News leaders from CNN, BBC News Labs, ABC Owned Stations, Gray Television and The Weather Company foresee improving news personalization and story versioning, expanded data journalism and a less polished, more authentic look to reporting on streaming channels, they said in a NewsTECHForum panel on Wednesday.
ABC Owned Television Stations’ relatively new data journalism unit, headed by John Kelly, has quickly come into its own via the massive twin stories of the election and the pandemic. The team’s work has already impacted equity issues at the polls and made inroads with a younger audience that Kelly says “particularly values evidence, hard facts and data that they can easily consume and share with one another.”
The pandemic puts a new ABC initiative to the test finding stories “hiding in plain sight” using data journalism. “We gather the data, we analyze the data and we put it in the hands of the local stations to go do a uniquely local story,” John Kelly says.
The station group is creating a new team that will make data journalism a mainstream, daily core of its eight newsrooms, staffed by a group of next-generation data journalists and led by newly hired director of data journalism, John Kelly, formerly of USA Today.
A new Google survey of over 900 journalists in North America and Europe found 42% of journalists use data to tell stories twice or more per week; 51% of all news organizations now have dedicated data journalists; and 33% of journalists use data for political stories.
Michael Kinsley evokes a haughtiness of his own to decry the selfsame quality among data journalism’s rising stars like Ezra Klein and Nate Cohn and in sites like Vox and The Upshot. His piece is likely to have digital journalists furrowing their brows at least until the weekend, when Klein may hunt Kinsley down at a Hamptons beach party to punch him in the jaw.
There are a bunch of skills needed in building news apps, but at the most abstract level they fall into three buckets: code, design and journalism. Recruit people who have at least two of those skills and be willing to teach them the third.
The new practice of data journalism is not a completely new type of journalism. Rather, think of data analysis as simply part of journalism for the modern world. Reporting has always involved numbers. Today, technology enables journalists to use numbers less anecdotally, more authoritatively, and to uncover otherwise invisible stories.
As technology brought data journalism and other new practices into newsrooms, some editors and publishers fretted that revered principles of shoe-leather reporting, experience, and intuition might decline or even disappear. But data journalism is not a completely new type of journalism.
The Associated Press will bring data journalism to a wider range of news organizations with the help of a $400,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, the AP said today. AP will use the funds to bring on more data journalists and increase its distribution of localized data sets.
Data visualizations and statistical analysis are enabling a renaissance of reporting. The industry might not survive it.