The third student to catch the data journalism bug was Andy Brightwell. Through his earlier reporting on swimming pool facilities in Birmingham, Andy had developed an interest in the issue, and wanted to use data journalism techniques to dig further.
The result was a standalone site – Where Can We Swim? – which documented exactly how he did that digging, and presented the results.
Last month the first submissions by students on the MA in Online Journalism landed on my desk. I had set two assignments. The first was a standard portfolio of online journalism work as part of an ongoing, live news project. But the second was explicitly branded ‘Experimental Portfolio‘ – you can see the brief here. I wanted students to have a space to fail. I had no idea how brave they would be, or how successful. The results, thankfully, surpassed any expectations I had. They included:
Alex Gamela constructed the Hashbrum website, experimenting with mapping plugins and other content management technologies. His series of posts on hyperlocal publishing provide an excellent insight into his processes.
Ruihua Yao experimented with recruiting members of the Chinese community in Birmingham to contribute to a Chinese community blog.
Andy Brightwell looked into the ways linked data can be used to uncover political relationships in local councils. There’s a good reason why there’s no blog post to link to, but I’m not telling you what it is…
There are a range of things that I found positive about the results. Firstly, the sheer variety – students seemed to either instinctively or explicitly choose areas distinct from each other. The resulting reservoir of knowledge and experience, then, has huge promise for moving into the second and final parts of the MA, providing a foundation to learn from each other. Continue reading →