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Telling Visual Stories with Data

January 28, 2020 - January 29, 2020

$325.00 – $480.00

Want to know how to produce compelling, code-based data visualizations like ones you’ve seen in the New York Times and FiveThirtyEight? In this two-day workshop, Montana Free Press data reporter Eric Dietrich will guide you through the workflow he uses to clean, visualize and annotate data to produce graphics using Google Sheets, the code-based visualization tool Vega and Adobe Illustrator. You’ll also be introduced to the Jupyter Lab environment for working with data using open source Python tools, and discuss how to combine data visualizations with narrative reporting and storytelling. This workshop meets January 28 & 29 from 9am – 5pm.


Eric Dietrich
Montana Free Press



  • Who is this workshop for?
    People with at least intermediate computer skills interested in an introduction to using open source coding tools to transform data into compelling visual presentations. Attendees should be comfortable wrangling data in a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets and prepared to work through the technical hurdles that are an inevitable part of working with code-based tools.
  • Who is the instructor?
    Eric Dietrich is Helena-based data reporter and designer with the Montana Free Press, where his data visualization work is routinely republished by newspapers across Montana. He previously worked as a reporter for the Great Falls Tribune, Bozeman Daily Chronicle and Solutions Journalism Network Montana Gap project.
  • What are the dates and times of this workshop?
    This workshop meets for two consecutive days (January 28 and 29) from 9am-5pm at the Montana Media Lab.
  • What will I leave the workshop with?
    A working understanding of how to clean, visualize and annotate data to produce compelling charts, as well as familiarity with the Python-based Jupyter Lab analysis environment and the Vega/Altair data visualization toolkit. Time-permitting, the workshop will also provide guided support as attendees develop a visualization project using a dataset of their choice.
  • What equipment is provided? What do I need to bring?
    We have 12 desktop (Mac) computers available for use during the workshop. You’re also welcome to bring your own laptop, but we ask that you have Anaconda Python distribution (free) and Adobe Illustrator (free 7-day trial) installed prior to the start of the workshop. Please also bring an easily acquired dataset that you’d like to use for a visualization project.
  • Can I use my own laptop instead of the desktop computers?
    Yes. See above.
  • What about meals?
    There will be a lunch break from 12-1pm each day. Meals are on your own, but Missoula has lots of great cafes and restaurants within easy walking distance of the Lab.
  • What software or programs will I learn?
    Vega and Adobe Illustrator
  • Will I need a car?
    No, not unless you want to explore beyond Missoula before or after your workshop.
  • What is the maximum enrollment for this workshop?
  • Can I take this workshop for college credit?
    Yes. You can earn one undergraduate or graduate journalism credit from the University of Montana for an additional $155 processing fee.
  • I’m a teacher. Can I earn OPI renewal units for this workshop?
    Yes. You will earn 16 renewal units for this workshop.
  • What’s your refund policy?
    Because our workshops are planned far in advance, we are unable to issue refunds unless the Montana Media Lab cancels your workshop. If that is the case, you will be issued a full refund.


January 28, 2020
January 29, 2020
$325.00 – $480.00
Event Category:


Montana Media Lab
Don Anderson Hall, University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812 United States


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