Data Journalism is one of the five levels of the Digital Ninja School.
CORE REQUIREMENTS: You must master the following core areas to earn a belt in this category.
- Metrics. Like every belt in the Digital Ninja School, you need to know how to measure your work in these skill sets. How many page views and interactions are your data projects and graphics generating? How can you measure and increase viewership? Training links.
- Excel and Database Management. Journalists are more versed with words than they are with numbers. But as news and data gatherers, we need to know how to read and manage all types of data. If you can master Microsoft Excel, Google Spreadsheets and other database tools you have a crucial skill in the digital journalism field. Training links.
- Google Docs. Every newsroom should master Google Docs. It’s based in ‘the cloud,’ and allows you to collaborate on data, stories, planning and projects with your newsroom co-workers, and with readers. Mastering Google Docs will help you in reaching your goals for any Ninja School belt. But it’s necessary for data journos. Training links.
- Map Data and Google Maps. Google’s map platform allows us to easily illustrate one of the Five Ws in reporting – the ‘where.’ And it’s extremely versatile and customizable. Whether you want to show where a crime happened in a town’s geography, crowdsource a series of locations from readers, or reveal a mass of location data you’ve uncovered in an investigative story on a single map – you can do it all quite easily with Google Maps. Training links.
- Choosing Data Journalism Topics. Applying Google Maps to your reporting and learning the basics of Excel and spreadsheets are just the beginning. Those are the gateway tools to effective data journalism and computer-assisted reporting. Once you see the potential and master these tools, how do you know which stories to pursue? Which stories can you report now that you couldn’t before? Training links.
ELECTIVES: You must master at least five (of your choosing) of the following areas, in addition to core requirements, to earn a belt in this category:
- Charts and Graphs. What’s the use in analyzing data and pulling interesting facts out of databases if you can’t present it in an attractive and easy-to-understand graphic or chart for readers? Learn how to make charts and graphs with digital tools. Training links.
- ScribD and Document Sharing Tools. ScribD allows us to post, embed and share documents referenced in our reporting. Anything from press releases to public official emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Training links.
- Infographics. As writers, we learn that it’s more effective to ‘show’ instead of ‘tell’. On a visual medium like the internet, infographics are great for turning an entire data-based story or fact into a simple picture. The most effective ones go viral on social media networks like Pinterest and Facebook. Training links.
- Freedom of Information Act. You might be surprised what information you can find out about your sources – and yourself – if you know where to look. Learn about what info you have the right to request from story subjects, and where to mine different kinds of information that’s already available on the internet. Training links.
- Using Census Data. Perhaps the ultimate database of information available to journalists is U.S. Census data. Learn how to mine it for data journo reporting and story ideas. Training links.
- Crowdsourcing Data Projects. While we often use data already available to us from government and other sources, there is always more data that can be collected on anyone, any place and any topic. Just ask your readers. An effectively executed crowdsourced data project can turn a story ‘on’ something into a story ‘of’ something, with facts and data from your own readers to illustrate it. Training links.
- Producing Interactive Data Projects. The presentation of a reporter’s data reporting can make or break its effectiveness. Depending on the depth of the project, you may need to apply multiple tools and learn some coding to present the project in a desirable way. Training links.
- Independent Study. Work with your supervisor to identify a different area of training related to this category you want to pursue. Training links.