The German data journalist in 2021
Data journalists have become established in online newsrooms. Previously considered tech-savvy journalistic outsiders, they have repeatedly been described as their own closed community which has only recently gained severe attention and importance due to heavy data-driven reporting (e.g., COVID-19, investigative journalism, climate crisis). This is particularly true for data journalists in Germany who have repeatedly received worldwide attention (e.g., cum ex, Panama papers). Taking on a perspective of re-negotiated journalistic boundaries, this study sets out to describe this influential journalistic sub group and presents a most-representative quantitative survey among n = 102 data journalists in Germany. Results indicate that data journalists in Germany are everything but journalistic outsiders in that they share strong journalistic backgrounds, high formal education, and long-lasting journalistic employment. Daily routines less often include large projects but regular translations of ready-made data into journalistic value. Thereby, data journalists in Germany enjoy large degrees of autonomy and perceive themselves as scrutinizers and adversaries of political leaders by means of factual information and analyses. Conclusions are drawn for journalistic curricula and the urgent need for a negotiation around quality norms and standards in a rapidly institutionalizing field that is data journalism.