Coding for Journalists: Why It’s Useful & Where to Start

Coding for Journalists - Resources for Getting Started

Is there a story anymore that doesn’t include some sort of data? Whether you’re reporting on the pandemic, weather, crime trends, polling statistics, box office numbers, or a basic comparison, for example, you’ll be needing figures, statistics and visualizations to give your readers context and drive your story home.

But Google Sheets and Excel can only take you so far (and handle so much data). That’s when learning some form(s) of coding comes in handy and courses that teach coding for journalists are widely available online.

Many journalists don’t learn these skills in school, especially those who have been in the field for some time. A 2021 survey of 1,500 data journalists found that 70% of them are self-taught. So if you find yourself looking to boost your technical skills, it’s not too late to learn – and you can do it on your own.

Adding coding skills to your toolbelt is in your best interest as well, as the prevalence of data journalism and visualization isn’t going to fade away. Matt Daniels, Editor and Founder at Polygraph, has a good feeling about its future and predicts, “The Internet has grossly undervalued our intrinsic interest in visualization. I expect the market for this sort of content to explode.”

Let’s dig into why a working knowledge of coding can be beneficial to journalists, which coding language you should learn, and the resources to help you get started.

Why should journalists learn to code?

Journalists can benefit from coding knowledge in several ways. Not only can it help data journalists scrape and analyze large sets of data, but it can help creators improve the user experience of the page and present their story effectively.

When it comes to analysis, it’s not enough to just present a large set of data to readers. Data journalists use coding to help identify trends, outliers or standout changes that can be the basis of a story or provide context. And presenting that data in a visually compelling way is key to both keeping readers on the page and presenting that data in a way that’s easy to understand.

Here are just a few of the benefits of learning to code:

  • It’s an in-demand skill. Not only is the demand for coding and programming jobs growing, but many jobs that previously did not require any coding knowledge now prefer it. Learning to code can open the door to more career prospects.
    • More employers are looking for these skills and they’ll pay for them. According to DataJournalism.com’s 2021 State of Data Journalism Study, there was a positive correlation between the number of technical skills data journalists use in their daily work and higher salaries.
  • An understanding of programming languages can give you more independence in your work – you’ll depend less on developers and software, for example.
  • Coding knowledge allows journalists to better communicate with newsroom developers (tell them what you want, understand the roadblocks, timeframes, etc.).
  • Improve your ability to uncover unique stories. Coding enables reporters to find a deeper, perhaps previously unseen, story in the data.
  • You don’t have to be fluent in the coding language. Knowing just enough will help you find new story ideas and simplify or automate complicated or tedious tasks.

Which coding language is right for you?

Before you jump into tutorials and workshops, decide which coding language is the right one for your purposes. For some, your newsroom will already have an established tech stack that they prefer to use. If not, there are numerous options for you to choose from, but these are some of the most common.

  • HTML: HTML is a markup language describing the structure of a web page. Every webpage uses it and knowing a little can go a long way. You might not need to code an entire page by hand for your job but knowing the basics is incredibly helpful. It’s a good place to start.
  • CSS: CSS (Cascading Stylesheets) adds style to the HTML. It’s what decides the presentation of the web page. You can apply styles across an entire site or multiple pages. It’s good to know CSS if you’re managing your own blog or website – for example, you can add it to the CMS on which you host your site to customize it to your brand. It’s also important for making pages responsive, which is key for user experience and SEO.
  • Python: Python is a programming language. It’s relatively easy to learn, making it a popular one for non-programmers. Journalists can use it to conduct data analytics (like statistical calculations), create data visualizations and set up automatic processes (like converting text files to spreadsheets or conducting massive file downloads). Ruby and R are other popular programming language options.

Learning HTML and CSS will aid you in presenting your data, while learning a programming language like Python will aid you in gathering, analyzing and manipulating your data.

