Master

Advanced Coursework. Like ethics and law and data and stuff.

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Summer Camp: Excel Formulas with Kyle Stokes

In this 28-minute webinar, StateImpact Indiana reporter Kyle Stokes walks you through some Excel basics, including:

  • using cell references!
  • copying formulas down a column!
  • calculating sum and difference!
  • and calculating rate of change!

To follow along, download the data here.

And for quick reference, here is a sampling of some of our favorite Excel formulas for journalists, below: Continue reading

Summer Camp: Excel Basics with Molly Bloom

Let StateImpact Reporter Molly Bloom lead  you through some basics of using Excel, including: 
  • Importing data from txt and csv files!
  • Sorting and filtering data!
  • and Creating easy and super-powerful pivot tables for data analysis and organization!

To experiment with the files used in this video:
  1. Report Card data: Go here and click on File –> Download as –> Microsoft Excel.
  2. Enrollment data is here.
  3. School levy data is here

Summer Camp: FOIA Tips with Ida Lieszkovsky

Check out our FOI star Ida Lieszkovsky’s quick primer on strategies for getting the documents you want from government agencies.

The webinar includes:

  • A review of the importance of knowing your FOIA laws and legal precedents. “I’ve found it important not just to review the Ohio guidelines, but to also review the successes and failures of public records requests in the state, since they can often help me anticipate how people will react and I can taylor my request with that in mind,” says Ida. Continue reading

Summer Camp: John O’Connor’s Social Media Secrets

We recently persuaded John O’Connor, StateImpact Florida education reporter and social media extraordinaire, to share some of his tips and tricks with us. He put together a list of key take-aways, below, for those of you who weren’t able to join us.

  • Not all social media is equal. Take advantage of the strengths of different sites. Twitter is what’s happening now. It’s great for publishing and promotion, but also a good way to find sources, activists and trends. Use Facebook to share things that might spark a conversation. LinkedIn is great for finding people who worked or work for specific companies or organizations.
  • Twitter is the most useful social media service, but it needs to be tamed. Use TweetDeck, HootSuite or a similar tool to bend it to your will.
  • Remember that social media is a conversation. You have to engage with others to get the most out of it.
  • Use social media to tell stories. People love to live-tweet events. Compile those tweets with Storify, but be a journalist and organize and add context to tell a story.

2013 NICAR’s Greatest Hits

The annual computer-assisted reporting conference organized by IRE and NICAR is a treasure trove of tips, tools and inspiration. There is always something for just about anyone in the news

Pete Karl II / Flikr

People share notes, experiences and know-how at NICAR and IRE conferences. It's cool like that.

industry–from the old-school newspaperman who won’t send an email to the young, enthusiastic programming geek–and everyone in between.

In fact, if you consider yourself to be very much in between–or maybe even slightly towards the old-school side of things, this post is for you. We’ve sifted through the labyrinth of tipsheets, blog posts and (almost) exhaustive collections of all that was generously shared, referenced or demonstrated at this year’s conference to bring you some of the most useful data-driven reporting tools offerred at this year’s event.

We’ve organized it into seven broad categories:

  1. General CAR Tips & Best Practices from the Pros
  2. Research Tools
  3. Social Media Tools
  4. Data Cleaning
  5. Excel
  6. Inspiration: A Small Collection of some of the Best Data-Driven Stories of 2012 (with a special emphasis on energy, education and economy stories)
  7. Advanced Coursework in Database Analysis, Super Stealth Spy Stuff and Web Scraping

We haven’t tested everything just yet, so if you find any of this particularly useful–or not–please do tell us about it in the comments section or via email.

That said, we hope you’ll find at least some of the collection below as useful and inspiring as we do. Enjoy!

Continue reading

Promoting Live Events on Social Media

We’ve noticed that many of you have been busy fostering engagement and increasing your profile with community events. We like what we see and we hope to see more of it. To that end,  we thought it could be helpful to corral some ideas–from stations, reporters and elsewhere–to help you get the most out of your events with smart use of online promotion.

Please add any of your own ideas or experiences below. The more the merrier.

Before the Event:

  • Create Facebook-friendly messaging and imagery for your event.   

    This photo used by StateImpact Texas to promote a recent event on that state's fracking boom pretty much said it all.

From Shannon McDonald, Social Media Editor at WHYY: “Try to find a message for your event that works well on social media instead of trying to manipulate something for several platforms… From the beginning, find a message that can work on all fronts. And to that point, make sure anything you design for the event also has images designed specifically for Facebook. That means that whatever images you’re putting out there should also be made to fit the 403×403 pixel size for Facebook posts and the 840×310 pixel size for Facebook cover photos.” 

  •  Create an Event on Facebook.

Invite all of the people who ‘like’ your page, as well as people who you think might be interested. You’ll also want to post additional information, as you get closer to the event to keep it fresh in people’s feeds. Continue reading

Don’t Be Afraid Of The New Google Fusion Maps

Have you found yourself creating a map in Google Fusion Tables as of late and suddenly found yourself lost and confused? Did things look different or slightly out of place?

Don’t fret. It’s not you; it’s Google. Really.

A map of deep injection wells in Oklahoma, made recently in the newfangled Google Fusion Maps.

If you would like to go back to your comfort zone, select “back to classic look” from the drop-down Help tab. (Actually, do this no matter what. It is the only way for it to display properly in our pre-built plug-in.) If you need any tips on using that tool, please refer to Matt Stiles’ handy, 20-minute webinar or simply follow the documentation here.

The New Look 

If you don’t wish to use our plug in (and the lovely legend display that comes with it) and are simply uploading your data for your own reporting and background, here are the main differences in the new version, as far as we can tell:

1. The method of switching from map to table view.

Continue reading

Host Online Debates, Conversations With Google+ Hangouts

Google Hangout has become a low-budget tool that allows journalists to have some “face time” with their audiences.

In the build up to the 2012 elections, The New York Times held a series of conversations with voters on women’s issues, bipartisanship, switching parties and other popular topics of conversation.

Google Hangouts has also been a key aspect of The Huffington Post’s engagement strategy in their HuffPost Live features, which invite both experts and interested readers into live, online conversations.

Here are some other ideas on how StateImpact reporters could consider to use Google Hangouts:

  • Hold an “ask me anything” session on Google Hangout, with yourself or a local leader or expert.
  • Moderate a Hangout debate on core community issues, and embed the Hangout video on your site to generate more discussions. Continue reading