Story-Based

Inquiry

Our courses are highly interactive and highly honed.

Finding stories in data

Data are not numbers (rarely!), but accessible sources that can be interrogated and quoted. You will learn to ‘communicate’ with datasets, which is hardly more tedious than interviewing a person. Besides: data never lie and never retreat their words. And the world is full of data - if you know where to look. Still, not many journalists can handle data, so this “Data Journalism” course gives you a head start and raises your market value.

In (online) modules we teach you how to find news in data and to use data to lay a firm foundation under your stories or reports. You will learn to trace and 'interview' data according to a method that has been used for decades by the National Institute for Data Journalism (NICAR) in the US and the Centre for Investigative Journalism in London to train data journalists. This combination of modules will give you the skills to collect, clean, analyse and visualize data to find or support important stories. We will entertain you with real examples and participative exercises.

Data can be a safe and solid source in countries where officials can not always be trusted to speak the truth. If there are no (reliable) data available in a country, there is always a good chance that NGOs and intergouvernemental bodies collect and keep useful data. We will also teach you how to collect your own data.

For researchers from outside journalism this course provides an opportunity to experience how journalist look at data and how they discover stories in them.  

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN

Setting the scene
In a short introduction session, the delegates and trainers get to know each other in a brief session as we set the scene for the three-day training programme as well as come to understand some of the software and online tools we’ll be using throughout the course.

When the data open up
What is it that you can discover in data? What may you hope for? Data are a rich source, but only for those who mine it well. What is the attitude you need? How does handling data differ from handling people? Welcome in the world of ‘precision journalism’!  

Finding stories with functions
Whether you simply want to know 'how much' or want to create a top-10 of the biggest or the richest: functions in spreadsheets do it in seconds. They find typical examples for your stories in data (with averages, medians and modes), as well as outliers. And they calculate the percentage change (trend) or the ratio's (percentage of total) for you.

Finding stories with 'pivot tables'
Pivot tables are magical! Group, compare and present the data any way you want. Start with a list of questions and let the pivot table give the answers. It is almost like interviewing a person - but without the hassle.

Finding stories with 'r-squared'
Discover relations between data with some simple statistics. Are the school results of children affected by the income of the parents? When can you safely state that there is a correlation?

Where the data live
Where do you find suitable data? On the Internet, obviously. But that is not the whole story. What to ask for from agencies and organizations? And how can you build your own database?

LEVEL

This course is for people with no experience with data analysis and people with a little experience who want to refresh or expand their knowledge.

COURSE MATERIAL

You will  get a list of online tutorials and an extensive workbook with examples from the course. In this course you will use your own laptop. The required software (Google Sheets) is free.