Is There a Press Release on That? The Challenges and Opportunities of Big Data for News Media

  • Anthony Cawley


This chapter reflects on the growing importance of data to journalism. It highlights the fact that data journalists are developing innovative forms of news storytelling which not only engage audiences in novel ways, but also offer greater transparency to the editorial production process. It argues, however, that data journalism finds itself caught in a long-standing tension in news industries between the dual demands on news to serve the public good (maintaining an informed citizenry and acting as a watchdog on power) and succeed as a for-profit informational commodity. The chapter suggests that, so far, data journalism aligns more comfortably with the public good objectives of news than with its commercial imperatives, which may be a factor limiting its wider practice in news organisations.


Data journalism Data-driven news Automated journalism News industries News narratives Informational commodity Public good Watchdog role Big Data Security 


  1. Anderson, C. W. (2015). Between the unique and the pattern: Historical tensions in our understanding of quantitative journalism. Digital Journalism, 3(3), 349–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Briggs, A., & Burke, P. (2005). A social history of the media: From Gutenberg to the internet. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  3. Carlson, M. (2015). The robotic reporter: Automated journalism and the redefinition of labour, compositional forms, and journalistic authority. Digital Journalism, 3(3), 416–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cole, P., & Harcup, T. (2010). Newspaper journalism: Key texts. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Doyle, G. (2006). Financial news journalism: A post-enron analysis of approaches towards economic and financial news production in the UK. Journalism, 7(4), 433–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fahy, D. (2014). A limited focus? Journalism, politics and the Celtic Tiger. In M. O’Brien & D. O’Beachain (Eds.), Political communication in the Republic of Ireland (pp. 129–146). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Franklin, B. (2014). The future of journalism. Journalism Studies, 15(5), 481–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gandy, O. (1982). Beyond agenda setting: Information subsidies and public policy. New York: Ablex.Google Scholar
  9. Independent News and Media. (2014). Annual Report. Retried April 4, 2016, from
  10. Indecon. (2014). Economic analysis of the advertising market in Ireland 2013. Retrieved July 9, 2015, from
  11. Lenihan, H. (2015). Digital journalism: Reinventing news for 21st century. Retrieved July 7, 2015, from
  12. Lewis, S., & Westlund, O. (2015). Big Data and journalism: Epistemology, expertise, economics and ethics. Digital Journalism, 3(3), 447–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lewis, J., Williams, A., & Franklin, B. (2008). A compromised fourth estate? Journalism Studies, 9(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lippmann, W. (2009). The phantom public. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  15. News Brands Ireland. (2015). Retrieved July 9, 2015, from
  16. O’Brien, M. (2015). The Irish press, politicians, and the Celtic Tiger economy. In S. Schifferes & R. Roberts (Eds.), The media and financial crisis: Comparative and historical perspectives (pp. 75–86). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Parasie, S. (2015). Data-driven revelation? Epistemological tensions in investigative journalism in the age of ‘Big Data’. Digital Journalism, 3(3), 364–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Parasie, S., & Dagiral, E. (2013). Data-driven journalism and the public good: ‘Computer-assisted-reporters’ and ‘programmer-journalists’ in Chicago. New Media and Society, 15(6), 853–871.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sinclair, U. (2003). The brass check: A study of American journalism. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  20. Tambini, D. (2010). What are financial journalists for? Journalism Studies, 11(2), 158–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. The Irish Times. (2015). Welcome to Irish Times data. Retrieved July 7, 2015, from

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony Cawley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Media and CommunicationLiverpool Hope UniversityLiverpoolUK

Personalised recommendations