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Equity & ethics in data journalism: Hands-on approaches to getting your data right

June 22 - July 19, 2020

Welcome to the Knight Center’s new MOOC, “Equity & ethics in data journalism: Hands-on approaches to getting your data right.” During this four-week course, you will learn about tools and techniques that will help you tell data stories fairly and ethically. Specifically, this course will guide you hands-on through the process of learning to identify inequity and hidden bias at seven key stages of the data journalism lifecycle.

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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 “Equity & ethics in data journalism: Hands-on approaches to getting your data right” 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 filipa.rodrigues@utexas.edu to your address book to ensure you receive emails about the course.

For the next four weeks, we will explore the practical and conceptual foundations of embedding equity and ethics in data journalism stories.

Participants will:

  • Learn how to embed ethics into data journalism using a seven-step framework
  • Practice implementing the checklists to improve their data journalism work
  • Gain both conceptual and practical knowledge about the key emerging themes in ethics and data journalism such as culturally appropriate communication, algorithmic accountability, implicit bias, and racist/sexist models
  • Build a data journalism piece of their own by putting into practice the seven-step framework
  • Work with tools and stories that they can use to build ethical data literacy with their colleagues, bosses, and funders

Introduction module:

Getting started thinking about what equity and ethics in data journalism means

Module 1: Essential concepts in equity and ethics for data journalism

In this module, students will get familiar with the basic ideas, language, and applications of ethics and equity in data journalism. We will look at some examples, learn some definitions, and discuss key guidelines.

This module will cover:

  • Key concepts in equity and ethics such as privacy, consent, power, error, and bias
  • The seven steps of the data equity lifecycle
  • Libraries of guidelines

Module 2: Gathering and collecting data for your data story

In this module, we’ll explore what you need to know and think about in acquiring data for your journalism. We’ll learn ways to vet data that you get from other people as well as ways to collect your own data with an equity and ethics focus.

This module will cover:

  • Data biographies
  • Samples and populations
  • Weighting data
  • Public vs private vs open data
  • Checklist for ethical data collection and acquisition

Module 3: Analyzing data for your data story

Despite its name, “data science” is not an objective science. All methods of analysis embed a set of world views and value systems. We’ll look at how to avoid common errors in analysis and what questions to ask when assessing other people’s analysis for your data journalism pieces.

This module will cover:

  • The four most common data fallacies
  • Denominators
  • Part of a statistical model
  • Algorithmic accountability

Module 4: Visualizing and communicating data for your data story

Data visualization “best practices” are not cross-culturally universal. It is extremely easy to send unintentional, accidentally dishonest or misleading messages when visualizing data. We’ll be looking at ways to avoid these pitfalls and checklists and tools to help embed a sense of equity in the way you communicate and visualize your data journalism story.

This module will cover:

  • Learning to spot how data viz misleads
  • Understanding how to use a legend to embed equity in data viz
  • Do’s and don’t of ethical and equitable narrative and word choices

heatherHeather Krause, PStat, is a data scientist and storyteller with over a decade of experience building tools that improve our ability to access, use and make sense of data. She has a strong love of finding data, analyzing it in creative ways, finding impactful stories, and using cutting edge visualization methods to show the results. Her emphasis is on combining strong statistical analysis with clear and meaningful communication. She is currently working on implementing tools for equity and ethics in data. As the founder of two successful data science companies, she attacks the largest questions facing societies today, working with both civic and corporate organizations to improve outcomes and lives. Her relentless pursuit of clarity and realism in these projects pushed her beyond pure analysis to mastering the entire data ecosystem including award-winning work in data sourcing, modelling, and data storytelling, each incorporating bleeding edge theory and technologies.

Her work proves that data narratives can be meaningful to any audience from a boardroom to the front page. Heather is the founder of We All Count, a project for equity in data working with teams across the globe to embed a lens of ethics into their data products from funding to data collection to statistical analysis and algorithmic accountability. Her unique set of tools and contributions have been sought across a range of clients from MasterCard and Wells Fargo to the United Nations, the Canadian Government, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She is on the Data Advisory Board of the UNHCR. She is also the Chief Data Scientist at Orb Media.

This course is open to anyone who is interested in data journalism, you are not expected to have high level technical or statistical skills. Anyone who is curious and willing to experiment will be able to learn successfully in this course.

This course only requires you to have access to an Internet connection and a web browser.

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.

Despite its asynchronous nature, there are still structures in place for the duration of the course.

The material is organized into four weekly modules. Each module will be taught by Heather Krause, PStat, and will cover a different topic through videos, presentations, readings and discussion forums. There will be a quiz each week to test the knowledge you’ve gained through the course materials. The weekly quizzes, and weekly participation in the discussion forums, are the basic requirements for earning a 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, we will verify whether you have met the course requirements or not. And then, if you meet them all, we will send you a message with instructions on how to make your payment and download your certificate. The verification process will take three to five business days.