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Big Data in Journalism and What It Means for PR

The Stanford Daily recently reported that this fall, Stanford University’s journalism department will open a new computational journalism lab to house several courses focused on data analysis.

According to the story, the courses, which were first offered last year, “made Stanford one of the first schools to teach journalists how to find stories in data.” They’ve attracted students from a variety of disciplines, including computer scientists and engineers eager to learn about information dissemination and how they can develop tools to aid the journalism industry.

Even Columbia University, a top-notch j-school, is offering a specialization in data journalism for graduate students. Other schools like Berkeley, University of North Carolina, University of Missouri, University of Texas and University of Florida are offering courses on data-driven reporting, as well.

What does all this mean for PR pros? We have to learn math, apparently. OK, maybe not, but knowing that the future of journalism will depend much more heavily on reporters being able to read and interpret data to find their stories means the PR industry should probably follow suit.