Where to start learning to code

Once you’re ready to get started, finding online courses and tutorials is easy, but it can be overwhelming. Here are a few coding training courses that are created specifically for journalists:

  • Check out DataJournalism.com’s in-depth e-book, The Data Journalism Handbook 2. It’s written as a “collective experiment in accounting for data journalism practices and a collective invitation to explore how such practices may be modified.”
  • Create a basic website: This training course from Knight Lab will guide you through “all the thrills and spills of learning the best of the basic web—HTML and CSS.”
  • Coding for Journalists training: This introduction to coding and Python is provided by Investigative Reporters & Editors. It includes nine basic projects including data scraping, geocoding and converting data into web-friendly formats.
  • Python for Journalists: This four-module video course from DataJournalism.com is great for beginners and “those who dabbled in Python, but somehow didn’t persevere.” You’ll learn how to install the right tools and clean, analyze and scrape data.
  • Codecademy: Codecademy has helped more than 50 million users boost their coding skills. Whether you decide on Python, HTML, CSS or something else, there’s a package available for you. Take this quiz to decide where to begin – and you can get started for free!

For even more options, check out this list of free and low-cost data journalism training courses.

All of these languages are well-documented online so if you feel stuck, you’re likely able to find a quick answer in one of the many forums on the web.

Start Coding

If you decide to take your new skills into a new career, check out these job and internship resources for journalists. And make sure to include details about your coding knowledge (projects, training certificates, etc.) in your resume — here are some tips for ensuring yours stands out.

Happy coding!

Subscribe to Beyond Bylines to get media trends, journalist interviews, blogger profiles, and more sent right to your inbox.

Rocky Parker is the Digital Content Lead at Cision PR Newswire. She works with journalists, bloggers, and content creators to create their targeted newsfeeds from PR Newswire for Journalists. Rocky has also counseled on content writing best practices. Check out her previous posts for Beyond Bylines. In her free time, Rocky can usually be found cooking, binge-watching a new show, or playing with her puppy, Hudson.

You may also like...

74 Responses

  1. I am sorting out relevant information about gate io recently, and I saw your article, and your creative ideas are of great help to me. However, I have doubts about some creative issues, can you answer them for me? I will continue to pay attention to your reply. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I read many of your blog posts, cool, your blog is very good.

  3. Clay Cooke says:

    I truly appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I added it to my bookmark site list and will

  4. Armando Chan says:

    This was beautiful Admin. Thank you for your reflections.

  5. For the reason that the admin of this site is working, no uncertainty very quickly it will be renowned, due to its quality contents.

  6. Chaim Weaver says:

    This was beautiful Admin. Thank you for your reflections.

  7. I do not even understand how I ended up here, but I assumed this publish used to be great

  8. This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am really happy to read everthing at one place

  9. Hi there to all, for the reason that I am genuinely keen of reading this website’s post to be updated on a regular basis. It carries pleasant stuff.

  10. Good post! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our site. Keep up the great writing

  11. Arjun Blair says:

    This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am really happy to read everthing at one place

  12. 20bet says:

    Apoiar ferramentas de apostas e estar equipado com uma plataforma diversificada de transações financeiras, a 20Bet oferece suporte tangível aos jogadores. Este é um lugar onde eles podem apostar com dinheiro real, respaldados por concorrentes de diversas disciplinas esportivas. 20bet

  13. Kylee Norton says:

    I am truly thankful to the owner of this web site who has shared this fantastic piece of writing at at this place.

  14. I really like reading through a post that can make men and women think. Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!

  15. Ayanna Bond says:

    I very delighted to find this internet site on bing, just what I was searching for as well saved to fav

  16. You’re so awesome! I don’t believe I have read a single thing like that before. So great to find someone with some original thoughts on this topic. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This website is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

  17. This was beautiful Admin. Thank you for your reflections.

  18. مع مجموعة واسعة من التركيبات ، بما في ذلك الأكواع ، المحملات ، الوصلات ، وأكثر من ذلك ، يقدم مصنع إيليت بايب Elite Pipe حلولًا شاملة لأنظمة وتركيبات الأنابيب المختلفة.

  19. Latest News says:

    Your article writing style is really impressive. Great stuff! I bookmarked it and will be sure to check it out later. Nowadays, I find that reading extremely interesting articles or reviews on the internet teaches me something new and difficult.

  20. Tm eMail says:

    Hi there to all, for the reason that I am genuinely keen of reading this website’s post to be updated on a regular basis. It carries pleasant stuff.

