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ARTICLE: Data driven sports journalism has its uses – and pitfalls

Untitled by Horizon League, licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Using data in sports journalism is a promising prospect, but its easy to misuse the data, write Thomas Horky and Philipp Pelka, both of Macromedia University of Applied Sciences. The authors interviewed five German experts on sports data journalism, and analysed the contents of three blogs specialized in sports data journalism.

Data is used mainly to increase sports reporting’s objectivity and credibility, Horky and Pelka found. Some interviewees also suggested that data driven approaches are interesting to more intellectual audiences, and investing in data sports journalism is used to enhance readership demographics. However, pressure from editors to increase data journalism output can lead to the meaningless use of “data for data’s sake”, the authors warn.

While data journalism can serve the audience’s interest, it is also easy to err in its use. Without sophisticated understanding of the sport in question, data can be presented in a misleading fashion. Football in particular is more complex than it appears, and simply looking at a player’s passing statistics will tell little of that player’s actual value to the team, the authors emphasize.

The article “Data Visualisation in Sports Journalism” was published by the journal Digital Journalism. It is available online (abstract public).

Picture: Untitled by Horizon League, licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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