First Python Notebook goes pro at NICAR17

We expanded our guide to investigating campaign cash. Use it to teach yourself at home.

Last week the California Civic Data Coalition traveled to Jacksonville, Florida, for the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) conference. Over six hours, we trained more than 30 journalists how to use the Python programming language to interrogate data and develop a story about money in politics.

The class marked a next step for our open-source course “First Python Notebook.” The tutorial is now twice as long as the version we taught to journalism students at Stanford last month.

In addition to teaching the basics of the Jupyter Notebook and the pandas data analysis toolkit, the walkthrough now includes instruction on how to annotate and republish your work on GitHub as well as create exploratory charts with matplotlib.

First Python Notebook
Students at First Python Notebook gathered in Jacksonville

In Jacksonville, we taught the materials to dozens of data journalists from across the country, including several campaign finance reporters from California looking to increase their abilities.

The full script for the class is available for anyone to teach themselves at first-python-notebook.rtfd.io. The document itself is open source and available for remixing and reuse on GitHub.

We’re aiming to expand the class further in the future and are eager for opportunities to teach it to other interested groups. If you’d like to have our team providing training at an event you run, please contact me at ben.welsh@gmail.com.