30 Apr 2012

The Data Journalism Handbook

The Data Journalism Handbook is a new open educational resource featuring contributions from over 70 leading international practitioners of data journalism, including staff based at news outlets such the New York Times, Zeit Online and the Guardian.

I have not had a chance to make my way through the entire handbook yet, but the freely accessible online version (you can also purchase the print and e-versions from O'Reilly) is helpfully structured in such a way that you can dip in and out of it, and navigate it pretty painlessly . Don't worry if you are not a self-confessed dataphile like myself, as the handbook is written in an extremely non-technical way, and illustrates how to source, evaluate and use data to engage your audience. Moreover, in spite of its title, the handbook is not just of potential value to journalists, as there are several sections dealing with data literacy and sourcing data which can be applied more generally also. These include:

  • A Five Minute Field Guide to sourcing data, which outlines how to streamline your search by including both search terms relating to the content of the data you’re trying to find, as well as information on the format or source that you would expect it to be in; using tools such as ScraperWiki to scrape data from websites; and national and disciplinary aggregators of research data, such as the UK Data Archive.

  • Become Data Literate in 3 Simple Steps uses real-world examples to illustrate how data interpretation can trip you up.

  • Presenting Data to the Public discusses concepts such as data visualizations, motion graphics and open data platforms, and emphasises the importance and value of sharing your data as widely and openly as possible.

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