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“Digital Media and Data Journalism” Online Discussion

Implemented by the Association of Journalism and funded by the European Union, Media for Democracy, Democracy for Media (M4D) continues its online events due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak. Data Journalist and Social Technologist Onur Mat conducted a discussion on “Digital Media and Data Journalism”.

The opening speech of the event was given by Association of Journalists Vice Chair and Project Director of M4D Yusuf Kanlı who underlined that data journalism in a field overlooked in Turkey but it is very important for the future of journalism. Kanlı also talked about various events of the M4D Project and how it had to transition to holding online events as of March 13 due to Covid-19. Kanlı thanked Onur Mat for participating in the discussion

Digital Journalist Onur Mat

Mat “We constantly generate and consume numerical data through our computers and phones”

Underlining how data journalism is an interdisciplinary field, Mat remarked that it is in constant evolution. Mat also mentioned that this evolution is due to the definition of data and our understanding of it constantly changing and said “If we were discussing data 20 years ago, we would probably be talking about a Microsoft Excel table filled with number. Yet, today data has a much wider definition, we generate data with every move. This is also true for social media platforms, or this online meeting we are conducting through Zoom. We constantly generate and consume numerical data through our computers and phones. We are living lives based on and deeply intwined with data, therefore our understanding of it can change every day. The main idea of data journalism is to tell a story based on data. In this regard, it isn’t that different from our conventional understanding of journalism.”

 

“Not being able to access data itself is newsworthy”

Mat pointed out there are CSOs focusing specifically on data, and to access data you need to have technical knowledge on the subject. He said “We are living in the information age. Another way of gathering data is through ‘Hackathons’. These are generally implemented to pinpoint issues in a short space of time. To access information, we need some technical knowledge. But in addition to that, the data needs to exist, or you need to be able to access the data. That is to say, those who have created the data need to share it with different parties. Not being able to access data itself is newsworthy.”

“Big Data”

Mat remarked that Big Data, comprised of data archives of social media platforms and search engines, are not incorporated in data journalism and said “Big Data, is the accumulation of data in a comprehensive manner, it’s not used in data journalism. We don’t have access to Big Data, anyway. I mean, we are a part of Big Data, but we don’t have access to it.”

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