Where to learn about data journalism

Whenever we do data journalism training, I mention many different resources where people can learn more about the techniques, tools and community that we discuss during the workshops. The links to these usually end up in the notes section my slides, which isn’t very helpful. So, instead, here’s a list of interesting resources for getting started with data journalism.

What is data journalism, anyway?

To begin, let’s get a clear idea of what people mean when they talk about data journalism. The Data Journalism Handbook has many practitioners explain their own projects as a way to introduce the reader to the field of data journalism. Similarly, the Stanford video documentary Journalism in the Age of Data contains many interesting interviews.

As a second step, my colleague Noah Veltman has prepared a set of Learning Lunches for the BBC in which he explains high-level concepts around things such as databases, maps or web scraping. By approaching these topics indepentently from specific tools, I think Noah helps really create a profound understanding of these topics.

Finally, the easiest way to sell people on data journalism is simple: great examples.

Learning some data skills

There’s a growing set of data training resources available for many different types of audiences - including, of course, journalists. What seems important to me is that you should use them as tools, not stragightjackets.

Most people in tech learn skills on the web by trying to do some concrete thing using the tools they know or have heard about. Whenever there is a challenge, it’s easy to go and google the question. The key part is having a project that you really want to get done. This is especially true for data journalism, since there are many different skills and technologies around - so focussing down to a single project’s needs is the only way to get started at all.

Still, a little training might help as well:

There’s also an amazing list of reading material curated by Dan Nguyen for his data journalism course at the New York University.

Join the community

Data journalism is an emerging field, and most of the ways to use data probably haven’t been invented yet. The best way to learn interesting things about data journalism is to be in touch with the people who do it. That’s why you should follow some of these interesting blogs and mailing lists:

  • OpenNews Source has lots of how-to and post-mortem articles from the wider Knight-Mozilla community.
  • DataDrivenJournalism.net is a more European-centric information portal with good interviews, guest posts and links to many relevant resources.
  • The US-based Investigative Reporters and Editors runs NICAR-L, a very active mailing list of data journalism practitioners.
  • The European Journalism Center and the Open Knowledge Foundation run a joint Data-Driven Journalism Mailing List, a great way to learn about events and materials, especially in Europe.

Of course, there are plenty other blogs and websites around. Many of them are listed in this Google Spreadsheet, which also contains twitter contacts for the people running these sites.

This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but if you think I’m missing an important resource - please let me know and post it to the comments!