Data Journalism and Visualization
with Free Tools


October 14 - November 24, 2019


Instructors: Alberto Cairo, Simon Rogers,
and a great team of instructors:

Debra Anderson, Duncan Clark, Jan Diehm, Minhaz Kazi,
Dale Markowitz, Marco Túlio Pires, and Katherine Riley




Welcome to the Knight Center's new MOOC, "Data Journalism and Visualization with Free Tools"! During this six-week course, which is powered by Google News Initiative, you'll learn about an array of free tools that can help improve your work in data journalism and visualization. By the end of the course, you will have learned how to find and get data, prepare data, find stories in data, visualize data and more. (This course is also being offered in Spanish and Portuguese.)

Registering in the platform is easy. Please follow these steps:

  • 1. Create an account in the Journalism Courses system. Even if you’ve taken a course with us before, you may need to create a new account. Check to see if your previous username and password work before creating a new account.
  • 2. Wait for a confirmation in your email indicating that your account has been created. If you do not receive this, please check your spam folder.
  • 3. Log into the platform, scroll down until you see the course listings, and click on the “Data Journalism and Visualization with Free Tools” course.
  • 4. A button will appear. Click “Enroll” to enroll yourself in the course. You will be able to access the course from the “My Courses” menu at the top of the page.
  • 5. You will receive an email confirming your enrollment.

Please add the email addresses journalismcourses@austin.utexas.edu and ryansagare@utexas.edu to your address book to ensure you receive emails about the course.

The main goal of this course is to prove to you that doing journalism with data and designing compelling charts, maps, and graphics is not magic, but a matter of learning some key principles, skills, practicing, and receiving feedback. We are convinced that anybody can learn the basics if you are willing to make a little effort. The course provides enough materials for you to get started.

This MOOC is divided into six weekly modules. You’ll learn (1) how to find and download data, (2) how to prepare data for exploration and visualization, (3) how to extract meaning from it, (4) how journalists can take advantage of machine learning and artificial intelligence, (5) how to create visualizations, (6) how to structure a data-driven visual story.

Module 1: Finding and getting data

Instructors: Marco Túlio Pires, Google News Lab; Jan Diehm, The Pudding; Alberto Cairo, University of Miami

In this module you will learn how to:

  • Find usable data online
  • Assess sources of data
  • Understand different data file formats
  • Download the data


Module 2: Preparing data

Instructors: Marco Túlio Pires, Google News Lab; Simon Rogers, Google News Lab

In this module you will learn how to:

  • Process and clean data
  • Get the data ready to be analyzed and visualized
  • Develop good practices in data processing


Module 3: Finding stories in data

Instructors: Minhaz Kazi, Google Data Studio; Alberto Cairo, University of Miami

In this module you will learn how to:

  • Identify potential insights in data sets
  • Use free tools to conduct basic exploratory analysis


Module 4: Machine learning in data journalism

Instructors: Dale Markowitz, Google; Simon Rogers, Google News Lab

In this module you will learn how to:

  • Identify what machine learning is and isn’t
  • See applications of machine learning in newsrooms
  • Use these tools for investigative journalism


Module 5: Visualizing data

Instructors: Duncan Clark, Flourish; Katherine Riley, Flourish; Debra Anderson, Datavized; Alberto Cairo, University of Miami

In this module you will learn how to:

  • Create visualizations that don’t just consist of designing beautiful maps and charts, but that are understandable
  • Understand essential visualization concepts, such as visual encodings
  • Choose the right chart or map depending on the nature of the data and the messages it’s meant to convey


Module 6: Data-driven storytelling

Instructors: Jan Diehm, The Pudding; Simon Rogers, Google News Lab

In this module you will learn how to:

  • Determine how storytelling fits into the broader data landscape
  • Identify what makes a good data story, and what makes it relatable and memorable
  • Identify the different shapes that data storytelling can take
  • Embrace experimentation, with examples from The Pudding


Alberto Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the University of Miami. He’s also the director of the visualization program at UM’s Center for Computational Science. Cairo has been a director of infographics and multimedia at news publications in Spain (El Mundo, 2000-2005) and Brazil (Editora Globo, 2010-2012,) and a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Besides teaching at UM, he works as a freelancer and permanent consultant for companies like Google. He’s the author of the books "The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization" (2012) and "The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication."

Simon Rogers is an award-winning data journalist, writer and speaker. Author of "Facts are Sacred," published by Faber & Faber in the UK, China and South Korea. He has also written a range of infographics for children books from Candlewick. Data editor on the News Lab team at Google, based in San Francisco, he is director of the Data Journalism Awards and teaches Data Journalism at Medill-Northwestern University in San Francisco and has taught at U Cal Berkeley Journalism school.

Marco Túlio Pires is the Google News Lab Lead for Brazil. Before joining Google in 2017, Marco was School of Data’s program manager, a global network of organizations and trainers that help journalists and NGOs how to use data with maximum impact.

Marco cofounded in 2015 the first data journalism agency in Brazil, journalismo++, part of the international j++ network of data-driven agencies. He also worked as a production coordinator at TV Globo, as a science news reporter at VEJA, and as an innovation, transparency and technology officer at the Social Development Office in the government of São Paulo.

