Knight Center
Knight Center


Data journalism: Resources to help reporters get started collecting and analyzing data

Over the past several years, the ubiquity of data journalism has increased. Last year, the Guardian released a how-to guide on becoming a data journalist, and earlier in October Poynter published five essential tips for getting started in data journalism.

But what exactly is data journalism? Data journalism is the combination of several fields – from graphic design to investigative research. But this nebulous definition can leave some journalists confused as to what it really is, and how to get started.

The first step in becoming a data journalist is finding data. There are now various sources available online that help to facilitate this process. For those interested in getting started, Data Driven Journalism has provided users with a collection of learning resources, including “events, tools, tutorials, interviews and case studies.”

Tim Davies has also set up a website, Open Data Cook Book, that provides users with a step-by-step guide on how to find and use open data. Data that is considered open source is freely available to use without copyright or patent restrictions.

Similarly, Get the Data aims to provide users with a forum to answer and ask questions on where to find data relating to a particular issue (e.g., “Where can I find pupil-teacher ratios for schools in Birmingham?”). A nice compliment to Get the Data is Is it Open Data?, a website designed to allow users to find out the openness of data sources.

The United States’ own is working to enhance its collection of open data sites. The database contains information available at city, state and country levels. As of now, the site contains resources to open data in 29 U.S. states, 11 U.S. cities, 172 agencies and sub-agencies, and 21 countries.

Because of a limited access to information across Latin America, contains no open data resources on Latin American countries. However, there are several sites that offer information on specific Latin-American related data. For example, The Institute for the Study of Violent Groups has performed and published open source research of transnational violence along the U.S./Mexico border and throughout Latin America. The Institute's open-source database DAVE also provides users with a geospatial interpretation of the data.

The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas also has released interactive maps that highlight information access laws throughout Latin America and violence against the Mexican press.

Accessing data is only half the battle, as data journalists also need to be able to compile, interpret, and organize the data gathered. IBM Research’s Many Eyes is a tool that helps to create visualizations from data sets. Yahoo! Pipes is a handy data aggregator, and Google Fusion Tables is a spreadsheet application that creates data visualizations. Google also has created Google Public Data Explorer, a program designed to “make large data sets easy to explore, visualize and communicate.”

The above sources are only a handful of the many available. Other worthwhile resources include: The Data Hub, which offers a collection of varying available open source data; Dipity, which allows users to create interactive timelines; Codeacademy for journalists who want to learn code; Spending Stories to give reporters the tools to analyze government spending; and Amazon’s Public Data sets.

Other Related Headlines:
» The Guardian (The future of open journalism)


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