Data Driven Journalism

Doing Journalism with Data: First Steps, Skills and Tools

by Paul Bradshaw, Alberto Cairo, Steve Doig, Simon Rogers, Nicolas Kayser-Bril

Comprising of video lectures, tutorials, assignments, readings and discussion forums, this course is open to anyone in the world with an Internet connection who wants to tell stories with data.

Comprising of video lectures, tutorials, assignments, readings and discussion forums, this course is open to anyone in the world with an Internet connection who wants to tell stories with data.

The 5 modules are:

  • Module 1 - Data journalism in the newsroom
  • Module 2 - Finding data to support stories
  • Module 3 - Finding story ideas with data analysis
  • Module 4 - Dealing with messy data
  • Module 5 - Telling stories with visualisation

Every module is divided into 4 sections. Every section contains one video of approximately 15 minutes. We estimate that the average time a student has to spend on a module (or 1 week), is about 4-5 hours.

Our recommendation is to complete one module per week. Not faster, in order to let the learned material sink in, and not slower in order to stay on top of things. You are free however, to complete the course at your own pace. Meaning that if you feel you comprehend a module, and you have enough time, you are free to advance to the next one. Alternatively, if you don't have enough time one week, you are free to postpone it, and catch up later.

Course overview

Module 1: Data journalism in the newsroom by Simon Rogers

This module is an introduction to data journalism. It shows what data journalism is, how it works on a busy news desk and what skills you need to know to practise it.

  1. Module introduction (01:29)
  2. What is data journalism? (13:06)
  3. Inside a data team (14:39)
  4. How to turn numbers into stories (15:38)
  5. The business case for data journalism (11:18)

Module 2: Finding data to support stories by Paul Bradshaw

This module deals with the range of skills that journalists use to obtain data. This includes setting up alerts to regular sources of information, simple search engine techniques that can save hours of time and using laws in your own and other countries.

  1. Module introduction (02:03)
  2. Setting up ‘data newswires’ (12:55)
  3. Strategic searching - tips and tricks (17:23)
  4. Introduction to scraping (14:37)
  5. Data laws and sources (17:59)

Module 3: Finding story ideas with data analysis by Steve Doig

This module focuses on using spreadsheets and basic statistics to find patterns in data that will reveal story ideas and add evidence to the resulting stories.

  1. Module introduction (01:49)
  2. Newsroom math and statistics (15:46)
  3. Sorting and filtering data in Excel (15:57)
  4. Making new variables with functions (18:14)
  5. Summarizing data with pivot tables (16:19)

Module 4: Dealing with messy data by Nicolas Kayser-Bril

This module addresses messy data - data that needs to be organised before it can be used. It covers the so-called ‘cleaning’ process, at the end of which the dataset can be analysed using techniques from Module 3.

  1. Module introduction (01:31)
  2. Optional: OpenRefine tutorial (12:18)
  3. Correct bad formatting (13:14)
  4. Misspellings (15:22)
  5. Invalid values and duplicates (16:00)
  6. Advanced cleaning techniques (13:42)

Module 5: Telling stories with visualisation by Alberto Cairo

This module deals with how to transform data into stories, infographics and interactive visualizations: the best practices and the principles of graphic design that a journalist needs to know.

  1. Module introduction (02:15)
  2. The main principles of datavisualisation (15:45)
  3. Choosing the best graphic forms (26:28)
  4. The art of insight (19:25)
  5. Bonus: Hands-on with Adobe Illustrator (17:15)
  6. Course instructors

    Paul Bradshaw

    Birmingham City University, Online journalist (GB)


    Alberto Cairo

    University of Miami, Professor (AF)


    Steve Doig

    ASU's Cronkite School, Journalism professor (US)


    Simon Rogers

    Google, Data journalist (GB)


    Nicolas Kayser-Bril

    Journalism++, Data-driven journalist (FR)


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