Rethinking the Expertise of Data Journalists: A Case Study

Jingrong Tong


This article examines the expertise of eight data journalists and its development and application in three British national newspapers and their Sunday counterparts. Apart from technical skills, such as coding techniques, their expertise has a social dimension: the ability to make knowledge/experience-based judgments, solve problems, communicate with audiences, and collaborate with non-data journalists and experts. Their learning of technical skills was initially driven by their personal imperative to stand out in the job market. The social dimension of their expertise builds on and interacts with their gaining and proficient use of technical skills, underlying the combined use of technical and journalistic skills in practice. It helps to achieve collaboration and consolidate cultural authority in telling reliable data stories. The applicability of their expertise transcends all topic areas and suits interdisciplinary, high-tech reporting tasks requiring multifaceted knowledge that a single journalist may not possess. Its application reflects an organizational strategy to modify the division of labor in well-resourced national newspaper newsrooms in the UK in response to the opportunities brought about by the datafication of our society.


data journalism, British national newspapers, expertise, cultural authority, the division of labor

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