CURRICULUM VITAE

Len De Groot

Director of Data Visualization
Los Angeles Times
202 W 1st St. Los Angeles, Calif.

Education

Bachelor of Arts Degree, 1992

Journalism major

Humboldt State University, Arcata, Calif.

 

Academic experience

Data and Visualization Instructor

Knight Digital Media Center

Graduate School of Journalism

University of California, Berkeley

February 2010 to July 2013


Courses

Graduate School of Journalism courses included both graduate and undergraduate students.

Introduction to Data Visualization: Course introduces critical concepts of data journalism to students, including statistical concepts, data reporting, data cleaning and spatial analysis. Students learned how to extract stories from data, refine the data to focus a story and visualize the results with interactive graphics and maps using visualization APIs and JavaScript libraries. By the end of the course, students demonstrated the ability to think critically about data and the strengths and weaknesses of different visualization types.

Political Reporting: Election Listening Posts and Interactive Data: Course equipped students with the skills to understand, select, and help construct political data packages to enhance election stories. Students select and cover campaigns across the U.S. and leave the class with the know-how to communicate project ideas to graphics and data specialists.

Designing and Developing Online News Packages: The course took students through the creation of a standalone multimedia mini-package, developed from scratch. Students learned hands-on web development, how design contributes to content and how to create standards-compliant HTML and CSS.

Multimedia Boot Camp: Intensive, hands-on training introduced graduate journalism students to critical data reporting tools, including statistical concepts, spreadsheets and charts.

Knight Digital Media Center courses provided continuing education for mid-career journalists. Subjects:

Introduction to Data Mapping (Online course):Students learned critical Geographical Information Systems (GIS) mapping concepts, how to transform data into visually descriptive maps and resources for obtaining public GIS data.

Communicating with Maps (Online course): Course explained the use of maps as an effective medium in storytelling. Students learned the basic elements of a map, including location, context and hierarchy, and explored how different map types communicate distinctly unique information.

Introduction to Data Visualization (Online course): Students examined the impact of data on storytelling, learned how diverse mediums require different storytelling techniques and acquired key skills for communicating data effectively.

Spreadsheet Basics (Online course): This interactive course introduced the essential skills necessary for working with spreadsheets, including the main components of a spreadsheet (cells, rows, columns), data entry, formulas and working with functions in large data.

Cleaning Data in Excel and Google Refine (Interactive Census Workshop) Hands-on instruction in working with large data, including cleaning, validation and surfacing trends.

Making Dynamic Charts with JavaScript (Interactive Census Workshop) Hands-on instruction in making interactive charts using Protovis, a JavaScript library for visualization. Students were introduced to the Grammar of Graphics and how to apply best practices to tell stories effectively.

Protovis in the Wild (Interactive Census Workshop) Discussed published data visualizations, exploring effectiveness and techniques for different types of stories.

Making High-End Visualizations (Interactive Census Workshop) Hands-on instruction in making interactive charts using Protovis. Students used templates to create multiple complex visualizations.

Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (Interactive Census Workshop) Presentation of the underlying concepts, strengths and restrictions of using GIS as a tool for reporting and analysis.

Build a Map with GIS (Interactive Census Workshop) Hands-on training guided students through building a basic map in GIS, including creating and importing shapefiles, editing geometry and applying styles.

Work with Symbols and Merge Census Data and Maps (Interactive Census Workshop) Hands-on instruction working with shapefiles and data from the U.S. Census. Students learned how to perform spatial analysis, statistical concepts (standard deviation, etc.) and options for the effective display of data in choropleth maps.

Exporting Interactive Maps (Interactive Census Workshop) Hands-on instruction in the requirements for interactive maps. Students learned to export GIS maps for publishing on the Web.

Data Visualization on a Budget (Web 2.0 Training) Introduced and led discussion on low-cost visualization tools for newsrooms.

