Who wants to use Python for reporting?

What: Python for Journalists — How to use simple coding to enhance your reporting.
When: Tuesday, Oct. 29, 6 pm
Where: Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass

Registration is limited to the first 50 people. Sign up at: https://nesw.memberclicks.net/index.php?option=com_mc&view=mc&mcid=form_153199Image

If you have little or no experience with computer programming, and you’re facing a problem that’s just crying out for a programmatic approach, what do you turn to?  The answer is Python!

Freelance writer John Bohannon, who had no experience with programming, taught himself the programming language Python, which allows people to author simple programs. He used it in his investigative story for Science,  “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?”, an investigation of peer review among fee-charging open access journals. Between January and August 2013, Bohannon submitted fake scientific papers to 304 journals. Despite deliberate errors in the papers, they were accepted by 60 percent of the journals that received them. Each of the 304 papers was unique, with completely different authors and affiliations. Each paper described a different study, with different chemicals and cancer cells. The investigation generated over 3000 emails, all of which are now public record. So how did he do that?  With Python.

Bohannon will tell the story of that sting — in code.  It will be extremely newbie-friendly, and he’ll walk us through a little problem set that we do in the class in real time.

  • how to create a template for a Mad Lib and scale up production as big as you need
  • how to scrape the data from a website
  • how to create and curate data programmatically
  • how to send emails automatically from the command line (via Python, grabbing the body from text documents and the email addresses from your data)

By the end, everyone will have basically learned how to do what he did, and will have a starter kit of tools that allow them to do nearly anything.

Thanks to Neil Savage for organizing and to Rosalind Reid for hosting.

Sponsors: A co-event of New England Science Writers and Hacks/Hackers Boston. Hosted by Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

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