The Courier/Press and Journal: 50 Years of Baby Names Data

The Courier/Press and Journal data team were put together with the aim of democratising data for our readers. They combine technical skills with traditional reporting to tell stories in new and innovative ways.

The DC Thomson data team analysed around fifty years of available data on baby names in Scotland and created a series of articles looking at everything from key pop culture trends, babies named after Scottish places, the most unusual names ever used in Scotland and what the rules are in Scotland regarding names. The team also spoke to several people who had received one of Scotland's most unique or controversial names, or parents who had passed a unique moniker onto their children. The final series contained nine articles and as well as engaging data visualisations we employed a storytelling method known as scrollytelling that allows the user to walk themselves through an explanation of the charts and data, at their own pace. The reason for creating this project was that every year the national release of baby names is beaten to death by the media, with articles published with simple top ten lists in every publication around the country. We were determined to make the coverage much more engaging and entertaining and to really dig in to the wealth of data available that nobody else ever touches. The methodology involved analysing several spreadsheets from the National Records of Scotland, alongside submitting FOI requests to add an exclusive element to the series and add more context. This data was pored over to find the key trends and research was carried out to find reasons behind the trends. That data was then visualised by the team, alongside lighthearted copy. The aim of the series was to take a subject that is usually treated in quite a "clickbaity" way and create an evergreen piece of content that would engage and entertain readers. The impact was high and readers were very engaged with the pieces with high interaction times and a lot of debate generated on social media platforms such as reddit and tiktok.