274 | 27, pp. 273-293 | doxa.comunicación

July-December of 2018

Profile of the data journalist in Spain: training, sources and tools

ISSN: 1696-019X / e-ISSN: 2386-3978

1. Introduction

Data Journalism, which is in conformance with the Big Data technology trend (Mayer-Schönberger and Cukier, 2013; McCarthy, 2016), Open Data initiatives (Baack, 2015), and Open Government Data (Shadbolt et al., 2012; Ubaldi, 2013), is progressing as one of the professional journalistic profiles with a very strong future.

The increase in computer tools along with access to new sources is intensifying the investigative work of the journalist, as well as magnifying the need for transparency initiatives (Peiró, 2012). The data, converted into wide sources of information, uncovers a certain reality. Through algorithms (Renó and Renó, 2017), it brings to light a quantitative interpretation of a qualitative reality based on accessibility and reuse of data in order to prevent corrupt practices and to improve the functioning of democratic systems (Antón, 2013; Ferreras, 2013).

Its potential attracts the attention of new markets, innovative business models, and novel consumer and communication trends, especially through the new narratives and the use of networks that promote constant innovation (Dietrich et al., 2012), while at the same time opening up new approaches -frameworks- around the anonymous decisions of the algorithms (Diakopoulos, 2015). Data Journalism is advancing in this context, but with a certain lack of interest by the media, which


Data Journalism, the successor of Investigative and Precision Journalism, acquires a new dimension in the Big Data environment that is prompting the redefinition, currently in progress, of a new professional profile: the data journalist. The opening of large databases, the use of new statistical software, and the constant renewal of visualization tools open the door to a journalistic specialization that requires modification of routines and specialized training. This emerging and expanding profile is undergoing uneven development in the Spanish media. With the objective of becoming familiar with its evolution, this research offers the results of an open questionnaire sent to Spanish data journalists that focused the object of study on three categories: routines and training, the use of sources, and visualization tools. The main results seem to indicate that not all media have a specific section of data, that there are training deficiencies remedied by means of self-learning, that they use mostly public sources, and that visualizations are developed with a high level of creative freedom.


Data Journalism; Big Data; professional profile; visualization; tech-nological tool.


El Periodismo de Datos, heredero del Periodismo de Investigación y Precisión, adquiere una nueva dimensión en el entorno del Big Data que empuja a redefinir un nuevo perfil profesional en construcción, el del periodista de datos. La apertura de amplias bases de datos, el empleo de nuevo software estadístico y la constante renovación de herramientas de visualización abren la puerta a una especialización periodística que requiere una modificación de rutinas y una forma-ción especializada. Un perfil emergente y en expansión que ofrece un desarrollo desigual en los medios de comunicación españoles. Con el objetivo de conocer su evolución, esta investigación ofrece los re-sultados de un cuestionario abierto remitido a periodistas de datos españoles centrando el objeto de estudio en tres categorías: las rutinas y formación, el uso de las fuentes y las herramientas de visualización. Los principales resultados reflejan que no todos los medios cuentan con una sección específica de datos, que existen carencias formati-vas suplidas de manera autodidacta, realizan un uso mayoritario de fuentes públicas y que las visualizaciones se desarrollan con un alto nivel de libertad creativa.

Palabras Clave:

Periodismo de Datos; Big Data; perfil profesional; visualización; he-rramienta tecnológica.

Received: 27/10/2018 - Accepted: 22/11/2018

Recibido: 27/10/2018 - Accepted: 22/11/2018