Data journalism is a recent field that has little to do with the conventional meaning of journalism, which is reporting information. The word data is a little vague too since any information can potentially become data. Data journalism’s most popular skill that is required is the skill in displaying information. Organizations like Reuters or Bloomberg have published job opportunities stating that they want a data journalist or web developer who can create graphics, visualizations, and illustrations using data obtained from media, news, websites, etc. Some data reporter internships ask applicants to have desired skills in programming and other software tools like excel for instance.
In any case, the major talent or skill that a data journalist requires is technical skill in handling tools that can enable him or her to present data in a meaningful and visually pleasing manner.
Data journalism jobs in America are available in major east coast cities like New York, Washington D.C, etc because most news media outlets have their base and presence in these large important cities rather than in rural areas or smaller cities. Hence looking for opportunities in data journalism will inevitably lead applicants to major cities.
Job opportunities in data journalism can be expanded from a single base of journalism to include health care industry or any other. This is because of the use of data as a large, collectively organized, database. Reporting on medical or clinical research can be cumbersome due to the large amounts of data and people involved in trials and the equally complex data that needs to be understood and conveyed in a simpler manner to the public.
New developments in the medical research field published via news reports are generally the usual way in which scientists and researchers get to know about a particular scientific development. But discrepancies arise due to the fact that journalists find it difficult to publish a concise report without committing the error of omission or addition. Equally, scientists, researchers, or research organizations are hesitant to cooperate with journalists on the release of new research information and view journalists as antagonistic.
Data journalism can offer a major help in this by allowing journalists to obtain a neatly cataloged information set from physicians and researchers and collaboratively release news reports about the developments in the field. It can help correct the phenomenon of news reports tending to sensationalize medical research and help data journalists to objectively quantify, assign a meaningful context to the research and mention costs and limitation. This is just an example for a data journalist to enter an almost entirely unrelated field and work on displaying information about that field.
The job title ‘data journalism’ does not restrict the job to those journalists who acquire some programming skills or other software skills and become a data journalist. It is also open to programmers who have an aptitude or interest in events around the world or in wanting to use their skills to display information in a more useful format. Already many newsrooms and corporate media outlets employ programmers in their offices due to their skills in various software tools.