The Data & News Society (D&N): An Interdisciplinary Community of Practice

Abstract

We have entered what is called “the age of data” and “the age of new media.” Data journalism is the marriage of the two. With vast amounts of data now openly accessible online, and the new infographic technologies available to visualize data, news media are increasingly making use of these valuable mines of data to source and produce their stories. Data journalism – the use of numerical data in the production and distribution of news – is an emerging area in the field of information and mass media.

A Community of Practice (CoP) project has been contemplated in an interdisciplinary setting for the purpose of enhancing learning and teaching effectiveness in training future journalists in data skills. This CoP, “The Data & News Society (D&N)”, will be a multi-disciplinary society involving scholars and professionals from diverse academic backgrounds, including journalism, computer science, statistics, visual communication, and more. Based on this, we will work with professional visual artists to design a logo accordingly.

The D&N will serve as a colloquium for instructors and students (undergrads and graduates) at HKBU who are interested in the collaboration of data and news. Its aims are 1) to establish a community of scholars from across the hard sciences and social sciences, and 2) to promote learning excellence/achievements by showcasing and/or publishing student works. The ultimate goal of this CoP is to improve instructors’ teaching quality, capacity, and capability, and prepare students for their future jobs in the news media. Efforts will include but are not limited to: Facilitating the necessary collaboration among multiple academic units for making data news possible, utilizing the manpower of appropriate industrial connections in teaching and training duties, providing training series for both instructors and students, supporting students to take active part in data journalism practice, and exhibiting and publicizing high quality student works in data news. Central to these efforts will be a week-long intensive workshop series (Data and News Workshop, DNW) conducted in early or late summer each year, accompanied by an on-campus exhibition of data news by students, in which data journalists and programmers from the media section, current data journalism instructors, and journalism and science students will meet to nurture one another from relevant perspectives. Priority will be given to near-completion journalism and computer science students.

The D&N will be open to all faculty members and students university-wide in order to promote a campus culture of interdisciplinary exchange and sharing. The D&N expects to have ongoing advice and support from the University’s Center for Holistic Teaching and Learning.