The promise of computational journalism.

Flew, Terry, Daniel, Anna, & Spurgeon, Christina L. (2010) The promise of computational journalism. In McCallum, K (Ed.) Media, Demcoracy and Change: Refereed Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Communications Association Annual Conference, Australia and New Zealand Communication Association, Canberra, ACT, pp. 1-19.

View at publisher (open access)


There are at least four key challenges in the online news environment that computational journalism may address. Firstly, news providers operate in a rapidly evolving environment and larger businesses are typically slower to adapt to market innovations. News consumption patterns have changed and news providers need to find new ways to capture and retain digital users. Meanwhile, declining financial performance has led to cost cuts in mass market newspapers. Finally investigative reporting is typically slow, high cost and may be tedious, and yet is valuable to the reputation of a news provider. Computational journalism involves the application of software and technologies to the activities of journalism, and it draws from the fields of computer science, social science and communications. New technologies may enhance the traditional aims of journalism, or may require “a new breed of people who are midway between technologists and journalists” (Irfan Essa in Mecklin 2009: 3). Historically referred to as ‘computer assisted reporting’, the use of software in online reportage is increasingly valuable due to three factors: larger datasets are becoming publicly available; software is becoming sophisticated and ubiquitous; and the developing Australian digital economy. This paper introduces key elements of computational journalism – it describes why it is needed; what it involves; benefits and challenges; and provides a case study and examples. Computational techniques can quickly provide a solid factual basis for original investigative journalism and may increase interaction with readers, when correctly used. It is a major opportunity to enhance the delivery of original investigative journalism, which ultimately may attract and retain readers online.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

765 since deposited on 08 Feb 2012
114 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 39649
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
ISBN: 987-1-174088-319-1
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > JOURNALISM AND PROFESSIONAL WRITING (190300)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Past > Schools > Journalism, Media & Communication
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 please consult the authors
Deposited On: 08 Feb 2012 02:06
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2012 00:12

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page