Category Archives: faq

FAQ: Do you need new ethics for computational journalism?

This latest post in the FAQ series answers questions posed by a student in Belgium regarding ethics and data journalism.

Q: Do ethical issues in the practice of computational journalism differ from those of “traditional” journalism?

No, I don’t think they do particularly – any more than ethics in journalism differ from ethics in life in general. However, as in journalism versus life, there are areas which attract more attention because they are the places we find the most conflict between different ethical demands.

For example, the tension between public interest and an individual’s right to privacy is a general ethical issue in journalism but which has particular salience in data journalism, when you’re dealing with data which names individuals.

I wrote about this in a book chapter which I’ve published in parts on the blog. Continue reading

FAQ: Social media and media freedom

More questions from a student as part of the ongoing FAQ series. This time it’s about the role of social media in ‘media freedom’, competition between social media and mainstream media, and credibility of citizen journalists…

1. What effects do you think social media, like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, have had on media freedom?

Given that media freedom is largely about the legal and political framework in which organisations operate, I’d say social media has had very little effect. An analogy would be asking what effect hammers have had on builders’ freedoms: it’s another tool which they can use, but whether they use it and how depends on what happens to them if they do. Continue reading

FAQ: Big data and journalism

The latest in the series of Frequently Asked Questions comes from a UK student, who has questions about big data.

How can data journalists make sense of such quantities of data and filter out what’s meaningful?

In the same way they always have. Journalists’ role has always been to make choices about which information to prioritise, what extra information they need, and what information to include in the story they communicate. Continue reading

FAQ: Hyperlocal sustainability

The latest in the series of Frequently Asked Questions comes from a UK student, who has questions about hyperlocal blogging.

In the long term, how sustainable is a hyperlocal site economically?

It depends on the business model, the wider market, and the individuals involved in the business. Continue reading

FAQ: What does blogging add to journalism?

Its been a while since I posted a post answering Frequently Asked Questions. This one comes from a student in Holland, whose thesis revolves around the idea that ‘Blogging adds little to journalism

What’s the difference between blogging and traditional journalism?

I’ve answered this and similar questions in a previous FAQ on journalism vs blogging.

What are the pros and cons of blogging compared to other forms of journalism?

That post and other older FAQs probably give some further answers, but a short answer is: blogging provides an extra space to invite people into your journalism and provide opportunities for them to contribute additional information, suggested avenues of inquiry, etc.

It helps build the relationship between journalist and source in a way that standard formats don’t always provide. Continue reading

FAQ: Does data journalism subvert the norm of objectivity?

Here are another set of questions from a student as part of the FAQ section – the last one is a goodie.

Question 1: Do you think data journalism can reduce the cost of investigative journalism?

Yes. It reduces the cost of collecting information, certainly: scrapers for example can automate the collection and combination of hundreds of documents; other tools can automate cleaning, combining, comparing or checking information. But it also offers opportunities in reducing the cost of distribution (for example automation and personalisation), collaboration, and even visual treatments. Continue reading