Data journalism links and resources

Compiled by Kyle Heim / Updated:July 5, 2015

Below are links to online resources about data journalism, what it is, why it matters, how it can be practiced, and how it can be taught. This list is intended to serve as an overview; it is not meant to be exhaustive or to delve into the technical details of specific data journalism tools. If you know of any links that should be added, please let me know.

The “Big Data” phenomenon
Data journalism background and overview
Value and importance of data journalism
Resources and reference materials
Ethics, concerns, and criticism
Numeracy and math skills
Data visualization
Examples of data journalism
How to get started and other advice
Data sources
Data journalism in the curriculum
Sample syllabi
Sample assignments


The “Big Data” phenomenon

The Age of Big Data
Steve Lohr
The New York Times Sunday Review
Feb. 11, 2012
An overview of the impact of Big Data on several fields.

Data, Data Everywhere
The Economist
Feb. 25, 2010
Excerpt: “Managed well, the data can be used to unlock new sources of economic value, provide fresh insights into science and hold governments to account. But they are also creating a host of new problems. Despite the abundance of tools to capture, process and share all this information—sensors, computers, mobile phones and the like—it already exceeds the available storage space. Moreover, ensuring data security and protecting privacy is becoming harder as the information multiplies and is shared ever more widely around the world.”

What Is Big Data? Research Roundup, Reading List
Margaret Weigel and John Wihbey
Journalist’s Resource
April 11, 2013
An annotated bibliography with links to studies and articles that bring a research perspective to questions around Big Data.

Is Big Data an Economic Dud?
James Glanz
The New York Times Sunday Review
Aug. 17, 2013
The author wonders whether Big Data will ever have the impact of the first Internet wave that brought new services like email, the Web, online search, and broadband.

Data journalism background and overview

Journalism by Numbers: It’s Time to Embrace the Growing Influence of Real-Time Data on the Media Business
Emily Bell
Columbia Journalism Review
Sept./Oct. 2012
Excerpt: “The streaming, structuring, and storing of this information in reusable formats—what we think of as ‘big data’—is increasingly the raw material of journalism. … One of the most important questions for journalism’s sustainability will be how individuals and organizations respond to this availability of data.”

Booming Market for Data-Driven Journalism
Roger Yu
USA Today
March 17, 2014
Excerpt: “Data-centric journalism, once the domain of a few computer geeks hunched over in remote corners of the American newsroom, is coming to the forefront. With easier-to-use technology available, more data-savvy journalists are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in their niche.”

Data Journalism: An Explication
Cindy Royal and Dale Blasingame
#ISOJ Journal (Journal of the International Symposium on Online Journalism)
Spring 2015
Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 24-46.
From the abstract: “Using grounded theory to identify assertions of the phrases ‘data journalism’ or ‘data-driven journalism’ in both academic literature and media, this paper explicates a conceptual definition of data journalism and identifies several dimensions under which the definition may be operationalized.”

Digital Journalism – Special Issue: Journalism in an Era of Big Data: Cases, Concepts, and Critiques
Vol. 3, No. 3
A special issue of the academic journal with articles devoted to the topic of data journalism. Some articles are available for free; others require a subscription or access to academic databases.

Putting the Data Science into Journalism
Keith Kirkpatrick
Communications of the ACM
May 2015
Vol. 58, No. 5, pp. 15-17
Excerpt: “Data mining, Web scraping, classifying unstructured data types, and creating complex data visualizations are being utilized by news organizations to uncover data that would be impossible to compile manually.”

The Age of Insight: Telling Stories with Data
Google News Lab
June 17, 2015
From the video description: “Journalism is undergoing a data-driven revolution. Pioneers in data journalism speak about the role and importance of using data in reporting, walk through some examples of their work, and share their thoughts on where the industry is headed.”

Is Data the Future of Journalism?
Moderator: Julie Hansen, president of Business Insider
Chris Wiggins, chief data scientist, New York Times
Yoni Steinmetz, data driven content lead, Vocativ
Jeremy Singer-Vine, data editor, BuzzFeed
July 2, 2014
From the video description: “This panel of experts from some of the leading online outlets will discuss the intersection of data and journalism from all angles. The discussion examines the technologies that are shaping how newsrooms clean, analyze and visualize data, and covers not only what we’re seeing today but emerging trends that will impact the future of content and its delivery.”