Marco holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, and he also studied Electrical Engineering at the Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais; Computer Science, Management for Social Impact and Information Visualization at the University of Michigan and Georgetown University. Today he supports publishers, journalists and media entrepreneurs in Brazil and Latin America with the best Google can offer so that they can build the future of media and tell the best stories of our time.

Jan Diehm is a journalist-engineer with The Pudding, where she uses data to craft visual stories. Before joining The Pudding, she had stops at CNN, The Guardian US, ABC News, HuffPost, the Baltimore Sun, and the Hartford Courant. She appreciates the finer things in life: LEGO sets, southern delicacies like pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes and good bourbon, and vintage Britney Spears. She lives in San Antonio with her wife and two cats.

Minhaz Kazi Minhaz Kazi is a Developer Advocate at Google, focusing on Google Data Studio. A business intelligence veteran, Minhaz is always exploring new ways for developers to collect, analyze, and visualize data. He is available for long discussions on circular reference errors, benefits of pie charts, SQL commas, and the design of everyday things.

Dale Markowitz is an Applied AI Developer at Google Cloud. She works to help software engineers understand machine learning and serves as a technical advisor to the Google News Lab. Previously she worked in natural language processing for Google Research and at the online dating site OkCupid.

Duncan Clark is Co-founder of Flourish, a platform for data visualization and interactive storytelling. Flourish grew out of the award-winning work that Duncan and his co-founder Robin Houston produced through their data studio Kiln for clients such as Google, the Guardian, LSE and the UK government. Duncan was previously a data journalist, publisher and author. He worked as a consultant editor at the Guardian, as an executive editor at Penguin Books and Profile. His book, "The Burning Question" – coauthored with Mike Berners-Lee and written as as honorary researcher at University College London – is a data-driven look at global energy use and climate change.


Katherine Riley writes blogs and creates visualizations to showcase new Flourish features and templates, in addition to supporting newsroom users. She was previously a Google News Fellow at the Financial Times and an Editorial Fellow at The Atlantic.

Debra Anderson is a data executive, entrepreneur, speaker and educator recognized for innovative approaches to data storytelling. As Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Datavized Technologies, she developed free and open-source data tools for journalists and newsrooms with the support of Google News Initiative and the Online News Association and built immersive data visualization software using WebXR. She has led workshops at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard WeCode Conference and the United Nations. In 2018 Fast Company named Debra a top business executive and she was a jury member and speaker at the 26th Malofiej Awards and Infographic World Summit. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

This course is open to anyone interested in data journalism and visualization. It will be beneficial for people who are interested in developing data journalism and visualization skills, as well as individuals who already have these skills and want to strengthen them.

In this course, you’ll learn and use tools such as Google Sheets, Data Studio, Flourish, and many others. All of them are freely available online.

First of all, note that this is an asynchronous course. That means there are no live events scheduled at specific times. You can log in to the course and complete activities throughout the week at your own pace, at the times and on the days that are most convenient for you.

The course materials are organized into six weekly modules. Alberto Cairo and Simon Rogers will be the lead instructors for this course and will be joined by a great team of instructors:

  • Debra Anderson, co-founder of Datavized
  • Duncan Clark, co-founder of Flourish
  • Jan Diehm, journalist-engineer, The Pudding
  • Minhaz Kazi, developer advocate, Google Data Studio
  • Marco Túlio Pires, News Lab lead, Google
  • Katherine Riley, data journalist, Flourish

Each weekly module will feature videos, presentations, readings, discussion forums, and messages from the instructors. The video classes will include both conceptual and practical videos to help enhance your understanding and practical application of the material. There will be a quiz each week to test the knowledge you've gained from the course materials. The weekly quizzes, and weekly participation in the discussion forums, are the basic requirements for earning an optional certificate of participation at the end of the course.

This course is very flexible, and if you are behind with the materials, you have the entire length of the course to complete them. We recommend that you complete each of the following before the end of each week so you don’t fall behind:

  • Video lectures
  • Readings and handouts/exercises
  • Participation in the discussion forums
  • Quizzes covering concepts from video lectures and/or readings

A certificate of completion will be available for those who meet all of the course requirements. After confirmation of course requirements, the Knight Center will send a message with confirmation that you fulfilled the course requirements and qualify for the certificate. A certificate of completion is available for those who meet all of the course requirements, and pay online an administrative fee of $30 (thirty U.S. dollars), using a credit card. Once your payment has been confirmed you will receive an email with instruction on how to download the certificate. No formal course credit of any kind is associated with the certificate. The certificate is awarded by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas to attest to the participation in the online course.

To be eligible for a certificate of completion, you must:

  • Watch the weekly video classes and read the weekly readings
  • Complete weekly quizzes with a 70% minimum score. (You can retake the quizzes as many times as needed. Only the highest score will be recorded.)
  • Create OR reply to at least one discussion forum each week

At the end of the course, an online form will be made available for you to apply for a certificate. Once you have filled out the form and we have verified that you have met the course requirements, the Knight Center will send a message with instructions on how to make your payment. The verification process will take three to five business days.

Please add the email addresses ryansagare@utexas.edu and journalismcourses@austin.utexas.edu to your address book to ensure you receive emails about the course.




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