Columbia Journalism School
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  • Lede_cover2014

Specialization in Data

The specialization in data journalism (M.S. program for part-time and full-time students) builds on what the school does best: train world-class journalists. Students in this specialization will receive rigorous training in data and computing, and use these tools to expand reporting techniques to find and tell new kinds of stories.

Students in the data track will learn how to use new technology in the service of data-driven journalism. 

Previous experience with computation and projects or clips that made use of data analysis or visualization are useful but not required for admission into the concentration.

Students who enroll in the data specialization are not eligible for admission into the Stabile investigative or documentary programs. They have the option, however, to take investigative or video classes.

Key Course Descriptions — Data Specialization

Reporting: The data specialization students will have a 10-week Reporting class that begins with intense digital media training and group sessions for acquiring the basics of data: where data can be found and requested, the forms it can take, and how to retrieve and manipulate it. The training continues with seven weeks of reporting to deepen an understanding of, and the methods of assembling data while honing classic reporting methods. Students will learn how to construct a narrative from both quantitative and qualitative sources, how to think critically, how to report under deadline and how to document so that others can replicate and critique their work.

Written Word Supplement: Data specialization students will take a seven-week class in addition to their Written Word class. In the Written Word Supplement, students will produce polished reports that mix qualitative and quantitative observations and analyses, as well as include “backstory” pieces that describe the computation they performed and the basis for the inferences they have drawn in a story.

Data + Story Workshop: Students in this workshop will take on problems that involve more complex data, deeper analysis or interviews, or more elaborate visualizations. Students will also learn to collect their own data for stories and work in teams to produce complete data stories .  This course will include regular, detailed critiques of published work .

Data Master's Project
Data specialization students will produce an ambitious work of data journalism as their master’s hybrid project, which is part story and part algorithm, data API or some other computational object. Full-time students will begin work on this during the fall semester and continue through the spring term. Part-time students do their master's project in the summer of their second term.

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