Monday, May 2, 2016

How can big data help and hinder journalism?

How it Helps:

  • “When Journalists combine new technology with narrative skills, they can deliver context, clarity, and a better understanding of the world around us.” -- Tow/Knight report
    • “It’s [data journalism] treating data as a source to complement human witnesses, officials, and experts.” -- Tow/Knight report
  • Data has created new connections and more collaboration internally and externally in the newsroom:
    • “Publishers will need to continue to evolve toward a multidisciplinary approach to delivering the news, where reporters, developers, designers, editors, and community managers collaborate on storytelling, instead of being segregated by departments or buildings.” -- Tow/Knight report
    • “I work with journalists, and NGO’s, academics to tell better stories with data.” -- Eva Constantaras
      • Combining “diverse skill-sets”
  • It is not only a new way of presenting journalism, but one that has caused journalists to “think differently about how they can work”:

How it Hinders:

  • “Data does not intrinsically imply truth. Yes, we can find truth in data, through a process of honest inference, but we can also find and argue multiple truths or even outright falsehoods from data.” -- Nick Diakopoulos
  • Data is still “socially constructed” and “journalists working with data must be conscious about its source, the context for its creation, and its relationship to the stories they’re telling.”
    • “I always suggest, even if you do find data online, still talk to the original source, find out who produced that data and understand that data better.... The more you contact with the people collecting the data the better you’ll be able to report and tell a story based on that data.” -- Eva Constantaras
  • “But unless the new leaders set and enforce standards that emulate the scientific community’s norms, this data-driven journalism risks falling into traps that can undermine the public’s and scientific community’s trust.” -- Brian Keegan

  • How is data changing the role of journalists?
  • Why is transparency important when it comes to data journalism?
  • What steps should journalists take to ensure that they are properly interpreting and using data?


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