Data Journalism (Data Visualization DC) @ Washington Post – 11-19-2013
Meetup Central
Moderator: Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University
Jeremy Bowers, developer on news applications team, NPR
Nikki Usher, assistant professor, George Washington University
Derek Willis, interactive developer, New York Times
Kat Downs, graphics director, Washington Post
Nov. 30, 2013
From the video description: “The term ‘data journalism’ is nearly as prevalent as the term “big data.” With more and more access to data, improvements in technology, and the transformation of traditional print journalism, today’s readers are expecting a different type of reading environment than ever before, which often includes data visualization. Where does this leave traditional journalism? Where is journalism heading?”

The Art and Science of Data-Driven Journalism
Tow Center for Digital Journalism
May 2014
Tow Center r
eport on data journalism. Includes sections on the history of data journalism, why data journalism matters, notable examples, the pathway to the profession, tools of the trade, open government, and recommendations and predictions for the future.

Tow Report Launch: The Art and Science of Data Journalism
Columbia Journalism School
June 4, 2014
From the first Tow Research conference, Quantifying Journalism: Metrics, Data and Computation, on May 30, 2014.

Research Chat: Sarah Cohen of the New York Times on the State of Data Journalism and What Reporters Need to Know
Journalist’s Resource
Aug. 29, 2014
An interview with Sarah Cohen, a leading practitioner and educator in the field of data journalism, about the knowledge she’s developed in the classroom and in the field.

Mashable Media Summit: Demystifying Data Journalism
Dec. 3, 2012
Susan McGregor of the Columbia Journalism School and Sarah Cohen of the New York Times talk about data journalism with Emily Banks of Mashable.

Data-Journalists Are the New Punks: Simon Rogers at TEDx PantheonSorbonne
Simon Rogers
TEDx Talks
Dec. 19, 2012
The UK journalist discusses his experience with data journalism and gives examples as he compares data journalists to punk rockers.

Antebellum Data Journalism: Or, How Big Data Busted Abe Lincoln
Scott Klein
March 17, 2015
Traces the history of data journalism all the way back to 18th century newspapers and Horace Greeley.

Value and importance of data journalism

Writing Code for Journalism: Why I Love What I Do
Ryan Pitts
July 18, 2013
The author gives a first-person account of how data journalism can make people’s lives better.

Scooped by Code
Scott Klein
Nieman Journalism Lab
Dec. 16, 2013
Excerpt: “Every skill you don’t have leaves a whole class of stories out of your reach. And data stories are usually the ones that are hiding in plain sight.”

Journalists of the Future Need Data Skills, Says Berners-Lee
Charles Arthur
The Guardian
Nov. 19, 2010
Excerpt: “Inventor of the world wide web says that the stories of the future won’t come from chatting in bars but from poring over rows of data.”

Resources and reference materials

The Data Journalism Handbook
Edited by Jonathan Gray, Liliana Bounegru and Lucy Chambers
Free, open-source reference book for anyone interested in the field of data journalism.

Understanding Data Journalism: Overview of Resources, Tools and Topics
Alex Remington
Journalist’s Resource
May 8, 2013
Overview on data journalism with resources, sites, and topics related to open datasets, data cleanup, and data visualization.

9 Must-Read Books for Beginners in Data Journalism
Adrian Blanco
April 15, 2015
Descriptions and links for each of the 9 books.

Data Driven Journalism: Where Journalism Meets Data
A hub for news and resources from the community of journalists, editors, designers and developers who use data to support journalism. The website is part of an European Journalism Centre initiative dedicated to accelerating the diffusion and improving the quality of data journalism around the world.

Online Journalism Blog
Paul Bradshaw, with numerous contributors
Comment, analysis, and links covering online journalism, particularly data journalism.

