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Dahlia Bazzaz discusses how to use SQL queries in reporting at Washington News Nerds last month in Spokane. The conference is organized by a group of women in journalism from newspapers across the state, including The Seattle Times, where Bazzaz is an education engagement editor using data reporting to cover the state's schools.

‘News nerds’ convene in Spokane for workshop series

By Kaitlin Gillespie

A group of about a dozen women in journalism from around the state and Oregon gathered in Spokane last month for the second Washington News Nerds workshop.

The one-day conference offered its attendees a crash course in data reporting, covering topics including Excel, SQL and Census data. The group also discussed sexism in the industry during a round-table lunch conversation.

Rachel Alexander, health and data reporter for The Spokesman-Review, Kate Martin, business watchdog reporter for The News Tribune, Katie Gillespie, education reporter for The Columbian, and Dahlia Bazzaz, education engagement editor for The Seattle Times, organized the workshop.

“Our goal is to liberate data journalism training from conferences and other events that are often inaccessible to reporters in smaller newsrooms,” Alexander said. “Women are underrepresented in both journalism and technology, and news nerds creates a fun, supportive environment for learning new skills.”

The series is already bearing fruit for journalists in the state.

Kate Martin, business watchdog reporter for The News Tribune, discusses advanced Excel techniques at Washington News Nerds last month in Spokane. The conference series for women in journalism offers low-cost data reporting and programming training.

Kate Martin, business watchdog reporter for The News Tribune, discusses advanced Excel techniques at Washington News Nerds last month in Spokane. The conference series for women in journalism offers low-cost data reporting and programming training. Photo: Kaitlin Gillespie.


News Nerds attendee Sarah Porter, a reporter with the Anacortes American, recently reported on the hot property market in Skagit County. Her article featured an interactive map of property sales in the county, which Porter credits to the skills she learned in Spokane.

“News Nerds pointed me towards data tools that can be used to tell stories more effectively,” Porter said.

News Nerds is supported by the Society of Professional Journalists Western Washington chapter, as well as The Seattle Times, The Spokesman-Review and The Columbian. For more information, including details about future meet-ups and conferences, visit https://www.wanewsnerds.org

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