Data Visualization: Benefits & Strategy (Independent Journalists Workshop) Led discussion on when and how to use data visualization to enhance storytelling.

Data Visualization Basics (Web 2.0 Training) Conducted hands-on training in statistical concepts, spreadsheets and chart types.

Data Visualization-Advanced Topics (Web 2.0 Training) Presented statistical concepts, data cleaning and data reporting techniques.

Picking the Right Media and Storyboarding a Story (Multimedia Training) Presented techniques for storyboarding a story to streamline multimedia production, including hands-on exercises.

10 Steps To Build Your Brand (Independent Journalists Workshop) Presented core branding concepts and techniques for journalists starting digital publications.

Identity and Design: Illustrate Your Voice (Independent Journalists Workshop) Presented web and branding design concepts, including how to make color and typography choices to communicate to target audiences.

How to Design and Build Successful Ads (Independent Journalists Workshop) Discussed techniques to produce advertisements for independent news sites.

WordPress in the Newsroom (Independent Journalists Workshop) Hands-on instruction led students through the process of launching a WordPress site, including writing and editing posts and customizing site design.

Google Analytics: What It Is and How to Use the Information (Independent Journalists Workshop) Introduced critical concepts and definitions of web metrics. Students learned how to examine site traffic to gauge the effectiveness of content.

Data Visualization: Interactive and Dynamic Charts (Independent Journalists Workshop) Delivered hand-on training to build interactive charts.

Photoshop, SoundSlides and Photo Galleries (Multimedia Training) Delivered hands-on training in editing, color correction, cropping in Photoshop. Students learned how to make audio photo slideshows.

Adobe Flash Storytelling - Building Interactive Graphics (Multimedia Training) Introduced the concepts used in making explanatory animated graphics and conducted hands-on instruction for leveraging images, sound and movement to tell a story.

Instructional design

Complexity and Context Data Symposium, Knight Digital Media Center

Brought together journalists, civic groups and dataviz experts to discuss the latest trends in data storytelling and discuss the future of a data-driven society. I designed the event’s structure and recruited speakers, including Professor Alberto Cairo of the University of Miami, Catherine Bracy of Code for America, Daniel Seibert of Google and reporter Willie Shubert of Earth Journalism Network.

Interactive Census Workshop, Knight Digital Media Center

Designed week-long intensive U.S. Census training program and content, instructing 24 mid-career journalists on data, reporting and mapping. Lectured, provided hands-on tools training and recruited guest speakers, including William Frey of the Brookings Institution and Howard Hogan, Chief Demographer of the U.S. Census.

Media Centar Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Co-designed week-long intensive training program and content, instructing more than 20 mid-career journalism professionals on concepts and tools for data journalism and visualization. Lectured and provided hands-on tools training.

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Helped develop and deliver digital media training plan. Focused on implementation of multimedia and data visualization production across the newsroom, including strategies for reporters, broadcasters, photographers and videographers.

AOL/Patch

Helped develop and deliver data reporting and train-the-trainer program that focused on community engagement and using social media as a reporting tool.

Multimedia Institute, Knight Digital Media Center

Co-designed two-week intensive training program and content, instructing more than 20 mid-career journalism professionals on concepts and tools for data journalism and visualization. Lectured, provided hands-on tools training, supervised three teaching assistants and advised students.

Service

Presentation to U.C. Berkeley public relations staff

Led discussion on when and how to use data visualization to enhance promotion of university research. (2012)

Training for University of California Office of the President staff

Hands on training in data and multimedia storytelling. (2011)

Adobe Education Leader Program

Tested and advised Adobe on products for education. (2011-2013)

Research/creative contributions

Collaborated with Mark Huberty, a Ph.D candidate in Political Science at U.C. Berkeley, on a project that examined forecasting Congressional elections from Twitter traffic. I consulted with Huberty on data design and output and created interactive maps and graphics that published daily as “Voting With Your Tweet” as the research progressed on a U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism news site. Huberty presented and published the research as “Multi-cycle forecasting of Congressional elections with social media” at PLEAD '13, Proceedings of the 2nd workshop on Politics, elections and data. PROJECT FAQ

Collaborated with Knight Digital Media Center webmaster Scot Hacker to create freeDive, a wizard that allowed journalists to make searchable databases from Google spreadsheets and generate an embed code.

