It used to be that you would get stories by chatting to people in bars, and it still might be that you’ll do it that way some times.
“But now it’s also going to be about poring over data and equipping yourself with the tools to analyse it and picking out what’s interesting. And keeping it in perspective, helping people out by really seeing where it all fits together, and what’s going on in the country.
Tim Berners-Lee, 2010.
Image: Ivan Walsh
He may have said those words back in 2010 but now, two years, on it’s clear to the rest of us that the skills needed to understand data are becoming a necessity for everyday life as much as for journalism.
Journalists who are learning new ways to gather, interegate and present data are calling this ‘data journalism’ but actually the skills and tools are relevant to any engaged citizen – you could say it’s as much about data literacy as it is journalism.
Learning how to interact with large spreadsheets, how to spot trends in data and how to present statistical information in appealing ways is already a necessity for hyperlocal publishers and campaigners and likely to become more so as the government moves along with open data initiatives.
Some of it can sound daunting at first mention but there are some simple starting points and quite a bit of training currently on offer.
Through our links with the UclanMADE project, we’re pleased to be able to offer followers of this blog a 30% discount on one high quality training course taking place later this month.
Led by Paul Bradshaw, who many will know from Help Me Investigate and the Online Journalism Blog, the weekend course will cover the key stages, from spotting leads for data stories, to finding the data in the first place, interrogating it, and visualising it.
Organisers say: “Over two days, aside from gaining practical advice, participants will have the chance to apply their learning through hands-on exercises with the help of internationally-recognised digital journalism leaders and trainers provided by the Digital Editors Network and the MADE project. ”
To sign up, visit this link https://djcamp2012.eventbrite.com/?nomo=1 add the promotional code TALdata in order to receive the discount.
* For those with coding experience, there is also a Scraping Master class four-hour workshop with ScraperWiki founder Julian Todd, 9:30-13:30 on Saturday, September 22 . It will cover a range of topics from creating data extraction programmes to analysing existing datasets.