Hands-on Training

NICAR18 will offer more than 100 hands-on classes throughout the conference in eight 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 elena@ire.org. All cancellations must be in writing. There is a $15 processing fee for each class until Feb. 19. Refunds will not be given for cancellations after Feb. 19 due to the limited seating in these classes.

 

PyCAR

**This class is full, add your name to the waiting list here.

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

(Note: 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.)

Cost: $70

Skill level: Beginner

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.

 

Exploring the tidyverse in R

**This class is full, add your name to the waiting list here.

Thursday, March 8, 9 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $70

Skill level: Intermediate

Spend a day with RStudio’s Hadley Wickham as you learn how to use tidyverse. This 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. 

 

How to find stories in data through visualization

**This class is full, add your name to the waiting list here.

Friday, March 9, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: Intermediate.

Working with data is a kind of interview – it is a complex back-and-forth, drawing out the expressiveness of data. The process is often visual, depending heavily on a sequence of graphical displays, “visualizations.” This three-hour workshop will focus on the concepts and skills you need to use data visualization effectively as part of your reporting practice – to conduct a data interview. You will learn how to spot trends, highlight changes over time, identify outliers, make meaningful comparisons, and describe important patterns in your data – all through the effective use of visualization strategies. This class will be based in the R language and distributed through Jupyter notebooks. These pre-built examples can later be customized to suit your own projects when you return to your newsroom.

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

Workshop prerequisites: You should be comfortable working with data and not be scared of code, though no previous coding experience is necessary.

 

Map Camp: QGIS

Friday, March 9, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 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.

IRE and NICAR trainers 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 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.

 

First Python Notebook: Rapid data analysis in the newsroom

*This class is full, add your name to the waiting list here.

Friday, March 9, 9 a.m. – 4:30 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 a good attitude and know how to take a few code crashes in stride, you are qualified for this class.

 

Digging into data for stories: A crash course

Friday, March 9, 2:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 10, 2:15 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.; Sunday, March 11, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

(Note: 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.)

Cost: $70

Skill level: Beginner

Kickstart your data skills with IRE’s original mini-boot camp. This series of hands-on classes will introduce you to spreadsheets and databases with IRE’s proven techniques. IRE’s experienced trainers will walk you through sorting, calculating and interviewing data. You’ll come away with a solid base for using data analysis in your own newsroom. In addition, we’ll provide you with our 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

 

Upping your Excel game

**This class is full, add your name to the waiting list here.

Saturday, March 10, 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.

 

Intro to R

*This class is full, add your name to the waiting list here.

Saturday, March 10, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: Intermediate

Ryann Grochowski Jones and Olga Pierce of ProPublica, along with Charles Minshew of IRE/NICAR, 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 and you’re ready to take your skills to the next level.

 

Level up your Python game: Refactoring your code

Saturday, March 10, 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.

This class is for intermediate Python programmers. We expect you’re already using Python for work and have a working development environment. We won’t be covering how to set up your machine or get started. If this describes your need, perhaps enroll in PyCAR instead.

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

 

First graphics app

Saturday, March 10, 9 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.

Your teachers will be Ben Welsh, data editor at The Los Angeles Times; Armand Emamdjomeh, graphics reporter at The Washington Post; and Dana Amihere, interactive editor at The Dallas Morning News.

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.