Models in computational journalism
Some journalists write articles, others write computer software. The software can be used, internally, in newsrooms, or as a journalistic product. Computational journalism is an emerging field overlapping both information science and journalism studies. A rough definition, given by Nickolas Diakopoulos, states that computational journalism is, ”[t]he application of computational algorithms to the goals of journalism: to collect, contextualize, and make sense of news information”. Newspaper editorial offices continuously utilize computational power for storytelling, while the scope and matter substance is poorly outlined and described in academia. In my Ph.D. thesis, I aim to narrow this gap by exploring possibilities and describing practices. In the 1950s, the term ‘database journalism’ became a new addition to the journalistic lexicon and workflow. Use of search engines and queries against various databases were new way s of supporting the journalistic process, often labeled with the acronym CAR ( computer-assisted reporting). Use of word processors and spreadsheets are included in this evolution. All the activities described by CAR are now second nature to every journalist and every information worker. The computer came to stay in the newsroom, but the digital workflow still most often mimics the old ways, without playing to all the strengths of the universal machine. The skills of programming journalists are among the strengths that are not fully being utilised. The mix between programming and journalism raises questions on a variety of issues. Some of the issues this study will explore include: How can programming and web development be further utilised as an editorial tool for the news industry? What technical and editorial challenges occur with extended usage of automated work processes in the newsroom? Can specialised software from other areas be imported for use in journalism? What, if any, modifications are needed to for these tools to fit into the journalistic domain? Do universal models exist for journalistic web content containing software code as a part of the news story? The methodical framework used in this study is design science. Theory from both information science and journalism studies will be explored and evaluated through development, user testing (lab testing/focus groups), and interviews.