I’m teaching a data journalism/investigative reporting class for the first time this spring. I’ve got the class pretty well mapped out — I know what I’m going to teach — but I’m struggling with a course description. Here’s what I’ve got. Fellow data nerds, what say you?
Every day, more of our lives is becoming digital and more of that life is getting stored in a database somewhere. With a historic explosion of data about everything going on right now, reporters need the skills to analyze and understand data to then write the stories hidden in the information. Gone are the days when a reporter could grab a notebook and say “I suck at math.” If that’s what you aspire to, leave now. Don’t want to be that reporter? Welcome. Data journalism harnesses the tools of the data analyst and uses them to do investigative reporting. We’re going to get our hands dirty with spreadsheets, databases, maps, some basic stats and, time permitting, some stuff I’ll call “serious future s**t.” And in the end, we’ve got a project to produce. So buckle up and hold on.