Data journalism practises in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states

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This study examined data journalism practises in four Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states situated in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman and Bahrain. Though there have been several pieces of research regarding the emergence of data journalism across the globe, certain regions have remained unexamined, such as the Middle East. The absence of these regions from data journalism literature has resulted in a great demand to investigate data journalism practises outside Western countries (Fink and Anderson 2014; Stalph and Borges-Rey 2018; Appelgren, Lindén and van Dalen 2019), which this thesis was designed to address. In order to analyse data journalism practises in these countries, the study was designed in two phases to cover observed forms and practices. The first phase evaluated forms of data journalism in the region by conducting a content analysis of data journalism stories from several news outlets. Phase two sought to understand the practices underpinning data journalism in these GCC countries to understand the characteristics that have emerged in the region. This was done through conducting a semi-structured interview with data journalists and/or the staff who were responsible for producing data journalism content. Findings reveal that the data journalism content in the GCC tended to lack depth and rigour; this was indicted by the dominance of soft news content and the reliance on secondary data. However, it is worth noting that the purposes of the content analysis were to draw a picture of the data journalism content in the region, in order contextualise and inform the second phase of this research. Interviews with data journalists and/or the staff who were responsible for producing data journalism content, revealed five types of challenges that face the data journalism practice in the GCC newsrooms. First, challenges regarding the journalistic role and newsrooms workflows. Second, challenges regarding data and its access related to data quality and usability. Third, institutional and governmental challenges. Last, challenges caused by economic pressure In terms of data journalism practices, the research defined four taxonomies of data journalism practices in the studied newsrooms. The first taxonomy is data analyst-driven content (Makkah), the second is data analyst/designer driven content (Shabiba), the third is journalist-driven content (Alroeya) and the final taxonomy is external/internal content (Alwatan).