Data journalism links and resources

Compiled by Kyle Heim / Updated: August 13, 2019

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.

Sections:
The “Big Data” phenomenon
Data journalism background and overview
Value and importance of data journalism
Resources and reference materials
Ethics, legal 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

blueline

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.

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.

How “Big Data” Went Bust. And What Comes Next.
Will Oremus
Slate
Oct. 16, 2017
According to the article, the frenzy over big data was short-lived: “The term big data has gone out of fashion—and acquired something of an unsavory reputation. It’s worth looking back at what, exactly, happened to the revolution we were promised, and where data, analytics, and algorithms are headed now.”

Is Big Data an Economic Big 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.”

Data Journalism Becomes a Global Field
Simon Rogers
Nieman Lab
December 2018
Excerpt: “Data journalism now belongs to the whole world — and 2019 will see that expand to the point that it will become a truly global field of work, with some newsrooms and journalists pushing the boundaries in using data to tell compelling stories.”


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.”


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.


Computational Journalism: The Data Behind the Stories with Jonathan Stray
Hacker Noon Podcast
May 21, 2019
An interview with Jonathan Stray, computational journalist and researcher at the Columbia Journalism School.


Google’s Simon Rogers: How I Fell in Love With Data Journalism
Simon Rogers
Jan. 8, 2019
The award-winning data journalist and data editor at Google speaks on the Stanford University campus, sponsored by the Brown Institute of Media Innovation.

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
Mashable
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 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
2015
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.”

From Computer-Assisted to Data-Driven: Journalism and Big Data
Philip Hammond
Journalism
2017
Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 408-424.
From the abstract: “Despite claims of continuity, contemporary data journalism is quite different from the earlier tradition of computer-assisted reporting. Although it echoes earlier claims about being scientific and democratic, these qualities are understood as resulting from better data access rather than as being something achieved by the journalist.”

Data-Driven Reporting: An On-going (R)evolution? An Analysis of Projects Nominated for the Data Journalism Awards 2013–2016
Wiebke Loosen, Julius Reimer, and Fenja De Silva-Schmidt
Journalism
October 12, 2017
From the abstract: “We investigate what the [data journalism] field itself defines as its ‘gold-standard’: projects that were nominated for the Data Journalism Awards from 2013 to 2016 (n = 225). Using a content analysis, we examine, among other aspects, the data sources and types, visualisations, interactive features, topics and producers. Our results demonstrate, for instance, only a few consistent developments over the years and a predominance of political pieces, of projects by newspapers and by investigative journalism organisations, of public data from official institutions as well as a glut of simple visualisations, which in sum echoes a range of general tendencies in data journalism.”

Antebellum Data Journalism: Or, How Big Data Busted Abe Lincoln
Scott Klein
ProPublica
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.”


TEDxUCD: How Is Data Journalism Changing the Newsroom?
Bahareh Heravi, assistant professor, University College Dublin School of Information and Communication Studies
Dec. 13, 2017
How can “small data|” improve reporting, and how it can change communication with the public?

Resources and reference materials

The Data Journalism Handbook
Edited by Jonathan Gray and Liliana Bounegru
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.

Data Journalism Tools
Mike Reilley
Journalist’s Toolbox (presented by the Society of Professional Journalists)
June 21, 2019
Links to tools for making charts, infographics, and maps, and finding, scraping, and cleaning data, plus other assorted tools, tipsheets and readings.

What I Use for Data-Driven Journalism
Duc Quang Nguyen
Medium
April 13, 2016
Data journalist and scientist Duc Quang Nguyen shares some free, open-source tools that he uses on the job.

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

DataJournalism.com: 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.

Ethics, legal concerns, and criticism


The Perils of Data Journalism (DataEDGE 2019)
Panelists: Edward Wasserman, dean, UC Berkeley School of Journalism
Amit Bhattacharyya, head of data science, Vox Media
T. Christian Miller, investigative reporter, ProPublica
Cheryl Phillips, Lorry I. Lokey visiting professor in professional journalism, Department of Communications, Stanford University
Jeremy Rue, assistant dean for academics, UC Berkeley School of Journalism
May 9, 2019
From the video description: “In this talk, panelists discuss the importance of these concerns and the obstacles and pitfalls that can mask or undermine truth and clarity in data-based reporting.”

Data Journalism and the Law
D. Victoria Baranetsky
Tow Center
Sept. 19, 2018
From the executive summary: “This report aims to help journalists, lawyers, and academics understand the shifts taking place in media law as a result of both the growing volume of data in our information economy and the seismic shifts occurring within journalism and technology.”

Data Journalism Needs to Up Its Own Standards
Albert Cairo
Nieman 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.

