Learn to love data reporting the NY Times way

The New York Times has provided all journalists, journalism educators and journalism students with a golden opportunity to learn data journalism. The paper posted its entire data-journalism curriculum online for free, allowing anyone with an interest to go through the entire three-week course that its staffers use to become familiar with data.

Lindsey Rogers Cook, one of the people responsible for compiling this work, said the paper saw the importance of data literacy and knew it could help others who didn’t have the same resources as the times:

While we recognize most publications aren’t able to offer their reporters a three-week data training, we know that increasing data skills is hardly a Times-specific need. Even in smaller newsrooms, making time to teach someone data skills has benefits in the long run. But it can be difficult and time-consuming to build out proper materials, especially if developing training programs isn’t your sole job.

So, we’ve decided to share our materials in the hopes that students, professors or journalists at other publications might find them useful.

Over the last four rounds of data training, Digital Transition has amassed dozens of spreadsheets, worksheets, cheat sheets, slide decks, lesson plans and more, created by me, my fellow Digital Transition editor Elaine Chen and various speakers around The Times.


Aside from including those key elements, the paper included a great tip sheet that echoes my own love of paranoia: How Not To Be Wrong.

Even if you don’t want to go through the whole course, it’s worth seeing to what degree these items could weave into your reporting toolbox. Even more, it’s worth seeing what the Times does because far too often, journalists excuse themselves from doing hard-hitting data pieces by saying, “Look it’s not like we’re the New York Times or anything…”

Well, now you can be. Give it a shot.

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