Journalism is conventionally taught through a ‘teaching hospital’ type model involving a set of tacit professional skills largely developed through experience (Anderson, Glaisyer, Smith, & Rothfeld, 2011). This article reports on the approach taken to adapt data journalism pedagogy for a digital campaigning unit in a journalism course. The main focus is building confidence with developing relevant technical skills in what Davies and Cullen (2016) describe as ‘quantitative literacy’. Although there is a range of ways to approach the turn to ‘data journalism’ (Coddington, 2015), teaching aspects of data and computational journalism with students can be difficult as the focus on technical and math skills contravenes the self-identity of journalism students as writers or similar (Nguyen & Lugo-Ocando, 2015). Meyer and Land’s (2005) pedagogical theory of the ‘threshold concept’ is used to think through the affective aspects of a practical exercise for developing ‘data confidence’. Journalism has long attracted students with a social justice orientation and who want to ‘make a difference’ (Vromen, 2016), and challenging students to appreciate the social change context of online engagement is often sufficient to enthuse a student into developing technical skills. The example explored here should be useful for journalism educators in other contexts approaching the common challenge of working with students to develop ‘data confidence’.