Data Journalism Training Program


David McKie
181 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 1K9
613-288-6523 (office)
613-290-7380 (cell)

David and Fred are co-authors of
The Data Journalist: Getting the Story

David McKie and Jim Bronskill are co-authors of
Your Right To Know: How to Use the Law to
Get Government Secrets

Using Data for Great Story Ideas

Introduction: What is this course

Generally speaking, data journalism describes three disciplines. First, the use of data analysis and mapping software to spot newsworthy trends; second, the ability to make people see your trend with the help of cloud-based visualization programs such as ArcGIS Online, Google Fusion Tables and Tableau Public; third, using coding skills to create interactive web pages and news applications.

This two-day course will focus on the first set of skills, allowing reporters and producers to conduct more in-depth research to get original ideas for daily stories and longer-term projects. The tool of choice will be a spreadsheet, the “Swiss Army knife of data journalism.”

By the end of the two days, you’ll be ready to return to your newsroom and begin employing your new skills.

Content: Learning objectives

What you will learn on day one

  1. How to type information into a spreadsheet and properly format the material
  2. How to copy and paste information into a spreadsheet
  3. How to sort and filter
  4. How to create pivot tables
  5. How to make a story pitches based on the data we’ve analyzed

What you will learn on day two

  1. How to take a deeper dive into the data by performing basic math such as summing, counting the percentages in spreadsheets
  2. How to calculate ratios
  3. How to find data online
  4. How to find stories from this slightly more sophisticated analysis of datasets
  5. Strategies for incorporating these skills into your workflow

PowerPoint Presentation
Using Data for Great Story Ideas.pptx

Stories based on data

50 ideas in 60  minutes #NICAR15//ATL

Alcohol sends more Canadians to hospital than heart attacks: report

Ontario Sunshine List of highest-paid public sector employees reveals thousands earn more than premier

Walmart: Thousands of police calls. You paid the bill.


The Deadliest Jobs in America

The Ottawa Citizen ‘Huge, huge overtime’ lifts Ontario nurses into $100,000 salary club

This fire hydrant costs Toronto drivers the most in parking tickets (The Canadian Press)

Toronto cop guilty of assault made Sunshine List while suspended



Alberta  Government Salary disclosures

ACOA Project Information (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)


Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORS): Main Menu

Charities Listings (Revenue Canada)


Elections BC (Political Contributions System)

Elections Canada – Political Financing

Halifax’s Open Data Catalogue

Incident-based crime statistics, by detailed violations

Merchandise imports, exports and trade balance, customs and balance of payments basis for all countries, by seasonal adjustment and principal trading partners

National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) datasets

Newfoundland and Labrador

Nova Scotia


Ontario’s Public Sector Salary Disclosure

Open Government Portal (Federal)


Québec Ouvert (les données ouvertes pour le Québec)

Record Suspension Program 2015-2016 Report to Parliament

Statistics Canada Trade Data


Trade Data Online


Vehicle Recalls Database




Ontario Public Sector

To download the National Parole Board of Canada’s pardon data, please click right-click here and save to your hard drive.

To download Canadian Institute for Health Information heart attack
hospitalization data, please click or right-click here.

2016 Monthly Service

Revenue Canada’s charities database

To download the National Energy Board’s pipeline incident database, please click here.

To download the narratives from the National Energy Board’s pipeline incident database, please click here.

To download the Excel file the Prime Minister’s Office sent to reporters, please right-click here and use the “save-as”.

To download federal political donation data, please right-click here and use the “save-as”.