Microsoft Excel has been around for ages, and though most people associate it with accounting and business, it can also be used as a great tool for journalists. Excel allows journalists to sort through tons of data and find relevant information quickly. There are many “data journalists” who’s jobs are to sort through data and produce news stories.
Excel can be used for basic functions such as sorting data or adding figures. It can track city budgets, tally crime rates and calculate finances. Spreadsheets can double-check statistics given by others and if you get the raw data (the freedom of information act gives you a right to most government data) you can perform the calculations yourself.
Though the amount of data and numbers can often seem daunting, Excel allows for an quick, easy
way to manage the data and possible find a great news story.
For example, let’s say a politician declares that the average income of his governing area is $100,000. That sounds pretty good, but then you check the data. Using excel, you find that the most peoples incomes are pretty low and that a few people are making absurd amounts of money, thereby skewing the average. That’s a good story.
As you learn to use Excel you can discover the many complex capabilities the program has to offer. Who knows, it might all lead to a new scoop!