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Quantifying journalism: A critical study of big data within journalism practice
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Geography, Media and Communication. (NODE)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0501-2217
2015 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The irruption of digital journalism introduced several opportunities and challenges to journalism. Roughly two decades after the introduction of the internet, big data has started to transform the way we understand information and how to use it. The quantification of visitors, readers, and users’ interactions has become the de facto analytic tool for digital newspapers analysis. Accordingly, robot journalism and new storytelling techniques, such as gamification, have started to use and apply the data in order to create a personalized news experience, to suggest specific content, and to enhance interpersonal interactions within the system.

But what happens when big data is targeted to the journalists themselves? How is the quantification of journalistic output received by journalists when the data is used to assess their own quality? This paper aims to answer these questions by looking at the case of the sports news website Bleacher Report. B/R turns journalists into users by awarding them with points according to their writing career statistics regarding their contribution to the site. Number of reads, number of comments, number of lead stories, and other metrics keep adding points defining each author’s reputation level. This quantification becomes an important factor to assess the journalist capacities.

When data is used to turn work into play and quantity into quality the values and norms upon which traditional journalism is built seem to be under threat. This case study provides the room for a critical discussion on the potential use of big data through game mechanics targeting news-workers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Journalism practice, quantification, big data, gamification, digital journalism
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-36930OAI: diva2:827846
Data Power, Sheffield, 22-23 June, 2015
Available from: 2015-06-29 Created: 2015-06-29 Last updated: 2016-01-29Bibliographically approved

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Ferrer Conill, Raul
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