Journalism by numbers does not mean ceding human process to the bots. Every algorithm, however it is written, contains human, and therefore editorial, judgments. The decisions made about what data to include and exclude adds a layer of perspective to the information provided. There must be transparency and a set of editorial standards underpinning the data collection.
The truth is, those streams of numbers are going to be as big a transformation for journalism as rise of the social Web. Newsrooms will rise and fall on the documentation of real-time information and the ability to gather and share it. Yet while social media demands skills of conversation and dissemination familiar to most journalists, the ability to work with data is a much less central skill in most newsrooms, and still completely absent in many.
Emily Bell, Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, argues that journalists and media companies should embrace data journalism in the current cover story for Columbia Journalism Review.
Read more: Journalism by numbers : CJR