If you’re just getting started with interactive news, you probably want to start simple. You can do a lot with Google Maps, and Many Eyes is great for state and country level maps. John Keefe blogs relentlessly about his Google mapping projects, how they work, and what he’s learned. CartoDB is new and more powerful and flexible than Google Maps. It is also more complex. MapBox is even more powerful, flexible, and complex.

Great places to start thinking about maps:
+ John Keefe, Albert Sun and Jeff Larson talk about making maps.
+ Steve Romalewski lays out his critique of WNYC’s stop and frisk maps.
+ Take Care of your Chloropleth Maps
When Maps Shouldn’t be Maps
+ Amanda’s maps and mapping tags
Continue reading

Spreadsheet Skills Assignment

This week’s homework is on Lore. There are two parts, one on spreadsheets and one that asks you to look for some data that includes location information. Because we didn’t get as far into spreadsheet functions as we’d planned to Wednesday, here are some tips to get you through this week’s assignment. You can use LibreOffice Calc, MS Excel or Google Docs to work through the assignment which is harder than it looks at a glance. You’ll definitely want one of these handy:
+ Calc Function Reference
+ MS Excel Function Reference
+ Google Spreadsheets Function Reference
One subtle but important distinction is that in Google Spreadsheets, you can use syntax like B:B to refer to all of column B. In Calc and Excel, you’ll have to specify the row numbers of the cells you want to include. If the data you are interested in spans 200 rows, you’ll use B1:B200.

The small chunk of data we’re working with includes some annual rates and some hourly rates, so you need to think creatively if you want to find the average annual salary in the set. Start by thinking about what you’re trying to accomplish. Consider describing it to a houseplant out loud if you’re having trouble figuring out where to start. Continue reading

Basic Statistics

If you can’t tell the difference between the mean and the median with 100% assurance, Robert Niles is your friend. His “Statistics Every Writer Should Know” is just that. There are plenty of resources to bring your math and statistics up to speed, though:

+ Really basic newsroom math (from ASU Cronkite Professor Steve Doig),

+ Statistics Hell is bizarre and unnerving, but includes tons of handouts and lessons on statistical methods. If animated gifs of flame engulfed brains aren’t your thing, maybe look elsewhere.

+ R is a statistical computation language. Take a look at their Documentation and Contributed Documentation


+ open courses at Carnegie Mellon

+ Probabilistic Graphical Models (at Stanford)


+ Head First Statistics is supposed to be a good way to get started. There’s a Data Analysis book in the series, too.

+ Windows users might like R through Excel.

+ Think Stats (html, bound)

Numbers in the Newsroom (which IRE sells) are both supposed to be very good.