A new trend: Datajournalism!

In itself, the term Datajournalism isn't very old. It has been largely popularized during the last American Presidential Election but, more accurately, it is fair to say that it more probably got its first moment of fame with the the initial 'Gapminder' shows of Hans Rosling, whom became almost a Data-visualization rock-Star, at the very least in the US since he first performed its demonstration at TED 2003. His magistral show is said to have been played over than 200,000,000 millions times on the web. Since then, lots of journalists have tried to come up with either breaking news based out of Datajournalism approach or to provide so in-dept understanding in any given topic. The New York Times, with its visualization lab, was the first to come up with a mainstream approach, it was quickly followed by the BBC, the Times magazine or USA Today.

But the founding notion of datajournalism is certainly broader than the principle of big media pushing a new category of information. Its definition is probably even a bit larger than the wikipedia one and could be summarized as such:

1° data inquiring: Reveal some hidden information in the data that surround us and that grow exponentially. 2° Provide interactivity, and let anyone make its own research out of the interactive map. and in a minor tune, let people publicize the result they have come with 3° Provide UGD (User Generated Data): maximize people contribution, help them to bring their own data or participate to the data analysis.

What is interesting is that the next pulitzer guys may not be journalists that were found of interviews in some doubious strip-tease club late at night. Think more of a 21 years old, talented internet tech-core geek: the information is there, all around us, it is just a matter of removing the noise and giving some constituency to it. An amazing result of that type of contribution, but also of an efficient UCD work, is the MP expenditure scandal in the UK, revealed by the Daily Telegraph. From the very beginning the journalists felt that they would not come up with a breaking news unless they were able to search through a huge mass of documents and data. There requested the help of hundreds of Internet users to go through 96,000 documents -invoice, reports- and built up a small IT system to monitor that case. It hasn't come with lots of datavisualization results yet, but it has reach a level of excellency regarding datajournalism, that would deserve a Pulitzer if only that thing happened in the US...

The notion of Datajournalism is a serious play to save the news media industry. you feel it is a too easy short-cut? Well, consider this: one of the reason that makes that journalist aren't able to come up with unique information is that everyone is a journalist. We, the authors of that post are actually doing the job of a journalist without any press-card. And some of us are able to come with some very relevant insight on any topic.

With the datajournalism, this whole notion of uniqueness of information gets back: expertise -although it is more of a programmer expertise than of a journalist one- is back and investing on a case means setting up a team gathering technical experts, journalist and sometimes 'basic' UGD participants...

As explained above, some newspapers magazines have already got some soundable success with datajournalism. it creates an interactional dimension that consumers -readers- clearly perceive and is probably ready to pay for. On the editor side, it brings an additional team value (inquiring journalists, programmers, data experts, graphic designer, etc.) that is not easily accessible to any lone blogger. US and UK newspapers have clearly understood it. In Continental Europe though, there is a lag that is preoccupying. It may be also due to the fact that Governments are just starting to open up the data box...