Practically Engaged: The Entanglements between Data Journalism and Civic Tech
This article explores the entanglements between data journalists and civic technologists. Following an approach inspired by practice theory, it describes how they form a community that comes together through interlocking practices and complementary values and ambitions. Data journalists and civic technologists interlock along a continuum that oscillates between practices of facilitating (enabling others to take action themselves) and gatekeeping (being impactful and steer public debates). Depending on how much emphasis is put on either facilitating or gatekeeping, four different groups are identified that differ in how they position their work, in their professional self-understanding and in how they use data: Normalizers, Experimenters, Translators and Facilitators. The article concludes by suggesting that actors populating this community of practice can be described as flexible data professionals who aspire to work in a public interest. The findings illustrate how the progressive datafication of social life creates new entanglements between the field of journalism and civil society and we should pay more attention to such entanglements and the implications for increasingly datafied publics.