SQL is a commonly used language for working with databases. It is particularly useful for working with larger datasets that can bog down Excel and for joining separate datasets for analysis. Several open-source versions are used in newsrooms, including Postgresql and DB Browser for SQLite.
Here are some tips on how to get started.
This three-part presentation on how to use QL was presented at GIJC19 by Jodi Upton of Syracuse University, freelance investigative journalist Crina Boros and Helena Bengtsson of Sveriges Television in Sweden. SQL (Part 1), SQL (Part 2), SQL (Part 3).
Excel to SQL Crosswalk (2017) by MaryJo Webster is a tipsheet that demonstrates the similarities between Excel and SQL for journalists who want to learn SQL and are already somewhat familiar with Excel.
Introduction to SQL for Data Journalism (2014) is part of the syllabus for Dan Nguyen’s class at Stanford. It covers the basics of SQL, with screenshots, exercises, and links to step-by-step instructions for common SQL queries. It also links to further lessons covering more advanced topics.
Khan Academy offers an Intro to SQL tutorial with free videos and exercises. It covers basic functions, joins, database modification, and more.
Practical SQL (2018) by Anthony DeBarros is a deep dive into the fundamentals and advanced topics of using structured query language for data analysis, using PostgreSQL, an open-source relational database. DeBarros is a longtime data journalist, currently data news editor in the Washington, D.C. bureau of the Wall Street Journal. (Available for purchase)
Udemy offers online video tutorials in SQL for a fee per course.