Why is data journalism so relevant?


Data driven journalism or, ‘data journalism’, is to me, what seems to be a technical platform that takes large sources of information, filters it to be more comprehensive and imprints it into the media for it to be more viable and accessible to the public.

This isn’t to say that the public can’t deal with large influxes of information available to them, only that in this day and age, people have less time to sift through hoards of information when a statistic, graph or colourful, to the point ‘data research’ could do the job for them.

One of many companies that would best illustrate the importance of data journalism is Ipsos Mori, a company that dealt with opinion polls, set up graphs and monitored the progress of each party in the most recent, and many of the UK’s general elections.

Without this medium of information, the general public would not have had a visual understanding, or in my opinion a full grasp on the exact state of play within the elections.

I also strongly believe that without the use of data journalism, and yes, perhaps the more commercialised take on the general elections this year, that the run up to Britains political leadership would not have been so closely followed.

In my view, it was so popular because it was made so accessible and universal to the public with the employment of data journalism.

This brings me on to the other point that data journalism is not biased in any way. All newspapers, television broadcasting networks, radio stations use it making it an essential form of journalism as a whole.

The very fact that it takes large and complex loads of information and condenses it down to a succinct and understandable point, be it visual or statistical, surely underlies the true meaning and the very point of journalism.

This is not to say that I find data journalism ‘fashionable’ in any way however. Paul Bradshaw, (Online Journalism genius) has alluded in his past blogs that this may be the case. I have to say I disagree.

If data journalism is becoming fashionable it is merely because it delivers fact sometimes colourfully, but always in a ‘to the point’ fashion. But what is journalism without the frill?

I believe that data journalism is necessary, but not fashionable. It makes information more viable to an audience, but is nothing without ALL the information instead of just the condensed.

It provides finesse to a story but is nothing if there is no story to finesse. The cherry on the cake if you will.

Perhaps in our rapidly evolving technological era it is fashionable as demonstrated in the sudden surge in followers of the general election. This success perhaps means that data journalism is now an essential part of delivering information to the public.

I would therefore reiterate the point that it is now a necessity that has naturally evolved into place in the world of journalism, but I wouldn’t say it was fashionable.

Perhaps the sudden ‘leak’ culture has a certain role to play in data journalism’s ‘trendiness’, but I have to say this seems more like a rebellious turn rather that a ‘de rigeur’ one.

It seems to be constantly moving and evolving so I will have to find out more, but this is an albeit vague and preliminary understanding of what I take data journalism to mean.

By Alex Lawton (@AlexandraLawton).

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About Alexandra Lawton

Having completed a degree at Durham University in Anthropology, i'm now doing a masters at City University in Broadcast Journalism. I am 23 years old.
This entry was posted in Data Journalism Experiment, Examples of where data journalism is used, How is data journalism used?, Introduction to Data Journalism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why is data journalism so relevant?

  1. I should point out now that you don’t get any extra points for calling me an “Online journalism genius” 😉

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