Big Data has been discussed many times here, but never under the Data Journalism angle.
After being invited by the European Commission to reflect on how to promote Data Journalism in Europe, I thought it might be worthwhile to post the presentation I gave at the Eurovision’s News and technology Seminar on this topic (see at the end of this article)
What is Data Journalism ?
Without clear definition of Data Journalism I proposed my own. Data Journalism consists in either :
- Producing content (e.g. an article) from the analysis of data. A good example is the work around the Panama Papers
- Visualizing data for editorial purposes. Here I see two main applications.
- You can visualize your own work (read further for one example) or
- compare the data in your article with some more general data (example : if you discuss revenue levels, visualizing content could take the form of a comparison with revenue levels in other European countries)
How to catch the attention of your readers
Data Visualization can help you achieve your one goal as a journalist : get your readers’ attention.
All journalists know it: local content is key to attract readers. Data visualization can help you monitor your efforts. If your content contains geotags, you’ll be able to visualize the geographical coverage of your content and detect gaps (areas) not covered yet. That what I meant by “visualize your own work”.
The other good way to use data visualization is to put your content back into a more general context. Readers are always interested to compare themselves with other regions, other settings and to get a sense of where they are. Data journalists may want to use the recently launched European Open Data Portal to get the data required for that purpose.
Remember that Big Data is just a tool; not an end in itself. Articles will not be produced automatically by algorithms. Humans will still be required to produce attractive content.
However Big Data can help push the right content to the right target at the right time and in the right format. Big Data can also help explore consumption trends and better tailor your services to the different market segments. In journalism, the prevailing model is one-size-fits-all. Journal and magazine usually push the same content through their different channels. This is a bad practice that can only stop if you understand the consumption peculiarities of each segment.
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