AAJA Convention Guides: Sara Goo, Pew Research

Not sure how to start planning for this year’s AAJA Convention? Get some advice from AAJA-ers in the know:
Sara Goo, a veteran digital editor

sara_gooThis year at AAJA, I’m thrilled to see the convention program has a focus on data journalism because it’s an area where I transitioned my career a year ago. The craft of telling good stories through data, either by understanding how to comb through it or presenting it accurately and creatively is exciting right now and digital journalism has opened up many new opportunities.

As journalists, we are just beginning to explore what we can do with data and how we can innovate with it. Data ground us in a story; in fact, often data are the story. But we need to hone our skills. We need to know where to find the needle in the haystack.

Thursday’s session on “Fall in Love with Data or Your Money Back” (love the title) is a great way to get started for those who might be intimidated by data or working with data. Sometimes the first step is learning your way around an Excel spreadsheet or Google doc and then (exhale) tackling a few other simple tools. And Friday’s session, “Putting Together the Puzzle: How to Start and Finish a Data Project,” will also be on my agenda because data projects are getting a lot more attention in newsrooms these days. More complicated stories take time, talent and a good workflow to make it happen. I think we’ll all learn a lot there.

Then, of course, I’ll be hosting a panel on Thursday about the other data – that is, the data that journalists are increasingly getting in their inbox about web traffic, clicks, uniques, referrals, etc. (“Data Analytics: Using Data to Drive Newsroom Success.”) This session is for those of use who have to try and understand the metrics of our audience and how to make good decisions based on that. We’ll have representatives from different-sized news organizations (from global brand subscription model to start-up local model) who will talk about the different strategies and tactics they use to achieve their different goals.

Also, as always, AAJA is a great time to connect with others. As a young journalist, I loved attending AAJA’s convention to learn new skills and meet more senior journalists I admired. Today, the convention still keeps me up to date. I look forward to seeing old friends and admiring how far they’ve come — especially the Executive Leadership Program alumni. And I look forward to meeting young, talented journalists — their ambition is inspiring and energizing.

Sara Kehaulani Goo is the senior digital editor at Pew Research Center and editor of the new data blog, Fact Tank. You can follow her @sarakgoo and @facttank @pewresearch. She is an ELP alumna ‘06.