The Promise (and Perils) of Data-Driven Journalism | Interdisciplinary Lunch Series

Date(s) - 09/21/2018
1:30 pm - 2:45 pm

Halls of Fame Room

On Friday, Sept. 21, the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy will host an interdisciplinary lunch open to faculty and graduate students from across the UNC system with Ryan Thornburg, Reese Felts Distinguished Professor at the UNC School of Media and Journalism. Professor Thornburg will lead a discussion about ethical questions that arise in data-driven journalism.

Data-driven journalism is a storytelling practice based on analyzing and filtering large data sets for the purpose of creating or elevating a news story. The rise of data-driven journalism has delivered and continues to deliver new and better ways of serving democracy, but it has also presented new challenges. Data-driven journalism gives citizens opportunities to be better informed, but it also raises economic, legal, and ethical questions for its practitioners. Professor Ryan Thornburg will explore both the promise and perils of the practice in this talk.

Thornburg is the director of the Reese News Lab and teaches classes in data-driven reporting and media economics. With funding from the Knight Foundation, Google, and the National Science Foundation, he develops tools and techniques that use data to lower the cost and increase the quality of local journalism. He is also a part of the School’s Center for Innovation & Sustainability in Local Media and a faculty mentor in UNC’s Johnston Scholars program and on the board of the non-profit DTH Media Corp., publisher of the independent student-run Daily Tar Heel. From 2015-2017 he was director of the School’s M.A. program.

Before joining the School in 2007, Thornburg spent a decade in leadership positions in online newsrooms, mostly working on national and international news at The Washington Post. His work in online media contributed to several professional awards, including seven EPPY awards for his work with The EPPY Awards competition honors Internet sites affiliated with the media industry. Thornburg and his staff also have been finalists for competitions by the Online News Association.

The Center will provide lunch to those who RSVP below by Wednesday, Sept.19.

Background readings

The future of news
5 questions with UNC Reese News Lab Executive Director Ryan Thornburg


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