Make the Most of Free Data – How to Be a Data Journalist
Today, on March 12th, is “World Day against Cyber Censorship“, a day to fight for online freedom of expression and the free exchange of information.
While the Cyber Censorship day was launched by Reporters without Borders in 2008 in order to fight censorship and allow free information and data worldwide, I present you with two “How-tos” today that will help you to take the next step:
Make the most of the data that has become available!
1. How to be a Data Journalist:
This tutorial by the Guardian gives you a broad idea of how to get started in data journalism from 1. finding the data to 2. “interrogating” (understanding & interpreting) the data 3. Visualizing the Data and finally 4. Mashing the Data. It also introduces you to some useful tools like Freebase Gridworks and ScraperWiki. The Guardian also has a very neat Blog where it features Data Journalism Stories.
2. “Scraping for Journalism” is for the more advanced of you interested in Data Journalism. Pro Publica is providing on its Nerd Blog an assemblage of little guides that will help you to start your own Data Journalism. Based on ProPublica’s “Dollars for Docs” application that allows to find relations between pharma industry and physicians, the guides walk you through the steps of 1. Cleaning messy data, 2. Reading Data from Flash Sites, 3. Parsing PDFs, 4. Scraping HTML and 5. Getting Text out of an Image-only PDF. All of the Software it uses is free and with some time, you can learn how you can create an application like the original.
Of course, in order for data journalism to be most effective in finding out the hidden relations in information, it is essential that there is free access to this information!
So fight online censorship!