Communications lecturer and former Columbus Dispatch business journalist James Breiner on how credibility works to the advantage of independent media.
I was on a call recently with some CIO’s and CTO’s from different American cities who were lamenting about the lack of political interest in open data. They complained that hackathons and data jams are succeeding in building vibrant communities of developers in their cities but that politicians just aren’t into this. They don’t see the value and they rarely show up to participate. I’ve seen the same trend in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
I’ve been working in the Open Data community for about a year and a lot of people ask me, “What’s the business case for Open Data?” Most of the software driving the Open Data movement is Open Source and free or nearly free. Data governance is handled on the fly. Lots of data is published at low refresh rates, with poor data quality, and no standard metadata. It is published in catalogs and it is extremely boring to read a catalog full of data.
Even as a growing number of authoritarian regimes crack down on the political press, business news is thriving. And the coverage is more vigorous than might be expected. Enterprising journalists are exposing mismanagement and unearthing shady business deals—and even at times exposing official corruption—that otherwise might never see the light of day. While other journalists face censorship, jail, or worse, business journalists are eschewing political stories to provide news and statistics on markets, business deals, and international trade.The expansion of economic and business journalism is not a substitute
for truly free and independent media. But it is a sign that—even in the most repressive environments—the demand for trustworthy information is strong and growing.