Rahel Estermann's dissertation inquires into the emerging organizational and professional field of data journalism in Switzerland as well as internationally. Data journalism is a label for an interdisciplinary field of people trained in journalism, graphic design, data visualization, statistics and computer science. Most of these people work in media companies and provide visual communication and investigation into data for further reporting and insights. As an organizational field, it is currently undergoing institutionalization (professional training programs, establishment of teams, international collaboration and facilitation, conferences). For many observers of the field, data journalism promises new approaches and innovative ways of reporting in the era of Big Data.
The aim of the project is to analyze the emerging organizational and professional field. The project focuses on methods, skills and tools needed and used in Switzerland and internationally, but also on the boundary work of data journalists as well as the process of translation of data practices to everyday journalism. Rahel gathers data on the basis of online research about the data journalism community. Additionally, Rahel conducts intensive field work, attending newsrooms, meetups and conferences of the community and workshops on data journalism, and conducting interviews with experts in the field, such as coaches in data journalism and practicing data journalists.