The European Investigative Journalism Conference

Brush up your data skills with Jonathan Stoneman

At Dataharvest we have three full tracks of data skills training with great trainers from all over Europe. Meet one of them – Jonathan Stoneman, freelance data and journalism trainer, “based in the UK, but a European at heart”:

What are you going to teach at Dataharvest?

This year I am teaching R with my good friend Luuk Sengers. Together we have come up with a method of teaching people how to get to grips with R’s “Tidyverse” suite of packages and leaves them with the capacity to go on learning after they leave the classroom.

How can that be used?

R and R Studio are free software packages which work together to enable you to handle huge datasets and find the facts and figures you need. Originally developed by statisticians for statisticians, it has become a key skill for datajournalists, with thousands of packages which help users do all kinds of things including mapping and visualisation, scrape websites, analyse networks. You name it, R can do it.  I am also working on a game – an experience where people can try out the skills they’ve learned in Mechelen against the clock, and in teams. We call it an “Escape Room” because it draws on that model: one hour, many puzzles to solve, one big solution at the end. …if your team works together!

What are you yourself looking forward to hearing at the conference?

I am always surprised in Mechelen – I learn things I didn’t expect to learn. One session I definitely want to catch is Rob Gebeloff’s intro to Regular Expressions – for too long I have put off learning this vital extra language, which will help me pick my way through messy data in an elegant and efficient way. Rob’s a great trainer from one of the greatest newspapers in the world: who’d want to miss that?!