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The Rise of Data Journalism: The Making of Journalistic Knowledge through Quantification

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Lecture given at Sciences Po, Paris, 5 April 2016, with Jonathan Gray.

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The Rise of Data Journalism: The Making of Journalistic Knowledge through Quantification

  1. 1. The Rise of Data Journalism: The Making of Journalistic Knowledge through Quantification 5 April 2016,Sciences Po, Paris, France Liliana Bounegru | lilianabounegru.org | @bb_liliana Jonathan Gray | jonathangray.org | @jwyg
  2. 2. Jonathan Gray Liliana Bounegru
  3. 3. Data Journalism MOOCThe Data Journalism Handbook Data Journalism News Trainings, Conferences and Workshops
  4. 4. Digital Methods Initiative http://digitalmethods.net
  5. 5. Data Worlds:
 The New Politics of Public Information Jonathan Gray
  6. 6. “Wikileaks didn't invent data journalism. But it did give newsrooms a reason to adopt it. There was just too much data for it to happen any other way.” Simon Rogers, The Guardian Datablog
  7. 7. What is in this 2.6 terabyte leak? 11.5 million documents 4.8 million emails 3 million database entries 2 million PDF documents 1 million images 320,000 text documents 214,488 offshore entities 14,153 different clients 200+ countries involved 21 offshore jurisdictions
  8. 8. Over 370 journalists from 109 different media organisations in 76 different countries collaborating for nearly 2 years.
  9. 9. (And we are only on day 2 of 14!)
  10. 10. The so-called “data revolution” and the “transparency revolution” have given rise to new journalism practises rooted in data, quantitative methods and computational techniques.
  11. 11. These practises are transforming not only the way news is sourced, produced and delivered but also who and what is doing the sourcing, production and delivery of journalism.
  12. 12. New York Times Interac2ve News and Graphics teams Chicago Tribune News Apps team Guardian Interac-ve Team “Journalism Unicorn” “There is something about not just being able to think and act like a programmer but also to be able to think and act like a journalist, which is quite demanding. […] Newsrooms are crying out for these skills.” (Emily Bell, Professor & Director, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, ‘Columbia is launching a new post-bac program to breed journalism unicorns’, Nieman Lab, 2013)
  13. 13. Source: Alan McClean, New York Times
  14. 14. Source: Alan McClean, New York Times
  15. 15. The programmer- journalists The computer-assisted reporters The data journalists
  16. 16. Three Kinds of Data Journalism
  17. 17. 1. Pu&ng news into context with data http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/oct/31/europe-unemployment-rate-by-country-eurozone
  18. 18. The Guardian Datablog: Journalism as a Source of Data “Most of what we do is this kind of very newsy, quick pieces of data journalism, that are based around stories that just happen to be in the news that day. Every news story has some data behind it and we’re here to make that accessible and surface it.” (interview with Simon Rogers, 6 September 2012) “When we launched the Datablog, we thought the audiences would be developers building applicaCons. In fact, it’s people wanCng to know more about carbon emissions or Eastern European immigraCon or the breakdown of deaths in Afghanistan — or even the number of Cmes the Beatles used the word ‘love’ in their songs.” (Rogers, Simon. 2012. “Behind the scenes at The Guardian Datablog.” In The Data Journalism Handbook, edited by Gray, Jonathan, Liliana Bounegru, and Lucy Chambers, 34-37. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly Media)
  19. 19. The Guardian Datablog: Journalism as a Source of Data
  20. 20. 2. Data-driven investigative journalism
  21. 21. 3. News apps as research tools for journalists and audiences “By showing each reader data that is specific to them, a news app can help each reader understand a story in a way that’s personally meaningful to them. It can help a reader understand their personal connecCon to a broad naConal phenomenon, and help them aNach what they know to what they don’t know, and thereby encourage a deep understanding of abstract concepts.” (Klein, S. (2012). News apps at ProPublica. In J. Gray, L. Bounegru, & L. Chambers (Eds.), The data journalism handbook (pp. 185-186). Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly Media)
  22. 22. Why Does Data Journalism Matter?
  23. 23. –Emily Bell, Professor & Director, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, 2012 “One of the most important questions for journalism’s sustainability will be how individuals and organizations respond to this availability of data.”
  24. 24. “Data-driven journalism is the future.” –Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web, 2012
  25. 25. New forms of gathering informa-on, new forms of knowledge produc-on, new forms of presenta-on and dissemina-on of stories. Why Does Data Journalism Matter?
  26. 26. "Anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a toss-up right now is such an ideologue, they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones for the next 10 days, because they're jokes.” 
 (Joe Scarborough, MSNBC, 2012) “I am Nate Silver, Lord and God of the Algorithm” (Jon Stewart, 2012) Geeks vs. pundits: clash of two epistemological cultures?
  27. 27. New forms of knowledge “Part of what we’ve been trained, as a society, to expect out of the Big Deal Journalis]c Story is something “new,” something we didn’t know before. Nixon was a crook! Osama Bin Laden was found by the CIA and then allowed to escape! But in these recent stories, it’s not the presence of something new, but the ability to tease a paNern out of a lot of liNle things we already know that’s the big deal. It’s not the newsness of failure; . . . it’s the weight of failure.” (C.W. Anderson, assistant professor in the Department of Media Culture at the College of Staten Island, 2010)
