Posted by Cognito on Wed, Aug 26 2015

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Data Journalism - Financial Media’s Thirst for Market Data

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The Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2015, published in August, finds that online and mobile news consumption is booming. The fast paced nature of digital news greatly lends itself to data-backed content and what is commonly referred to as “data journalism”. This is nowhere more prevalent than in financial services, where market data is a highly valued commodity for all journalists.

With markets becoming increasingly volatile and unpredictable, as exemplified by the current crisis in China, reporters are desperate to appeal to their readers’ desires for market information that is not readily available to them from the standard market data services at their desks. The more information market participants can obtain, the clearer picture they have, allowing them to make better, more informed decisions.

Therefore, what is the best way to pitch data-driven stories? Here are three essential points to remember:

  • Support and supplement news stories

Using current news as a “hook” is a tried and tested media relations technique and will continue to be so, but it is almost a pre-requisite when pitching market data. It is unlikely that market data will make up the backbone of a story, as Himanshu Oijha of Reuters once commented, “A data set alone equals a fun dinner party fact, whereas data and other data equals a story”. So data’s role is to support and supplement current news and angles, for example, the effects of a merger on a market or a report published by OPEC on oil revenues.

U.S. Traders Eye Greek Stock Rebound With Bullish Bets at Record – Bloomberg, 26 June 2015

  • Importance of contextualising  

Speaking to one journalist who outlined how he doesn’t want the hard pitch when it comes to data, explaining that it can be quite time consuming identifying angles and picking out stories from raw files. Instead he wants to be provided some context up front in a pitch. Whether the angle is about comparison of different asset classes, geographical comparison, or historical performance of different markets, journalists want the story contextualized them with background and detail as to why your data matters to the wider picture.   

  • Visualising data

As always, how you present, package and deliver a pitch is key. With market data this is certainly the case and visuals go a long way in presenting the story to the journalist. The data needs to be easily extracted, as journalists often need to take the raw data and format it in the style of their publication, whether this is in a stylised graph or a simple table. Therefore, including a table of raw data either within the pitch or as an attached excel document is convenient. Having said this, also including an image of a graph can help visualise trends and contextualise the story. The journalist might not use the graph in his story, or even the data, but he might feel inclined to post the image as a tweet— a tactic which is becoming increasingly popular.

In summary, there is widespread competition from firms to have their data represented in the media, but by keeping in mind these three points, firms can use their data to gain high-level, quality exposure. Firstly, data is most powerful when it is used to support and illustrate, so time a pitch to coincide with a current, breaking story. Secondly, journalists are always strapped for time, so providing detailed context around the role your data can play will be more appealing to the journalist than a hard pitch which takes time draw out possible angles. Finally, by visualising the data, journalists can digest said angle easily and also provide other means of use for the data, such as a brief but valuable mention on Twitter.  

Data Driven,
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