamed up with Data for Progress to make polling data from their Presidential Primary First Debate Survey searchable across demographics. The app is powered by Datasette, a handy tool for turning any CSV into an API.

Once you’ve built something awesome with your data, you can embed it almost anywhere, including on Medium, Wordpress, and other big publishing platforms. Take The Colorado Sun's Timeline project, for example. A Glitch app displays data from all Colorado death penalty cases since 1979. Curious readers can search and filter the data based on demographics and case status, wherever the app is embedded. And as is the case with all Glitch apps, the code powering the app is completely transparent.

Make it yours

If you’ve already identified a project you like, you can “remix” it to get your own copy that can run in any web browser. You get to start from a working example when building your own project, for free. And guess what else? The Data for Progress app mentioned earlier is actually a remix of our Stack Overflow Public Data app.

If you're looking to compliment your research and reporting, we recommend starting with our our Chart.js (data visualization), Leaflet (maps), and d3-dsv (data processing) projects. Also check out our Data Collection–a set of some of our favorites.

Tell us what you make, and tweet it to us @Glitch!