I agree that science journalism, and journalism in general, could benefit from much more integration of raw data - especially when that data appears as an engaging infographic and when the reader is provided with the original source of data.
But scientific data is collected by people using tools made by people. It certainly isn't infallible.
Quotes and characters bring a lot to journalism that data cannot offer: emotion, personality, narrative, an articulated perspective based on years worth of experience. Quotes and characters are vital to helping readers relate to a story and engage with the science. If science journalism was pure data and analysis, people wouldn't read it for the same reason they don't read through research journals: it's too boring for most people.
Ferris Jabr, professional hitter-of-the-nail-on-the-head, explains two big reasons science journalists are needed. And the man speaks of more than a "cute story." (Emphasis mine)