The only constant is that journalism has to re-invent itself. With technological outlets oozing into everyday culture, the way we get what’s happening out in the real-world is changing and it appears the new word on the streets is Data Journalism. Data is king, and we have become like machines who only acknowledge the values of numbers and statistics.
More data; less social science based investigations and storytelling, towards data collecting, analysis and publishing based on code, algorithms and software from the computer sciences?
Don’t worry just yet journalism is still all about storytelling, but the stories are being told from newer more scientifically integrated methods.
Start-ups are most definitely trying to create a market position for data journalism. Perhaps in the future coders will be taking over the newsroom. It is amazing how quickly feeds from drones were implemented as a reporting tool. Right now we have programs that can be instructed to create rudimentary stories and rewrite them a myriad number of ways.
Arduinos have allowed a number of individuals to create custom sensors that can be applied in the field for sensor-based journalism, where you can catalogue real world environmental data. You can capture anything from water pollution, airborne contaminants, chemical toxicity, you name it, think it and build it. It’s the Maker Age. It is undeniable that the influence of technology on journalism is growing.
Some key things to recognize is that Data journalism began with journalists using computer-based tools from the social sciences to enhance their reporting. The next development came from the open data source movement. When you look at it through this lens journalism feels more like computer sciences and big data.
So in the new journalism, a smaller focus on story, more tangible content through datasets and analysis are published together with infographics. The reader then becomes involved in the process of interpreting and analyzing data. Typically the data is provided in complete sets and not just samples.
Coders are finding their skills being put to good use in a few of the big media houses and some directly in the newsrooms. If you’re doing data journalism on the regular then these coders should be taught some journalism 101, because teaching journalist to code may be a bit harder. Journalists should be trained in foundational data journalism tools in order to do the easier data projects themselves. Journalist and coders/developers should team up on the more demanding research jobs.
The new data tools are making it easier for anyone to be a holistic digital journalist. Maybe it’s time for everyone to get with the data before computers get so good at all the rest, no one will have a job.