We asked our respondents to describe their primary connection to data journalism, with the aim to obtain a clear picture of the composition of the data journalism ecosystem. As a primary occupation, by far the largest group is of full-time employees at news companies or organisations (28%). While for every part-time employed data journalist there are 5-6 full-time employed ones, the share of full-timers and part-timers in freelancing is almost the same (10% and 10%). Educators, teachers, trainers, and faculty members are the overall second largest category (15%) among the survey participants. Meanwhile, students made up 8% of those who took the survey, an indication showing data journalism is a growing field.
As we break down occupation by gender and age, we once again see that women are overrepresented in the student population, which is predominantly a young one. Women are also a majority when it comes to full-time freelancing, and are generally overrepresented in freelancing roles.
The youngest respondents (18-24) tend to be students or work as part-timers. Not surprisingly, older respondents predominantly tend to be in education-related positions or retirement.
Looking at the 10 countries with the largest number of respondents, we see that Nigeria has the highest internal share of employees, whereas Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands have even shares of freelancers and employees. Brazil instead stands out for its share of educators/trainers (32%).
Learning data journalism
We know that data journalists tend to be highly educated, but what education path do they tend to take when learning data journalism specifically? In our multiple-choice question, 70% indicated that they are self-taught using either online or offline resources, if not both.
Formal education online (27%) is a more popular learning place than higher education or workplace training (25% each), and bootcamps or professional courses (23%).
Workplace training occurs relatively more within those professions, such as full and part-time employment, or editor/team leads.
Years of experience
Around 63% of data journalists have less than 5 years of experience in the profession, a reminder that many are in the early stages of their data journalism career. Full-timers, editors, and educators have by far more experience, in the number of years than the other occupation categories, with the exception of retired data journalists, who have been in the field the longest.
Of the 1241 who answered our income question, just under 60% earns between $1 and $49,999. By gender, men tend to earn more than women. Salaries increase with years of experience, age, and company size. Among professions, educators and trainers stand out in terms of quality of salaries.
It looks like the majority of data journalists like to join large organisations (22%), or else work on their own (20%), with small-medium to medium-large companies hosting the remainder (15% each in companies of 2-9, 10 to 49, and 100 to 499 employees, and 7% in companies of 50 to 99 employees).