New Voters Project Kicks Off With Class

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Our News21 project started with an academic seminar in the spring semester of 2009, focused on both research methodology and emerging patterns in racial and ethnic political influence in the United States. Led by Carnegie Seminar director Deborah Nelson, the preparatory course exposed students to experts in related fields, including geographic political trends, demographics, and racial and ethnic voting patterns. 

Students also heard from computer scientists, including Ben Shneiderman, founding director of the Human Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland. A video of his class lecture about data visualization is available online.

Students worked in teams on story-related projects during the course. Each team developed a Web presentation that included a story-quality analysis of up to 1,500 words, accompanied by two or more multimedia graphics on themes derived from an analysis of databases identified during the semester.

The course syllabus is online at the News21 Ning site:

After the course ended, our 12 fellows started working full-time on June 1 in a 10-week News21 newsroom at the University of Maryland, reporting stories on topics they had studied all spring.

Under supervision of managing editor Chris Harvey, and in collaboration with a team of other faculty and professionals, the News21 fellows were tasked with experimenting with new ways of presenting information in multimedia formats, while doing in-depth, high-quality reporting.

We've asked the fellows to share their thoughts and observations in this blog, so that others might learn from their experience in our News21 journalism lab.

--Leslie Walker, News21 coordinator


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