Introduction to open data for journalists: finding stories in data

March 7, 2013 in Events

This post is cross-posted from This course is run by and Open Data Institute with School of Data. You can book places on the course here.

A one-day course focussing on how to find stories in data. This intensive course will take you through data sources, including open data and Freedom of Information, as well as teaching you how to clean and visualise data.

Date: 23 April 2013
Time: 10am – 5pm
Course tutors: Lisa Evans and Kathryn Corrick
Venue: Open Data Institute, 65 Clifton Street, London, EC2A 4JE
Number of places: 20
Cost: £200 (+£40 VAT)
Requirements: You will need to bring your own laptop to attend this course

Refreshments and lunch will be provided

This intensive, hands-on, one-day course will introduce the growing world of data and data journalism from scratch. It aims to help you source relevant data and show you how data can be used effectively to write compelling stories – from basic fact checking to investigations.

You’ll learn the difference between open and closed data, where to find relevant data and get pointers on writing Freedom of Information requests. You will learn how to download data and verify it, then how to begin to use your data to tell a story using freely available tools.

The course will cover:

  • What is data?
  • How is data protected by the law? What do you need to be aware of as a journalist? (Intellectual Property, Computer Misuse Act, Data Protection Act)
  • Telling a story with data
  • Finding trusted data sources (using the Freedom of Information Act, portals such as and, plus where to find local government, corporate, charity and NGO data)
  • How trustworthy is your data? Tips on verifying your source and how to choose a trusted source when there are multiple for a particular dataset
  • How to stay up-to-date with data releases
  • Finding the story in your data
  • Analysing your data and the tools available
  • Cleaning data
  • Spreadsheet essentials
  • Crowdsourcing your story and using the crowd to help analyse your data
  • Presenting your story and the types of data licences and how that affects the way you present and credit your work
  • How to visualise your data using leading static and interactive visualisation tools

By the end of the one-day course you will:

  • Have an understanding of the law surrounding data
  • Be armed with a list of great data sources
  • Have selected a data set you can use for a news piece
  • Have new ways to find stories in data
  • Know what free tools are available to help you analyse and visualise data
  • Be familiar with using a spreadsheet
  • Have a visualisation of a dataset
  • Know when you might need further help

Note: whilst the focus of this course will be openly available data, it will help you deal with all forms of data.

Who is this for?

No previous skills are required for this course. If you need help telling a story using data, sourcing stories, improving your data analysis skills, fact checking and visualising data this course is for you.
* Journalists and editors
* Public sector staff
* Journalists within organisations (PR or content creation)

Course requirements:

The course is designed for non-specialists. No previous data skills are required for this course, however comfort with using the web and good computer literacy including basic spreadsheet skills is essential.

What to bring:

  • Your own computer with wifi enabled for an open network
  • You need to have a Google account
  • You need to have Google Chrome browser installed on your laptop
  • You will need Excel or Open Office

The Trainers

Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans is a data wrangler for the Open Knowledge Foundation, who run projects such as Spending Stories, Open Spending and the School of Data. She investigates where money flows. Before this she was a write, data researcher and programmer for the Guardian newspaper, spending two years as a key member of the Guardian Datablog.

Kathryn Corrick

Kathryn Corrick is the Open Data Institute’s training business manager. As well as her day job she is journalist in residence at Kingston University, chair of the Online News Association in the UK, and when she has time keeps the site Data Sonification updated with her latest finds. Before joining the ODI she was an independent digital communications consultant and until 2006 was the online manager of the New Statesman magazine.

Lisa and Kathryn worked together on the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Where Does My Money Go project in 2010.

You can book places on the Open Data for Journalists course here.

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