Transparency, Interactivity, Diversity, and Information Provenance in Everyday Data Journalism
Rodrigo Zamith
Digital Journalism
2019
Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 470-489
From the abstract: “This article examines the features of day-to-day data journalism produced by The New York Times and The Washington Post in the first half of 2017.  … [The study concludes] that ‘general data journalism’ still has a long way to go before it can live up to the optimism and idealization that characterizes much of the data turn in journalism. Instead, contemporary day-to-day data journalism is perhaps better characterized as evolutionary rather than revolutionary, with its celebrated potential to serve as a leap forward for journalism and engender greater trust in it remaining untapped.”

Critical Questions for Big Data: Provocations for a Cultural, Technological, and Scholarly Phenomenon
danah boyd and Kate Crawford
Information, Communication and Society
2012
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

The Curious Journalist’s Guide to Data
Jonathan Stray
Tow Center for Digital Journalism
March 24, 2016
From the executive summary: “This is a book about the principles behind data journalism. Not what visualization software to use and how to scrape a website, but the fundamental ideas that underlie the human use of data. This isn’t ‘how to use data’ but ‘how data works.'”

One Easy Thing You Can Do to Help Save Journalism: Stop the Math Bashin’
Lindsey Rogers Cook
Digitize Me, Captain!
May 22, 2014
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
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
RobertNiles.com
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.

Math for Journalists
Mike Reilley
June 21, 2019
Journalist’s Toolbox (presented by the Society of Professional Journalists)
An assortment of calculators, converters, databases, and other mathematical and statistical tools for journalists.

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.

35 Incredible Dataviz Tools
Brian Suda and Sam Hampton-Smith
Creative Bloq
February 12, 2019
Details and links for a variety of data visualization tools.

The 7 Best Data Visualization Tools Available Today
Bernard Marr
Forbes
July 20, 2017
Details and links for Tableau, Qlikview, FusionCharts, Highcharts, Datawrapper, Plotly, and Sisense.

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 2019 Winners
A list of the 12 winners of the 2019 Data Journalism Awards from the Global Editors Network.

Discover New Actors of Data Journalism
Global Editors Network
April 26, 2019
A look at some notable data journalism projects from around the world.

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

Here’s What The New York Times’ The Upshot Looks Like Five Years In
Christine Schmidt
Nieman Lab
April 22, 2019
“You look all over the paper, in all kinds of different ways, and it’s clear that readers had a demand for this sort of journalism. This funny mix of really substantive on really big, complicated topics, but presented in a really approachable way.”

The Pudding
From the site’s About page: “The Pudding explains ideas debated in culture with visual essays. By wielding original datasets, primary research, and interactivity, we try to thoroughly explore complex topics.”

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

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

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

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.

From Spreadsheets to Headlines: A Day in the Life of Data Journalist Ryan Struyk
This Is Statistics: ASA
January 12, 2018
Ryan Struyk, data reporter and mobile producer at CNN Politics, explains how data has become a key skill for journalists and offers a glimpse into what it’s like to be a data reporter at CNN.

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
journalism.co.uk
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
journalism.co.uk
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
Contently
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
visually
March 30, 2012

Data.gov
An assortment of U.S. government data, tools, and resources.

UNData
Web-based data service that let users search and download a variety of statistical resources compiled by the United Nations and other international agencies.

The ProPublica Data Store
ProPublica
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
MediaShift
March 26, 2015
Links to a variety of posts on tools and approaches for teaching data journalism.

Why Teaching Data Journalism is a Challenge at Most Universities
Kayt Davies
MediaShift
February 5, 2018
Kayt Davies, head of the journalism major at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia, describes the challenges of incorporating data journalism into the curriculum and some of the tools and techniques that can help speed the transition.

Remix: Put Data Journalism into Every Entry-Level J-School Class
Kathleen Bartzen Culver
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

CAR and Data Syllabi
Investigative Journalism Education Consortium
Links and descriptions to syllabi from computer assisted and data journalism courses.

JOUR 307: Data Journalism
Matt Waite, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Fall 2017
From course description: “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 code, data, basic stats and the thinking that goes with it. ‘”

COMM 273D: Public Affairs Data Journalism
Dan Nguyen, Stanford University
Fall 2017
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.”

JOUR 322: Data Journalism
Dana Chinn, University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Fall 2017
From course description: “This course introduces you to using data as a source, and ‘interviewing’ datasets using quantitative analysis and data visualization tools.”

JOU 4930: Data Journalism
Norm Lewis, University of Florida
Spring 2016
From course description: “This course equips you to acquire and analyze data using spreadsheets and databases to shape everyday journalism.”

Jour72312: Data-Driven Interactive Journalism
Jonathan Stray (and Russell Chun), CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
Fall 2015
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.”

JOUR 4430/7430: Computer-Assisted Reporting
David Herzog, University of Missouri
Spring 2016
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.”

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 FollowTheMoney.org.

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

2 thoughts on “Data journalism links and resources

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