Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Samantha Sunne

Hacking the curriculum: How to teach data reporting in journalism schools

Journalists and educators largely agree at this point that by the time journalism students graduate they should have some experience with data. The Dow Jones News Fund, one of journalism’s most prestigious education programs since the 1950s, debuted a data internship this year. Data has become a more common topic at education convenings, and NICAR, […]

Option 1: Hire temporary staff

Perhaps the biggest challenge universities face is that the staff they have on hand aren’t as skilled in data as their students need them to be. Teaching teachers to use data, University of Illinois professor Brant Houston said, may not be the best approach. There are a few, he said, who take it upon themselves to […]

Option 2: Collaborate with other departments

Most schools have some kind of computer science program. Some educators have proposed partnering with these departments. One of them is Houston, at the University of Illinois. He said he hasn’t crafted a course that combines journalism and computer science, but he has offered credit for journalism students who take computer science courses, or had […]

Option 3: Require self-training

Hiring part-time staff, collaborating with Computer Science departments and holding open labs won’t work for every school. Luckily, there’s a wide array of resources available to students — and their instructors — who want to learn on their own. “It’s gotten much easier to get a foothold as a student,” said Houston, in Illinois. “The […]

How data journalism is different from what we’ve always done

The definition of data journalism is at once both painfully simple and frustratingly vague. “When you say data journalism, it means something different to just about everyone,” said Aron Pilhofer, visual editor at The Guardian. In his Tow Center paper, Alex Howard offered a more detailed definition for data journalism: “gathering, cleaning, organizing, analyzing, visualizing […]

How to get started with data journalism in your newsroom

Once you’ve decided data is something your staff should be able to handle, the question is how to incorporate it into their workflow. Every newsroom is already busy, and many are strapped for funding and staff. This section will address how to train journalists in data journalism while ensuring that it gets folded into the […]

How to establish data reporting newsroom-wide and make it sustainable

Learning spreadsheet basics is one thing, but establishing data as a steady practice is another. Those who teach data journalism agree there are some steps needed to get the most out of these data skills: namely, establishing habits and collaboration across all levels of staff. Establishing the ‘data state of mind’ Hilary Niles, who works […]

Resources for learning and doing data journalism

Tutorials Using Excel to do Precision Journalism by Steve Doig: Here you can learn the “basic spreadsheet knowledge” we talked about – sorting, filtering and basic calculations – in about one to two hours. If you’re interested, Doig goes on to cover formulas and tables, which are slightly more advanced. Google Sheets support from Google: If you […]

The rise of data reporting

“Data and journalism have become deeply intertwined, with increased prominence,” journalist Alex Howard wrote in in a report for the Tow Center at Columbia University entitled “Debugging the backlash to data journalism.” “To make sense of the data deluge, journalists today need to be more numerate, technically literate and logical.” These changes come to the […]

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