Emily Cadman from Financial Times mentioned in her talk at News:Rewired Excel is a good “gateway drug to data”. This idea was also discussed extensively at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia. Dr Ken Blake from Middle Tennesse State University School of Journalism agrees and through his YouTube-based Data Journalism course, he takes you from ‘the basics’ to ‘maximizing’ Excel.
I downloaded Dr Blake’s datasets for Introducing Excel and Rates ranks and filters in Excel then I loaded the videos into VideoNot.es (reviewed here). You can take a look at the timecoded notes here for Introducing Excel and Rates, ranks and filters from here. I also let Dr Blake know I was going to do this and he plans to supply these notes for all of his videos in the next few weeks.
How it helps you
Dr Blake’s tutorials look at using Excel specifically for Data Journalism, and he uses examples of sources which you may use in a newsroom including crime figures and population statistics.
These are drawbacks with Excel rather than the tutorials. Of course, being a Microsoft product the software is always updating and if they have a significant overhaul (as they did in 2010) then these videos will appear dated. Excel was never designed as a Data Journalism tool, rather as a small office spreadsheet system. It is worth keeping this in mind when working on more complex projects.
A set of good introductory videos to help you get around the concept of using Excel for as a way of training you for Data Journalism, something our own Times Online Data team are looking at.