In My Humble Opinion

My random online bumblings about storytelling, writing, content and being a small business owner.

Data engineers replace old-fashioned hacks

Today saw the launch of the first ever International Data Journalism Awards by the Global Editors Network. 

The awards, which were launched at Google and are supported by the European Journalism Centre, will recognise three categories; data-driven investigations, interactive data-visualisations and data-driven mobile and web applications. 

The prizes are pretty substantial - $10,000 per winner and seek to enhance the role and reputation of data journalists, a growing field in journalism. 

When I was working as a journalist at B2B publisher Reed Business it was clear that the markets that were going to survive the crunch in magazine revenues were the those that could leverage digital data more effectively.

This consequently meant a requirement for very different types of journalists with skills vastly different from many traditional journalists.

The rise of the data engineer started as soon as companies spotted the value in data and for editors who spotted the opportunity in turning complicated data sets into consumable information for editors. Publishing was no longer about news. 

At Reed Business there’s fewer traditional magazines now, with the growth businesses being those operating in Aerospace, HR and Chemicals that have big data information sources that businesses want because its extremely valuable information.

Data engineers are now extremely valuable to media organisations as this award is testament to. 

Antoine Laurent, deputy director of the GEN and project manager for the awards, said there were well known trail blazers in the field:

"We have seen a real advance in the work produced by the likes of The New York Times, The Guardian and Reuters recently, but there are also some highly innovative and talented teams in areas such as Costa Rica and Brazil."

So will data engineers replace old-fashioned hacks? Certainly, the skills are different and the fall of the investigative journalist is well documented in many media outlets. It’s not the end of investigative journalism, of course, it’s not, just the rise of new style of data engineers into the field of publishing, because there’s value in that data. 

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