The NICAR Talk Blog
National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting
From the site: “The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting maintains a library of federal databases, employs journalism students, and trains journalists in the practical skills of getting and analyzing electronic information.”

Ethics, concerns, and criticism

Data Journalism Needs to Up Its Own Standards
Albert Cairo
Nieman Journalism Lab
July 9, 2014
Cairo, a data visualization expert, argues that data journalism sites have overpromised and underdelivered. Among other things, he says data journalism cannot be done on the cheap or produced in a rush.

Critical Questions for Big Data: Provocations for a Cultural, Technological, and Scholarly Phenomenon
danah boyd and Kate Crawford
Information, Communication and Society
Vol. 15, No. 5, pp. 662-679
From the abstract: “Given the rise of Big Data as a socio-technical phenomenon, we argue that it is necessary to critically interrogate its assumptions and biases. In this article, we offer six provocations to spark conversations about the issues of Big Data: a cultural, technological, and scholarly phenomenon that rests on the interplay of technology, analysis, and mythology that provokes extensive utopian and dystopian rhetoric.”

Strata 2013: Kate Crawford, “Algorithmic Illusions: Hidden Biases of Big Data”
Crawford, a researcher with Microsoft, focuses on the question of the biases we bring to Big Data and how we might work beyond them.

Questions and Consequences When Publishing Public Data
Ryan Graff
Northwestern University Knight Lab
Feb. 20, 2013
Examines some of the questions of accuracy, ethics, and judgment that come with publishing data.

Numeracy and math skills

One Easy Thing You Can Do to Help Save Journalism: Stop the Math Bashin’
Lindsey Rogers Cook
Digitize Me, Captain
Nov. 2, 2013
The author says the belief that journalists hate math is part of a larger overarching belief in education that is cemented early on. She says the “left brain, right brain nonsense” is hurting journalism.

Journalists Need to Do the Math
Justin D. Martin
Columbia Journalism Review
Dec. 6, 2010
The author argues that journalists need to be data-savvy: “I tell my students that in addition to English they should learn two more languages: an in-demand foreign tongue, and statistics.”

How to Become A Numbers Person in Journalism
Meredith Broussard
PBS MediaShift
Nov. 24, 2014
According to the author, “Finding opportunities to tell data-driven stories is the first step toward numeracy.”

Statistics Every Writer Should Know
Robert Niles
The author explains some basic statistical concepts that every writer should know, such as mean, median, and mode; percentage change; and per-capita and rates.

Data visualization

Journalism in the Age of Data
Geoff McGhee
“A video report on data visualization as a storytelling medium. Produced during a 2009-2010 Knight Journalism Fellowship.” The video is divided into 8 chapters: Introduction, Data Vis in Journalism, Telling ‘Data Stories,’ A New Era in Infographics, Life as a Data Stream, Exploring Data, Technologies and Tools, and First Steps.

7 Key Ingredients for Knock-Out Data Visualizations
Bernard Marr
DataInformed: Big Data and Analytics in the Enterprise
April 1, 2015
Advice for reporting the results of big data analytics to the right people in the right way.

298 Data Visualization Tools and Resources
Andy Kirk
Visualising Data
A continually updated collection of data visualization resources.

How to Use Fun (and Free) Data Visualization Tools for Online Storytelling
Whitney Matthews
Poynter Institute
Feb. 24, 2011; Updated, Nov. 25, 2014
A guide to several visualization tools, including Wordle, Dipity,, and Twitter widgets.

Data Visualisation DIY: Our Top Tools
Simon Rogers
The Guardian
March 28, 2012
Some details on tools The Guardian uses for data visualization, including Google Fusion tables, Tableau Public, Google spreadsheet charts, Datamarket, Many Eyes, Color Brewer, and others.

Teaching Data Visualization: Recommended Readings and Resources
Mu Lin
MulinBlog: A Digital Journalism Blog
May 2, 2014
Contains many links in six sections: intro to data viz, choosing the right chart, designing a nice-looking visualization, communicating your message, tools/tips, and resources.

How to Make Infographics: A Beginner’s Guide to Data Visualization
Rachel Banning-Lover
The Guardian
Aug. 28, 2014
Advice on organizing data, building a chart, building a map, and building a traditional infographic.

