EJC Launches State of Data Journalism Survey Report 2023

Mr. Lars Boering, Director, European Journalism Centre

The European Journalism Centre (EJC), an independent, non-profit institute, based in Maastricht, The Netherlands, has launched the 2023 edition of the State of Data Journalism Survey Report, which includes new special modules on Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) – two specialty areas that have greatly impacted the field of data journalism in recent years.

In its third edition, a total of 776 people took part in the survey which the findings reveal powerful insights about the industry’s demographics, challenges, tools, and work practices. The 2023 edition also marks an important milestone as The State of Data Journalism Survey is now the longest-running survey for benchmarking the data journalism industry. Previous surveys were conducted in 2021 and 2022.

A number of key takeaways emerged from the State of Data Journalism Survey Report 2023 including the following:

In terms of demographics, the survey reveals a balanced gender distribution in data journalism, with nearly equal representation of men and women, signifying a significant shift towards gender inclusivity in the industry. Additionally, the prevalence of younger professionals, especially those in the 25-34 age group, points to a trend of emerging talent shaping the future of data journalism.

Another key taeaway is that majority of data journalists are employed full-time in news outlets or organisations, thus indicating a stable job market within traditional media settings. The increase in full-time freelancers from 2021 to 2023 suggests a growing trend towards flexible work arrangements in the industry.

Findings from the survey show that data journalists predominantly possess strong journalism skills, although there’s a notable gap in technical skills like data analysis and visualisation, underscoring the need for comprehensive skill development in these areas. The correlation between experience in data journalism and higher skill levels emphasises the value of ongoing professional development and experience in the field.

The report also reveals that public official governmental data is the most commonly used type of data, highlighting its crucial role in data journalism. The use of (Freedom of Information) FOI-obtained data being subject to regional variations demonstrates differences in data sourcing practices and the importance of legal frameworks in accessing information.

Findings also point to the fact that most data journalism projects are medium-term endeavours, completed within weeks or months, indicating the time-intensive nature of this work. The predominance of small team collaborations in these projects also reflects the collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of data journalism.

In a quarter of the respondents’ organisations were dedicated data units especially in medium to large media outlets, underscoring the growing recognition of specialised data journalism teams within the broader media landscape. The trend towards smaller data units suggests a focus on agility and specialisation within these teams.

The report finds that access to quality data, time pressure, and lack of data analysis knowledge are the top challenges faced by data journalists, highlighting the need for better data accessibility, efficient workflow management, and skill enhancement in the industry.

The report also finds that a small portion of data journalists have incorporated AI and OSINT into their work, primarily for content search and verification, signalling a slow integration of advanced technologies in journalistic practices to deal with content-related challenges. The challenges faced in using AI and OSINT, such as limited understanding and concerns about bias, point to the need for greater education and ethical guidelines in the application of these technologies in data journalism.

To access the full report, please download State of Data Journalism Survey Report 2023.