Data Journalism Tools

“Data can be the source of data journalism, or it can be the tool with which the story is told — or it can be both.” Paul Bradshaw

As the immensity of digitalized information continues to expand, so do opportunities for journalists. You may be familiar with how to tell a story with data. The ability to use raw data to craft a story, though, is becoming a valuable skill to possess in communicating science. To help you sort through some of the opportunities and challenges in this emerging field, KSJ has provided a collection of resources and tools for finding, analyzing, and presenting data — as well as further immersion into the field of data journalism.


Introduction to Data Journalism


Conference Opportunities


Toolkits and Programs

Tools for working with data

Tools and databases for visualization

Programming and Computer Science

  • Hacks/Hackers: A journalism organization that seeks to bridge information seeking and storytelling. Journalists, developers, and designers around the world can meet in local chapters.
  • Open: A New York Times blog about code and development
  • Stack Overflow: A question-and-answer site for programmers, from beginning to professional skill levels
  • Code Academy: Learn a variety of programming skills and languages, for free




General databases

  • UNData: This tool allows you to search for country level statistics on a wide range of topics from across all UN agencies (e.g., UN Statistics Division, FAO, UNESCO, etc.)
  • NICAR: This database library from the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) covers a variety of topics, including health and the environment.

Medicine and Health

Environment and Sustainability

  • U.S. Geological Survey Science data catalog
  • National Centers for Environmental Information, maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • Climate Central, a hub for information on the impacts of climate change, run by an independent organization of scientists and journalists.
  • Climate Data, a site that offers data related to climate change for America’s communities, businesses, and citizens.
  • The Measurement of Sustainable Competitiveness,” a guide to the World Economic Forum’s sustainability-adjusted Global Competitiveness Index, which considers the environmental side of economic competitiveness.
  • Environmental Performance Index (EPI), a measure that ranks countries based on 24 performance indicators covering aspects of environmental health and ecosystem vitality.
  • Global Forest Watch, a site featuring satellite-derived maps of deforestation data that allows users to create custom maps, analyze forest trends, subscribe to alerts, or download data for their local area or the entire world.
  • NASA EarthData, which includes a WorldView tool that allows visualization of near-realtime imagery from NASA satellites related to fires, dust, ash clouds, air quality, drought, floods, and other events. The site also has other mapping and visualization tools, such as FIRMS for fires, and offers access to more than a dozen NASA data centers and associated satellite data products.
  • UNEP Live, a hub for environmental indicators on multiple issues, at multiple scales, and in multiple formats, maintained by the United Nations Environment Program.
  • World Resources Institute (WRI), a non-profit global research organization providing a variety of data and information on the environment.

Population and Socioeconomic Data

  • Population Estimation Service: Hosted by SEDAC (the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center at Columbia University). Draw a polygon around an area (e.g., a cyclone track or toxic release) and get the population in that polygon in real time; iOS app under development
  • Population Reference Bureau (PRB): 2014 World Population Data Sheet including interactive map, population clock, etc.
  • Human Development Report Data: Human Development Index; Public Data Explorer; Multidimensional Poverty Index
  • Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC): Gridded population data, poverty maps, infrastructure data (dams, nuclear plants, roads), PM2.5 maps, national estimates of population and land area by climate/biome/elevation (PLACEv3); map gallery available under Creative Commons licenses; country treaty participation data
  • World Bank Data: Includes the World Development Indicators and free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe; thematic portals for agriculture and rural development, climate change, environment and urban development
  • OECD QWIDS: International development statistics; OECD is the France-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
  • TIGER data: From the U.S. Census of population.

Regional Resources

  • Ekuatorial: Indonesia specific datasets on marine, forests, and natural disasters
  • InfoAmazonia: An aggregation of environmental datasets for the 9 countries of the Amazon basin including forests, watersheds, industries and indigenous lands
  • Open Development Mekong: Development tracker focused on the Mekong
  • Third Pole Data Network: An open source geospatial database: a simple, searchable catalog of water-related datasets sourced from leading organization monitoring water in Asia


References and Further Reading