Examples of data journalism

Data Journalism Awards 2015: The Winners
Global Editors Network
List of the award winners with descriptions, links, and lists of the technologies used.

Ctrl + ? The Best Data Journalism Of 2014
Mona Chalabi
Dec. 28, 2014
A roundup of 2014’s biggest and best data journalism, from FiveThirtyEight and elsewhere on the Internet.

The Upshot
A New York Times website with analysis and data visualizations about politics, policy and everyday life.

The Guardian Datablog
The Guardian
Provides visual analyses for stories in the news and links to the data used.

The ProPublica Nerd Blog
“Secrets for Data Journalists and Newsroom Developers”

The site “explores how statisticians, designers, data scientists, and others use analysis, visualization, and exploration to understand data and ourselves.”

5 Absolutely Stunning Big-Data Visualizations
Jacob Shama
Customer Intelligence 360º
January 21, 2014
Five visualizations that present complex data in a simple way.

16 Useless Infographics
Mona Chalabi
The Guardian
Aug. 1, 2013
“An exciting gallery of infographics that tell you nothing.”

How to get started and other advice

How to Be a Data Journalist
Paul Bradshaw
The Guardian
Oct. 1, 2010
The author explains how to get started in data journalism and discusses four main things: finding data, interrogating data, visualizing data, and mashing data.

Twelve Tips for Getting Started With Data Journalism
Nils Mulvad and Helena Bengtsson
Global Investigative Journalism Network
July 3, 2015
Mulvad, co-founder and board member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network, ‏and Bengtsson, editor for the Data Projects Team at The Guardian, share 12 tips on how to use data for stories.

Getting Started in Data Journalism: The First Steps in a Story
Alastair Reid
May 2, 2014
Data journalist Steve Doig, a professor of journalism at the University of Arizona, offers tips on getting started in data journalism: Finding story ideas, working backwards from your idea, getting the data, cleaning the data, looking for patterns.

5 Tips on Data Journalism from La Nacion
Alastair Reid
May 6, 2014
Angelica Peralta Ramos, data project leader for Argentinian news outlet La Nacion, shares these five tips: (1) Never stop learning; (2) Embrace “hactivism”; (3) Start creating datasets, start small; (4) The team is the engine; and (5) Tools and technology.

Data Journalism on a Shoestring Budget: 5 Easy Steps
Sam Petulla
May 29, 2014
Offers advice and instructions for five steps in data journalism: (1) Finding data; (2) Using tools to organize data; (3) Finding the story in data; (4) Using tools to visualize data; (5) Telling stories with visualized data.

Data sources

30 Places to Find Open Data on the Web
Romy Misra
March 30, 2012

The ProPublica Data Store
Datasets that ProPublica uses in its journalism are made available, some for free and some for purchase.

NICAR Data Library
National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting
A list of databases maintained by NICAR.

Data journalism in the curriculum

Special Series: Teaching Data Journalism 2015
Kathleen Bartzen Culver
PBS MediaShift
March 26, 2015
Links to a variety of posts on tools and approaches for teaching data journalism.

Why Journalism Students Don’t Learn CS
Lindsey Cook
Source: An OpenNews Project
May 7, 2015
Results of a study at the University of Georgia to research the barriers that keep journalism students out of computer science classes. The study identifies three reasons that journalism students don’t take CS classes: (1) They don’t know they should; (2) They think they will fail; and (3) They don’t think they’ll enjoy CS classes.

Remix: Put Data Journalism into Every Entry-Level J-School Class
Kathleen Bartzen Culver
PBS MediaShift
July 11, 2014
The author, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, advocates including data literacy and computational skills as core learning objectives and key curricular elements, starting with every entry-level class. Includes several assignment ideas.

Essential Data Journalism Skills: A Conversation With Three Data Journalists
Mu Lin
MulinBlog: A Digital Journalism Blog
Oct. 1, 2013
Highlights of a Twitter conversation with Cheryl Phillips, data enterprise editor at the Seattle Times; Stephen Stirling, data reporter for the Star-Ledger in New Jersey; and Derek Willis, interactive news developer at New York Times, about the skills needed for a journalism graduate to land a data reporting job, how J-Schools can teach data skills, and how to learn those skills.

