Journalism in an Era of Big Data: Cases, concepts, and critiques, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Journalism in an Era of Big Data

Cases, concepts, and critiques, 1st Edition

Edited by Seth C. Lewis


150 pages

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Big data is marked by staggering growth in the collection and analysis of digital trace information regarding human and natural activity, bound up in and enabled by the rise of persistent connectivity, networked communication, smart machines, and the internet of things. In addition to their impact on technology and society, these developments have particular significance for the media industry and for journalism as a practice and a profession. These data-centric phenomena are, by some accounts, poised to greatly influence, if not transform, some of the most fundamental aspects of news and its production and distribution by humans and machines.

What such changes actually mean for news, democracy, and public life, however, is far from certain. As such, there is a need for scholarly scrutiny and critique of this trend, and this volume thus explores a range of phenomena—from the use of algorithms in the newsroom, to the emergence of automated news stories—at the intersection between journalism and the social, computer, and information sciences. What are the implications of such developments for journalism’s professional norms, routines, and ethics? For its organizations, institutions, and economics? For its authority and expertise? And for the epistemology that underwrites journalism’s role as knowledge-producer and sense-maker in society? Altogether, this book offers a first step in understanding what big data means for journalism. This book was originally published as a special issue of Digital Journalism.

Table of Contents

Introduction – Journalism in an Era of Big Data: Cases, concepts, and critiques Seth C. Lewis

1. Clarifying Journalism’s Quantitative Turn: A typology for evaluating data journalism, computational journalism, and computer-assisted reporting Mark Coddington

2. Between the Unique and the Pattern: Historical tensions in our understanding of quantitative journalism C.W. Anderson

3. Data-driven Revelation? Epistemological tensions in investigative journalism in the age of "big data" Sylvain Parasie

4. From Mr. and Mrs. Outlier to Central Tendencies: Computational journalism and crime reporting at the Los Angeles Times Mary Lynn Young and Alfred Hermida

5. Algorithmic Accountability: Journalistic investigation of computational power structures Nicholas Diakopoulos

6. The Robotic Reporter: Automated journalism and the redefinition of labor, compositional forms, and journalistic authority Matt Carlson

7. Waiting for Data Journalism: A qualitative assessment of the anecdotal take-up of data journalism in French-speaking Belgium Juliette De Maeyer, Manon Libert, David Domingo, François Heinderyckx and Florence Le Cam

8. Big Data and Journalism: Epistemology, expertise, economics, and ethics Seth C. Lewis and Oscar Westlund

About the Editor

Seth C. Lewis is the inaugural Shirley Papé Chair in Electronic and Emerging Media in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA. He is also a visiting fellow with the Information Society Project at Yale Law School, CT, USA. His widely published research explores the digital transformation of journalism, with a focus on the human–technology interactions and media innovation processes associated with data, code, analytics, social media, and related phenomena. He is co-editor of Boundaries of Journalism: Professionalism, Practices, and Participation (Routledge, 2015), and is on the editorial boards of New Media & Society, Social Media + Society, Digital Journalism, and Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, among other journals.

About the Series

Journalism Studies

Theory and Practice

The journal Journalism Studies was established at the turn of the new millennium by Bob Franklin. It was launched in the context of a burgeoning interest in the scholarly study of journalism and an expansive global community of journalism scholars and researchers. The ambition was to provide a forum for the critical discussion and study of journalism as a subject of intellectual inquiry but also an arena of professional practice. Previously, the study of journalism in the UK and much of Europe was a fairly marginal branch of the larger disciplines of media, communication and cultural studies; only a handful of Universities offered degree programmes in the subject. Journalism Studies has flourished and succeeded in providing the intended public space for discussion of research on key issues within the field, to the point where in 2007 a sister journal, Journalism Practice, was launched to enable an enhanced focus on practice-based issues, as well as foregrounding studies of journalism education, training and professional concerns. Both journals are among the leading ranked journals within the field and publish six issues annually, in electronic and print formats. From the outset, the publication of themed issues has been a commitment for both journals. Their purpose is first, to focus on highly significant or neglected areas of the field; second, to facilitate discussion and analysis of important and topical policy issues; and third, to offer readers an especially high quality and closely focused set of essays, analyses and discussions; or all three.

The Journalism Studies: Theory and Practice book series draws on a wide range of these themed issues from both journals and thereby extends the critical and public forum provided by them. The Editor of the journals works closely with guest editors to ensure that the books achieve relevance for readers and the highest standards of research rigour and academic excellence. The series makes a significant contribution to the field of journalism studies by inviting distinguished scholars, academics and journalism practitioners to discuss and debate the central concerns within the field. It also reaches a wider readership of scholars, students and practitioners across the social sciences, humanities and communication arts, encouraging them to engage critically with, but also to interrogate, the specialist scholarly studies of journalism which this series provides.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies