Knowing what counts: How journalists and civic technologists use and imagine data

Baack, S., 2018, [Groningen]: University of Groningen. 238 p.

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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  • Stefan Baack
From news recommendations to smart cities, our lives are increasingly affected by the aggregation of data. In this dissertation, I study how this affects democratic visions and practices by looking at the practices, self-understandings and visions of data journalists and data activists. These actors are particularly relevant because they are pioneers for how data is employed in journalism and civil society: They act as exemplars for other journalists and civil society actors and shape their use of data. Moreover, because both rely on data and aspire to provide a public service that empowers citizens, they have developed a close relationship with each other. I explore this relationship and reflect on how the work of these actors affects the relationship between journalism and civil society.

To research this, I conduct three case studies. The first study shows how data activists draw on open source culture and envision that freely available government data increases transparency and makes governments more participatory and representative. The second study examines how data activists attempt to enable the public to more easily engage with authorities, using data. The third study shows how the practices of data journalists and data activists range from the aim to steer public debates via gatekeeping on the one hand, to facilitating the actions of citizens on the other. Throughout these three case studies, I show that the growing reliance of data in journalism and civil society affects both how, and by whom older democratic visions and notions of journalism are being implemented.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
Award date19-Apr-2018
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-034-0572-8
Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-0571-1
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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