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Data Skills for Media Professionals. A Basic Guide. Edition No. 1

  • ID: 5226119
  • Book
  • October 2019
  • 224 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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Teaches the basic, yet all-important, data skills required by today’s media professionals

The authors of Data Skills for Media Professionals have assembled a book that teaches key aspects of data analysis, interactive data visualization and online map-making through an introduction to Google Drive, Google Sheets, and Google My Maps, all free, highly intuitive, platform-agnostic tools available to any reader with a computer and a web connection. Delegating the math and design work to these apps leaves readers free to do the kinds of thinking that media professionals do most often: considering what questions to ask, how to ask them, and how to evaluate and communicate the answers.

Although focused on Google apps, the book draws upon complementary aspects of the free QGIS geographic information system, the free XLMiner Analysis ToolPak Add-on for Google Sheets, and the ubiquitous Microsoft Excel spreadsheet application. Worked examples rely on frequently updated data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Election Commission, the National Bridge Inventory of structurally deficient bridges, and other federal sources, giving readers the option of immediately applying what they learn to current data they can localize to any area in the United States. The book offers chapters covering: basic data analysis; data visualization; making online maps; Microsoft Excel and pivot tables; matching records with Excel's VLOOKUP function; basic descriptive and inferential statistics; and other functions, tools and techniques. 

  • Serves as an excellent supplemental text for easily adding data skills instruction to courses in beginning or advanced writing and reporting
  • Features computer screen captures that illustrate each step of each procedure
  • Offers downloadable datasets from a companion web page to help students implement the techniques themselves
  • Shows realistic examples that illustrate how to perform each technique and how to use it on the job

Data Skills of Media Professionals is an excellent book for students taking skills courses in the more than 100 ACEJMC-accredited journalism and mass communication programs across the United States. It would also greatly benefit those enrolled in advanced or specialized reporting courses, including courses dedicated solely to teaching data skills.

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Preface ix

1 Basic Data Analysis 1

Some Example Data 1

An Introductory Tool: Google Sheets 3

Getting the Data into a Google Sheet 4

Getting a Fixed Copy of the Data 9

Formatting the Data 11

Cleaning the Data 12

Planning your Analysis 13

Filtering 14

Calculating 17

Labeling and Tidying Up 21

Sorting 22

Where’s the “Save” Button? 24

Writing About the Analysis Results 24

Recap 26

References 26

2 Data Visualization 27

Preparing Your Data 28

Making a Column Chart 29

Publishing the Chart to the Web 33

Choosing the Right Type of Chart 35

Recap 41

References 41

3 Making Online Maps 43

Downloading a Shapefile 44

Importing the Shapefile into QGIS 45

Examining the Shapefile and Joining it with the Unemployment Data 47

Customizing and Publishing the Map File with Google My Maps 54

Mapping Specific Points with Latitude and Longitude Coordinates 64

Mapping Specific Points with Addresses 73

Making a Map When You Have no Geolocation Data to Import 77

Recap 83

References 84

4 Microsoft Excel and PivotTables 85

Introducing PivotTables 85

Getting Started: Aggregating Contributions by City 89

Using the PivotTable Tool’s “Filters” Box 92

Using the PivotTable Tool’s “Columns” Box 94

Investigating Relatedness 96

Spotting the Absence of a Relationship 105

Downloading Campaign Finance Data from the Federal Election Commission 107

Excel vs. Google Sheets 111

Recap 112

References 113

5 Matching Records with Excel’s VLOOKUP 115

Overview 118

Aggregating each Candidate’s Donations by Source 119

Using VLOOKUP 122

Using Filters to Create a Classification Column 127

VLOOKUP Pitfalls 129

Recap 131

References 131

6 Google Sheets and Inferential Statistics 133

Sampling and Assumptions of Inferential Statistics 134

Getting the Data and Installing the XLMiner Google Sheets Add‐on 136

Computing and Understanding Basic Inferential Statistics 138

Descriptive Statistics and Confidence Intervals 140

The One‐sample T‐test 143

The One‐sample Chi‐square Test 148

Knowing which Test to Use 152

Computing and Understanding Basic Bivariate Statistics 154

Two‐sample T‐tests 154

Chi‐square Analysis of a PivotTable 158

Correlation Between Two Continuous Variables: Regression 164

Recap 169

References 170

7 Other Functions, Tools and Techniques 171



RAND 175

LEFT, MID, and RIGHT 175

The “Text to Columns” Wizard 177


IF and IFS 180



Google Forms 184

Comparing Numbers Over Time 187

Adjusting for Inflation 187

Adjusting for Population Changes 188

Recap 190

References 190

Index 191

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Ken Blake
Jason Reineke
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