Syllabus and Lesson Schedule

A listing of lessons and concepts planned for the Fall 2016 session of Public Affairs Data Journalism I

Table of contents

Clickable-lesson dates will have fully-detailed notes. To see more information about the assignments, go to the Assignments page.

  • Florida's missing speeding cops

    How the Sun-Sentinel busted speeding cops using databases and grade-school arithmetic

  • FOIAing for FBI Files

    Resources and articles about how to request files from the Federal Bureau of Investigation via FOIA.

  • Random slides

    These will be incorporated into more readable pieces. If you have questions where I got the data just ask and I can send you along.

  • No homework for Thursday. Probably a bit of study work for Tuesday

    Ignore the current homepage

  • A primer for the U.S. Census American Community Survey data

    The U.S. Census records such an incredible, intimidating volume of data points about American life that is is hard to know where to begin. This guide aims to explain how Census data is organized, how to find important and interesting data points, and how the data is distilled and displayed by journalism outlets.

  • SQL Part 1: Select, Sort, and Transform Data

    This this first unit of SQL lessons, we cover the syntax and concepts to fetch, sort, and – as we’ve done using spreadsheet functions – transform data values.

  • Reading Your Browser's History with SQLite

    How the SQLite database is used in billions of real-world applications today is of little relevance to us in this class. But the web browser is a easy-to-understand scenario of how a database gets created and filled.

Tuesday, October 25
  • SQL JOIN Statements

    A lot of powerful journalism is simply looking at one list and seeing which of its names are on another list. The JOIN clause is the clearest way to express that concept, and to execute it in a blink of an eye. It is the main reason why we learn SQL instead of trying to hack around the usually versatile spreadsheet.

  • SQLite Simple Folks: Overview

    A set of SQL programming lessons using a tiny dataset of “simple folks” so that we can focus on the just the SQL syntax and concepts.

  • Quiz: SQL Basics
    A review of basic syntax for SELECT statements, from FROM to some aggregations with GROUP BY
  • Homework: LexisNexis Refresher for Ro Khanna
    Log into Lexis-Nexis again and find 10 stories from the past, 5 each focusing specifically on Rep. Mike Honda and his challenger for the CA-17, Ro Khanna. From five of the 10 stories, come up with a question that you think is worth asking.
Tuesday, November 15
Thursday, November 17
  • More Real World Dirty Data

    Covering more challenges of real-world data. Data without structure is just noise, after all.

  • Crime Data

    If we haven’t already, we’ll look at the very nebulous and political nature of crime stats. Or, watch Season 3 of The Wire.

  • Data Journalism Disasters

    What are ways that data journalism can go very wrong?

  • Having singular data and focus

    Anecdote, spreadsheet, database, FOIA – it doesn’t matter what you start with but that you start somewhere. So here are some random bits of advice and examples.

  • Published/Partnered Data Sidebar

    Alone, or with a partner, find a significant dataset or (several) that you want to dig into deeper. Use spreadsheets, SQL, Carto – whatever gets the job done.

  • Ten FOIAs to finish

    Get ready for a New Year and a new President with 10 public records requests (FOIA, state, and local)

Tuesday, December 13