As our governments and businesses become increasingly flush with information, more and bigger data are becoming available from across the globe. Increasingly, investigative reporters need to know how to obtain, clean, and analyze “structured information” in this digital world. Otherwise, they and the news organizations they work for will miss some of the most important stories of our time. Even in relatively closed societies, journalists can now work their way from the outside in, using international data sets to reveal what’s happening in their home countries.
Here is a list of resources to get you started, but we want to keep updating our community with the best resources available. Do you know of a great data tutorial we haven’t listed, perhaps in a language other than English? Help us keep this resource guide comprehensive by sending your favorite resource to: kate.willson (at) gijn (dot) org.
National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, a project of Investigative Reporters and Editors, launched in 1989 to train reporters around the world on how to use data as part of broader investigations. In addition to “boot camps” and in-office training, NICAR offers a data library, practice data sets, and hosts the original annual conference on computer-assisted reporting. IRE also publishes the popular book, Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Practical Guide.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists provides a selection of video tutorials on basic Excel functions, as well as how to background a person or company, or find federal court documents in the U.S.
The Investigative Dashboard lists tools for data mining, visualization and social network analysis. Google search your tool of choice and you’ll surely find tutorials on how to begin.
Michael Martl publishes an open-source textbook on how to program with Ruby on Rails.
Visualization & Mapping
Coursera offers a number of online statistics courses including:
- Passion-Driven Statistics through Wesleyan University
- Statistics, Making sense of data, offered though the University of Torono
- Statistics One, offered through Princeton University
- Introduction to Statistics, offered through the University of California Berkley
Data & Technology Blogs
Data Blog, the Guardian’s blog on computer-assisted reporting
Nacion Data, Spanish-language data journalism blog of the Argentinian daily La Nación.
Open Knowledge Foundation, global movement to open up knowledge around the world and see it used and useful
Toledol, a Portuguese-language blog about computer-assisted reporting
Computational and Data Journalism, news and technology articles about data journalism
Computational Reporting, all about data mining
Dajore, data journalism research
Driven by Data, how data journalism is sifting through the facts
Vis4.net, random thoughts on information visualization and data journalism
Reporter’s Lab, Duke University’s blog on tools, techniques and research for public affairs reporting.
Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia’s blog on how technology is changing journalism, its practice and its consumption
Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Practical Guide, the E-version by Brant Houston
Computer-Assisted Research: Information Strategies and Tools for Journalists, By Nora Paul and Kathleen A. Hansen
The Data Journalism Handbook, European Journalism Centre and Open Knowledge Foundation
Mapping for Stories: A Computer-Assisted Reporting Guide, By Jennifer LaFleur and Andy Lehren
The International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy, includes a School of Data Journalism training.
The Global Investigative Journalism Conference, held every two years, hosts a broad range of data-specific trainings.
Ghana Databootcamp trains participants in Ghana on how to locate, obtain and analyze public data on the extractive industries.
Kate Willson is news adviser in the Student Media Department at Oregon State University, Corvalis, and a consultant to the Global Investigative Journalism Network. She served as a senior reporter with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and has received more than 20 awards for her investigative and crime reporting.