Assistant Professor of Professional Practice Alberto Cairo delivered the keynote address, “Believe it or Not, You Are or Should be A Visual Journalist,” at the Google for Media Summit in Miami. The Summit gathered more than 100 media professionals from South Florida and beyond to learn about the latest uses of technology in media and how Google tools can help in storytelling.

Cairo argues that journalists must understand the visual display of information, but effective visualizations rely on more than rapidly evolving software. “In order to manipulate those data we need to have a good grasp on how those data should be treated and why,” he said.

He urged attendees to seek truth in the data, examining methodology and avoiding spurious correlations, and to pick appropriate formats to convey the information. Cairo also advocated carefully choosing data forms and writing clear copy to explain visualizations to users.

Cairo showed examples of both effective and ineffective graphics, pointing out opportunities to improve them or showing surprising revelations. “The power of visualization is that it reveals patterns that you cannot see in numbers or data themselves,” he said.