The Move Towards Data-Driven Journalism

Jul 18, 2017 admin

Continuing our dive into data-driven PR, this week we’re looking at data-driven journalism. Today, reporters face a perfect storm of reader distrust, new consumption platforms and a rising tide of available data. But don’t take my word for it, let’s look at the numbers. (See what I did there?)

1. America's faith in news sources is eroding

With “post-truth” rhetoric and “fake news” allegations at an all-time high, Americans are wary of traditional media outlets, as well as the White House itself. A recent poll from The Morning Consult & Politico found that only 52 percent of Americans trust the credibility of the White House, and the media isn’t far behind. Most outlets are hovering around the 60 - 55 percent credibility marker.

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This shift in public opinion puts the pressure on journalists and editors to create trustworthy content. For many reporters, that means backing up sources and statements with credible data.

2. Americans are getting their news from new places

According to Pew Research, Americans have shifted where they get their news; moving away from print and radio towards digital and TV. And as we all know, bite-sized, list-style content is a strong fit for these visually-driven outlets.

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Additionally, mobile news consumption continues to skyrocket with 72 percent of Americans getting their news from their cell phones. And as a medium, news read on mobile apps is primed for shortform, data-driven stories.

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3. The data is out there

Luckily for reporters looking to jump on the data-train, data is widely available. Popular sources include:

  • Government data: Started under our previous administration, Data.gov is home to more than 196K datasets. From healthcare to maritime data, this information is publically available for any citizen to comb through.
  • Company surveys & studies: Many major organizations have invested in studying industry trends. While company sponsored surveys may have gotten their start as marketing collateral, the tides have changed. For example, RightScale’s State of the Cloud Report is now a widely cited industry benchmark. Other companies who have jumped on this train include Accenture, Deloitte and more.
  • Media research: There are also several media outlets with associated research branches. For example; Business Insider and BI Intelligence, IDG and IDC, Quartz and Atlas, TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research, etc. This close relationship between media outlets and their sibling research firms gives reporters easy access to reliable, relevant datasets.
  • Analyst research: Analyst firms remain a classic choice for reporters hunting for numbers. Major players include Gartner, Forrester, 451 Research, etc., as well as smaller, industry-specific firms.

So, what does this mean for PRs and marketers?

Companies working with the media may notice a host of new job titles popping up on their favorite mastheads, including “data journalist” or “data editor.” This shift gives PRs and marketers the opportunity to reframe their approach to thought leadership. For example, your CEO may believe strongly in a certain trend, but needs credible data to effectively tell that story. Numbers are quickly becoming the best way for companies and reporters alike to gain readers’ trust, and to stay credible in this new data-driven era.

Topics: Public Relations, Journalism, data, media trends

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