Part 1: Introduction

How does the 18 to 24-year-old age group respond to interactive visual data journalism produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for BBC News online?

As a data journalist, I am aware of the problem our industry faces, an ever-more-turbulent future puts the profession in a position where we must strive to create new boundaries and re-establish new footing in areas where our foot has collectively slipped recently. As an academic, I have an interest in how the younger generations consume journalism. Young adults, aged between 18 and 24 are the generation of tomorrow and as a data journalist in the industry, we must learn how they respond to interactive visual data articles.

This dissertation is a discussion of the reception of interactive visual data articles, using the BBC as a point of study on an object of study of UK audiences aged between 18 and 24. Themes such as how audiences respond to articles, what drives the BBC to create these articles as well as addressing issues that affect both parties in a bid to consolidate established research along with new theories that I present, resulting in a study of a newly emerged journalism market.

The main issue that informed this paper is the BBC’s obligation to provide unbiased news to the public. Broadly speaking, data journalism uses data to create stories that empower the public and allow them to make informed decisions. The visual element can take a number of forms, from a simple pie or line chart to more in-depth methods such as infographics and interactive games. This paper’s main objectives is to find out how the 18–24-year-old audience respond to interactive visual data journalism produced by the BBC.

Over the next several chapters I predict that we’ll find that the 18–24-year-old audience will respond positively to articles that have been created by the BBC. This hypothesis is not based on any evidence, as this area has not been studied, but instead on my experience as a data journalist. I believe that with the audiences being well equipped in both technological prowess and ability to consume these new forms of articles, they will respond positively to interactive visual data journalism articles.

This paper will be a case study of the BBC. Never before have academics looked at interactive visual data journalism with a specific object of study. At the same time, a lot of the existing academic texts are originated in foreign countries with little looking at England as a focus of their study. But why data journalism? Well as Simon Rogers suggests, “Data journalism is becoming part of the establishment” (Rogers, 2011)

The literature review will explore existing academic work across three-subchapters which analysis current data journalism, ethics in journalism and new media platforms. In the methodology chapter I will be undertaking a full analysis of my research methods that I have undertaken, including an original interview, survey and focus group, whilst using existing studies to build on both existing and new research. The third chapter will be a summary of my findings including a combination of primary research whilst using secondary sources, including those used in the literature review. The last chapter will be a summary and conclusion of my findings.