I’m on a mission to learn how to code. Or at least to start with some baby steps.
Learning to code sounds like a big, hairy project. And it is. It’s complicated and requires the discipline to set aside blocks of time several days a week for focused study time.
The Atlantic started a blog war by arguing that journalism schools shouldn’t require reporters to learn code. Steve Buttry’s response nailed it: Journalists should learn and plan for the future. Or as one cable business magnate once told me: Find the news technology, then run to it.
That’s not to say that every journalist needs to be a programmer. But code is and will be an essential tool for journalism in the next 30 years. And code will most certainly grow more — not less — important in the next decade. Journalists who are at least proficient in working with and talking about code will have a competitive advantage.
But how do you go about learning to code? And for professionals, how do you squeeze something extra into your day?
I asked around. Here’s what I learned.
Ivar Vong, my former co-worker and founder of UO Hack, suggested starting with Codecademy’s class on HTML/CSS. He suggested I spend at least 10 hours a week on their lessons, ideally in 90 minute blocks. After HTML/CSS, learn jQuery. Then Python.
Jennifer LaFleur, senior editor for data journalism at the Center for Investigative Reporting, suggested checking out the Investigative Reporters & Editors’ tipsheets on data journalism. She’s also been kind enough to post her her own links.
Here’s what else I learned from Googling around.
- Codecademy: A free online school for code. It’s very cool and easy.
- Data Journalists’ Handbook
- IRE: National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting offers training and clean data
- SPJ: Data journalism, info graphics, online journalism
- Agustin Armendariz: “Everyday Scripting” class with NICAR.
- Jennifer LaFleur: CAR Training 2014
- Ryan Thornburg: Boot camp on data driven journalism
- Data Driven Journalism: A hub of data journalism tips and news
- Geoff McGHee: Data journalism at Stanford
- Code With Me: Programming classes for journalists
WRITING ABOUT DATA JOURNALISM
- ProPublica: Nerd Blog on data journalism and news apps
- Scott Klein: How to start learning to program. A path laid out by ProPublica’s assistant ME.
- Poynter: 5 tips for getting started in data journalism from AP developer Troy Thibodeaux
- Steve Buttry: Advice for editors on leading your staff to learn data journalism
- Al Shaw: How to get started with GitHub
- Chicago Tribune: News apps blog
- Amazon: Books on data journalism
EXAMPLES OF GOOD DATA JOURNALISM
- New York Times: 2013 in interactive storytelling
- CJR: Must-read interactives of 2012
- NatGeo: Serengeti Lions
- The Guardian: Data Store
- St. Paul Pioneer Press: Data page
- Los Angeles Times: Data Desk
- Texas Tribune: The Data
- MinnPost: Data & Maps
GOOGLE FUSION TABLES
- The Guardian: Mapping with Google Fusion Tables
- Columbia Journalism School: Posts on Google Fusion Tables
- Journalis.co.uk: Five great examples of data journalism using Google Fusion Tables
- Dan Nguyen: Intro to data mashing and mapping with Google Fusion Tables
- John Keefe: Fast, little maps with Fusion Tables, Journalists guide to mapping data by county
- Chyrs Wu: How to create a heat map in Google Fusion Tables
- ProPublica: On scraping data “Dollars for Doc”
- Poynter: How to scrape websites for data without programming
- Memeburn: 5 minute guide to scraping data from PDF
- Nils Mulvad: 11 tips for scapers at the next level