data viz
Credit: By pagedooley on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Visualisation tool Datawrapper is to launch new, paid-for services alongside its free offering as views of charts created by users reach 32 million in October.

From 1 December, users will be able to sign-up to create white-label charts and maps with different options available for small, large or international newsrooms.

"We want to introduce a very fair solution that is payable by any newsroom in the world," co-founder Mirko Lorenz told

"That's what we tried to find and it took an awful lot of time to get to a good point that we could sustain."

I think what we're up against are the mindlessly chosen illustrative pictures.Mirko Lorenz, Datawrapper
While casual users will still be able to create Datawrapper branded charts for free they will no longer be hosted online, but downloaded by the user and uploaded to their site.

Journalists or newsrooms looking to work more quickly and update previously-created charts can pay €12 (about £9) for a month of the Datawrapper Single package.

Described by Lorenz as a "hop-on, hop-off" model, users can pay for extra publishing options over a 30-day period but keep all their work hosted online beyond that time.

"We didn't want to come up with a subscription," he said. "It's kind of curtailing but we wanted to think in the abilities and budgets of people around the world."

Every paying user will have "a dedicated data bucket", said Lorenz, so "if anyone would like to part with us and use another platform then we hand over the keys and hand over that data".

Datawrapper Single will be available on a yearly basis at €120 (£94), but larger newsrooms can sign up for Datawrapper Team with five users and five million chart views each year for €100 (£98) per month, plus customisable layouts to fit an organisation's brand.

Datawrapper Team will be free for journalism schools and educators.

datawrapper new

The cost of hosting and embedding the 140,000 or more charts so far created with the tool is the main driver for change, explained Lorenz, as the number of chart views has risen from 75 million in 2013 to an expected "120 to 140 million" in 2014.

German journalism training organisation ABZV had previously been supporting Datawrapper financially, but since the end of 2013 that help has been reduced to a "bare minimum", he said, prompting the need to introduce a paid option and the opportunity to explore taking data visualisations in journalism further.

"I think what we're up against are the mindlessly chosen illustrative pictures," he said, where a graph could – and should – add context to a story.

The problem lies in making data as accessible and versatile to a reporter as other sources of information, an issue Lorenz and the Journalism++ team hope to overcome with Datawrapper Pro.

"People have trapped data in PDFs," Lorenz said of organisations or institutions that regularly publish data sets. "So they send out a PDF, you or I go into the PDF, use a PDF extraction tool, put it into Excel, do a Datawrapper chart...

"With Pro, when you get data from the organisations producing it, that will be in Datawrapper so journalists can see it, click a few buttons and see how it looks."

We don't want to churn stuff out, but why make something that can be simplified more complicated than it needs to be?Mirko Lorenz, Datawrapper
Datawrapper has already been working with an organisation that produces "international trading data" and the Pro offering, available on a pro rata basis, will work with sources to simplify the process of data journalism in the newsroom.

"We want to put this data into the hands of journalists so they can see that data, they can cite it and essentially just copy it and throw it into their own layout," he said. "So after shortening the way to create a chart we would like to shorten the way to find data.

"For a big data project like the ones we give prizes to I would always suggest finding your own data, checking your own data, working with specialists or a team to get jaw-dropping visualisations.

"But in daily business I noticed that even high level publications, instead of doing a chart and looking at it from a data perspective they are linking out to the German statistical office [for example] because that's where the news came from."

The pricing of Datawrapper Pro may be prohibitively expensive for small newsrooms but that is reflective of the work that will go into it, Lorenz said.

Datawrapper will "remain open source", with code libraries available on GitHub. The ultimate aim, though, is to push the field and practice of data journalism forward, said Lorenz, and better integrate the process in newsrooms around the world.

In recent years, news organisations themselves have been public in their decisions to restructure around data journalism for the same ends.

The Guardian recently announced changes to its editorial structure to have specialised data journalists collaborate with other desks as a "force multiplier for the newsroom", and Trinity Mirror has had a "digital journalism unit" supporting its regional titles since mid 2013.

Lorenz said the intention at Datawrapper is to keep removing barriers to effective data journalism, and the team is particularly proud that their tool "doesn't stand in the way" of journalists working to a deadline, a quality he wants to continue.

"In most newsrooms there is not that time on daily news items to work on it for another half an hour or an hour.

"We don't want to churn stuff out, but why make something that can be simplified more complicated than it needs to be?"

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