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This course is designed to introduce some of the basic principles of data literacy for journalists, civil society and government workers. It deals with the fundamentals of how to read and interpret data published in reports and news stories, and how the presentation of data can aid the audience in understanding. Finally, it looks at some of the consequences of misunderstanding data.
It is recommended that you read through and understand this course before looking at The Data Pipeline.
Data literacy is important because data is everywhere in the modern world. From government reports and budgets, to the step counter in a smartwatch, data is constantly being gathered at the grand and personal scales to communicate information about how we live.
While the data-storytelling pipeline deals with techniques for gathering, cleaning and analysing data in spreadsheets, we have to start with the basic data literacy. What does it mean when we talk about percentage change or percentage point change, for example, or why is it important to compare statistics using relative rather than absolute numbers.
Being able to correctly interpret data in a press release, news story or academic or government report is vital to our ability to communicate it on to others.