Lightning Round: My Favorite Data Tool

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Linda Larsson Kakuli, a researcher with Swedish Television, votes for Excel and Tabula.

In this Lightning Round panel at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference, presenters had just five minutes to describe their favorite data tool. The results: tips ranging from basic Excel to Z-score.

Helena Bengtsson, Editor, Data Projects, The Guardian

Favorite tool: FUNCTIONS in Excel: =IF, =Exact and =Proper.

IF function tests a condition and returns one value if TRUE and another value if FALSE

Exact function compares two strings and returns TRUE if the values are the same FALSE if they are not

Proper function makes the text look pretty, according to Bengtsson.

Check out her presentation here.


Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 3.21.59 PMCrina Boros, investigator at Greenpeace UK

Favorite tool: Fuzzy lookup Add-In for Excel for precision journalism. It can be used to identify and match textually similar string data in Excel.

Check out her presentation here.


Anuska Delic, journalist in Delo, Slovenia, and project leader of DeloData

Favorite tool: Open Refine used for mass replacing complex data.

Check out her presentation here.


Rob Gebeloff, New York Times, specialist in data analysis

Favorite tool: Z-score (standard score), it standardizes the data so everything is on the same scale


Sylke Gruhnwald, team lead of the data investigation unit at Swiss broadcaster SRF

Favorite tools: 

  • Trello to distribute tasks
  • Giphy.com to disclose information
  • Import.io
  • Rddj.nfo
  • GitHub

Tommy Kaas, data journalist, trainer, co-founder of Kaas & Mulvad.

Favorite tool: VLOOKUP function in Excel


Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 3.24.17 PMMegan Luther, training director, Investigative Reporters and Editors

Favorite tools:

  • Excel
  • import.io
  • google chrome extentions: scraper

Check out her Presentation here.


Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 3.26.48 PMChan Ka Wai, data editor, Caixin (China)

Favorite tool: Word Frequency counting and TF.IDF (term frequency–inverse document frequency)

Check out her Presentation here.


Linda Larsson Kakuli, researcher, Swedish Television.

Favorite tools: Excel spreadsheets and Tabula, a free tool used for extracting data from PDFs.

Check out her Presentation here.


The authors are journalism students at the University College of Volda who are on special assignment covering #gijc15.  

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