The popular data tools are for every digital journalist to learn and use in everyday work, and the “high-end” programming/coding is for people who want to be a “data specialist.” Journalism programs can incorporate basic data tools in a (required) intro digital journalism course, and teach “high-end” data journalism, in an elective course, to students who want to pursue further in this area.
Learning how to use data in storytelling is different from learning how to be a data specialist. Some people have the notion that every journalism student needs to be trained in coding and programming to produce those complex data projects that wow us. I say “no” – the popular, easier-to-learn data tools would suffice for day-to-day data visualization needs; let’s leave coding/programming to those who want to be a “data journalist.”
Data tools for everyday work and for every journalist
Students should learn to use popular digital tools in telling a story, which include use of interactive maps, data visualization, and timeline. Here’s some popular tools:
- Interactive maps: Google interactive maps, Google Fusion Tables maps
- Data visualization: infogr.am, Tabuleau Public, Many Eyes
- Timeline: dipity
Here are some readings/tutorials/reviews I wrote about these tools:
- Embed video and photo in Google maps: A beginner’s guide
- infogr.am vs. Google Fusion Tables: A comparison
- Improvements made to the free data visualization tool, infogr.am
- Comparing two data visualization tools: Tableau Public and Infogr.am
- Timeline tools for news reporting have rooms for improvements
“High-end” data training for “data specialist”
“High-end” data journalism are those complex data projects that wow us, and they require substantial training in programming as well as knowledge in graphic design – yes, graphic design, for a good look of the project.
For people who want to become a “data specialist,” they should take dedicated courses in advanced data journalism or, if such courses are not offered, relevant CS programming courses. For the design part, they should take a graphic design course – for instance, learn to use Photoshop and Illustrator to work on the images and graphics in the project.
Click on the screenshot below for such a “high-end” interactive data project. This is part of a report by The Washington Post tracking homicides in D.C. between 2000 and 2011.
- Essential coding skills for journalism students
- What to teach in an intro digital journalism course: web writing, mobile, data, and social media
- How to develop a digital journalism degree program