Data story No. 1

Step 1 (15 points) — Due Feb. 7

Basic news story using data handed out in class.

Step 2 (30 points) – Due Feb. 21

  • Further research on college data
  • Turn in the following via Canvas (word doc):
    • 20 facts gleaned from data sets and research online and via other means
    • 10 additional questions you want answered
    • 3 people you will interview — who they are, their title, how you will get hold of them and what you plan to ask

Details on the assignment:

Given the  topics you’ve explored, the ones below, and the ones we’ve talked about in class, choose ONE area you will focus on in your data story.

College costs

  • Comparisons between schools
  • Rates over time
  • Rates and costs based based on private/public or 2-year vs. 4-year
  • What else?

Campus security

  • Comparisons between Michigan schools
  • Michigan vs. rest of nation
  • Violent crime on campuses
  • Private vs. public
  • What else?

College graduation rates

  • Comparisons
  • Trends
  • Ties to tuition rates?

Other possible topics:

  • Postgrad success rates
  • Flight of college students to other states or regions
  • Demographic trends/changes on college campuses: Number of nonstate students, foreign students, racial diversity, gender, age

Pull together at least 20 relevant facts from the data.

  • Manipulate, sort, filter the data to find answers
  • List relevant things you’ve found
  • If there is data to download in CSV or Excel format, download it.

Ask 10 or more questions based on these facts that will give you MORE information.

  • What don’t you know?
  • What were you wondering as you looked at the data?
  • What would readers want to know that you don’t see here?

Figure out at least THREE people you will interview to get more information and background.

List three people you plan to interview, their names, titles, contact emails or numbers, and what you will ask them. Make a list of questions, then game the interview — based on what they answer, what will you ask next?

WRITE all of these things up on a word doc and turn it in before next class. We’ll use your initial work to craft a story plan for your first data story.

Proper interview techniques:

  • Identify yourself. If you email, be sure your email is grammatical and professional. Do NOT treat it like an email to a friend. Say what you are seeking, and why, and ask if you can set up a time to interview over the phone.
  • Only accept being able to ask questions via email after seeking a phone or in-person interview. If you have to rely on email interviews, make sure to show me your correspondence indicating you could not get a phone or in-person interview.
  • Listen. Listen. Listen. Ask the question, don’t interrupt, let the person talk.

Ask open-ended questions.

Step 3: First Draft (70 points) — Due March 7

Details to come on Feb. 21 on what I’ll be looking for in this draft. What this draft should be is a complete story. You’ll need to rewrite it and incorporate my edits, but it’s important that this be as close as you can get it to what a fully reported and sourced story should be.

Here’s a page explaining it all

Step 4: Final Draft (35 points) — Due March 21

I’ll have feedback to you by March 14, and you’ll have a week to turn around the rewrite. If the first version is so good it does NOT need to be rewritten or rereported, I’ll give you the final 35 points when I grade your first draft.

You have two choices for your final draft, based in my initial grading of your papers:

  • Make the fixes and updates I’ve suggested in my grading, and turn in a revision. I’ll grade the revision based on whether you made the changes I asked for.
  • Rewrite your story start to finish. I’ll grade it as if it is being turned in the first time, but for the entire 105 points it’s worth.
  • Regardless, I’ll give you the best of the two grades. If, based on your rewrite, your story deserves a much higher grade than it got in the first draft, I’ll discard your first draft grade and give you the rewrite grade.