Industry experience

Director of Data Visualization

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles, California

2013 – present

Transformed a traditional, print-only department into a digital-first group that reported and developed interactive and print graphics that garnered 15 awards in international competition in the first year.

Accomplishments

Reporting: Redirected the staff from practice of illustrating the reporting of others to generate and report story ideas themselves. The results included better interactive content and A1 stories and graphics.

Digital content: Trained print-oriented staff in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, GIS, 360° video stitching and other skills for digital production with a focus on multi-platform interactive data visualizations, including maps, charts, interactive databases and motion graphics.

Virtual reality content: Leading the push for VR at the Times, including directing projects that use 3D geographic data and audio to make an interactive tour of Gale Crater on Mars and creating and stitching 360° video for interactive presentations.

Print content: Redirected print efforts to produce better print infographics that incorporated modern data visualization techniques.

Tools: Created a map-making suite that leverages Web-map tiles to generate simple online maps that producers or others in the newsroom can use. The tool also generates base maps for print graphics.

Social media: Developed approach to building an audience based on interest in data visualization and infographics, including custom static and animated content for multiple networks.

Graphics Director

South Florida SunSentinel, WSFL-TV

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

2006 – 2010

Managed a 10-person department that produced and coordinated content for WSFL-TV morning news show, WSFL on-air promotions, SunSentinel.com, SouthFlorida.com and the SunSentinel newspaper. In doing so, I developed the nation’s first graphics department that was cross-trained to produce content for a daily newspaper, news websites and a network-affiliated television station.

Accomplishments

Television: Successfully integrated new technology to launch morning news show. Overcame cultural differences by creating print/online newsroom partnerships with television management. Created 3D fly-through for morning show open. Co-designed new, contemporary look for graphics package that was imitated by other morning news shows.

Digital: Developed precinct-level election results maps that updated live on election nights. Created SunSentinel.com’s first social media presentation tool — a scrolling ticker that updated live breaking news Twitter feeds from reporters. Developed tools to allow reporters and producers to create Flash multimedia presentations in less than an hour. Developed GIS-based interactive maps for rapid deployment. Upheld a tradition of award-winning multimedia journalism and relaunched the SunSentinel’s pioneering multimedia gallery, The Edge, which was awarded the Best News Site by the Florida chapter of the Associated Press.

Print: Graphics team produced award-winning front-page centerpiece graphics and full-page enterprise graphics. Quality of design and information led to 18 Society of News Design Awards of Excellence.

Staff development: Extensively cross-trained staff to be leading multi-platform journalists and use a wide range of industry tools, including LightWave 3D, Flash, and VizRT. Six months after beginning television production, the entire staff produced graphics for TV, Web and print. Developed graphic, video and interactive storytelling skills in reporting and page design teams.

Assistant Graphics Director, South Florida SunSentinel 2002 – 2006

Produced, coordinated, art directed and edited projects that produced award-winning breaking news graphics. Assigned, coordinated and directed production of daily and project graphics; Supervised and develop staff of seven artists/reporters.

Senior Graphics Reporter, South Florida SunSentinel2000 – 2002

Researched, reported and illustrated award-winning breaking news and enterprise graphics, including a full-page graphic every 6 weeks.

