Data Journalism research

So, I’ve finished the data journalism project, first tranche. As expected, there’s not a lot of data journalism really evident in two weeks’ of national daily newspapers, but there are some interesting things.

Scarily, the only large “investigative” pieces came from the tabloids, and only one of those was not an insult to the intelligence. The Mirror did a piece based on an FOI request looking at STD infection rates in young people. Interesting idea, but the data was not really discussed properly, and the graphics were appalling. Using a condom as a graphic element is fine; trying to show changes over three years in a pie chart because you are wedded to the condom idea is not.

Sti graphic-1777871

The other two were a horrifically dishonest Mail on Sunday story called “The Great Green Con”, which had been thoroughly discredited by the end of the day, and contains one graph without proper sourcing or readily identifiable figures:

and an “investigation” by the Sun into psychic phenomena, which turned out to be a reader poll on whether they believe in ghosts or have ever consulted a psychic, accompanied by the UGLIEST infographic ever.

So, data journalism, only practiced by charlatans and liars for the edification of fools.

Read the full paper here, if you like.

2 thoughts on “Data Journalism research”

  1. Hi Megan, I saw you wrote the book about journalists and social media but I am wondering if you also researched what is social media doing to the journalist? Journalists writing for newspapers get a lot of comments and threats on social media “I am coming to your house to kill you”. Some journalists no longer feel free to write what the want.

    Hope to hear from you
    Indra van Deemter
    University of applied sciences the Netherlands

    1. I haven’t done any research on that, but it is an interesting area. My co-author, Clare Cook @cecook does work on branding and public engagement by journalists, and I will ask her if she’s come across that. Another colleague, Amy Binns, has written about trolling and news organisations’ management of them in , but I don’t know whether she’s talked specifically about the kind of personal abuse you mention.

      I am separately interested in online community and engagement, and the ways in which people behave online. I’ve been involved in various online discussions since the 1980s, and am fascinated by the ways people behave online. Of course gender plays a big role in this, and I have been watching the debates and backlashes around the ways women are treated online for some time, but I am not enough of a sociologist or psychologist to research the area. I would be interested in other people’s research, though.

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