Analyzing China’s data journalism through a piece of data news


Nowadays, big data has been pervasive. Many industries have been involved in its shock wave, bringing the changes of industry trend and even operation guidelines. For journalism, the news is no longer simply an interview, a report. The practice of using quantitative data to aid in journalism is nothing new.


One piece of data news ‘Big adjustment of railway operation plan’ caused a sensation on media platforms. The journalist predicted the future of China based on 320,000 railway data. This is different from traditional news which uses representative cases, occasionally with some small sample quantitative analysis, to write a story and tell a truth. Now the external environment has changed, people’s behavior and social changes are recorded in the form of big data. Accordingly, new technology generates new media forms.

Taking the data news of ‘Big adjustment of railway operation plan’ as an example, it starts to use big data other small samples, which is the birth of era of news methodology. It is not an subversive activity, on the contrary, it enriches and extends news perspective and value. With the analysis of 320,000 data, we can see regional economic and demographic changes that are reflected in the adjustment of railway operation plan. This is the angel that traditional news coverage cannot touch.

Of course, data journalism of China has limits. Due to the newly introduction of data journalism, many audiences are not familiar with this reporting mode. It maybe difficult for them to accept data journalism. In addition, lots of journalists in China don’t have access to update their skills, which leads to gaps in coverage as well as a lack of strongly analytical reporting being based on data and open information.


It is the time that China’s data journalists should pursue new journalism in a way that has the potential to both their country and the world.



The features of data journalism

Data journalism looks like a new strategy, but it has been used many years. The first example of using data journalism is about the predicting the outcome with a mainframe computer of presidential election in 1952.

Data journalism includes six main Areas covered such as Computer assisted reporting, Infographics, Data visualization, Interactive visualization, Database journalism.

For example, Computer-assisted reporting is that journalists and other people gather and analyze the information to editor news through computers.  Infographics are that complex knowledge, information and data are presented through graphic visual,  this method is beneficial to understand information by readers more easily.
Data can be the resource for data journalism. An example is Las Vegas Sun’s 2010 Do No Harm series on hospital care. Journalists analysed  2.9 million records and 3600 cases in hospital to provide clear data for readers. It obtained a real impact which is six pieces of legislation by Nevada legislature.



Data also can be the tool to find a story.

Such as “Murder Mysteries” project of the Scripps Howard News ServiceTom Hargrove built a demographically-detailed database which focuses on 185,000 unsolved murders, after that he designed a model to present the possible presence of serial killers.

Thus, data is method to improve the developments of journalism and an opportunity for journalists. For the one hand, journalists can through a great deal of data information to predict the tendency of developing something and check the truth of information. For the other hand, it can transfer abstract information to something which people can understand.


Analysing network effects: a case study of Airbnb

About 83% of total market value which is created by the mainstream technology companies is driven by ‘network effects’. ‘Network effects’ means a product or a service will be more valuable as the increasing number of users. ‘Network effects’ has a greater power than we think. With the influence of network effect, business sales and marketing activities might be more efficient, but it may also facilitate more substantial barriers to competition among companies. There are many companies which have great network effects, such as Airbnb, Uber and Snapchat.

In the past 25 million bookings, Airbnb creates attractive accommodation options by providing an interesting approach to search and reserve houses which have local characteristics. Users can choose houses provided by 640,000 users in 34,000 cities. These rapidly expanding ‘social-sharing’ companies have a significant impact on the traditional hotel industry in the aspects of supply and demand.



Traditional hotels tend to control resources in order to maintain high prices, while Airbnb encourages more and more new landlords and travelers to join it to increase the Internet and social value on the basis of users to establish network effects.

A unique aspect of some peer-to-peer marketplaces like Airbnb is overlap between supply (hosts) and demand (guests). In other words, guests also become hosts and hosts also become guests. This is because more hosts means more availability for guests and more guests means more business for hosts.




The impacts of Media and News Platforms

Today, meida usually report that using internet and social media increases the risks of withdrawal, isolation and alienation. However, for our lives, the popularity of social media is beneficial to increase civic engagement, sociability and the intensity of family and friendship relationships.

According to much research, social media possesses can promote people to partcipate in public activities and engagement the process of democratizing public life when they live in a networked world.

For the one hand, in today, the internet and social media are both as the power methods to mobilize people. Some websites use pictures and words to deepen, harden or affirm the original emotions of users. Through this way, those websites has played an inportant role in recently outbreaks of social protese and resistance. For instance, The mushrooming of Occupy protests, the Arab Spring, the social media provide significant assistance for the mobilization of resistance which against the Government of the Ukraine or in Hong Kong.


