Hands-on Classes

NICAR19 will offer more than 180 hours of hands-on classes across nine classrooms. You’ll be able to find topics ranging from introductory tutorials in data analysis to advanced sessions on programming. Please note: Hands-on classes are first come, first served, and can reach capacity very quickly. Arriving early for sessions is highly recommended.

In addition to the open classes, a limited number of longer hands-on workshops require preregistration and an additional fee. Register for these workshops when you complete your conference registration. 

Optional hands-on classes cancellation policy
Cancellations must be sent via email to [email protected]. All cancellations must be in writing. There is a $15 processing fee for each class until Feb. 15. Refunds will not be given for cancellations after Feb. 15 due to the limited seating in these classes.

 

THURSDAY

Intro to R

Thursday, March 7, 2:15 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: Intermediate

This class will introduce you to R, a free, powerful open-source programming language, that will add statistical heft to your reporting. By the end of this three-hour session, you will be able to take raw data, import it into R, and start your analysis. Topics will include basic data importing, working with directories, reading in data, installing packages, creating simple visualizations, and how to clean, explore and sort your data. We’ll also talk about how to find help when you’re stuck.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.
 
Workshop prerequisites: This session will be most helpful if you’re comfortable working with data in spreadsheets or SQL and you’re ready to take your skills to the next level.

 

First Observable notebook: Prototyping with polish

Thursday, March 7, 2:15 – 5:45 p.m. 

Cost: $35

Skill level: Advanced

Sahil Chinoy, Iris Lee, Ben Welsh and Aaron Williams teach you how to rapidly prototype a complex data visualization with JavaScript, D3.js and an interactive Observable notebook.

This three-hour, hands-on course will show you how journalists are putting Observable’s powerful potential to work. Using nothing but your web browser, you will sketch, refine and publish an interactive graphic like one that appeared in The New York Times. Along the way, you’ll see how Observable’s groundbreaking approach to coding can help you be more creative, ambitious and efficient.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided.

Workshop prerequisites: If you’ve used JavaScript once or twice, have a good attitude and know how to take a few code crashes in stride, you are qualified for this class. If you’re suspicious and think we might be Internet hipsters, we welcome the challenge of winning you over. This stuff is cool.

 

FRIDAY

First Python notebook: Data analysis on deadline

Friday, March 8, 9 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $70

Skill level: Beginner/intermediate

Ben Welsh, James Gordon and Cheryl Phillips teach data analysis with Python. Their 6-hour, hands-on tutorial will guide you through an investigation of money in politics.

You will learn:

1) Just enough Python to execute an analysis with the powerful pandas data analysis library, one of the most popular open-source tools for working with large data files.

2) How to record, remix and republish your work using the Jupyter Notebook, a browser-based tool emerging as the standard for reproducible research in the sciences.

3) Most important of all, how these tools increase the speed and veracity of your journalism.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: If you’ve tried Python once or twice, have good attitude and know how to take a few code crashes in stride, you are qualified for this class.

 

MapCamp: QGIS

Friday, March 8, 9:00 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $70

Skill level: Intermediate

Learn how to uncover interesting news stories by mapping data with geographic information system (GIS) software during our intensive mini-boot camp.

Experienced journalists conduct this hands-on training using the latest version of QGIS, open source-software that runs on all platforms. We will look at noteworthy stories that have used mapping and show you how to uncover stories using census and other data.

You’ll learn how to display data geographically; import and query data; and geocode to merge databases with addresses into maps. In addition, we’ll provide you with our detailed boot camp materials to help keep you on track long after you leave the conference.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: Participants should have basic knowledge in using relational database programs such as Microsoft Access, MySQL or SQLite.

 

Mastering Google Sheets: Web scraping, running scripts and other tricks

Friday, March 8, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: Beginner

Google Sheets is more than just free spreadsheet software to organize and store data. In this hands-on session will start with pivot tables and conditional formatting but through examples, we’ll also learn how to scrape data in seconds without code, automate menial tasks with macros, write custom spreadsheet formulas as well as how to send emails, geocode addresses, translate text and more – all through the power of Google Sheets. Come with a laptop and leave with the knowledge of a Google Sheets power user. 

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Attendees must bring a laptop and charger (no tablets) to this training.

Workshop prerequisites: You should be familiar with using spreadsheets and formulas.

 

SATURDAY

Write better Python code

Saturday, March 9, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

Cost: $35

Skill level: Intermediate/advanced

You’ve written a few Python scripts that get the job done, but the initial euphoria has worn off. Your code is hard to read. Bugs are cropping up. And you can’t always explain your process or results to an editor — or yourself. There must be a better way, but the path forward is not clear.

If you’ve had that itchy feeling, this three-hour, hands-on workshop is for you. This class will explore Python language features that will help you write readable, reliable and reusable code.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Attendees must bring a laptop and charger to the training.

Workshop prerequisites: Experience with basic Python language features like variables, data types, conditionals and functions are required.