  21. uPVC pipes says:

    Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read. I will certainly be back.

  22. you are truly a just right webmaster. The site loading speed is incredible. It kind of feels that you’re doing any distinctive trick. In addition, The contents are masterwork. you have done a great activity in this matter!

  23. Normally I do not read article on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thanks, quite great post.

  24. Awesome! Its genuinely remarkable post, I have got much clear idea regarding from this post

  25. sightcare says:

    Sight Care is a natural supplement designed to improve eyesight and reduce dark blindness. With its potent blend of ingredients. https://sightcarebuynow.us/

  26. sight care says:

    SightCare supports overall eye health, enhances vision, and protects against oxidative stress. Take control of your eye health and enjoy the benefits of clear and vibrant eyesight with Sight Care. https://sightcarebuynow.us/

  27. Puravive says:

    I have been browsing online more than three hours today yet I never found any interesting article like yours It is pretty worth enough for me In my view if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did the internet will be a lot more useful than ever before

  28. ensuring timely access to the support you require. Whether you choose to use online portals, helplines, or visit SASSA offices in person, the key is to stay engaged and proactive in managing your social assistance needs.

  29. I’ve become an eager follower of this stellar website over the past week. The owner clearly pours passion into serving up top-notch content that wows readers. I applaud their dedication and hope they keep up the ace work!

  30. Very well presented. Every quote was awesome and thanks for sharing the content. Keep sharing and keep motivating others.

  31. naturally like your web site however you need to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth on the other hand I will surely come again again.

  32. Good post! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our site. Keep up the great writing

  33. I just like the helpful information you provide in your articles

  34. Antwan Mejia says:

    I like the efforts you have put in this, regards for all the great content.

  35. I am truly thankful to the owner of this web site who has shared this fantastic piece of writing at at this place.

  36. I simply could not go away your web site prior to suggesting that I really enjoyed the standard info a person supply on your guests Is going to be back incessantly to investigate crosscheck new posts

  37. I am truly thankful to the owner of this web site who has shared this fantastic piece of writing at at this place.

  38. Max Burch says:

    very informative articles or reviews at this time.

  39. Jaquan Kidd says:

    You’re so awesome! I don’t believe I have read a single thing like that before. So great to find someone with some original thoughts on this topic. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This website is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

  40. I just like the helpful information you provide in your articles

  41. This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am really happy to read everthing at one place

  42. Our online storyboarding software powered with AI to create effortless storyboards just by entering a script. Our highly engineered AI to create online storyboards for effortless visual storytelling. Discover More – https://immersfy.com/storyboard-software/

  43. Our online storyboarding software powered with AI to create effortless storyboards just by entering script. Our highly engineered AI to create online free storyboard software for effortless visual storytelling. Discover More – https://immersfy.com/storyboard-software/

  44. The storyboard online an effective platform for successful visualization of ideas and narratives with customization. A time-saving online storyboard software to create storyboards for beginner to expert-level creators.Discover More – https://immersfy.com/storyboard-software/

  45. The free storyboard an effective platform for successful visualization of ideas and narratives with customization. A time-saving online storyboard software to create storyboards for beginner to expert-level creators. Discover More – https://immersfy.com/storyboard-software/

  46. Our online storyboard website is powered with AI to create effortless storyboards just by entering script. Our highly engineered AI to create online free storyboard software for effortless visual storytelling. Discover More – https://immersfy.com/storyboard-software/

  47. The storyboarding tools are an effective platform for the successful visualisation of ideas and narratives with customization. A time-saving online storyboard software to create storyboards for beginner to expert-level creators. Discover More – https://immersfy.com/storyboard-software/

  48. Using storyboard ai and its powerful algorithm to create storyboards for determining the flow, plan and visualization of the project before the production. Discover More – https://immersfy.com/storyboard-ai/

  49. Using ai storyboard generator and its powerful algorithm to create storyboards for determining the flow, plan and visualization of the project before the production. Discover More – https://immersfy.com/storyboard-ai/

  50. storyboard software products are tools artists use to pre-visualize or sketch out the progression of a video, animation or film. The storyboard software typically provides pre-made images and characters to help design your story. storyboard online helps a creative team plan the video’s story and organise every shot. Artists use storyboarding tools to save time, increase the video’s production quality and decrease production errors.

