Building data sets to tell powerful stories: Monitoring fossil fuel shipments from Russia since 2022 as a case study

Illustration Credit: Alexia Barakou; Source: Investigate Europe

Data journalism needn’t be solely based on existing data sets. In fact there is a great case for making your own data. The process encompasses a lot of the vital skills of data journalism – thinking structurally, planned storytelling and finding data in creative ways.

Using the cross-border investigation “Fueling War” as an example, this two-part workshop will provide a step-by-step guide to building your own data set and a framework to set up a cross-border team of investigative reporters, data journalists and visual storytellers. Furthermore, attendees will receive hands-on experience and feedback on their application of these data building techniques and framework.

Session 1: March 29, 2023

The first session will focus on the inventive methods used to acquire the information and structure them into a searchable data set. What tools and techniques are used to scrape, store, analyze and visualize the data and how? Who has access to the data set? What can and can’t these data do? 

After this session, attendees will also be instructed to monitor seaborne exports of Russian fossil fuels to their own countries or transfers carried out by companies registered in their countries and come up with story ideas that could be focused on both national and international angles.

Session 2: April 13, 2023

The second session will invite attendees to share their data set and how they acquired it. What tools and techniques were used in the process, or who did they have to ask to access the data? What do the data say and not say? CCIJ Data Editor Sotiris Sideris will offer feedback, ideas, and encouragement to attendees to seriously consider creating their own data.

This workshop will provide attendees with insights into the advantages, challenges, possibilities, limitations and complexities of building data sets from scratch and working with cross-border teams, with or without programming skills.

Join us in this hands-on, skills-driven session!


Session 1: Wednesday, March 29, 2023
60 minutes – 5 PM Greece/ 9 AM US Central

Session 2: Thursday, April 13, 2023
60 minutes – 5 PM Greece/ 9 AM US Central


Virtual via Zoom




Sotiris Sideris, Data Editor, CCIJ

Sotiris Sideris

Data Editor, CCIJ

Sotiris Sideris is an award-winning data journalist, trainer, and project manager based in Athens, Greece with extensive cross-border and collaborative experience.

He is the data editor of CCIJ and Reporters United and co-founder of AthensLive. He also serves as a lecturer of digital media at Macromedia University of Applied Sciences in Berlin and as a research associate in the NTLab at the University of Athens. Previously, he worked with the Greek NGO Network for Children’s Rights as the coordinator and chief editor of the multilingual newspaper Migratory Birds, featuring stories written by young migrants and refugees in Arabic, English, Farsi, Greek, and Urdu, and as a researcher and producer for the Greek national TV documentary series 28 Europe.

His work has been published in numerous Greek and European publications, including Investigate Europe, Mediapart, and Tagesspiegel. In 2017, he was a Stavros Niarchos Foundation fellow at Columbia University, where he studied programming and data journalism. In 2019, he participated in the Bertha Challenge, a global fellowship program for investigative journalists and activists by Bertha Foundation.