Two major news events - the coronavirus pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war - rely on data journalism to tell the story.
The State of Data Journalism 2022 is an annual survey based on 1800 international responses. It provides granular findings on the demographics of data journalists, their level of experience and skills.
Maps, charts and visual explainers have been indispensable for wading through misinformation and propaganda since Russia's invasion of Ukraine almost a year ago.
One in five data journalists is actively involved in covering the war, roughly half of the number of those still on covid-19 coverage.
Around half of the data journalists covering the war are working on fact-checking and verification. Data verification remains the biggest challenge, both out in the field and within organisations.
If there is one silver lining, it is that many data journalists believe this war has shown the need for greater data resources. A quarter says there have been more resources created for use in the field (where there are greater challenges around verification), though there are fewer resources within organisations.
The number of data journalists covering covid-19 stories is still growing: 54 per cent of those surveyed worked on covid-19 projects in 2022, up from 42 per cent in 2021. More journalists are working in data journalism as a result of the pandemic, too.
Most data journalists think the pandemic had little impact on resources available and time pressure, though the workload may have slightly increased.
Another silver lining is that nearly half (45 per cent) think the pandemic has boosted audience data literacy.
Government and political reporting remain the biggest beats for data journalists, with half covering stories from that sphere.
Weather and climate are another key growing area for data journalism, and environmental data is the second most popular beat. Economy takes the third place, just like last year. Health reporting is the only beat in decline amongst data journalists, with a five percentage point drop.
Data journalists often have to juggle beats, too. 40 per cent said they cover five beats or more. Another 40 per cent of journalists has two to four beats and one in five has one beat.
Access to quality data is the biggest issue facing data journalists, followed by a lack of financial resources and time pressure. Roughly half of the data journalists would agree to all of those being issues facing their work.
That is reflected in which data is used. Publicly available and official data is the most widely sourced in the survey (71 per cent), 30 percentage points in front of the next most frequent source, social media data. Unsurprisingly, due to the difficulty to obtain it, FOI is the rarest form of data at 21 per cent.
The UK ranks fourth out of 20 markets for access to, and quality of, data. Internationally, national data is considered better than local data.
There are various barriers to learning data journalism, but the biggest one is the lack of time to gain the skills. The others - on-field practice, financial resources, expert educators and internship opportunities - are contributing factors.
Free daily newsletter
- 15 free sources of data on the media industry
- How AI can help journalists track MPs financial interests
- Kyiv Independent launches an English-speaking journalism school
- UK's older population targetted by health misinformation
- Ukrainian journalists use smartphones to tell stories of displaced communities