Graphic Artist, Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) 1997 – 2000

Graphic Artist, Los Angeles Daily News 1996 – 1997

Graphic Artist, The Record (Stockton, Calif.) 1993 – 1994

Graphic Artist, Tracy Press (Tracy, Calif.) 1992 – 1993

Invited opportunities to speak and/or present

Mediatwits Podcast. Title:“Data Visualizations at LA Times: Defining a Journalist or Acts of Journalism?” (2013)

Panelist at Healthy Communities Data Summit. Title:“A Better Pie Chart and Beyond The Evolution of Visualization and Analysis” (2013)

#WJCHAT Twitter chat. Title:“Math and Data Journalism” (2012)

Presenter at the Bay Area Writers Guild. Title:“Social Media as a Reporting Tool” (2011)

Presenter at the Society of News Design (SND) annual convention. Title:“Practical Interactive Maps” (2011)

Presenter at National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) annual convention. Title:“HTML5 & Visualization” (2011)

Presenter at the Society of News Design annual convention. Title:“Charting with JavaScript” (2010)

Presenter for Society for Professional Journalists. Title:“Mapping Data” (2010)

Presenter at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Title:“What Television Can Tell us About Multimedia” (2009)

Presenter at Society of News Design annual convention. Title: “LightWave 3D” (2008)

Panelist at Online News Association annual convention Title: “Integrating Multimedia in Storytelling” (2007)

Presenter at SND annual convention. Title: “From Print to Interactive Graphics” (2007)

Presenter at SND Quick Course Title:“The Next Step in Interactive Graphics” (2007)

Presenter at SND Quick Course:“Introduction to Lightwave 3D” (2007)

Presenter at SND Quick Course:“Advanced Lightwave 3D” (2005)

Invited opportunities to judge and/or review

Judge, Malofiej Infographics World Summit; Pamplona, Spain (March, 2016)

Judge, Society of News Design Best of Digital Design (2014)

Judge, Americas Datafest Global Awards (2013)

Judge, Associated Press, Informational Graphics (Texas region) (2009)

Professional awards/honors

2015 Malofiej bronze medal, print (art direction, editing):“161 Drought Maps Reveal Just How Thirsty California Has Become”

2015 Malofiej bronze medal, print (art direction, editing):“Home Run Derby ‘shot’ Chart”

2015 Malofiej bronze medal, online (art direction, editing):“River of Glass”

2015 Malofiej bronze medal, online (art direction, editing):“The Evolution of California’s Drought”

2015 Society of News Design Award of Excellence (data visualization, art direction, editing): Staff Portfolio

2015 Society of News Design Award of Excellence (data visualization, art direction, editing):“Wilshire Grand: Grand Ambition”

2015 Society of News Design Award of Excellence (art direction, editing):“Evolution of California’s Drought”

2015 Society of News Design Award of Excellence (art direction, editing):“Drought, Drawdowns and the Death of the Salton Sea”

2015 Society of News Design Award of Excellence (art direction, editing):“Top-winning films pay off”

2015 Society of News Design Award of Excellence (art direction, editing):“Where the Supervisor’s Race Was Won”

2015 Society of News Design Award of Excellence (art direction, editing):“From Grand Pour to Grand Opening”

2015 Society of News Design Online Award of Excellence (data visualization, art direction, editing):“Fly Over the Hollywood Fault Zone”

2015 Society of News Design Online Award of Excellence (art direction, editing):“How to be a Writer

2015 Society of News Design Online Award of Excellence (art direction, editing):“Is It Better to Rent or Buy?”

2015 Society of News Design Online Award of Excellence (art direction, editing):“New Wilshire Grand”

2012 Finalist, Information is Beautiful awards (Tools category): freeDive

2009 Society of News Design Award of Excellence (art direction, editing):“Countdown to 2012”

2009 Society of News Design Award of Excellence (art direction, editing): Staff Portfolio

2008 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Non-Breaking News Infographics (art direction, editing):“A Bridge to Behold”

2008 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Non-Breaking News Infographics (art direction, editing):“Ford Model T”

2007 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Non-Breaking News Infographics (art direction, editing):“Bright Colors Lead to a Rich Diet”

