For reporters interested in data, this is a fascinating time to be working in journalism. Intriguing new datasets are becoming more abundant by the day — from Data.gov to a wide variety of open data hubs from states, counties and cities. Helpful digital resources seem to be everywhere, from news-focused apps to data-cleanup tools.
All these can provide rich material for journalists, but the challenge is how to keep up. Thankfully, there’s a lot of knowledge sharing as well. Among the media support organizations every news reporter should be familiar with are the Investigative Reporters and Editors’ NICAR program and database and ProPublica’s data resource pages. (For educators, IRE has just released a well-designed modular coursepack that is well worth checking out.)
In this post, which will be regularly updated, we’ll point to datasets that can help drive stories as well as resources for journalists, including best practices, interviews with data journalists and primers for sharpening your skills. Some of these are familiar to the hard-core data journalism community but often remain underutilized by the press as a whole. We hope you’ll help us surface hidden datasets that deserve wider exposure (please email or ping us on Twitter).
- “Ten Datasets from Federal Agencies and Other Organizations That Can Inform Local Coverage”: National data can often provide insight into reporting on local affairs. We provide 10 examples, including public schools’ disciplinary practices, local farms, firearms dealers and hazardous-materials incidents.
Overview, best practices
- “Understanding Data Journalism: Overview of Resources, Tools and Topics”: Surveying of the sites, tools and concepts that are part of the evolving field of data journalism. Topics covered include open datasets as well as data cleanup and visualization.
- “News Apps and Data: A Brief Primer and Overview”: Primer on best practices, development tips and the value of digital news apps that allow for interactive visualizations of information.
- “What Is Big Data? Research Roundup, Reading List”: Review of research on the growing ability of computers to gather, analyze, link and compare large data sets, with a look at the deep implications for how the information business may evolve.
- “Making Federal Data more Useful and Accessible to Fuel Media and Democracy”: Report from Journalist’s Resource suggeting improvements to the Federal Statistical Agency websites and offering recommendations on how the agencies could better help news media.
- “Sarah Cohen of the New York Times on the State of Data Journalism and What Reporters Need to Know”: Conversation with one of the leading practitioners of data journalism today. Cohen is editor of computer-assisted reporting at the Times and board president of Investigative Reporters & Editors.
- “Social Science Done on Deadline: Research Chat with ASU’s Steve Doig on Data Journalism”: Interview between News21 collaborators ASU professor Steve Doig and Alex Remington, of Journalist’s Resource.
- “Regression Analysis: A Quick Primer for Media on a Fundamental Form of Data Crunching”: From studies on the relationship between wages and well being to the financial benefits of political incumbency, scientific research frequently involves the technique of regression. We walk you through setting up Excel and explain the basics.
- “Statistical Terms used in Research Studies; a Primer for Media”: Reporters see terms such as “sample,” “confounding variables” and “correlated” all the time, but what to they really mean? We explain the basic statistical concepts with which students and working journalists should be familiar.
Keywords: data journalism, big data, data visualization, dataset digest