Data journalism and black-boxed data sets

Wilson Lowrey, Ryan Broussard & Lindsey A. Sherrill (2019)

Newspaper Research Journal. 40(1), pp. 69-82

Abstract. This study explores the level of scrutiny data journalists from national, local, traditional and digital outlets apply to data sets and data categories, and reasons that scrutiny varies. The study applies a sociology of quantification framework that assumes a tendency for data categories to become “black-boxed,” or taken-for-granted and unquestioned. Results of in-depth interviews with 15 data journalists suggested these journalists were more concerned with data accessibility and ease of use than validity of data categories, though this varied across outlet size and level of story complexity.

Keywords: data journalism, accuracy, attribution of news, political autonomy, freedom of information, sociology of quantification

Link to the review