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Top 10 Insights From Our 2022 State of Data Journalism Survey

More than 1,800 reporters took part in the second edition of our Data Journalism Survey. As with the first edition, this project aims to examine the field's trends, changes, and trajectory about the current events that marked 2022. This year, we investigated how the war in Ukraine has affected and involved data journalists worldwide, just as we did in 2021 - when we had a special section on the Covid pandemic.

Check out 10 key findings from our survey, below. You can read the whole report here or grab the data from GitHub to investigate and do some data journalism on data journalism yourself!

1. Approximately 20% of data journalists reported on the conflict in Ukraine

Almost a year has passed since Russian troops and armour crossed the border into Ukraine, kicking off a turbulent year in Europe with far-reaching consequences. Data journalism once more showed its significance in providing journalists with the capability to convey information quickly and precisely concerning unprecedented occurrences.

Our survey revealed at least one in five data journalists covering the conflict, showing how widespread the conflict was reported on globally.

2. The majority of respondents believe the conflict has increased challenges around data verification

It’s not just about sheer numbers, however. The war over information and media and the resulting boom of misinformation has had other dangerous consequences for journalists. According to our respondents, the conflict has overall increased hurdles for the industry.

Regardless of whether it is at the organisation or the field level, most respondents believe the conflict has increased challenges around data verification (27% and 45%, respectively).

On another note, many claimed to have experienced positive effects, too, particularly improved awareness of existing resources (23% and 34%, respectively).

3. Over 1 in 3 data journalists are completely self-taught

We were keen to learn how data journalists learn and acquire the skills they need to gain a foothold in the profession. The most common means of learning the profession is through self-study using online resources (61%). Just over one in five have learned data journalism through higher education, surpassed by formal online education (one in four).

How many people have learned data journalism all on their own? We found that 35% of respondents relied solely on self-study (online or offline). This figure has not changed significantly from last year, showing that the community continues to need more resources to expand their knowledge and skills.

4. Data journalism continues to be a predominantly male field

What could possibly be more startling than a sudden change in results from one year to the next? The realisation that the unhappy status quo has barely changed since 2021. 58% of respondents identify as men, 40% as women, 1% as non-binary/genderqueer and 1% preferred not to answer. These proportions are consistent with last year's results and confirm a higher proportion of men versus women in data journalism. When we break down the occupations by gender, we find that men are overrepresented in team-leading positions (10%), while women tend to be younger and more highly educated in the industry.

5. Participants come from a range of countries, with the U.S. accounting for 12% of the total, followed by the United Kingdom (7%), Italy (6%), and Germany (5%)

Where do our participants come from, and how does this relate to the field's representation?

Most participants are from the United States (12%), followed by the United Kingdom (7%), Italy (6%), Germany (5%), Spain, India, and Nigeria (4% each).

This is a slight change from the previous year, as the top five countries are no longer made up of only Western countries. Again, Brazil had the highest Latin American response rate (2%), followed by Argentina (1%). Kenya and Egypt had the highest response rates in Africa (2% and 2%, respectively). In all Asian and African countries, as well as in France, the proportion of men was higher than in the entire data set.

In contrast, in Greece, Sweden, Turkey, Mexico, and the Netherlands, more than half of the responses were from women. Australia ranked first in the world for non-binary/gender-neutral individuals (7% of respondents), followed by Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom (3% each).

6. Over 60% of the industry is younger than 44 years

Despite another big year of growth in the field, it is still on track to expand even further. This can be inferred by the young age of those in the field, where 60% of participants were between 18 and 44 years old. Even though data journalism has been around since, few members of its workforce find themselves in a position to start thinking about retirement.

7. Around one in four people in data journalism have three to five years of experience

Given the young age of the participants, it stands to reason that the years of experience of those working in the sector are equally young. One in four data journalists has between three and five years of experience. The remaining responses tend to fall around this median, with a slightly positive trend: 38% have been in the industry for less than two years, while 30% have been in it for six years or more. Almost two out of five have joined the company in the last year.

8. Data visualisation training is most in demand

What would our data journalists most like to learn? Most instructors (78%) indicated that training in data visualisation is most in demand this year. This also aligns with the greatest interest in skills development (57%). In both cases, data analytics is a close second. Some 51% have a journalism background, while 43% have learned how to make sense of data through visualisation and analysis.

Machine learning and data processing are the areas that require the most training but offer the least. While about half of respondents are interested in learning new skills in these areas, only about one-fifth have actually taken training in them.

As was the case last year, there needs to be more consistency between the skills required of data journalists and the skills they acquire. In the middle is the greatest need for new teachers.

9. The majority of data journalists (50%) report on issues of national importance, and more than half (53%) cover politics and governance

More than half of data journalists report on government and politics (53%), confirming this area as the most common beat type in data journalism for the second year in a row. It is closely followed by the environment (46%) and business (42%).

Compared to last year, the number of respondents reporting on health declined (-5 percentage point difference), indicating a slowdown in pandemic coverage. On the other hand, a wide range of smaller topics is gaining traction in data journalism, with climate, energy, education, and opinion leading the way (3 percentage points difference in each).

10. Data journalists work for online media

As for the publication media used by data journalists, the top three are digital: nearly half work at an online-only digital medium, while 39% work at print or broadcast media with a website. 29% use social media to share their work. Only one in seventeen work for print-only newspapers or magazines, while one in ten work in television or radio.

The vast majority of respondents (56%) work for a single medium. The most common combination of multiple responses we saw was combining social media with online-only media or media that has both a print/broadcast format and a digital presence.

Comment on this data with us on Discord and stay tuned, because we will soon announce the winner of our prize raffle, who will get to attend the International Journalism Festival 2023 in Perugia!

We want to thank all participants for helping us in this large scale effort, and we hope the data behind the survey serves to help the community.

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