Digital watchdogs? Data reporting and the news media's traditional 'fourth estate' function

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As governments throughout the world transition to storing and releasing vast amounts of numerical information digitally, journalists are increasingly using digital data reporting as an investigative tool to report on issues in the public interest and to hold government - elected officials and bureaucracy - to account. Through a series of qualitative interviews with 26 data journalists in 17 countries, this article examines the impact that digital data reporting is having on the traditional role of journalism as a fourth estate. Findings suggest the emergence of digital data reporting as a key tool in accountability journalism. Data journalism is seen as a new method of investigating and telling stories in ways that can inform and engage the public on a larger scale. However, the failure of popular 'tabloid' journalism to engage with data journalism means that a new technologically adept and data-informed elite class might be on the rise, with important implications for democratic processes in advanced societies.




Felle, T. (2016). Digital watchdogs? Data reporting and the news media’s traditional “fourth estate” function. Journalism, 17(1), 85–96.

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