‘Data Journalism’ a South African Journalist’s Friend or Foe?

data journ

The digital age is well and truly underway. With more and more gadgets and appliances being introduced to spur on the shift to all things digital, life as we know it is becoming centred around new, and ever-evolving technologies. Every aspect of our various jobs and lives as a whole is affected by technology in some way, shape or form as is the case with journalism with ‘Data Journalism’ in particular.

Data Journalism as one would have thought, is the creation of journalistic news stories through the use of data. In essence, what this form of journalism entails is that journalists need to find and make meaning of recorded data that is predominantly used for social science research methods. The information and data that is acquired can be used to find patterns and correlations amongst different sources to create more (and better) contextualised news stories.


This new and important skill is proving to be crucial in the new age of journalism as the sources of information is more freely and easily accessible than one would think. Mandy De Waal explains just how effective the proverbial ‘art’ of data journalism can be in her article, ‘Data journalism’ draws the line between the quick and the dead in The Daily Maverick available at: http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2011-12-05-data-journalism-draws-the-line-between-the-quick-and-the-dead/#.ViV7gH4rK1s.

This new and effective approach towards journalism should be embraced and welcomed by South African journalists both and old as key issues can be addressed through different avenues and from a newer perspective.

Members of the South African public and journalists alike are only scratching the surface with regard to traditional and more popular forms of journalism whereas data journalism provides somewhat of a smarter, more innovative approach. The amount of news stories that can be created and produced will definitely see a significant increase but more importantly so will the content thereof.


Data journalism has been welcomed in other countries and media environments and has thrived as it has proved to be more effective than first suspected. It is easy to stick to the norm and rather ‘play it safe’ but the times are and have changed and if you don’t move with the times you will be left behind.

We have great renowned and aspiring journalists in this country and it would only hinder their development and individual brands if this vital skill were not to be used and taken advantage of.

In closing, the people deserve better, deepening stories and we as the [aspiring] journalists owe it to ourselves to enhance not only our writing skills but the new and improved digital journalistic skills as well.


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