  28. 28. It is said to improve the democratic function of the media: • enhancing journalistic objectivity • more accountable journalism • more efficient journalism workflows • increasing citizen participation in public life Why Does Data Journalism Matter?
  29. 29. “At The Texas Tribune … the data sets account for 75 percent of the site’s overall traffic.” (Columbia Journalism Review, 2010) Potential for the media as a business Why Does Data Journalism Matter?
  30. 30. Time on page substantially higher than on other sections of the Guardian (Simon Rogers, former Data Blog editor)
  31. 31. Is Data journalism New?
  32. 32. Data journalism wasn’t born yesterday
  33. 33. John Snow’s map of cholera outbreaks in 19th century London
  34. 34. Social survey movement in 1900s
  35. 35. Precision journalism in 1960s
  36. 36. Source: Alex Howard
  37. 37. Emergence of term “data journalism” in 2000s. “For example, say a newspaper has written a story about a local fire. Being able to read that story on a cell phone is fine and dandy. Hooray, technology! But what I really want to be able to do is explore the raw facts of that story, one by one, with layers of attribution, and an infrastructure for comparing the details of the fire — date, time, place, victims, fire station number, distance from fire department, names and years experience of firemen on the scene, time it took for firemen to arrive — with the details of previous fires. And subsequent fires, whenever they happen.” (Adrian Holovaty, 2006, “A fundamental way newspaper sites need to change”)
  38. 38. The profile of the data journalism team
  39. 39. Source: Cindy Royal, 2013, niemanlab.org
  40. 40. data journalism in the newsroom Lone rangers: Guardian Datablog Two-person team: Guardian US Small-scale team: WNYC Large team: New York Times Source: Simon Rogers, datajournalismcourse.net
  41. 41. Data journalism outside the newsroom
  42. 42. Computational journalism in universities
  43. 43. Data journalism and computer-assisted reporting in the NGO sector
  44. 44. Data Journalism Handbook: http://datajournalismhandbook.org/
  45. 45. Data Journalism Handbook: http://datajournalismhandbook.org/
  46. 46. http://towcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Tow-Center-Data- Driven-Journalism.pdf
  47. 47. School of Data: http://schoolofdata.org/
  48. 48. Data Journalism Awards: https://www.globaleditorsnetwork.org/programmes/data-journalism-awards/
  49. 49. Who sponsors us? Who funds data journalism?
  50. 50. How do you study data journalism?
  51. 51. How have these recent developments been discussed in academic literature? “Could computing technology - which has played no small part in the decline of the traditional news media - turn out to be a saviour of journalism’s watchdog tradition?” (Cohen, Sarah, Chengkai Li, Jun Yang, and Cong Yu. 2011. "Computational Journalism: A Call to Arms to Database Researchers." CIDR 2011: 148-151) “If there’s a silver lining in this situation, it is the ability of computer scientists to strengthen the hands of the remaining professional reporters and engage new players in the watchdog process” (Cohen, Sarah, James F. Hamilton, and Fred Turner. 2011. “Computational journalism.” Communications of the ACM 54 (10): 66-71)
  52. 52. Flew, T., Spurgeon, C., Daniel, A., & Swift, A. (2012). The promise of computational journalism. Cohen, S., Li, C., Yang, J., & Yu, C. (2011). Computational journalism: A call to arms to database researchers Hamilton, J. & Turner F. (July, 2009). Accountability through algorithm: Developing the field of computational journalism. How have these recent developments been discussed in academic literature?
  53. 53. Royal, Cindy. 2010. “The Journalist as Programmer: a Case Study of the New York Times Interactive News Technology Department.” Presented at the International Symposium on Online Journalism, Austin, Texas. Parasie, Sylvain, and Eric Dagiral. 2012. ‘‘Data-driven Journalism and the Public Good: ‘Computer-assisted-reporters’ and ‘Programmer-journalists’ in Chicago.’’ New Media & Society 15 (6): 853-871. How have these recent developments been discussed in academic literature?
  54. 54. List of academic literature on data journalism hap://lilianabounegru.org/2014/05/07/list-of-academic-papers- about-data-journalism-and-computa]onal-journalism/
  55. 55. If stage one of data journalism was 'find and scrape data', then stage two was 'ask government agencies to release data' in easy to use formats. Stage three is going to be “'make your own data'. How about data sources? Javaun Moradi, Product Manager, NPR Whose voices and viewpoints structure and inform news discourse goes to the heart of democratic views of, and radical concerns about, the news media. (Simon Cottle, 2003) Sourcing practices
  56. 56. Bounegru, L. “What Data Journalists Need to Do Differently.” Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2014/05/what-data-journalists-need-to-do-differently/
  57. 57. “…when journalists are building their stories exclusively around existing data collected by a small number of major institutions and companies, this may exacerbate the tendency to amplify issues already considered a priority, and to downplay those that have been relegated or which aren’t on the radar screens of major institutions.” –Bounegru, L. “What Data Journalists Need to Do Differently.” Harvard Business Review, 2014
  58. 58. Sourcing questions • To what extent do we see new sourcing practices and new processes of journalistic knowledge production emerging? • How do these new processes compare with traditional sourcing practices? • How do these allegedly innovative and transformative practices and processes of sourcing and knowledge production shape the democratic function of the media?
  59. 59. Knowledge production questions • How can data journalism be understood as part of the broader computational culture that permeates our societies? • How does data journalism reconfigure traditional journalism epistemologies? • How are audiences configured in this process?
  60. 60. [END]

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