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Data Journalism and Mobile-Ready Visualizations with A Digital Tools Tutorial

About This Course

Data journalism is now a mandatory skill for reporters. Silk allows you to quickly generate data insights, data visualizations and data stories, turning a beat reporter into a data journalist. is an all-purpose data journalism tool that any journalist can use to convert spreadsheets into data stories complete with maps, charts, tables, and image galleries that are immediately publishable.

Check out some examples of published Silk data visualizations:

Some examples of what a live Silk database looks like include:

Every visualization created in Silk generates a responsive embed code that makes the visualizations mobile-friendly. Unlike other tools, also, Silk actually converts the data into a true online database that can be modified as your data changes or the story grows, automatically updating all of the published visualizations wherever they live on the Internet.

In Silk, your readers can not only see and interact with your visualization online with inline filters and interactive screens but they can also use data to build their own visualizations for republication in blogs, regional papers or other outlets. For large publications presenting national stories, Silk allows for rapid creation of locally relevant visualizations by local publications.

Silk is geared towards publications that want their reporters and editors to have the ability to analyze data and generate and publish their own visualizations, maps and tables quickly. (Geek Speak: For publications with dedicated visualization teams, Silk can serve as a repository for data which can be accessed via API and rendered into custom visualizations.)

See more tools at Poynter's home for digital tools: Try This! — Tools for Journalism.

What Will I Learn?

  • Basic data cleanup skills
  • How to structure a spreadsheet for importing into
  • How to create interactive maps with number plots and images from plain English
  • How to use Silk to analyze data and look for story ideas
  • How to publish beautiful Silk visualizations in websites and blogs as simple embeds

Who Should Take this Course?

Anyone who is or wants to be a data journalist. Any journalist or editor interested in learning how to build data visualizations. Editors and journalists interested in audience engagement tools.

Course Instructor

Alex Salkever

Alex Salkever is the Head of Marketing at He served as the Technology Editor at for four years and has published articles in dozens of national publications including: BusinessWeek Magazine, Wired Magazine, the Washington Post,, Outside Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, GigaOm, VentureBeat, ReadWrite and Travel & Leisure, among others. His first job out of college was at the Carpinteria Herald, a small town paper in Southern California, where he covered everything that moved. Alex is a data geek who has run marketing programs for leading cloud computing and greentech companies, and has served as a cloud computing product lead at one of the world’s largest telcos.


The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote community engagement and lead to transformational change.

Training Partner

American Press Institute

The American Press Institute conducts research and training, convenes thought leaders and creates tools to help chart a path for journalism in the 21st century. The organization was founded in 1946 with the mission to help the news industry fulfill the purpose of the First Amendment, sustaining a free press in the public interest. That mission continues today.

This $30 course is free thanks to the generous support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What web browser should I use?

The Open edX platform works best with current versions of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, or with Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

See our list of supported browsers for the most up-to-date information.