MADISON – Data is transforming how we understand the world. And it is transforming how we do our jobs as journalists. Big data’s all the rage, yet more often reporters need to deal with small data — like budgets, law violations, water use or school test scores. Visualizing data in charts or maps can help you find and communicate stories, along with making you look like the newsroom genius. But it’s also crucial to know how to navigate the traps posed by dirty data — and rule number one is: All data is dirty.
To help Madison and Wisconsin journalists improve their data skills, the Madison chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is offering a one-day training seminar on the subject Friday, May 8 at Capital Newspapers, 1901 Fish Hatchery Road, Madison.
The session features Urban Institute researcher and UW-Madison graduate Jon Schwabish and Madison-area journalists who use data. It is free for SPJ members and students; the cost is $30 for others. Lunch will be provided. To register, go to our Eventbrite page here.
The session lineup:
9-9:30 am: Registration
9:30-10:30 am: The Growing Importance of Data Visualization
We live in an era where the amount and importance of data is expanding swiftly. Changes in technology are changing the way people interact and consume that information and data. And as producers of content, we need to be visual because—simply put—people are visual. That visual content needs to pair well with our audience and their needs, striking the right balance between truth, beauty, and content. Effectively visualizing data is one means by which content producers, researchers, and storytellers can tap into this new wave of data and people’s changing ways of receiving information.
With Jon Schwabish, Urban Institute, @jschwabish
10:30-11:45 am: Teach Yourself to Be a Data Reporter
Learn how to build your data skills from scratch with the most essential tools necessary.
With Todd Milewski, data reporter, Capital Times, @ToddMilewski and Nick Heynen, data reporter, Capital Newspapers, @NickHeynen
11:45-12:45 pm: Lunch and Networking
12:45-1:45 pm: Open Refine
Learn how to use this nifty program that helps you quickly and efficiently find and fix errors in your messy data. Find and root out data entry inconsistencies, misspellings and other mistakes with this powerful tool. We’ll teach you how to get started, and point out where to go to learn more.
With Nick Heynen
1:45-3 pm: Tableau Public Demo
We’ll demonstrate how to use this free program for Mac or PC to make data visualizations — first to find out what the story is and what’s wrong with the data, and then to tell a story through a pretty interactive graphic. No programming skills required; mere mortals can learn this.
With Kate Golden, multimedia director and reporter, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, @wiswatchkate
To register, click here.
For more information contact Mark Pitsch, SPJ Madison president, at 608-252-6145.