Final Instructions

Your final project builds on your midterm experience. You’ll be doing a lot of the same things, but a little more in terms of fleshing out a potential story or stories. The goal is to have a story memo, backed by solid data analysis, along with the data itself, any accompanying graphics or visualizations you did and the log of your activities.

In addition, you should write up a critique of the source of your data – how it makes data accessible and what it could do differently to make it easier for journalists and others to find and consume the information. If your data came from a sub-agency, you shouldn’t assess the entire agency but instead focus on the offerings of that sub-agency. I’ll post an example shortly.

For the rest of the final, do these:

1. Keep a log of your activites. It can be a Word file, or whatever, but write down at least the big steps you took and as many of the little ones as you can. Even seemingly mundane stuff like “looked at documentation for first time” is good, because it will help you plan for your final projects. And yes, you’ll hand that log in with your midterm materials.

2. Write a story memo that identifies and pitches a “story” – it could be an interactive graphic, although you’ll need to describe it in detail if that’s all – based on your analysis of the data. This memo should summarize your experiences with the data, any concerns you have about it, and who you might talk to in crafting a story. But the emphasis should be on the data. Write this memo as if you had to convince an editor to invest the time and effort in this story. If you don’t have a clear-cut story but several possibilities, describe those in order of what you think would make the best story.

3. The data – obviously, you’ll need to hand in the data and any sql queries you did. If you stayed in Excel but modified the data, send it all along. Also any charts, graphics or links to visualizations you made that help support your memo.

4. The agency critique/audit described above. This does not have to be an exhaustive audit of every offering of data, but should broadly cover how this agency deals with data – does it make it available in easy-to-use formats? Does it offer documentation and list people to contact about it? Is it timely? Does the data have quality issues? How could the agency improve its processes?

All of these are due by the end of the day on Dec. 9. I’ll be here that week, contrary to what I said in class, so feel free to email, IM or call if you have issues.


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