To put it very simply, data journalism is journalism done with data. This is the simplest definition of data journalism I could found. But the thing confused me is that it is really necessary to tell a story by using numbers? I think I may not the only one who hate mathematics, so it is interesting to find out how to tell a story with numbers? Is number the parts of the story, or number form the whole story.
To answer these questions, we should back to the rising of data journalism, why it emerging so rapidly?
I think the first reason is that in the online age, more and more data are easily accessed by everyone as never before. The Internet breaks the geographical limitation that allows journalist to look for data and create story anywhere they want. For example, digitising public database about government spending are access to everyone, besides, leaked documents published by WikiLeaks or “big data” generated by social networks such as Google or FB is also available, the only thing need to concern is to clarify the credibility of data.
Secondly, powerful data analysis tools are available to allow us to organise data in an efficient way. Some of the powerful tools are even free or open source. You can produce powerful graphics or visualisations without having technical experience or coding knowledge. That is an important reason for a journalist to put visible numbers in their report.
It sounds wonderful to telling a story through data, but data journalism can not replace the traditional journalism, it is an addition basic skill to the journalism. Data journalism is bridging the gap between stat and news report, it gives the news practitioners new challenge to identify the trend. Even though data journalism is the future of news report, but for those who hate numbers, it is hard to adapt to it.
If we can date back to a decade or even 15 years before, it seems like the quickest way to make millions of dollars at the moment is to create a successful internet platform. Online companies like Facebook, Twitter, Tencent, Google and Baidu are platforms that have gone from obscurity to internet giants in a matter of years owing to the advantage of two-sided market and network effect.
What is network effects? To be simply, there are some products and services that become more valuable if more people are using them, at the same time, more inseparable from them, because most of your online relationships are build on them, and you are relying on them, it is a terrible experience. I still remember about 8 years ago, the time when I started using mobile QQ, an instant message app from Tencent, most of my friends were using SMS and a lot of folks in my social circle even didn’t own a smartphone. At that time, there are three or four similar IM apps compete with QQ, but after few years, other apps were all died out and everyone started to use mobile QQ and suffering from advertising and promotion information, that is what Chinese companies did after monopoly.
I knew I was not the only one who want to delete my QQ account but didn’t because of it so easy to reach everyone you know online, even though you need to bear unlimited advertising and take the risk of personal privacy disclosure, that is the charm of the network effect. People hate you but people have to use you. When there are multiple companies offering a product that has network effects, you can quite easily show that everyone benefits the most if they all use the same product.
In my opinion, network effect narrows our choice and lead to monopoly which not conducive to the healthy development of the industry. QQ has now taken place by Wechat (Although they all belongs to Tencent), but the monopoly due to the network effect has continued.
As a PR student, it is necessary to identify the evolution of PR in the digital age. Currently, the rise of social media and two-way communication are giving chance to brands to reach and build a close relationship with those digital audiences.
It is important to find out the main characteristics of digital audiences and distinguish them from the traditional one to make the communication more efficiency. Plenty of surveys shows that digital audiences live on social media channels or messaging apps. There is a trend that the messaging apps-such as Messenger, Line and Wechat-have now surpassed social networks in terms of monthly active users. The communication pattern shows that digital users are more likely to engage in privately point to point communication instead of active in social media which can be seen by others. It also provides a good chance for brands to build up a more private relationship and communicate directly to their target audiences.
Another main characteristic of digital audiences is anonymity. Most digital users have an or even more than one virtual identity in online communities. Usually, people don’t need to take responsible for what they say online. Though it brings some problems to regulation, it also provides a chance for brands to promote their products ‘pretend as a purchaser’. In consumers’ point of view, experience sharing from other users especially public figure is more credible than simple advertising.
To get a better understanding of characteristics of digital audiences is an effective way to help brand gain audience shares and win comparative advantage in digital age.
The development of digital technology changes the habit of public access to information which leads to the decline of traditional press media. News industries are seeking for new platforms which can reach a wider audience, get more timely and accurate news in lower cost. The crowdsourced news is a good attempt.
According to Maria Krisette Capati at Crowdsourcing Week, public is exposed to a myriad of information and updates worldwide, people are more involved in providing information and upload them to social media instead of simply become an audience. And when citizen engagement, mass collaboration and online communities come into the scene, they are shaping the future of journalism and media.
