Data unicorn paper accepted by Digital Journalism

UPDATE: The paper was published on April 7 by Digital Journalism (subscription required). If you can’t access the paper, please email me for a copy. 

My paper with Mary Lynn Young on data and computational journalism in Canada has been accepted for publication by Digital Journalism.

The article, Finding the Data Unicorn: A hierarchy of hybridity in data and computational journalist, found a hierarchy of hybrid journalist/programmer cultures.

There were suggestions of the emergence of a blended techno culture at the public broadcaster and a legacy print organization. At other organizations, there were more pronounced tensions over professional titles, resources and labour policies which impacted the agency of data journalists.

For the study, my UBC Journalism colleague and I interviewed 17 data journalists in Canada. An earlier version of the paper was presented at the Negotiating Culture: integrating legacy and digital cultures in news media in October 2015, organized by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Here’s the abstract:

Understanding how data and computational journalism are affecting news norms, practices and organizations is essential for journalists and researchers. We explore the development of data journalism in Canada through interviews with 17 data journalists and freelancers at six of the country’s largest legacy news organizations. Our central question is how these journalistic identities are both shaping intra- and inter-organizational and professional boundaries and being shaped by them.. We draw from Chadwick’s (2013) systems thinking approach to understanding media hybridity across time and place as well as the traditional sociology of news to assess technological adaptation and agency in this emerging domain. Findings suggest that encounters between emergent and legacy logics have created a hierarchy of hybrid cultures. Two organizations – the public broadcaster and a legacy print organization – showed early stage evidence of blended techno cultures similar to some in the United States. In others there were tensions with professional labelling, resourcing, protective economic strategies and labour policies, limiting options to mobilize power and experiment with technological adaptation in more generative ways. These shifts were occurring within a context of increased cooperation within, across and beyond traditional organizations pointing to a new degree of networked collaboration in Canadian journalism.

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