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Book Chapter

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The Routledge Companion to Journalism Ethics

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This chapter starts out by situating data journalism in relation to computer-assisted reporting and computational journalism and argues that data journalism has ballooned in recent decades as a result of the great availability of databases, increased training, and lower costs of computers. It then analyzes the main issues that can spring up at each phase of the data journalism process. During the collection process, journalists can be manipulated by flawed data or ethically compromised by using illegally obtained data. When they obtain data through surreptitiously scraping the web or paying for datasets, they might be violating notions of transparency and independence. When creating datasets that contain personally identifiable information, journalistic organizations need to consider legal and ethical obligations this stewardship entails. In the analysis of the data, reporters should keep in mind that datasets do not fall from the sky but are human creations full of flaws and inherent biases. Recognizing these is an ethical imperative. In the use of the data, reporters need to consider the amplification effect. Information that is public is not necessarily in the public interest and its publication can still cause harm. News organizations also need to consider if and how they will make their data sets available to the public.




Author Posting. © Bastiaan Vanacker, 2021. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Routledge for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in The Routledge Companion to Journalism Ethics, 25 August 2021

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.