#NICAR21 After Party


Due to the continued scourge of the coronavirus, the annual conference of National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting is being held online.

One sad result is that the virtual event will not offer the lengthy hands-on training sessions where attendees typically dive into computer programming.

They are my favorite part of the conference. And I'm not ready to let them go.

So, after the conference wraps up, I plan to host an impromptu live stream of "First Python Notebook," a six-hour class that teaches the fundamentals of data analysis for news. It's been taught the last four years and we're going to keep the streak alive.

How it will work

The class is tentatively scheduled for 9 a.m. Pacific on Saturday, March 6.

If you're interested in participating, fill out this form. The class is free. You do not have to be registered for the conference. You don't even need to be a journalist. All are welcome.

You are expected to have your own computer and to do some configuration of its programming tools before class. You will also need to connect to an online meeting using Zoom. If you sign up, I'll be in touch soon about the specifics.

About the class

The six-hour hands-on class will guide students through an investigation of money in politics. The entire tutorial is already scripted out at firstpythonnotebook.org.

First developed in 2017 as a massive open online course, "First Python Notebook" has been taught at numerous journalism conferences and in university classrooms around the world. A similar online class was taught last year, in the early days of the pandemic.

This time, I'll be joined by Iris Lee and Andrea Suozzo, who will each teach a section of the class. Derek Willis, Cheryl Phillips and others will be on hand to assist students.

If you join, you will learn just enough of the Python computer programming language to work with the pandas library, a popular open-source tool for analyzing data. The course will teach you how to read, filter, join, group, aggregate and rank structured data.

You will also learn how to record, remix and republish your analysis using the Jupyter notebook, a browser-based application for writing code that is emerging as the standard for sharing reproducible research.

You will also learn how to plot and chart your data inside the notebook using the Altair data visualization library, a cutting-edge tool that offers a simple, structured grammar for generating graphics.

We will work through the standard materials, and, depending on our pace, take several breaks throughout the day.