Syllabus and files for the Fall 2015 session of Tom Meagher's Data-1 class at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Permalink
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
Failed to load latest commit information.
datasets
tipsheets
tutorials/r
.gitignore
README.md
data-memo-outline.md
foia-letter-sample.md

README.md

#Data 1

Instructor: Tom Meagher, deputy managing editor at The Marshall Project

How to reach me: The best way to contact me is by email at tfm2101@columbia.edu. You can also find me on Twitter at @ultracasual

###Course description##

In this seven-week introduction to data journalism, you'll be exposed to the history of the craft of numerate reporting. You'll develop and finetune your bullshit detector for bad data reporting and writing. You'll be introduced to modern data practices, including software for examining spreadsheets, databases, PDFs and other common forms of data. You'll also become comfortable with the basic steps of an analysis that you can integrate into your reporting.

###Requirements I work in a newsroom. I assume that you hope to do the same as quickly after graduation as possible. I'm going to treat you as I would any of my newsroom colleagues. I'll expect you to show up on time, do your homework, pay attention and ask questions. You can expect the same from me. When you hear something that doesn't sound right, or if something doesn't make sense or is unclear, which is entirely possible given the subject matter, ask me about it.

In addition to doing the assigned readings and participating in the weekly class discussions and exercises, you will be required to report and write two data memos and to file one request for data under state or federal Freedom of Information laws. We'll discuss those in our first couple of classes.

##Schedule, resources and readings

###Class 1 - Nov. 4

Let's get acquainted. What is data journalism? A little history.

Hands-on tutorials on Excel basics, sorting and filtering.

Sample data for exercises:

Tipsheets:

Assigned readings for next week:

###Class 2 - Nov. 11

How do you find data? You need to develop your data state of mind.

Talk about the data memo assignment and the memo template.

Hands-on tutorial on pivot tables in Excel

Guest speaker: MaryJo Webster, computer-assisted reporting editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Sample data for exercises:

Tipsheets:

Assigned readings for next week:

###Class 3 - Nov. 18 Assignment due: Data memo #1

All Data Is Terrible; aka How the hell do you "clean" data?

Talk about the FOIA assignment and the sample FOIA letter.

Bulletproofing tips. How to avoid rookie mistakes.

Hands-on tutorials on Excel Magic and Open Refine

Sample data for exercises:

Tipsheets:

Guest speaker: Coulter Jones, data reporter at Medpage Today and project manager of FOIA Machine.

Assigned readings for next week:

###Class 4 - Nov. 24 FOIA strategies and avoiding rookie data mistakes.

Tutorials practicing Excel and OpenRefine.

Guest speaker: Stacy Jones, Data Editor at Fortune.com

Tipsheets:

Sample data for exercises:

###Class 5 - Dec. 2 Assignment due: FOIA request and receipt

Moving to the next level, an introduction to R.

If you're using your own machine, be sure to install R and RStudio Desktop before we start the tutorial.

Guest speaker: Carla Astudillo, data journalist at the International Business Times.

Sample data for exercises:

Tipsheets:

Assigned readings for next week:

###Class 6 - Dec. 9 Assignment due: Data Memo #2

More on working with R dataframes and joining them together.

Another hands-on tutorial on R and R Studio.

Guest speaker: Ryann Grochowski Jones, data reporter at ProPublica

Tipsheets:

Assigned reading for next week:

###Class 7 - Dec. 16

More work with R and reporting with data from start to finish.

Tipsheets: