Hands-on Workshops

NICAR20 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 logistics@ire.org. All cancellations must be in writing. There is a $15 processing fee for each class until Feb. 14. Refunds will not be given for cancellations after Feb. 14 due to the limited seating in these classes.

Waiting lists policy
If a class fills up a waiting list will be created. Available seats will be filled from the waiting list until Friday, February 28. After that date, any available seats will be filled onsite, at the start of the class on a first come, first serve basis. Payment for the class will be collected onsite.

If you have any questions about registration or waiting lists, please email logistics@ire.org.

 

THURSDAY

Interviewing your data with SQL

Thursday, March 5, 9 a.m. – 5:45 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 data 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.

 

Upping your Excel game

Thursday, March 5, 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. We’ll do some “drills” introducing you to these concepts, then put your new skills to work in a sort of “scrimmage,” fixing up some real-life data. You’ll also walk out with practice data and a 30-page tipsheet that covers, in detail, everything from the class, plus more that we won’t have time for.

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.

 

Introduction to web development

Thursday, March 5, 2:15 – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: Beginner

This session will introduce you to how the web works and the building blocks of web development: HTML, CSS and (a tiny bit of) JavaScript. By the end of the class, you will have built a simple web page and published it on the internet.

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

Workshop prerequisites: This session is good for beginners — no experience necessary.

 

First Observable notebook: Prototyping with polish

Thursday, March 5, 2:15 – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: Advanced

Alex Garcia, 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.

 

Intro to R

Thursday, March 5, 2:15 – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: Intermediate

We’ll introduce you to R, a free, powerful open-source programming language that will take your data reporting to the next level. By the end of this three-hour session, you will be able to read data from common file types into R, clean and explore it, create visualizations, and make your entire data workflow reproduceable. 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.

 

FRIDAY

First Python notebook: Data analysis on deadline

Friday, March 6, 9 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $70

Skill level: Intermediate

James Gordon, Cheryl Phillips, Andrea Suozzo and Ben Welsh guide you through a six-hour, hands-on investigation of money in politics.

You will learn:

  • just enough Python to execute an analysis with pandas, one of the most popular open-source tools for working with data tables
  • how to record, remix and republish your work using Jupyter, a browser-based tool emerging as the standard for reproducible research and how these tools can increase the speed and veracity of your journalism.
  • Along the way you’ll conduct your own investigation of California campaign donors using the California Civic Data Coalition’s open-source database archive.

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

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. We want you.

 

ArcGIS: From spreadsheets to StoryMaps

Friday, March 6, 2:15 – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: Beginner

Interested in mapping your data but aren’t sure where to start? In this half-day workshop, we’ll walk attendees through an investigation into short-term rentals in New Orleans and their potential impacts on the community. Along the way, we’ll focus on the tools, workflows and best practices to help you transform public data into compelling maps and narrative stories. This workshop will specifically address:

  • Creating interactive maps directly within Excel from a spreadsheet of public data with ArcGIS Maps for Office
  • Publishing spreadsheet data as an interactive layer
  • Styling and configuring interactive maps with ArcGIS Online
  • Filtering, analyzing, aggregating and enriching geospatial data
  • Performing on-the-fly calculations and customization with Arcade scripts
  • Finding and using authoritative data from the Living Atlas
  • Creating interactive maps that fuse narrative elements and maps using ArcGIS StoryMaps

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. Laptops will be provided for the training. Class attendees will receive free licenses of ArcGIS from Esri.

Workshop prerequisites: No data or mapping experience required.

 

Write better Python code

Friday, March 6, 2:15 – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: 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.

 

SATURDAY

Exploring the tidyverse in R

Saturday, March 7, 9 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $70

Skill level: Advanced

Learn how to use the tidyverse, a collection of R packages, to help you make your data journalism more efficient, stronger and more fun. Learn how to import, clean, analyze and plot data for your stories. If you want to modernize your R workflow with dplyr, tidyr, readr, ggplot2, tibble and purr, this class is for you. This workshop assumes some familiarity with R and RStudio, or programming experience in another language (e.g., Python or JavaScript), but will start from the beginning with tidyverse principles.

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 and be familiar with basic data analysis.

 

First graphics app: Node.js in the newsroom

Saturday, March 7, 9 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $70

Skill level: Advanced

Dana Amihere, Armand Emamdjomeh and Ben Welsh teach you how America’s top news organizations escape rigid content-management systems to publish custom graphics on deadline.

Take this six-hour class to get hands-on experience in every stage of the development process, writing JavaScript, HTML and CSS within a Node.js framework. You’ll start with data from a real-life Los Angeles Times analysis. You won’t stop until you’ve crafted a custom presentation and deployed a working application on the World Wide Web.

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

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. If you’re a little scared, that’s a good thing. You’re ready for this.

 

Web scraping with Python

Saturday, March 7, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: 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 spreadsheet. We’ll introduce you to the command line and show you how to write enough code to fetch and parse web content.

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

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

 

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

Saturday, March 7, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: Beginner/intermediate

Google Sheets is more than just free spreadsheet software to organize and store data. This hands-on session will start with pivot tables and conditional formatting, and 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. You must bring your own laptop (no tablets) to this training and have a Google account.

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

 

Interactive data viz with D3

Saturday, March 7, 2:15 – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: Advanced

Bring your data to life with elegant and intelligent visualizations with the D3 JavaScript library. We’ll start with some Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 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 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, break down how some of our favorite examples of D3 charts work and practice reading documentation so you can gain expertise on your own.

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

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

 

Practical machine learning for investigations with fast.ai

Saturday, March 7, 2:15 – 5:45 p.m.

Cost: $35

Skill level: Advanced

Get hands-on experience using this accessible, open-source Python library to classify images, text, and rows of data — potentially saving you hours or days of work poring through the data. In the process, you’ll also get a feel for the power — and limits — of machine learning.

This session with John Keefe and Jeremy Merrill of the Quartz investigations team will introduce you to the concept of machine learning and several practical uses for it in your newsroom.

Preregistration is required and seating is limited. You must bring your own laptop (no tablets) to this training.

Workshop prerequisites: A Google (aka Gmail) account. Basic understanding of Python is recommended but not required.

 

MULTIPLE DAYS

PyCAR

Thursday, March 5, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and continuing Friday, March 6, 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 class, spread over two half-days, will introduce language basics and useful libraries in the course of a typical reporting project: scraping data from the web, analyzing a spreadsheet and visualizing the results.

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

Workshop prerequisites: Although the class is geared toward programming beginners, attendees should have familiarity with the command line and be comfortable with databases and SQL.

This class takes place on Thursday, March 5 from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and continues Friday, March 6, 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 6, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and continuing Saturday, March 7, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $70

Skill level: Beginner

Get started using data in your stories with IRE’s original mini-boot camp. In this 7-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 pivot tables 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.

This class takes place on Friday, March 6 from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and continues Saturday, March 7, 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.)