Data Journalism Versus Traditional Journalism in Election Reporting: An Analysis of Competing Narratives in the 2012 Presidential Election

Frederic I. Solop, Nancy A. Wonders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article employs a grounded, qualitative analysis of election reporting to examine competing narratives constructed by media professionals covering the 2012 presidential election. Traditional journalists covered the election using time-worn strategies. In contrast, new data journalists relied upon analyses of large quantitative data sets to generate election stories. Two competing narratives emerged from these different reporting strategies: traditional journalists reported the election as competitive and volatile while data journalists reported the election as stable and consistent. Utilizing analytic frameworks from the media and politics literature, this article explores why the competition narrative provided by traditional journalists dominated election reporting, despite the greater accuracy of data journalists. Our analysis reveals that organizational, market, and structural forces tend to privilege competitive election narratives. To incorporate data journalists more centrally into future election coverage, we recommend heightening the transparency of their work and encouraging greater utilization of the digital commons for news distribution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-223
Number of pages21
JournalElectronic News
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2016

Keywords

  • data journalism
  • democracy
  • digital commons
  • election
  • narrative
  • polling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Communication

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