martes, diciembre 08, 2015

Collaboration, computer help, and coding: A new book looks at data journalism in the newsroom

Laura Hazard Owen

 In my classes, students study journalism projects that require computer code to accomplish, and they learn where it was used. I teach them to write Excel functions that create new variables or use logical operators. I introduce them to slick data graphics tools like Google Fusion Tables and Tableau Public. They also learn basics of web page design and HTML in other classes they take at our school. Those who express real interest in going beyond spreadsheet skills are encouraged to explore coding themselves with such resources as Paul Bradshaw’s Scraping for Journalists or Learn Python the Hard Way by Zed A. Shaw.
In sum, the ability to write useful computer code is a special skill that is critically needed in modern multimedia news organizations. Journalism students need to know that such tools exist and that the ability to use them is valuable. Journalism programs with the right instructors should offer advanced data journalism courses as electives, or at least aim interested students at courses in the computer science department. But I believe that the argument that all journalists need to be coders is utopian at best and arguably unfair to the majority of students who want to develop other kinds of story-telling skills. Every newsroom needs people like me. But a newsroom filled with people like me couldn’t function.

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