The Washington Post's Adrian Holovaty on web programming as journalism:
The way I see it, there are three basic tasks that journalists do:
1. Gathering information. This involves talking to sources, examining documents, taking photographs, etc. It's reporting.
2. Distilling information. This involves applying editorial judgment to decide what parts of the gathered information are important and relevant.
3. Presenting information. This involves shaping the distilled information into a format that is accessible to the readership. Some examples: writing style (inverted pyramid, etc.), photo color-correction, newspaper page design.
"Doing journalism through computer programming" is just a different way of accomplishing these goals.
What Holvaty does is more than journalism via programming, though. Holvaty's sites, like ChicagoCrime.org and the U.S. Congress Votes Database, are interactive presentations that enable readers to explore data and form their own opinions. Holvaty respects and empowers his readers rather than selecting facts to prove a preconceived point.
The article's at the Online Journalism Review at USC - a source I intend to go back to.