Liliana Bounegru discussed the state of data journalism and its growing influence through an interview with Alex Howard on O’Reilly Radar (see: The bond between data and journalism grows stronger). This is a topic I have covered before for example, Progressive Mainstream Media Moving to News Aggregation.
Liliana explained that in the past reporters gathered and analyzed data as “a way of enhancing (usually investigative) reportage, whereas data journalism pays attention to the way that data sits within the whole journalistic workflow. In this sense, data journalism pays equal attention to finding stories and to the data itself.” Of course now there is so much data that this issue is sifting through the massive amounts to find what is relevant. She quoted Philip Meyer, "When information was scarce, most of our efforts were devoted to hunting and gathering. Now that information is abundant, processing is more important." She also quotes Tim Berners-Lee, "data-driven journalism is the future".
Providing readers with access to data sources they can drill down and find information that is personally relevant, as well as to do their own fact checking, This type of data journalism provides a much needed service just like the links in this post allow you to go to the original source and likely through those sources to others. I noticed that for a long time the New York Times only linked to other stories within itself. Now they provide links to sources outside the Times. They are moving up the maturity model.
Liliana also mentions some useful tools for data cleaning, analysis and visualization Tow of these are ScraperWiki and Google Refine for data collection and analysis. At this point I also have to mention the Darwin Awareness Engine™ which creates content visualizations that allow you to quickly scan across the themes contained in the content within your topic of interest. To find what is meaningful to you. With the Scan Cloud, the top 100 themes within a set of content are displayed in a manner that allows for easy sorting and investigation. With Buzz tape, the topics of rising interest appear like a stock ticker and then you can make the ones of interest become the center of a Scan Cloud.
It has been applied to the new journalism as a way to shift through massive amounts of data on immigration in the US. (see our five part series on what PBS affiliate, KETC, did to create a great community through social media. Here is also some advice on how to proceed with this type of news aggregation (Creating a Sustainable Ecosystem for Community News Media – Part One: Providing Relevance and Creating Loyalty).