Data Journalism: First Steps, Skills and Tools

When the headline breaks, the story line starts a conversation, one about moving forward or one about back tracking. Follow this path to learn from seasoned journalists, and ensure your story gets the results you intend.

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About This Course

Cognitive Class is delighted to have partnered with LEARNO.NET by the European Journalism Centre, to bring this course about Data Journalism to you!

  • Learn the skills to become a better story teller using data for insight and visualization, and bring your ideas to the forefront, even if you don't plan to become a journalist.
  • If you care about solving social problems, check the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), pick the one(s) you want to support, and take this course to gain the skills and tools to amplify the SDG message!

Course Syllabus

  • Module 1 - Data journalism in the newsroom by Simon Rogers
    This module is an introduction to data journalism. It shows what data journalism is, how it works on a busy news desk and what skills you need to know to practice it.

    1. Module introduction (01:29)
    2. What is data journalism? (13:06)
    3. Inside a data team (14:39)
    4. How to turn numbers into stories (15:38)
    5. The business case for data journalism (11:18)
  • Module 2 - Finding data to support stories by Paul Bradshaw
    This module deals with the range of skills that journalists use to obtain data. This includes setting up alerts to regular sources of information, simple search engine techniques that can save hours of time and using laws in your own and other countries.

    1. Module introduction (02:03)
    2. Setting up ‘data newswires’ (12:55)
    3. Strategic searching - tips and tricks (17:23)
    4. Introduction to scraping (14:37)
    5. Data laws and sources (17:59)
  • Module 3 - Finding story ideas with data analysis by Steve Doig
    This module focuses on using spreadsheets and basic statistics to find patterns in data that will reveal story ideas and add evidence to the resulting stories.

    1. Module introduction (01:49)
    2. Newsroom math and statistics (15:46)
    3. Sorting and filtering data in Excel (15:57)
    4. Making new variables with functions (18:14)
    5. Summarizing data with pivot tables (16:19)
  • Module 4 - Dealing with messy data by Nicolas Kayser-Bril
    This module addresses messy data - data that needs to be organised before it can be used. It covers the so-called ‘cleaning’ process, at the end of which the dataset can be analysed using techniques from Module 3.

    1. Module introduction (01:31)
    2. Correct bad formatting (13:14)
    3. Misspellings (15:22)
    4. Invalid values and duplicates (16:00)
    5. Advanced cleaning techniques (13:42)
  • Module 5 - Telling stories with visualization by Alberto Cairo
    This module deals with how to transform data into stories, infographics and interactive visualizations: the best practices and the principles of graphic design that a journalist needs to know.

    1. Module introduction (02:15)
    2. The main principles of data visualization (15:45)
    3. Choosing the best graphic forms (26:28)
    4. The art of insight (19:25)
    5. Bonus: Hands-on with Adobe Illustrator (17:15)

General Information

  • This course is free.
  • It is self-paced.
  • It can be taken at any time.
  • It can be audited as many times as you wish.

Recommended skills prior to taking this course

  • None


  • None

Course Staff


Simon Rogers
Google, Data journalist (GB)

Simon Rogers is a data journalist, writer, speaker. Author of ‘Facts are Sacred’, published by Faber & Faber and a new range of infographics for children books from Candlewick. Data editor on the Trends team at Google, and formerly at Twitter, San Francisco. He is director of the Data Journalism Awards 2015 and is teaching data journalism at U Cal Berkeley Journalism school.



Paul Bradshaw
Paul Bradshaw is an online journalist and blogger. He leads the MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University, was a visiting professor in online journalism at City University London and is working with the BBC to establish a new regional data unit. With a background in magazine and website management, he is best known as the publisher of the Online Journalism Blog and the founder of the award-winning investigative journalism crowdsourcing site Help Me Investigate.





Steve Doig
ASU's Cronkite School, Journalism professor (US)

Steve Doig (@sdoig) is the Knight Chair in Journalism, specializing in data journalism — the use of computers and social science techniques to help reporters do their jobs better. The chair was created with a $1.5 million endowment given to the Cronkite School by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.






Nicolas Kayser-Bril
Journalism++, Data-driven journalist (FR)

Nicolas Kayser-Bril is a developer and a journalist. He is the CEO and co-founder of Journalism++, a start-up that brings journalists and developers together to rethink journalism. He was previously in charge of data journalism at the Paris-based Owni.fr.



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Alberto Cairo
University of Miami, Professor (AF)

Alberto Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the School of Communication of the University of Miami teaches data visualization and infographics. He's also director of the Visualization Program at UM's Center for Computational Science. He holds a BA in Journalism (University of Santiago de Compostela) and a MA on Information Society Studies from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Barcelona). He teaches courses on information graphics and visualization, and is interested in the convergence between Visual Communication, Journalism, and Cognitive Science.