How data journalism is different from the traditional journalism that what we’re used to

Nowadays in the digital era, journalism is no longer about a simple interview, a report, or a witness. The practice of using numerical data to assist in journalism is nothing new, and this is known to the public as ‘data journalism’. Professional Alex Howard gives a detailed definition of data journalism in his Tow Center paper: “gathering, cleaning, organising, analysing, visualising and publishing data to support the creation of acts of journalism.”

Gathering data from websites/downloading a spreadsheet; Analysing and doing calculations on the gathered data to look for stories or clues; Publishing stories created by data in an interactive and readable way.

All of the above features might not ‘fit a strict definition of reporting while they all contribute significantly in journalism,’ said Sarah Cohen, the leader of a data team at The New York Times.


One famous example is the “Murder Mysteries” project by Tom Hargrove of the Scripps Howard News Service. Tom sourced from the government data and public records ( demographically-detailed database) for over 185,000 unsolved murders. And then he used an algorithm to find out the hidden patterns of the possible presence of serial killers. In this project, the power and role of data are obvious: gathering sources from databases, analysing data by social science techniques, and readable and interactive presentation of the data.

Data enable journalism to achieve a lot of things that are difficult or even impossible in traditional journalism.

To journalists, they can now easily find a news story by finding ‘suss out patterns and follow up on leads’ from a global database. Besides, they can use the computer and intelligent software to assist their analysis and calculation.

To the audience, the real data and facts make the ‘stories’ much reliable. In the digital era where fake news is rampant in news media and social, this feature is rare and valuable. Another new opportunity is transparency. As reporters can now publish not only the raw data but the related analysis and calculations they’d done to reach their opinion, readers can now participate in analysing and form their own conclusion.

Jeremy Singer-Vine, the data editor from BuzzFeed, said, “Data is another skill that helps reporters tell stories.


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.


What is Data Journalism?

 The media has undergone various developments throughout history as a way of ensuring that its broadcasts are well received and understood by the target audience. These advancements have created a culture where the audience is no longer passive but actively involved in the broadcasts through their input and suggestions of how best to meet their needs. In order to incorporate the evolution of media broadcasts, data journalism has created an ideal platform where broadcasts are more interesting and more engaging with the audience.

1 Rather than just presenting a broadcast, the media has gone a step further to ensure that complex messages that are being broadcasted are broken down and disseminated in ways that are easier for the audience to understand. Data journalism also incorporates various features such as political cartoons, info graphics and news games as a way of making broadcast more interesting and more engaging to the audience. In doing so, the media is able to discuss issues such as politics, world events and other emerging issues within society in a way that is well received and thus encouraging the audience to debate on them. Through data journalism, the audiences are not just receptors but also play a part in ensuring the message broadcasted has an impact on society.


Week 10 Newsgame: Case Study of “Syrian Journey”

In the past three semesters, I have learned a lot about Journalism, and I also chose “MDIA5027 Promotional Games” as an elective course. Therefore, I have a certain degree of understanding of Journalism and Serious Game. The topic of this week’s lecture is Data Journalism. In particular, I prefer to talk about “newsgame” which has been introduced by lecture video because this is the first time I hear about it and I think it is very interesting.

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This is a slide from online lecture video of Week 10, multiple definitions of newsgame have been provided by experts and scholars. In my opinion, actual cases are more helpful than the definition to help us understand what is “newsgame”.

Today, many international front-line media use newsgame as a new way to make readers be more interested in the news. For example, BBC Digital launched “Syrian Journey” when the Syrian refugee crisis swept across Europe. In the game, the identity of the player is an ordinary Syrian refugee. Players need to make a series of options, such as escape routes, and escape strategy. This newsgame is very successful in journalism industry, but it has also been questioned. Some people think that using game to show the tragic fate of refugees is not ethical and the gamification of this kind of news will reduce the seriousness of journalism. And even some people think that this game only used news about refugees to attract attention, in essence, it is just a common survival game. I don’t fully agree with these views, but I think these interesting arguments can contribute to development of newsgame.

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Picture Source:Syrian Journey: Choose your own escape route


A wonderful example of data journalism: Development Initiatives



Data journalism in its simplest term is using the data to craft a news story. Actually, data journalism is a new form of storytelling in the fast-changing and emerging media time. What’ more, data journalism is to be considered as the ability to collect, managing and analyze massive data and to know how to craft a story is by a huge influx of data and correctly to illustrate the data.屏幕快照 2017-06-02 下午5.02.38

Development Initiatives, which is an international development organization that applies themselves to keep the sustainable development and commit to ending poverty in the world. It is worthy to mention that data is the core force of the organization and plays the most essential role in the whole process. In the organization, data is the most key part to explain the seriousness of poverty problem around the word. DI have been working to improve data use for sustainable development is about helping people make the most use of data to bridge the wealth gap and finally deal with poverty in the world.

Additionally, The Development Data Hub is the organization’ special and key department, which is devoted to making more people to attach the importance to data, breaking down barriers to data use, and enhancing data availability and transparency.

By data using, DI has successfully made great progress in a wide range of areas in the world. For example, organizing data revolution in Nepal, recording disasters and stimulating domestic revenue in Kenya, building partnerships to reduce poverty.

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Analyzing 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 to maintain high prices, while Airbnb encourages more and more new landlords and travelers to join it to increase the Internet and social value by users to establish network effects.

The mutual effect between supply (hosts) and demand (guests) is an essential field of some peer-to-peer marketplaces like Airbnb. In other words, more hosts means more options for guests and more guests means more profit opportunities for hosts.


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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.