ARTICLE: Data visualization practices in Scandinavian newsrooms

Picture: IMG_7041 by Marcin Ignac, license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There are several factors that shape the fast-developing practices of data visualizations in journalistic use, find Martin  Engebretsen, of University of Agder, Helen  Kennedy, of the University of Sheffield, and Wibke Weber, of ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences. The researchers interviewed 30 editorial leaders, data journalists, developers and graphic designers from 10 major news organizations in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Most major Scandinavian news organizations are gearing up for a stronger integration of data visualization in their news production, the results show. Authors found important factors for the practices of data visualization. These include the emergence of multi-skilled specialist groups, software development, the ‘mobile first’ mantra, and using user feedback.

The interviews also showed elements of tension and negotiation in the newsrooms. This was evident for example with communication of the groups, troubles with the technical tools, role of visualizations, skills of staff and disagreement over details in design and priorities.

“These developments have implications for journalistic genres at large, their forms, contents and social functions”, the researchers conclude. Visualizations have the potential to strenghten fact-based journalism. On the downside, increased use of visualization could also lead to a news discourse where graphs and diagrams are used to give news stories an aura of objectivity, authors write.

The article “Data Visualization in Scandinavian Newsrooms” was published in Nordicom Review and is freely available online (open access).

Picture: IMG_7041 by Marcin Ignac, license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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