There is no denying that citizen and data journalism go hand in hand. Sifting through a data release requires a large amount of time and energy to find something interesting in the quagmire of meangless facts. Therefore, every day interested people with a knack for spotting a pattern can play a key role in uncovering data stories.
But if all you posses is an inquisitive mind, where do you begin? What if you don’t know your Excel from your Word? The Guardian have thought of this and with you in mind, have produced this excellent post by Paul Bradshaw, the founder of the Online Journalism Blog on how to be a data journalist. Paul is a lecturer at City University on online journalism and is widely concerned one of the foremost proponents of online and data journalism.
If you are still in doubt of why you would want to spend your spare hours looking through data, Paul makes a convincing argument:
Data journalism is huge. I don’t mean ‘huge’ as in fashionable – although it has become that in recent months – but ‘huge’ as in ‘incomprehensibly enormous’. It represents the convergence of a number of fields which are significant in their own right – from investigative research and statistics to design and programming. The idea of combining those skills to tell important stories is powerful – but also intimidating. Who can do all that?
In this tutorial, he looks at where to find data, how to interrogate and analyse it, mix it up with other data and how to visualise it. Although it may seem complicated and vast area, it really just requires a thirst for finding something out. Some technical skill certainly helps but with this and the guidance from the post, you can do fun stuff with data.