Surveying the intersectional identity of the data journalism and civic-tech ecosystems

6 minute read , Posted on April 26, 2017, by Carl V. Lewis

Searching for cross-discipline linkages for collaboration

The Knight Foundation, which has traditionally funded journalism grants, has ventured into the Civic Tech ecosystem in recent years. The venn diagram above depicts the definition of ‘civic-tech’ according to Knight’s 2013 report on the civic-tech ecosystem.

As a former digital editor and data journalist who as of last year grew weary of working in legacy news outlets and left to do more visualization work in the freelance space, I’ve ever since felt a nagging inside me to get back into data storytelling for civic good.

Much of that empty feeling of lacking purpose has been supplanted by my work in the civic-tech sphere, specifically founding Open Savannah, our region’s official Code for America brigade. Data analysis and visualization? Check. Storytelling? Check. Civic good? Check.

So, I’ve decided to conduct a research effort on the intersectionality of the two self-identities of data journalism and civic technology. How much do they overlap? Do they share the same fundamental goals, or is one more about serving a watchdog function? Are civic-tech community members engaged with legacy journalism outlets? Do they think data and technology is being properly deployed at their city’s metro daily?

Process Overview

The first stage of the research involves first-person interviews, movement research and two (2) separate surveys that will attempt to reach a goal of getting feedback from at least 1,000 individuals who self-identify as part of the “civic-tech” community and 1,000 who identify as part of the “data journalism” community.

I’m starting first with the civic-tech community, as that will require the most effort on my part to acquire a representative sample-set given that I’m relatively new to the movement having only a few months ago founded our local brigade.

If you consider yourself in any way involved in civic tech either as a public servant, an entrepreneur or a volunteer, you should totally consider answering just a few quick questions at


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