The Centre for Investigative Journalism
The Centre for Investigative Journalism

Finding Stories with Data – Online, Intensive (PM)

You’ve heard people talking about data journalism, but don’t know where to start? Then this course is for you.

Class size: max 15 people.
Class duration: 1.5hrs x 4 days (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday)
Level of participation: very high. Hands-on, screenshares, regular Q&As and participants contributions.

In four workshops you will learn what data is available and how to find it, how to interrogate it and find facts or patterns in it which will lead, inform and enhance the stories you tell.

There is of course a limit to how much practical knowledge can be exchanged in each 90 minute session, so supporting material is supplied online. Although there is no formal assignment or “homework” during the course, participants who can devote 30-60 mins of practice between sessions tend to get more out of the course.

Guided by one of our data trainers, with decades of experience pushing the frontiers of data-driven investigations, you’ll come away with the skills to start gathering, interviewing and presenting data for your own reporting projects.

There are lots of courses which teach data journalism skills, but no others have the specific focus on using these tools and techniques for investigations and holding power to account that is the Centre for Investigative Journalism’s speciality.

The course is composed of four sessions of around 1.5 hours each, scheduled over 4 days, with exercises and recommended reading to augment your learning between sessions. Signed-up participants must attend all four sessions.

Classes for this course are capped to keep them small and ensure practicality and interactivity.

You can also claim a 10% discount if you combine this course with our 5-module ‘Data-Driven Investigations’ course. For more information about this two-course package please click HERE.

“A really great introduction to using data to tell stories. Lots of very practical tools and techniques and a huge list of resources to support you going forward.”

Feedback 2021

“If you come from a non-tech background, but are interested in data, this is where you should start from.”

Feedback 2020

Technical Requirements

This course will need you to have the following software/apps/tools on your computer:

  • MS Excel 2016 or newer (If do not have access to Excel, there is a free trial version available). We encourage the use of MS Excel, but the online version of Office 365 lacks some of the features you will need during the course. If necessary, you can use Google Sheets, which has slightly different menus and instructions – these are documented in the online materials –  but please note the trainer doesn’t always have the opportunity to demonstrate both systems in the session.
  • Zoom app.  During these sessions the trainers often need participants to be able to share their screen in order to solve problems or demonstrate techniques: if you are on a work computer, or other device which has screen sharing on Zoom disabled, please consider getting the restriction lifted for the duration of this course. If you can’t share the screen because the function is blocked or disabled, it makes it much harder to solve problems and learn from them. But, rest assured, nobody will be forced to share their screen against their will.
  • Camera and audio
  • This course will be hosted on Zoom. To find out more about how we use Zoom, please check out our Zoom InfoSec page.

Course Structure

Exercises and additional viewing of tutorial videos will be provided to supplement the training between sessions.


Our training is not recorded: if you miss a session, it is lost – you cannot watch a recording of it, nor will you be allowed to attend that session at a later date.

13 November 2023 – Interview your data

This first session teaches you the primary functions of spreadsheet software for journalistic analysis. These functions will allow you to quickly and easily 'interview' your data, asking questions about what it knows and interpreting the answers. These techniques form the core of data journalism skills.

14 November 2023 – Finding data

Having sharpened your analysis skills on some sample data, you'll be keen to find datasets relevant to your own projects. This session will give you the best tips and tricks to find data that can inform your research and provide leads for new untold stories.

16 November 2023 – Importing, cleaning and tidying your data

Even when you know where to find data and how to analyse it, there are often barriers in your way. From the difficulties of working with incomplete and inconsistent data to the problem of 'data' being released in PDF format, this session will give you the tools and techniques to unlock datasets and clean them up, getting them into a form which you can analyse and draw meaningful conclusions from in as short a time as possible.

17 November 2023 – Telling your story

This final session will focus on how to take the findings from your data research and pull them together into a coherent story. Data-driven stories often need some kind of visualisation and we will look at how to do these. But visualisation is not the only way to present your findings, so we will discuss when visualisations are necessary and when they’re not.

Jonathan Stoneman

Jonathan Stoneman is a freelance trainer specialising in data journalism. He has been working with data since 2010. Before that he worked at the BBC – as a reporter, producer, editor of output in Macedonian and Croatian, and finally as head of training at BBC World Service.
  • 13 November 2023 15.00–16.30 Timezone: GMT (UK Time)
  • 14 November 2023 15.00–16.30 Timezone: GMT (UK Time)
  • 16 November 2023 15.00–16.30 Timezone: GMT (UK Time)
  • 17 November 2023 15.00–16.30 Timezone: GMT (UK Time)
Timezone: GMT (UK Time)
Location: Zoom meeting
27 November – 1 December 2023

Data-Driven Investigations – Online, Intensive (PM)

This course will give participants an opportunity to take their core data skills to the next level and combine them with advanced internet research for rich, in-depth investigations.

13 November – 1 December 2023

Deep Dive into Data Journalism – Online (PM)

Take a deep dive into data journalism by combining “Finding Stories With Data  – Online, Intensive” (4 sessions: 13-14, 16-17 November 2023) with “Data-Driven Investigations – Online, Intensive” (5 sessions: 27 November-1 December 2023).