  51. Artists typically use storyboard software as a step in the video production process, which helps them create various projects, such as training videos, product videos, movies, television shows, short stories and presentations. Choosing the right storyboard software depends on several factors, like the video’s purpose, the number of people working on the project, the budget and if you want to draw the storyboard’s images or use an image library storyboard website .

  52. In Conclusion , Immersefy is more than just storyboard software; it catalyses creative expression, a bridge between imagination and understanding. Looking ahead, it’s clear that Immersefy is poised to shape the future of storytelling, storyboard online empowering creators to weave compelling stories that engage audiences across media. Embrace the future of storytelling with the help of storyboard software where imagination knows no bounds with Immersefy storyboarding tools

  53. Yes. Immersfy allows you to upload your images, videos, files and GIF to create a storyboard with the help of storyboard software . It has a intuitive user interface and lots of customization tools to make storyboarding and storytelling easy and simple with the help of storyboard software.

  54. Andrea Flynn says:

    This was beautiful Admin. Thank you for your reflections.

  55. Carson Knapp says:

    Awesome! Its genuinely remarkable post, I have got much clear idea regarding from this post

  56. Dane Hansen says:

    This was beautiful Admin. Thank you for your reflections.

  57. Harold Moses says:

    I very delighted to find this internet site on bing, just what I was searching for as well saved to fav

  58. Great information shared.. really enjoyed reading this post thank you author for sharing this post .. appreciated

  59. Troy Olson says:

    Awesome! Its genuinely remarkable post, I have got much clear idea regarding from this post

  60. Zander Kemp says:

    There is definately a lot to find out about this subject. I like all the points you made

  61. I just like the helpful information you provide in your articles

  62. Guru says:

    EA Gears is your destination for premium leather motorcycle suits, boots, and gloves.  eagears.com

    https://eagears.com/

  63. Alex bee says:

    Here we Go again, I think no one asnwered my last comment for Sassa status portal

  64. alfars klyn says:

    Whether you’re a student looking for additional study materials, a teacher seeking classroom resources, or a parent wanting to supplement your child’s education, our educational website is a valuable resource that fosters academic success and lifelong learning.

    شركة تسليك مجاري بالخبر

  65. Thanks for the Great information about coding.

  66. This was beautiful Admin. Thank you for your reflections.

  67. Chaim Weaver says:

    Good post! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our site. Keep up the great writing

  68. I really like reading through a post that can make men and women think. Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!

  69. I just like the helpful information you provide in your articles

  70. Julien Petty says:

    Awesome! Its genuinely remarkable post, I have got much clear idea regarding from this post

  71. Keeping track of your Emirates ID status has never been easier, thanks to the UAE government’s convenient online system. Gone are the days of long queues and complicated processes – now you can monitor your application from the comfort of your own home, saving both time and hassle. No need to fuss over special registrations or passwords; it’s all straightforward.

    To check your Emirates ID card status, follow these simple steps:

    Visit https://emiratesidstatuscheck.ae or official website of the UAE government dedicated to Emirates ID services.

  72. Mariana says:

    One of the best things about EP88 Malaysia is the constant stream of rewards. From free spins to cash prizes, there’s always something to look forward to, keeping the gaming experience fresh and exciting

  73. Smitta Smit says:

    Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, offers holistic solutions for hair problems. One effective treatment is herbal oil massage, such as with Brahmi or Bhringraj oil, known to strengthen hair roots and promote growth. Additionally, Ayurvedic herbs like Amla, Shikakai, and Neem are renowned for their nourishing properties, combating issues like dandruff and hair fall. Incorporating Ayurvedic principles into hair care routines can balance doshas (biological energies), ensuring overall scalp health. Moreover, Ayurvedic remedies are natural and gentle, minimizing the risk of side effects. Embracing these time-tested practices can restore hair vitality, providing long-lasting results for hair concerns.

  74. happy wheels says:

    Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed but also entertained!

Leave a Reply