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Digital Watchdogs? Data reporting and the traditional 'fourth estate' role for journalists

Felle, T. (2016). Digital Watchdogs? Data reporting and the traditional 'fourth estate' role for journalists. Journalism Theory, Practice and Criticism, 17(1), pp. 85-96. doi: 10.1177/1464884915593246


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 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 and in informing and engaging the public. However, the failure of popular ‘tabloid’ journalism to engage with data journalism means that a new technologically adept and data-informed elite class is on the rise, with important implications for democratic processes in advanced societies.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright Sage 2015
Publisher Keywords: data journalism; CAR; media and democracy; open government; accountability journalism; mapping; visualization
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Journalism
Text - Accepted Version
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