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Datajournalism IAMCR 2015

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Datajournalism IAMCR 2015

  1. 1. Little brother also wants to play: A case study of how small countries are adapting practices of data journalism 14.7.2015 JRE/IAMCR Montreal Turo Uskali & Ester Appelgren
  2. 2. Introduction • Computational, data-driven, or data journalism has become the new mantra for many news organizations across the world (Royal, 2010; Sirkkunen et al., 2011; Parasie & Dagiral, 2013; Mair et al., 2013; Howard, 2014).
  3. 3. Introduction • The educational and research literature on data journalism have so far mainly focused on well-known Anglo-American cases within prominent news organizations. • In this paper we argue for a wider, and potentially more nuanced, international research, especially in less resourceful and smaller newsrooms.
  4. 4. Introduction • According to the Global Editors Network’s data journalism competition, the year 2013 could be defined as the year, when data journalism went global; altogether 520 entries were sent to the GEN’s competition from 64 countries (GEN 2014).
  5. 5. Introduction • Here we summarize the main results of two separate data journalism research projects in two culturally similar, small population Northern European countries Sweden and Finland.
  6. 6. Empirical data and Methods • The empirical data that form the basis of this paper is based on semi-structured interviews of the most experienced Swedish (N=10) and the leading Finnish data journalists (N=4) during 2012 - 2014. • The questions originally revolved around six common themes: 1) the concept of data journalism, 2) attitudes at both an individual and an organizational management level, 3) access to data, 4) the workflow of data journalism in the newsroom, 5) cooperation and 6) ethics.
  7. 7. Research questions • RQ1: How are smaller countries and their newsrooms adapting to the highly Anglo- American development of the craft of data journalism? • RQ2: Are Swedish and Finnish journalists consciously mimicking the development of data journalism taking place in the United States and the UK? • RQ3: How is the craft of data journalism currently taking place inside news organisations in Sweden and Finland?
  8. 8. Results • “Everything started when I was reading these data based stories from the US and the UK. It was called data journalism. And then I googled, whether there was already something in Finland or Sweden called as data journalism, but there were no results at all. Google even asked, if I meant photojournalism.” [FIN2]
  9. 9. Results • In Sweden, data journalism in the beginning was dominated by the American CAR model. • By contrast, the Finnish data journalists did not mention CAR as an important factor for their career as becoming a data journalist. • Actually Finnish investigative reporters did not typically spend the CAR-part of the NICAR conferences inside, but outside being tourists and renting a car.
  10. 10. Results • The idea of mimicking, copying Anglo- American topics, themes and practices existed, and exist. • “I have realized that we can save a lot of text if we learn to do visualisations right. Therefore, I have looked into how they are doing this in the US and they have made some amazing stuff.” [SWE4]
  11. 11. Results • Much of the data journalism practices are concentrated to a few of the most resourceful newsrooms. • At the local level in Sweden and Finland, so far, only a few regional news outlets that have published data journalistic stories.
  12. 12. Results • In Finland, the lack of education is currently and clearly the single most important impediment to spreading data journalism activities outside the leading national news organizations. • All journalism schools have started basic courses on data journalism, but it will take years before we can produce enough data journalists .
  13. 13. Results • Data journalism in Sweden and Finland until now seems to have been closely following the traditions of investigative reporting. • This practise may be changing, as commercial newsrooms develop a faster form of data journalism; templates, story models, for example in Helsingin Sanomat.
  14. 14. Results • Swedish commercial newsrooms are currently embracing the possibilities with data journalism tools in a somewhat playful manner. • In Finland data desks have started to produce tests.
  15. 15. Conclusions • Similarly to how a little brother wants to play with the older kids, Swedish and Finnish data journalists are greatly inspired by the Anglo- American published data journalism and the tradition of sharing expertise.
  16. 16. Conclusions • Whether different online tests, for example, should always be defined as data journalism, remains debatable. • This issue is especially salient, because there also a danger that data journalism is becoming as a fancy marketing term instead of bearing any real substance, and any links to data or, more importantly, to journalism.
  17. 17. Conclusions • General journalism education has an important position in spreading the basic data skills to the smaller newsrooms. • It is still too early, however, to establish whether or not data journalism is a successful innovation in Swedish and Finnish newsrooms, because only the biggest companies have had enough recourses and skills to do it.
  18. 18. The Third Nordic Data Journalism Conference 21.-23.4.2016 in Helsinki • Thanks! The Second Nordic Data Journalism Conference in Ålesund, Norway

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