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Exploring the fragmentation of the representation of data-driven journalism in the digital public sphere: A network analytics approach



Dr. Xinzhi Zhang

Dr. Xinzhi Zhang

Research Assistant Professor
Department of Journalism
Hong Kong Baptist University


1515-1615, 06 Sep 2019


SCT909, Cha Chi Ming Science Tower, Ho Sin Hang Campus


Data(-driven) journalism, as an interdisciplinary field, integrates the intellectual origins of investigative journalism, computational thinking, and the emerging paradigm of computational social science. However, it has triggered debates about whether this innovative storytelling and investigative approach better serves the public. Studies also have revealed that news professionals are reinforcing existing power structures via interpretive communities, where homophily-evoked interactions­ create echo chambers and discussion fragmentation. The present seminar addresses two questions: (1) How the concept of data-driven journalism as an emerging field of news production is understood and discussed in the digital public sphere? (2) Is the representation of data-driven journalism breaking boundaries among people from different domains or does it resemble the existing power structure? The present seminar adopts a network analytics approach to analyze the public data extracted from Twitter. It constructs two types of communication networks (i.e., a semantic network and a representational network) based on related discussants’ texts and their social interactions. Results raise critical reflections towards the interdisciplinary collaboration in the production of public knowledge.


Xinzhi Zhang (Ph.D., City University of Hong Kong) is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism at Hong Kong Baptist University. His research focuses on comparative political communication, the production and effects of digital journalism, health communication, and digital humanities, using computational methods, online experiments, and comparative social surveys. His work has appeared in numerous top-tier journals such as Computers in Human Behavior, Health Communication, Digital Journalism, International Political Science Review, and International Journal of Communication. He has obtained a competitive research grant under the General Research Fund (GRF) of the Research Grants Council (RGC) of Hong Kong SAR. He is the Programme Director of MSc in AI and Digital Media.