2007 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Non-Breaking News Infographics (art direction, editing):“A Pirate’s Life”

2007 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Non-Breaking News Infographics (art direction, editing): “Heavy Lifters”

2006 Sigma Delta Chi for Multimedia Storytelling (animation, art direction, editing):“Orphans of AIDS”

2006 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Charting:“Signs of a Warmer Planet”

2006 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Mapping: “Signs of a Warmer Planet”

2006 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Non-Breaking News Infographics (art direction, editing): “A Push to Drill”

2006 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Non-Breaking News Infographics (art direction, editing): “Tracking African-American Migrations”

2006 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Non-Breaking News Infographics (art direction, editing): “Treating AIDS”

2006 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Non-Breaking News Infographics (art direction, editing): “High-Heel Hazards”

2006 Society of News Design Award of Excellence (team):“Extended Coverage Portfolio”

2005 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Breaking News Infographics (illustration, art direction, editing): “Lines Drawn in the Sand”

2005 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Charting: “Busiest Season on Record”

2005 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Non-Breaking News Infographics (art direction, editing): “Natural Hues”

2005 Society of News Design Award of Excellence (art direction, editing): Staff Portfolio

2003 Society of News Design Silver Award (team): “Haiti, the Eroding Nation”

2003 Society of News Design Judges Special Recognition (team): “Haiti, the Eroding Nation”

2002 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Infographics Feature (art direction, editing): “Inside Yucca Mountain”

2001 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Infographics Feature:“A Trail of Terror”

2001 Society of News Design Award of Excellence, Selected Pages: “A Trail of Terror”

1999 Best of Gannett (individual):“X-Games”

1999 Best of Gannett (team): Sports coverage

Technical Skills

Data Applications:

ArcGIS, Quantum GIS, R, Refine, Excel, CartoDB, CartoCSS, MapBox, Data Driven Documents (D3.js)

Multimedia Applications:

Adobe Illustrator, After Effects, Premiere, Photoshop, Audition and Flash.

Development Skills:

HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Web design, User Experience Design

Miscellaneous:

Knowledge of print publishing, layout, prepress and printing processes.

Consulting

El Tiempo, Bogota, Colombia: Advised Colombia’s largest newspaper, on migration from traditional print publishing to Web publication. Focused on implementation of multimedia production across the newsroom, including strategies for photographers, graphic artists, reporters and videographers. (2009)

Lightwave 3D training, Chicago Tribune: Delivered hands-on instruction of concepts and tools for 3D modeling, texturing and rendering.

Lightwave 3D training, Newsday: Delivered hands-on instruction of concepts and tools for 3D modeling, texturing and rendering.

Published works

The Multimedia Journalist: Storytelling for Today's Media Landscape

Contributed chapter on “Information Graphics: Visualizing the News.”

Jennifer George-Palilonis, University Oxford Press, 2013

Web tutorials

Knight Digital Media Center

QGIS Basics for Journalists: QGIS is a free, open source GIS application that works on most major operating systems. It's a great starting point for journalists who want to explore data with maps.

Build an Interactive Census Map: Step-by-step guide to using geocommons.com to make an interactive census map.

Intro to Cleaning Data: Understanding how to clean data is an important skill every reporter needs. Learn how spreadsheets work, basic data-cleaning workflow and how to use formulas and functions.

Use Google Refine to Export JSON: Google refine is great at cleaning large sets of data. But one amazing under-documented feature is the ability to design and output JSON files.

Databases of Statistical Information:This is a directory of online databases of demographic and other statistical information that are publicly available on the web. The directory is organized topically, and includes database with national and regional information.

Data Visualization Basics: Interactive graphics give your content context and impact. Learn how to use Google Gadgets to create charts that you can embed in your site.

Protovis JavaScript Charts: The Protovis JavaScript Library takes care of the difficult programming so you spend less time writing code and more time visualizing data.

