I routinely use data in my articles, but I rarely do more than pull numbers from tables on federal websites. Sometimes I have to do a little math to figure out percentage changes. But I have never downloaded raw data into a spreadsheet to perform an analysis for a story or to comb through it for investigative story ideas. However, I would like to know how. And judging from emails I’ve received from AHCJ members, other freelancers would also like to learn some data journalism tools.
So, I turned to Cody Winchester, Investigative Reporters & Editor’s (IRE) director of technology and online resources. Winchester, who served previously as IRE’s senior training director, spoke with me about how freelancers can learn the basics of data journalism. (The following Q&A has been edited for brevity and clarity.)