Day 21 — Finding Data

In order for it to be a data story, it must have:

Some Data…

Journalists collect evidence, but when people talk about “data journalism” they usually mean numbers. These numbers might be:

  • Collected by someone else and published, in which case you just have to sort through it to find your story. (see list of resources below)
  • Collected by someone else and not published, in which case you might have to make a public records request.

Philadelphia open records requests instructions

  • Not collected or available, in which case you’ll have to collect the data yourself. You might do this on your own or through crowdsourcing.

…And A Story

Like everything we do here, you must tell a story, preferably one that gives people (democratic) power through information. Journalists seek to illuminate aspects of power, policy, ideology, and whatever else people are interested in. Watch this for:

  • Representing numbers visually
  • Putting numbers into context
  • Finding the story that the numbers tell

Additional training

A handbook written by data journalists all over the world.

The national association of journalists focused on data and investigative reporting (and they also have a list of databases):

Finding data

A list of resources you can use to find data already available online:



United States