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2019-09-30 | J++ Newsletter #80

Tools, tools, tools (and one warning)

There are tons of tools for data journalism and they keep coming. Over the past few years many of the biggest media companies have published their methods and created toolkits and got a lot of attention. In this week's newsletter, we highlight some less noticed, but just as interesting tools.

Illustration: Phil Ninh.


Peer review for data journalists
Are you working as a data journalist in a small newsroom or on your own? Then it can be hard to get your data checked. This is what Open News new project is about. They will let experienced journalists give feedback and peer review data stories:

Tool trends from GIJC in Hamburg
The last Global Investigative Journalism Conference took place this weekend in Hamburg, and one of the sessions was about the latest tools in data journalism – and how to get the data no one else have:

List of tools
Have you always wondered how to find that good course, tip sheet or tool for cleaning data that you once stumbled over? You might find it in Global Investigative Journalism Networks (GIJN) list of data journalism resources: 

J++ own tool tips:

  • Tabula PDF hasn't been updated in quite a while, but it is just the best tool for the job (extracting tables from PDF files). If you're into Python, we'd highly recommend looking into the Python bindings as well:
  • CopyTables is a Chrome Extension that does one thing, and does it well: copy paste tables or parts of tables from websites to Excel.
  • Are you already using the Atom editor? Then Rainbow CSV is the extension you've been looking for! It allows you to query a csv sheet with SQL like statements. If you already know your SQL, this is a great way to get a fundamental understanding of a new dataset.
  • Kite is an Atom extension for Python programmers. Kite calls itself an "AI-powered programming assistant". In practice it's a very effective auto-completer and with code documentation always just a keystroke away.

Watch out!

South African Mail&Guardian just had a large investigative article taken down, by someone abusing American copyright legislation (DMCA). This is just another reminder that it matters where you have your servers.

Similar strategies have been used before to rid the internet of unwanted content (see for instance this Swedish story about how articles mentioning a suspect in a economic crimes case was taken down:, but this one stands out as it targets a major newspaper directly, rather than going for e.g. search engine listings.

Noticed: Climate by the numbers

"The hard truths of climate change — by the numbers" is the headline of Natures article about climate change. And it brings up the question: is it data journalism or journalism with number? Well, at least it's good journalism with data!

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