Funded! This project was successfully funded on September 13, 2012.

Update #4

Journalism Needs Teaching Hospitals, and Reporting Clinics

4 comments

The Knight Foundation recently called on journalism schools to create "teaching hospitals" where young journalists would be guided by seasoned professionals and academics.

"At its root, this model requires top professionals in residence at universities," the foundation said in an open letter to universities. "It also focuses on applied research, as scholars help practitioners invent viable forms of digital news that communities need to function in a democratic frame."

This is encouraging. We've worked with a handful of students over the past two years, and the experience has been meaningful on both sides.

Pushing this metaphor a little farther, Homicide Watch DC isn't a hospital. It's a small, highly-focused reporting clinic built around data-driven beat reporting.

Students working on Homicide Watch DC won't just study journalism, they'll do real reporting, with tight deadlines and serious editing. Among the skills they'll learn and practice:

  • reporting on the criminal justice system, including how a case moves through the court system
  • how to find and use public documents
  • how to cover breaking news
  • how to maintain a blog
  • how to build an online community, including interacting with an audience and promoting content through social media
  • investigative reporting, including the use of social media as a reporting tool
  • data-driven reporting and data visualization

We've also been working to extract lessons from our work (this is part of Laura's fellowship) and we expect students will do the same. With no resources to spare, we're interested in expanding what works and dropping what doesn't.

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    Get our data! At your request, we'll send you a spreadsheet containing up to two years of DC homicide data. This includes details about every victim and every suspect in our custom-built database. We record victims' and suspects' name, age, race, and gender. For victims, we also gather the homicide location, method (shooting, stabbing, etc) and place of death (at the scene or hospital). For suspects, we include arrest date and case status. This is data we use ourselves to produce stories like this: http://bit.ly/OSaSY0

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