Denise Malan Teaches Texas State Students the Value of Data Journalism

By Daniel Recio

Denise Malan, Director of Data Services for the Investigative News Network, gave a hands-on instructive panel about the uses of Data Journalism this past Friday.

Malan who was a reporter for the Corpus Christi Caller Times for four years said, “What I’m hoping to do is raise the level of data journalism skills and raise the awareness.”

The instructive panel Malan taught went through the basics on using Microsoft Excel to better analyze sets of data received from databases.

She gave three unique exercises with real data that varied from crime statistics, major league baseball players’ salaries, and a simple table for a city budget. Each exercise slowly revealed that there was more to the data than raw numbers.

Students attending the panel saw the immediate value in the skills Malan was sharing. Cameron Cutshall a Texas State Mass Communication major and sports writer for the University Star said, “I’m a sports reporter and the sports stats will be useful in my reporting.”

Malan began using data journalism early on in her career, experimenting with it before she received proper training. Then the Corpus Christi Caller Times sent her to an IRE boot camp for training on Excel and Access. Since then she has been building her skills.

Malan wishes she had begun using Data Journalism as an undergrad, “To just even start with databases on campus because they’re something familiar to you as a college journalist,” Malan said , while talking about the importance of practicing Data Journalism while still in college, “Those databases are smaller than city or state databases. It’s a good place to start.”

Malan is now the Director of Data Services for INN and has begun a unique partnership with the Investigative Reporters and Editors. She now helps over 93 non-profit newsrooms create data projects and gather the necessary data and numbers for their stories.

“All these projects are focused on stories with impact.” said Malan. The internet and accessibility to data has largely led the explosion of data journalism. With the use of technologies Malan says that Data can now be analyzed much faster.

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