The latest frequently asked questions post comes in response to a PhD student looking at data journalism and gatekeeping. Here are the questions and my answers:
How do you think the role of journalists has changed during the 21st century, especially with the data explosion and the rise of misinformation and disinformation?
Journalists and news organisations have both been forced to adapt by the increased competition, and the changing nature of the world that we report on (i.e. the fact that it is more data-driven).
Many publishers tell me they want to give their journalists data skills because they feel that they need to ‘up their game’ in order to compete with new entrants to the sector, and to create distinctive content in an environment where celebrities, politicians, sportspeople etc. all publish direct to audiences rather than via media. Continue reading →
It’s easier than ever to follow individuals inside the industry, too – on Twitter as well as professional blogs, Medium.com and anywhere else. I maintain Twitter lists of people reporting in particular fields or in particular roles, for example, and generate Nuzzel newsletters for those lists so I’m up to date with what they’re sharing. Continue reading →
This is what you’ll look like after reading all of these books… (“Study of a Man Reading” by Alphonse Legros)
This latest in the frequently asked questions series is an answer to an aspiring data journalism student who asks “Would you be able to direct me to any resources or text books that might help [prepare]?” Here are some recommendations I give to students on my MA in Data Journalism…
Books on data journalism as a profession
Data journalism isn’t just the application of a practical skill, but a profession with a culture, a history, and non-technical practices.
This latest group of frequently asked questions comes from an interview with Source, published here in full just in case it’s — you know — useful or something…
1. What are the essential computational skills that a journalist should develop?
Firstly, an ability to recognise patterns, or structured information. Spreadsheets are explicitly ‘data’ but some of the most interesting applications of computational journalism are where someone has seen data where others don’t.
This latest set of frequently asked questions comes from a MA student at Coventry University who is researching Instagram. Their questions revolve around the impact of social media on journalism and Instagram in particular.
How are the new social media apps changing the way journalism is produced, distributed and consumed?
There’s a lot of scope in that question so in breaking it down it’s firstly worth making a distinction between apps (i.e. tools, used by producers to capture, publish and share) and platforms (i.e. a place where content is hosted).
So for example Instagram is a platform that hosts content which can be accessed on a tablet, or on mobile, or a desktop or laptop computer, but can also be published to through an app on mobile or tablet. Continue reading →
The latest in my series of FAQ posts follows on from the last one, in response to a question from an MA student at City University who posed the question “Do you think that an increase in algorithmic input is leading to a decline in human judgement?”. Here’s my response.
Does an increase in computation lead to a decline in human input?
Firstly, it’s important to emphasise that the vast majority of data journalism involves no algorithms or automation at all: it’s journalists making calculations, which historically they would have done manually.
You mention the possibility that “an increase in computation leads to a decline in human input”. An analogy would be to ask whether an increase in pencils leads to a decline in human input in art. Continue reading →
The latest in my series of FAQ posts comes in response to questions from a number of MA students at City University who emailed to ask “Can data journalism improve the world?”. Here’s my response, along with some follow-up questions and answers.
Can data journalism improve the world?
I wouldn’t be involved in data journalism if I didn’t think it could improve the world! But more broadly, I think journalism as a whole improves the world, whether that’s data journalism or not. (In fact, the whole reason I got involved in data journalism was because I believed it had the biggest potential to help journalism – particularly investigative journalsm – and, by extension, improve the world.) Continue reading →
The latest in my series of FAQ posts comes from a current MA Online Journalism student, who is writing an article for a German publication.
How has the use of user-generated content from social media changed over the last years in the UK?
The use of UGC from social media has changed enormously in the UK in the last decade. Obviously many of the platforms didn’t even exist a decade ago, so we’ve moved from quoting emails to taking screenshots, to a situation now where it’s common to embed live social media content which users can interact with from the article itself – whether that’s to share, like, follow, or respond. Continue reading →
The latest in my series of FAQ posts comes from the National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST) in Pakistan. As always, I’m publishing my answers to their questions here in case it’s of use to anyone else.
Q. What would you say to convince journalists — especially journalists working in developing countries where even the acquisition of public records is often a tedious task — about the importance of data journalism?
If you believe that journalism has a duty to be factual, accurate, and to engage an audience in subjects which have a clear public and civic importance, then data journalism is going to be very important to your work. Continue reading →
How do you feel about the intertwining of computer science with journalism?
Not surprisingly, I’m quite positive about it. I think most industries benefit from being exposed to different practices and ideas, as they make you reevaluate your own habits and assumptions.
That has very much been the case with the influence of computer science on journalism: in many ways data journalism is more open and more collaborative than other parts of journalism, and that has led to some of its best work.