Protovis Lines and Labels: Tick marks and labels make charts easier to comprehend. Here's how to add them to Protovis JavaScript charts.

Protovis Variables and Animation: Variables allow you to make easy-to-update data visualization templates that you can post in minutes.

Protovis External Data and Animated Labels: Learn to how to load data into your Protovis charts from an external file and learn new tricks to animate bars and labels simultaneously.

Protovis Swap External Data: Learn to how to swap external data files and some techniques to improve animations with small objects like lines.

Protovis Compatibility in Internet Explorer: Protovis works well in modern browsers but has some compatibility problems with Internet Explorer 6-8. We'll look at some methods to make your graphics work on every browser.

Protovis Templates: Customizable templates help journalists produce interactive JavaScript charts in minutes.

WordPress Photo Galleries: Learn how the WordPress Media Library and galleries work, how to set up and use plugins to improve photo management and create slideshows and galleries

Build 960 Design Grids in Photoshop: Most modern Websites are designed and built on a fixed, 960-pixel grid. Building on a grid creates page layouts that are visually consistent and easier for users to navigate.

iPhoto: Hands-on tutorial will give you tools to improve the quality photos and manage your collection as it grows.

Reviews, comments of public works online

Introduction to Data Mapping

“Why journalists should bite the bullet and map with Quantum GIS”

http://zoomata.com/archive/why-journalists-should-bite-the-bullet-and-map-with-qgis/#more-2131

freeDive

“Introducing FreeDive: A Simple Solution for Creating Searchable Databases” http://datadrivenjournalism.net/resources/Introducing_FreeDive_A_simple_solution_for_creating_searchable_databases

“Information Is Beautiful Awards Celebrates Data Viz Experts”

http://multimedia.journalism.berkeley.edu/blog/2012sep10information-beautiful-awards-celebrates-data-viz-e/

Voting With Your Tweet

“Wanted: Definitive social analysis”

http://www.politico.com/story/2012/11/wanted-a-definitive-analysis-of-social-media-data-083132

“Predicting House Races by Weight of Tweet”

http://www.psmag.com/politics-and-law/predicting-house-races-by-weight-of-tweet-48924#!

References in published works

“How do we improve online news design to help readers better understand stories?” http://www.rjionline.org/blog/how-do-we-improve-online-news-design-help-readers-better-understand-stories

“Digital now drives the graphics department at LA Times”

http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2013/07/digital_now_drives_the_gr.php

“How to Tell Science Stories with Maps”

http://www.theopennotebook.com/2015/08/25/how-to-tell-science-stories-with-maps/

“The failing promise of GIS mapping in news (and some free maps)”

http://5wvelascoblog.com/2015/03/02/the-failing-promise-of-gis-mapping-in-news-and-some-free-maps/

“Working with data in Protovis”

http://www.jeromecukier.net/blog/2011/02/07/working-with-data-in-protovis/

“Timelines in journalism: A closer look”

http://mindymcadams.com/tojou/2011/timelines-in-journalism-a-closer-look/

“Twitter memes go viral with help of big media tweeters”

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/article/279122/23/Twitter-memes-go-viral-with-help-of-big-media-tweeters

“Visualizing political shifts: Data and interaction design”

http://www.thefunctionalart.com/2012/10/visualizing-political-shifts-few.html

“How multimedia reporting can improve my environmental journalism (and yours too!)”

http://invw.org/2010/01/21/how-multimedia-reporting-can-improve-my-environmental-journalism-and-yours-too/

“Maps To Go: Build Your Own for the Intranet”

http://www.directionsmag.com/entry/maps-to-go-build-your-own-for-the-intranet/124147

Current/past professional organizations

Member, Investigative Reporters and Editors

Online News Association

Society of Professional Journalists

Society for News Design

Interests

Travel, hiking, kayaking, family

Personal

Wife, Magaly; Son, Koen