 

Upping your Excel game 

Saturday, March 9, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: Intermediate 

If you’ve found yourself struggling in a spreadsheet, thinking that whatever you were trying to achieve seemed harder than it should’ve been, then this is the class for you. We’ll learn about various tools and functions in Excel that come in handy when you need to re-structure or otherwise get your data ready for analysis. We’ll cover string functions, logical functions, date functions, reshaping data, merging data using lookup functions and perhaps a few other nifty tricks if time allows. This is an intermediate Excel class intended for those who have mastered the basics, such as sorting, filtering, pivot tables and using functions. It is a fast-paced class intended to introduce you to these tools. You’ll walk out with practice data and a 20-page tipsheet that covers in detail everything we do in class, plus other great Excel tips.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: You should have prior experience using Excel or Google Sheets, and be comfortable with introductory-level spreadsheet skills, such as sorting, filtering, SUM and AVERAGE functions, calculations such as percentage change or percent of total, and how to use Pivot Tables.

 

Exploring the tidyverse in R

Saturday, March 9, 9 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $70

Skill level: Intermediate

Learn how to use the tidyverse, a collection of R packages will help you make your data journalism more efficient, stronger and fun. Learn how to import, clean, analyze and plot data for your stories. If you’ve used packages like dplyr, tidyr, readr, ggplot2, tibble and purr, or would like to learn more about how these work together, this class is for you.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: You should be comfortable working with R and RStudio. You should also be familiar with basic data analysis.

 

First graphics app: Node.js in the newsroom

Saturday, March 9, 9:00 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $70

Skill level: Intermediate

This six-hour mini-boot camp will walk you through the process of building a standalone story from a dataset. You will get hands-on experience in every stage of the development process, writing JavaScript, HTML and CSS using the cutting-edge tools favored by graphics departments at America’s largest news organizations. You won’t stop until you’ve deployed a working application onto the World Wide Web. 

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training. 

Workshop prerequisites: If you have a good attitude and know how to take a few code crashes in stride, you are qualified for this class.

 

Interactive data viz with D3

Saturday, March 9, 2:15 – 5:45 p.m. 

Cost: $35

Skill level: Intermediate

Bring your data to life with elegant and intelligent visualizations with the D3 JavaScript library. We’ll start with some JavaScript basics and learn what makes the D3 library so powerful, then use real-world datasets to build your first D3 chart. We will build on D3.js basics by exploring more complex chart forms, covering functions for fetching and manipulating data, and introducing transitions and interaction. We will write working code together and break down how some of our favorite examples of D3 charts work.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: You should have some knowledge of HTML/CSS and programming concepts. Previous JavaScript or D3 experience is not required.

 

SUNDAY

Web scraping with Python

Sunday, March 10 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: Beginner/intermediate

If you need data that’s trapped on a website, writing some code to scrape the page could be your solution. This entry-level class will show you how to use the Python programming language to harvest information from websites into a data file. We’ll introduce you to the command line and show you how to write enough code to fetch, parse and analyze web content.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: This class is programming for beginners. Some basic familiarity with HTML and Python is helpful but not required.

 

MULTIPLE DAYS

PyCAR

Thursday, March 7, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and continuing Friday, March 8, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $70

Skill level: Intermediate

This hands-on workshop will teach journalists basic programming concepts using the Python language. The daylong class will introduce language basics and useful libraries in the course of a typical reporting project: scraping data from the web, inserting it in a database and analyzing the results.

Although the class is geared toward beginners, we’ll assume that you’re comfortable with databases and SQL and that you’ve hopefully seen a command line since the days of DOS.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: Attendees should have familiarity with the command line and be comfortable with databases and SQL.

This class takes place on Thursday, March 7 from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and continues Friday, March 8, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Registration for this session reserves your seat for both days of this workshop and attendees are expected to attend both sessions to complete the workshop.)

 

Digging into data for stories: A crash course in Excel

Friday, March 8, 2:15 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.; Saturday, March 9, 2:15 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.; and Sunday, March 10, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $70

Skill level: Beginner

Get started with using data in your stories with IRE’s original mini-boot camp. In this 9-hour, hands-on workshop, IRE’s experienced trainers will start with the basics of navigating Excel and using formulas, then walk you through sorting, filtering and aggregating data with PivotTables to find story ideas.

You’ll come away with a solid base for using data analysis in your newsroom, including how to find and request data, identify and clean dirty data, find story ideas and bulletproof your work. 

We’ll also provide you with our detailed boot camp materials to help keep you on track long after you leave the conference. 

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this workshop and beginners are welcome. This workshop is good for those wanting to get started analyzing data for stories.

Workshop times are Friday, March 8, 2:15 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.; Saturday, March 9, 2:15 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.; Sunday, March 10, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Registration for this session reserves your seat for all days of this workshop and attendees are expected to attend all sessions to complete the workshop.)

 

Interviewing your data with SQL

Thursday, March 7, 2:15 – 5:45 p.m. and continuing Friday, March 8, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $70

Skill level: Intermediate

If you flip over pivot tables, but wish you had more data tools, this session is for you. Structured Query Language, or SQL, can help you use powerful filtering functions, find patterns in millions of records and join multiple data tables.

This class will be taught by two experienced data reporters and former IRE trainers, and materials will include the IRE Computer Assisted Reporting boot camp binder, full of exercises, cheat sheets and tips to help you boost your data analysis and storytelling skills. We will use a free database manager that can be easily installed and used on any computer.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training.

Workshop prerequisites: The only prerequisites are a reasonable comfort level with using a spreadsheet. No previous SQL skills necessary.

This class takes place on Thursday, March 7 from 2:15-5:45 p.m. and continues Friday, March 8, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Registration for this session reserves your seat for both days of this workshop and attendees are expected to attend both sessions to complete the workshop.)