Sample syllabi

JOUR 407: Data Journalism
Matt Waite, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Fall 2014
Course description: “The best reporters harness the right tools to get the story. In this class, we’ll use brainpower and software to look at raw data — not summarized and already reported information — to do investigative reporting. We’re going to get our hands dirty with spreadsheets, databases, maps, some basic stats and, time permitting, some stuff I’ll call ‘serious future s**t.'”

COMM 273D: Public Affairs Data Journalism I
Dan Nguyen, Stanford University
Fall 2014
From course description: “Our primary goal is to learn how to argue with and against data. To understand the business of our government, including the power it wields over – or yields to – our institutions, then we must understand data, the byproduct of that business, and often, its fuel. We see data as a means of understanding and, when necessary, critiquing the ‘data-driven decisions’ in public affairs. Our focus is on concepts rather than technology and mathematical problem solving over statistical methods.”

JEM 494: Data Journalism
Nick Geidner, University of Tennessee
Spring 2014
From course description: “This senior-level course will introduce students to all phases of data journalism, including: finding and evaluating data sources, organizing data, reporting with numbers, and visualizing data. During the course we will discuss computer programming, data analysis, statistics, graphic design and other salient topic.”

MPJO-722-01: Data Reporting
Georgetown University
From course description: “This course will help you use data to find and develop stories that can’t be found in other ways. … Reporters need to be able to treat data as another source to be researched, interviewed and analyzed, using the right tool for the job. Beginning with spreadsheets and continuing to databases, basic mapping and rudimentary programming, this class will make working with data a part of your skill set.”

Jour72312: Data-Driven Interactive Journalism
Russell Chun and Amanda Hickman, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
Spring 2013
From syllabus: “This hands-on course teaches reporters and editors to gather, analyze, and visualize interactive data-driven stories. This emerging discipline touches on information and interactivity design, mapping, graphing, animation tools, and data analysis.”

WRIT1-CE9741: Analytics and Data Visualization for Journalism
Jeremy Singer-Vine, New York University (NYU) School of Continuing and Professional Studies
Fall 2013
From syllabus: “Data-based journalism is increasingly important at all levels of news organizations. This course will introduce you to fundamental concepts and skills for gathering, analyzing, and visualizing data. It’s also a hands-on class; you’ll apply the techniques you learn each week to a semester-long data-reporting project.”

JOUR 4430/7430: Computer-Assisted Reporting
David Herzog, University of Missouri
Spring 2015
From course description: “By successfully completing this course, you will be able to identify, obtain, evaluate, clean, analyze and visualize data. You will be expected to think like a journalist by evaluating data critically and applying what you learn to news stories, information graphics or web applications. You’ll learn how to use software tools, such as spreadsheets, database managers, text editors and data-cleaning programs.”

Journalism 772: Computer-Assisted Reporting
Dan Keating and Ira Chinoy, University of Maryland
Fall 2012
Excerpt from course description: “This is a course in the basic elements of computer-assisted reporting. You will learn how computer spreadsheet and database programs can be used to find details, leads and stories in collections of electronic records. With the proper training and inclination, journalists who are comfortable with these tools can produce stories that would be virtually impossible to do otherwise.”

Sample assignments

Teaching Data Visualization Through Coffee Prices
Jake Batsell
Jake Batsell’s Blog: A Gateway to Digital Journalism
Jan. 12, 2013
Slides and links for a presentation on a classroom assignment involving data visualization.

Remix: How to Get Students Interested in Data Journalism
Mallory Perryman
PBS MediaShift

Oct. 28, 2014
According to the author, data gets more interesting to students when they stop thinking about it as numbers and start thinking about it as clues. Includes an example of a student assignment, using

Data Journalism Class Exercise (Or, Teaching Critical Thinking)
Ryan Thornburg
Future of News
July 17, 2013
A classroom exercise involving Census Bureau population data.

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