Resources and Reference Links for Telling Stories with Data

Data-Driven-JournalismI’m currently working my way through the Doing Journalism with Data online course provided by the European Journalism Centre Data Driven Journalism initiative.

What is Data Journalism

Data journalism is about telling stories with data. It would be a mistake to think that data journalism is only relevant to traditional journalists and journalism organizations like newspapers and magazines. If you think about it, any business or organization needs to be able to produce compelling, factual, data-driven stories that engage their audience.

The course has been educational and very worthwhile so far and I thought I’d share a few resources and tools that may be of use to anyone needing to communicate with data and stories.

Scrapers and Scraping Tools

All too often I’ve found some great data for a data visualization but the data isn’t available in a .csv file or isn’t formatted to easily get into a spreadsheet. In those cases, you have to resort to scraping the data from the web page(s).

In module 2 of the course, data journalist Paul Bradshaw covered some great tools for scraping data from web pages. The simplest one, which I was unaware of , was using Google Drive’s spreadsheet, incorporating a simple function to scrape a web page. Open a new Google Drive spreadsheet and paste in the formula:


Substitute your URL for the URL and enter “table” or “list” for the query and the index of the at table or list. Check out Google’s support page for more details on the function.

The Google Drive spreadsheet function will likely only be helpful for simple scraping projects. For more complex scraping projects, the following tools are more appropriate.

Outwit Hub

Scraper Wiki


Data Analysis and Messy Data

Module 3 of the course covers data analysis tools. Module 4 covers working with messy data. I’m particularly looking forward to that module since so much data I find is in a messy and needs a lot of time and effort to get into a format that I can work with for a data visualization. One tool I’ve learned about so far for that is Open Refine.


Visualization Tools

The last module of the course will cover telling stories with visualization. A couple of online tools I’ve come across recently to help with that:


Books and Other Resources

Data Journalism Handbook

The Art and Science of Data-Driven Journalism

On Being a Data Skeptic

Big Data Gal’s List of Free Stuff for Use in Data Science, Data Viz, and Data Journalism.