4 thoughts on “India’s Media — Missing the Data Journalism Revolution?

  1. Great read! Although, you should check out the data driven journalism and data visualisation work done by Rediff Labs at labs.rediff.com.

  2. It is always good to read in print what we already know (read those within the industry.) I am a lifestyle features writer (the divide between journalist and writer sure befuddles me but when you write features, then you are never given the designation ‘features journalist’ but just ‘features writer’, is this something we see only in India or abroad as well?) and am right now working with a health magazine. Sure, the readership is very niche and small (if you compare it with TOI or Navbharat Times i.e, though I will never know the official number, my workspace believes that is none of my business!) but they need well informed stories as well, not just the people who are poor in our country. What then about such niche journalism that can benefit from data? First of all, can it benefit at all? If so, how? Has anyone even thought about that? If I want to write about prostate massage or arranged marriages in India or how the diets that nutritionists recommend today has been theorised by well meaning but upper caste Brahmin men (Vishnu Shatrugna says in a ‘Down to Earth’ interview), do I need data? If I need to write about health threats (sudden cardiac arrest or diabetes 2) or myths about depression or suicide for a young, upwardly mobile readership, should I not get training in number analysis? Why was this never even mentioned at the premium journalism school I was at, is one thing to ponder over. I want to write about the ideas I expressed but frankly my editors don’t know or read or write or follow health stories. Even if I do write some of those, they will be poorly edited and may lack a vision or perspective. Certainly the so called editors/ senior journos need training themselves or at least the will to invest in training.

  3. Thanks for the comment, Priya. I can well understand your frustration. I suppose, for most people at decision-making levels (editors are invariably accountable to the management and it is almost impossible to keep that kind of interference completely away), return on investments is the driving force and you mention you are working for a niche magazine. This can only mean an even closer watch on ROI. Of course, health-research is almost always backed by data and it would be myopic to ignore that.

    However, this phenomenal growth in the availability and accessibility of data is a recent development, and we need a few big success stories in India before those set in their ways shed the skepticism and take notice. For this to happen, some strategic, well-timed pitching of story ideas may be the way forward. Perhaps, with that, the coin will drop and editors will make a beeline for the training and the software. After all, as they saying goes, “nothing succeeds like success” and we have a great deal of data to prove that!

  4. Very informative. Tomorrow on 19th October I am going to attend a workshop on data Journalism organized by Gujarat Media Cub at Ahmedabad. One of the speakers is Dr. Umashanker Pande from the University of Calcutta. While doing some homework I came across your Data Journalism article. Really informative.

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