Computer Assisted Reporting, or CAR, has long been considered the standard term for big project journalism based on data analysis. But with a greater need to provide context around numbers in the media, that term is changing.
Jonathan Stray, a reporter/computer scientist, wrote on his blog last month that computational journalism could be defined as: “…the application of computer science to the problems of public information, knowledge, and belief, by practitioners who see their mission as outside of both commerce and government.”
But while the ever changing media world develops a working definition of the term, the basic facets of information gathering — reporting — are still there. Stray goes further, breaking down key aspects of computational journalism, including:
Data journalism, which Stray defines as the traditional model of computer assisted reporting most commonly applied to databasing information through spreadsheets.
Visualization, in addition to the reporting side of things, there is the visualization aspect that accompanies most stories today, and is key to drawing in an audience.
Technology, with an ever increasing amount of new ways to get out information, Stray emphasized the importance of networks, cryptography, and information theory. To track and filter the spread of all the information, we rely on a variety of online tools, including social media, Google News and Interceder, which you can check out here: http://interceder.net/
In addition to the vast array of tools available to measure the spread of information on the Internet, Stray also touches on the effects that journalism has on the public. This kind of post-production analysis is largely lacking today, and could be expanded upon with the rise of computational journalism.
To check out the full post go here: http://jonathanstray.com/a-computational-journalism-reading-list