Actually, the traditional internet companies have involved in the crowdsourced news development as well. Google announced its own crowdsourced news platform dubbed News Lab as part of their efforts “to empower innovation at the intersection of technology and media.” It is more like a tool to provides real-time stories and breaking news as raw material for journalist worldwide to report, create insight and tell a story which may never be heard before without crowdsourced.
Some may doubt that crowdsourced news may not be true journalism as it lacks authority. Besides, mass public may short of professionalism as a journalist, prejudice about events when reporting the news. It is difficult to achieve fair and objective which traditional news flaunted. However, the crowdsourced news is a concept that has been embraced by the open nature of the web. As ‘open source’ news reporting, most of the contributors are as first witnesses, they can provide a more intuitive feel for news scene. More often, the crowdsourced news played a role as message channel providers which offer news clues for news websites.
After making a quick review of the history of Internet, I starting to think a ridiculous question, what would life be like without Internet, or even one step forward, without screen-based electronic devices. Actually, it is not a fresh idea, a couple of years ago, a group of high school students took part in a social experiment to turn off their electronic devices for a week.
（Peter (front and centre) worries about having his birthday during the screen-free trial. Photo: Craig Sillitoe)
This experiment put the tricky issue on the table, the “proper” use of the internet. On one hand, online technology is obviously considered as a useful tool that can help provide information to students and engages them in studying. However, the internet can also distract you to some extent, there seems to be an increasing amount of time we spend on social media, online chatting and online games. And this has become a great concern, especially to parents.
I start to thinking if I am one of them, can I survive this experiment? Unfortunately, the answer was pessimistic. As a person who was born in this technology era, I spend more than ten hours a day watching in screens and this is what shapes my life. Most of us used these technologies to keeping in touch with friends, relax, discover new things, the screen devices provide our sense of security in the digital age without which at least my life will fall into a huge panic. There are however many of us who practiced life before it’s time and has experienced a life without the Internet.
Finding money to pay for news is a big issue troubling media executives worldwide, a constant in journalism-related conferences, and it’s not likely to disappear recently. That’s because the way we consume news has changed.
According to Enter Stephen Quinn and Jeff Kaye in “Funding Journalism in the Digital Age”, ““Emerging technologies and changing social trends began to disrupt established media business models long before the latest crisis on Wall Street,” It is clear that the journalism industry is transitioning away from print and TV distribution to mainly digital platforms.
Before rethinking how online media change their business model, here are some useful advice which may help journalism funding in the digital age.
Be specific in your application.
The easy access of online content to globe audience means that the increased competition among news sites publishing stories on the same topics is driving down the value of news. That’s the reason why you need to specific your news app in order to attract a specific group of target audience. It can be a special news angle or an online community which allow users to leave comments or debating for controversial news. The degree of attention equal to network traffic which can directly change into funding.
User-generated content has become “a central element of the news gathering process,” says the controller of BBC World Richard Porter, in an international study. Reasonable use of user-generated content can significantly reduce the news cost. In digital ages, the public trend to seeking breaking news from social media, thus sourcing and content integration from social media may help you publish the story one step forward. Buying news from the mass public is much cheaper than field interview, the only thing you need concern is ensuring the authenticity of the news.
Technology moves at a dizzying speed. Tech journalism has been changed unimaginable over the past decade. The only thing unchanged is that the demand for professionals who can connect users, tech companies and their new products together with the amazing story and breaking news, that is the existence meaning of technology journalists.
So what does a tech journalist do? Most of the time they serve as sources of information for cutting-edge technology and important to both consumers and companies for many reasons. As the content they create is important to the audiences, they need to follow the trend, cover breaking news in technology and watch how users a reacting to new tech. When the importance of tech journalist conveys into credibility, they become opinion leader, they develop their influence through trust. In the digital age, people will decide to buy a brand new smartphone by the influenced of a review article by tech journalist or even a Twitter post.
Establish the influence like that will not only take time but also need a good track record. Journalistic integrity and be objective helps journalists avoid mistakes or prejudices, which are increasingly thrown around in the blogosphere. The thoughtful predictions and review based on industry expertise and hard date instead of the advertising from manufacturers. As a responsible opinion leader, the review article should not involve too many personal preferences or even benefit relationship. Being an opinion leader in the digital age doesn’t mean users will always agree with you.
For an excellent tech journalist, focusing on hard data and which features users may enjoy instead of relying on personal inclinations to make sales predictions can step a long way in journalism. It is much more challenging job in journalism, this is not surprising some of the tech journalists want to get rid of the career.