Journalists And Audiences Are Hungry For 'Big Data' Stories

With more public information available on everyone and everything, some believe journalism should follow the change. It’s not a case of following the money, but more of following and analyzing “big data.”

Much journalistic information gathering has always included person-to-person discussions which would hopefully reveal juicy tidbits about local legislators, national big name businesses, or thousands of stories in-between.

But one journalist, Nate Silver -- now of ESPN, and coming off his sterling performance in analyzing deep polling data for last year’s presidential election -- sees a different future. The future, he feels, should be more about data.

Make that “big data.” Silver talked up bigger efforts to mine sophisticated and scientific data in a speech at an Online News Association meeting

While many TV political commentators, just about a year ago, were tense with excitement about how close the Presidential election seemed to be, Silver had been calm for months in his reporting and analyzing of polling and other data that showed President Obama would be re-elected comfortably,  both in popular vote and the electoral college. Silver also accurately predicted the presidential winner in all 50 states.

Of course it's not just numbers. "Searching for the root cause is what it's all about," Silver says.

A couple of months ago, TV Watch fostered the idea that financial reporters who cover the TV business and advertising should forget about ratings – including commercial ratings, and even live plus whatever-number-of-days-you-want-attached-to-your-viewing metrics.

Instead, their focus should be about only money. For example: What is a show’s profit potential and what is a show’s current day-by-day value? This is something marketers -- and perhaps viewers -- can instantly understand.

Silver is traveling generally on the right track. But how new journalism will show itself is an open road.

“Moneyball” for the media business, anyone?

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