On the other hand, one of the most important affect of network is that it has huge influence for the lives of teenagers such as the online dating and online language. More and more men and women are to communicate with stangers and built a relationship on online because the social media can provides more alternative people and their details for users. In addition, the interaction between the virtual and the real is a new situation in contemporary live style for teenagers.

Moreover, the evoluion of texting and online communication is a interesting feature to promot the development of the culture. Some new rituals and symbols have been created by young people for convenient communication.



The development of digital audiences

PJ_15.04.28_FSA-DigiNewsAud.jpgAdvanced digital technology supplies a opportunity for users to become more powerful participants instead of  silent spectators or passive audiences.

For instance, comparing with traditional audiences, digital audiences can immediately receive information. They alternatively receive news based on their personal hobbies.  They also can share the information with other people. Furthermore, they are able to comment information and discuss with editors and other audiences.  In addition, audiences can publish news, arts and music by themselves.

Therefore, an increasing number of people have chosen digital sources to receive news. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, in America, nearly 40% adults usually get news from digital sources such as apps, social networking sites and news websites. The proportion is higher than audiences who still use radio (25%) and print newspaper (20%).


For example, in 2012, only 17% US adults used social media to find out the presidential election, but 65% US adults knew the 2016 presidential election through digital sources, and 48% of them used news sites or apps and 44% used social networking sites.

According to those data, we can find that news sites and apps are more popular than networking sites. The reason is that the main users of digital audiences are teenagers, they use mobile phones more frequent than computers. Thus, more and more publishers have developed mobile apps to satisfy their requirements. According to Kristine Lu and Jesse Holcomb, they find that among the 40 publishers, 25 had created a mobile app of some sort.



The development of digital audiences & Challenges brings to news media

In the broadcast era, audiences receive and access information from traditional news media such as newspaper and television. Because of the technological limitations, there was limited interaction between journalism and audiences. Traditional audiences were merely passive receptors of content while journalists can decide and control the media coverage.

Digital media, however, has changed such kind of relationship and encourage “participatory culture”. With various news and media platform such as Facebook, Twitter, WeChat and WeiBo, audiences are able to discuss and comment on particular news or content post by news media. Additionally, audiences can now share their experiences and ideas and generate content. Some even become famous critics and bloggers. Audiences can also affect politics and policy establish. One famous example is the new United States President Donald Trump, who broke the conventional rule and won the election with the power of digital media.

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Relationship between audiences and  journalism has completely shift from “we write and you read” to “journalism democracy and reconnection” (Deuze 2003, p.203). The change of audiences’ needs come along with the change of their abilities. Audiences are not satisfied with the traditional information distribution such as daily newspaper. Instead, they now expect faster news delivery and richer content. Besides, with various information sources to choose from, audiences have great power to choose and consume their preferred content.

infographic-journalists-and-social-media-study-results.pngThis situation brings great challenges to news media as they now need to listen to their audiences and analyse their preferences to decide what to delivery to the public. And as traditional news delivery is shrinking, funding from traditional advertisement is shrinking as well. To compete with peer for audiences’ attention and advertisement opportunities, news media is now undergoing unprecedented pressure. News media and digital journalists are trying hard to brings interesting and timely news to audiences and ready to respond or reply to unpreditable comments or emergency event.

Overall, in the age of digital media, audiences have much more power and ability than before, reshaping the relationship between them and news media. While this new form of relationship and situation brings great challenges to news media.


Deuze, M 2003, ‘‘The Web and Its Journalisms: considering the consequences of different types of news media online’’, New Media & Society, vol. 5, no. 2, pp.203-30.



Representative Characteristics of Digital audience



Understanding and developing your audience is key to success in the digital world. As a result, deep understanding some typical characteristics of the digital audience is much essential. There are various characteristics of the digital audience, such as participatory, interactive, peer–to-peer, creating communities, networked and diversity.  Today,we just analyze the two from these characteristics. 

  • Participatory

Digital audiences tend to participate in creating and spreading news stories, real-time publishing incidents with words description, photos uploading and video recording. However, in the broadcast era, traditional audiences just play a passive role in the process of news production because they can only receive the information via mass media. Compared with professional media, each modern digital audience can be a news reporter and generate some newsworthy content via internet. Over the few years, the traditional one-to-many delivery model has changed to many-to-many communication model. Digital audience have their own ability, right and platforms to create the latest news

  • Interactive


Apart form this, most of the net users are likely to share, comment, reuse and active engagement with content, which have shaped a many-to-many delivery model and encouraged interactivity culture. Traditional audiences know little about sharing interesting and meaningful news, commenting and even discussing the content immediately. Fortunately, thanks to technological developments, there is enough interaction between content producers and audience. Today, digital audience can express their views and attitudes and   discuss some topics with other readers or content producers at any time and any places.