About this class


50% - Assignments 30% - Midterm 20% - Projects

Grading policy/penalties

All assignments can be considered to be worth 1 point each. Ideally, things could be as binary as possible. Good-enough work always gets 1 point. Bad work is worth as much as work not-turned in: 0.

But this being a journalism class, we can have some subtlety. I’ll err on the side of giving you full credit, unless you make these clear mistakes:

  • Missing the deadline by even a minute (-0.2)
  • Misspelling/typo the name of the assignment (-0.2)
  • Incomplete work (-0.2)
  • A flagrant violation of what we’ve learned, e.g. using a word cloud as data visualization (-0.5)

The midterm, which will likely consist of a take-home and in-class portion, will have a little more granularity.

The two long-range/class-end projects have the possibility of being more subjectively graded.


I completely understand as the quarter goes on that interviews and reporting assignments will interfere with my (mostly predictable) class. If you have to miss a class, please give me a couple days of notice in advance.

Missing more than a couple of classes may result in a grade penalty.

The pace and the goal

So this is a journalism class, and as often as I’ll say that “data journalism is just journalism” – because it is – this class is going to feel much different than virtually every other journalism class. For a time, things might feel like a horrible mix of grade-school math and nerd military school. Database programming will feel the polar opposite to journalism and normal life. Panic might set in around midterm time…

So I don’t want to hype or butter things up, but this class is not meant to be cruel or punishing. It’s difficult to explain through talk how journalism and data are ultimately more alike than not, though we will be talking about it during every lecture. But the goal of all the work is to learn through experience, to greatly expand how we do journalism.

It’s work, but it’s not supposed to be suffering. Please don’t hesitate to ever email or arrange office hours on anything that’s stumping you.