A blue-shaded photograph of a window. Through the window, there is a cityscape. Hanging below the windowpane is a neon sign that says 'Data has a better idea'.

Eh, not really. We don't really buy the sentiment of that photo. Kinda provocative, though, no?

Data rarely has a better idea. (First off, we subscribe to the annoying notion that 'data' are plural; so, if anything, data would have better ideas. But that sentence is sad and empty, too, right?) The point is: Data don't think. People think. And sometimes data can help people think a little better.

The problem is that it doesn't always feel that way.

🤔 So what is all this?

In particular, for newsrooms interested in reporting on and communicating data in a manner that takes advantage of its vast availability -- and all the contemporary computing power out there -- data, data science, and data scientists can feel inaccessible and, frankly, expensive.

That's all kind of a roundabout way of saying: We're journalists interested in making data journalism more accessible for newsrooms. There are plenty of guides out there on "how to be a data journalist." This guide is not that. Most fundamentally, we think injecting data into journalism pipelines is harder than it ought to be. In designing this guide, we wanted to target this organizational infrastructure.

The Data Unit Guide seeks to offer start-up resources for small-to-medium and non-profit newsrooms interested in building out their data journalism capacity. Its ideal reader is, well, someone at one of those organizations tasked with doing exactly that. The guide is free to use, and we've sought to integrate as many free and open-source tools as possible throughout. It's 2021. Data journalism doesn't have to be expensive.

DUG is a project of Caldern LLC and the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. Its primary authors were Clayton Aldern and Tatyana Monnay. We're grateful for RJI and The Tableau Foundation for support. We're also thankful for our industry survey respondents, as well as for the fine folks over at Grist -- a non-profit magazine focused on climate, justice, and solutions -- where some of this guide is being implemented and refined.

Also: DUG is an open source project! In other words:

  • Take issue with any of the advice here?
  • Are we missing a tool?
  • Are we missing a whole section?
Well then, here's the repo. Submit a pull request! Not a git fan? Write us an email using the form below.