Shaping the Future of Digital Journalism and Digital Humanities in a Big Data Era

From privacy to security concerns, the era of big data has considerably changed people’s lifestyles, creating both opportunities and challenges in equal measure for many. Withsurveillance capitalism continuing to gather pace, the proliferation of a new forms of journalism has left scholars divided on what role journalism is to play in data-driven society. None of these emerging forms of journalism seems to have been as influential as something I choose to call ‘whistle blow journalism,’ which I define as stories that seek to deliberatelyexpose secretive information at all costs in a compete departure from the profession’s traditional regulatory standards. From Wikileaks to Bellingcat, ‘whistle blow journalism’ has taken the world by storm. Bellingcat, the citizen-oriented investigative journalism website that has grabbed international headlines because of its unique fact-based and open-source reporting, has been gathering momentum since 2014 when it was formed by a citizen journalist. From the Syrian civil war to the downing of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, from the war in Ukraine to Yemeni civil war, Bellingcat seems to have weathered a storm, following initial attacks from countries targeted by its aggressive reporting including Russia. Like Wikeleaks, Bellingcat uses unorthodox means to access organisations, governments’ and individuals’ data, controversially disseminating hard-hitting stories praised by others but equally detested by some. The purpose of this paper is to explore digital humanities and digital journalism from a neo-institutional theoretical perspective analysing and highlighting their conceptual connections and constrains, eqaually investigating how individuals like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden have not only threatened but also shifted journalism’s traditional interactions with societal institutions especially political establishments. Yet whistle-blowers are not the only threats to journalism in a data-led society. Big name data tech giants such as Goggle, Apple and Facebook have a bigger say on who gets what news, forcing journalism to rethink its role and position in the society as new players are dominating the institutional theory of journalism.


Bruce Mutsvairo

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Digital Humanities Tilburg