Exploring the Fragmentation of the Representation of Data-Driven Journalism in the Twittersphere - A Network Analytics Approach

Xinzhi Zhang, Jeffrey C.F. Ho

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


As an interdisciplinary field, data-driven journalism integrates the intellectual origins of investigative journalism, computer-assisted reporting, and the emerging paradigm of computational social science. Studies of news production have revealed, however, that news professionals are reinforcing existing power structures via an interpretive community, where homophily-evoked social interactions—even in the social media context—create echo chambers and discussion fragmentation. Is the representation of data-driven journalism in the electronic public sphere breaking boundaries among people from different domains or does it resemble the existing power structure? This study adopts a network analytics approach and constructs a representational network among actors who joined the public discussion of data-driven journalism in the Twittersphere—the co-retweeted network—such that two accounts are connected if their tweets are retweeted by the same user. Public tweets containing search queries related to data-driven journalism published from February 2017 to February 2018 were collected with Twitter real-time streaming application programming interface (API). A co-retweeted network with 1,148 accounts was derived from verified accounts’ retweeting posts. Results found that several communities emerged, and news organizations, nongovernmental and nonprofit professional organizations, and academic institutions were in the crucial positions of the network. The exponential random graph models (ERGMs) based on this network revealed the extent to which gender, geographical location, and institutional type of the users were associated with the tie-formation. This study documents the major actors who are discussing the subject of data-driven journalism and raises critical reflections toward the interdisciplinary collaboration in the production of public knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Science Computer Review
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2020


  • co-retweeted network
  • data-driven journalism
  • exponential random graph model (ERGM)
  • interpretive community
  • political polarization
  • representational network
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Law


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