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Data news invigorates media development

Author  :  DUAN DANJIE     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2018-09-28

Data news, based on big data and artificial intelligence technology, represents a new approach to news reporting. It specializes in inductive statistics, visual presentation and news production efficiency through the efficient processing of historical information and instant information.

Data news rose in the US and then gradually expanded to the world. Lin Xisheng, an associate professor at the School of Journalism at Fudan University, said that as early as 2006, Adrian Haroa, a software engineer at the Washington Post, proposed the concept of data news. “Big data has become a source of new knowledge and new value for people. It is also seen as an effective way to change the market and organizational structure of journalism and the relationships between the news and the public, the media and the government.”

Chen Jiyin, a professor at the School of Journalism and New Media at Xi’an Jiaotong University, said that data news is a combination of data statistics, analysis and news reporting. The procedures involve data mining, analysis and visual presentation. That means searching for stories from data and using data processing to tell stories so as to achieve news value. At present, thanks to the wider scope of news, diversified technical support and stylized software services, interdisciplinary knowledge is becoming more and more interactive. 

Fang Jie, an associate professor at the School of Journalism at Renmin University of China, said at present, the convenience of collecting, analyzing and calculating quantitative data has greatly improved, which has hastened the adoption of data news practices. As such, data news practices constitute an integral part of media transformation, driving media to expand the ways it is conducted and its form, while providing the public with more valuable information and services.

With the rapid advancement of big data technology, data news has had

a huge impact on traditional news, Chen said. The production of data news requires journalists to capture, process and visualize data. In addition, the global mining and processing of big data through the internet will make global news reporting possible.

Lin said that data news shows a new development trend, changes the form of discourse and enhances the variety and the degree of participation in content. At present, the steady increase in data news platforms has raised the professional standard for data news. These platforms provide personalized services based on users’ needs, interpret the impacts of macro-social phenomena on users and accurately push news in an algorithmic manner. 

Fang said that data news changes journalists’ concept of reporting, so that people can make more multidimensional reports on events or social phenomena. Using data visualization technology, news narration has become more diversified. Thereby, the narrative language of news is enriched, making it more enjoyable to users. In addition, data news has promoted the formation of a converged reporting mechanism and has hastened the diversification of ways of user engagement.

There is a long way to go before data news picks up more energy. In Lin’s view, to be socially responsible, the journalism industry should cooperate with main data firms to balance the relationship between data applications and information security. Besides, it is essential to improve news at a deep level and improve the professional quality of news reporting so as to compensate for the lack of natural quality of data news at the narrative level. Also, the maturity of big data and artificial intelligence technology means that some news products may be replaced by machines. So traditional news producers should face the reality, strive to improve their data literacy and strengthen cooperation with various departments of news production. 

When using data, the authenticity of data should be determined and the representativeness should be analyzed. It is also necessary to tell the true from the false and retain the essence. Chen said that using data to tell stories is the core of data news. But visual news, as an effective way to tell stories, can’t just seek to draw readers’ eyes without considering the truth of the news. Additionally, it is not appropriate to excessively pursue sensory stimulus but ignore the narrative mission.


(Edited and translated by CHEN ALONG)









Editor: Yu Hui

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