Waiting for Data Journalism
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofDigital journalism ; vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 432-446.
Data journalism has emerged as a trend worthy of attention in newsrooms the world over. Previous research has highlighted how elite media, journalism education institutions, and other interest groups take part in the emergence and evolution of data journalism. But has it equally gained momentum in smaller, less-scrutinized media markets? This paper looks at the ascent of data journalism in the French-speaking part of Belgium. It argues that journalism, and hence data journalism, can be understood as a socio-discursive practice: it is not only the production of (data-driven) journalistic artefacts that shapes the notion of (data) journalism, but also the discursive efforts of all the actors involved, in and out of the newsrooms. A set of qualitative inquiries allowed us to examine the phenomenon by first establishing a cartography of who and what counts as data journalism. It uncovers an overall reliance on a handful of passionate individuals, only partly backed up institutionally, and a limited amount of consensual references that could foster a shared interpretive community. A closer examination of the definitions reveal a sharp polyphony that is particularly polarized around the duality of the term itself, divided between a focus on data and a focus on journalism, and torn between the co-existing notions of “ordinary” and “thorough” data journalism. We also describe what is perceived as obstacles, which mostly pertain to broader traits that shape contemporary newsmaking; and explain why, if data journalism clearly exists as a matter of concern, it has not transformed in concrete undertakings.