Data journalism in the UK: a preliminary analysis of form and content
More than two years ago Sir Tim Berners-Lee made the pronouncement that ‘Journalists need to be data-savvy … but now it's also going to be about poring over data and equipping yourself with the tools to analyse it and picking out what's interesting’. 5This new form of data-driven journalism appears to have been enthusiastically adopted – at least in the rhetoric of news discourse, according to which it is ‘rapidly becoming part of the establishment’. This analysis is a preliminary survey of data-based stories being presented in the national news in the UK, and lays the groundwork for an analysis and typology of the forms and formats of data journalism as a media practice. The analysis shows that while superficial data journalism is being practiced, it is limited in scope and format. No evidence was found of a commitment to data projects among the news outlets examined, and only one instance of recourse to the Freedom of Information Act was seen. Most data presented were superficial, and sourced from traditional outlets. Data journalism is practiced as much for its visual appeal as for its investigative qualities, and the overall impact, especially in the tabloid format is as much decorative as informative.