It is difficult to understand the fascination for the words “column” and “opinion” among Indian journalists, as compared to “stories” and “reports”. Many think if you get an “opportunity” to write an opinion column, you have arrived as a journalist.
This perceived sense of superiority of “opinion” often makes media pass off good reporting and even data analysis as opinion. This piece in Mint, Why India’s sanitation crisis is a public health emergency, is a fairly good example of data journalism, which tries to corelate India’s widespread practice of open defecation with malnutrition. The accompanying map too is a fairly good, if not extraordinary, visualization.
But why the hell should it be labeled as opinion? Is it to give it that supposed importance or is there no other sections that the editors can fit it into?
In fact, data journalism is not as new or rare as we think it is in India. Stories like these are actually data journalism pieces. Just that many publications do not realize it.