Lecture: What is Data Journalism?

Data Journalism – A Working Definition

Data – A piece of information that can be collected, measured, reported, analyzed and visualized.

Journalism – The activity of gathering, verifying, creating, and presenting news and information for an audience. It is also the product of these activities.

Data is everywhere.

For example, data we create in our personal lives. List the first 10 activities you did this morning when you woke up. Chances are most of them created some kind of data.

But this is happening in every aspect of our world – in business, government, entertainment, sports, nonprofits, education, etc.

And data is changing how things are done.

For example: Sports. Here are a few scenes from Moneyball (2011), that help illustrate how data changed baseball. What are the differences between the scout way and the data way of evaluating players?

Again, you can apply this to any aspect of our world.

How does the use of data change business, government, sports, nonprofits, education, etc?

And most importantly for our purposes, how does data change reporting and the news?

What does it have to do with you studying and doing journalism?

If you are going to cover a subject as a journalist…

You have to know how that field is using data.

You have to know how to obtain data.

You have to be able to analyze the data.

You have to be able to tell stories with data.

Links for examples:

  1. ER Wait Watcher (Pro Publica)
  2. 2018 Election Results (CNN)
  3. DC Income Gap (DC Action for Children)
  4. Ethics Explorer (Texas Tribune)
  5. Deadly Delays (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
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