Part 5: Conclusion

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?

When this research paper started, I hypothesised that we would see a positive response from the 18 to 24 age group to interactive data journalism that has been created by the BBC. It’s not as black and white of a case as I would have expected. The object of study responded to the articles produced by the BBC in a number of ways in which I could have never of predicted in the first place. It’s clear that the 18 to 24-year-old audience do respond positively to the content produced by the BBC. However, the answer goes beyond that when you bring in other elements, the response is very much different. When you bring in factors such as trust, while not an original focus of study, came across in the research as a core reason for the audience responding negatively to the BBC. The audience may like the contents of an article, but if it’s presented by an organisation that they believe has questionable morals and ethics, such as they believe the BBC does, then their response can change instantly, which it did.

What we learnt was that for the BBC, creating an interactive visual article with a fundamental element of data to it going to get much harder as they have to make sure it is compatible with a range of different hardware specifications and user needs and requirements. The end result is that for the BBC they face the problem of making articles which are ever more complex in their design, structure, and content resulting in more difficulties being faced.

But looking back why was this paper important and does its content carry any merit? Katherine Viner wrote, “Digital is not about putting up your story on the web. It’s about a fundamental redrawing of journalists’ relationship with our audience.” (Viner, 2013) The relationship she talks about is a lot more complicated than anyone could have first predicted and is constantly being redrawn to cater to the needs of the many, not the needs of the few, such as the 18 to 24-year old audience.

For future research, I see two main areas that I employ any academics to consider for study. The first area is the relationship between Buzzfeed and the BBC, with an object of study still being the younger generation. The focus group constantly drew up comparisons between the two organisations, a further, more in-depth study between the two publishers might uncover some in-depth analysis on how they both approach the same age range market. The second area would be an exact copy of this study, but one that is reciprocated in a wider age group. It would also open up another debate, how do the different age groups respond to visual data journalism?

In conclusion, we can draw clear lines from this investigation. Interactive digital journalism is still in its infancy, applications have only been around for 9 years, we’re also as an industry caught in the tidal wave that is social change, reforms and ethical issues that are constantly changing the features that define us as a market make audience response an ever-shifting challenge that faces our industry.