New Data Journalism Degree at Columbia Journalism School Prepares Next Generation of Newsroom Leaders
The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism unveiled the school’s first Master of Science in Data Journalism, an expansion of the current data journalism specialization. This is the fourth graduate-level program in the school’s portfolio, not including dual-degrees. The new degree will provide students with practical, hands-on training essential to producing deeply reported data-driven stories in the public interest.
“The decisions governments and corporations make affecting ordinary citizens increasingly involve huge data sets and opaque algorithms,” said Steve Coll, dean of Columbia Journalism. “For journalists to carry out their function as watchdogs on power, storytellers and sifters of the truth, they increasingly must understand how to interrogate data and computer code. We think our new degree offers a leap forward in journalism education, one that is responsive to where our profession must go.”
In the U.S. alone, nearly 200,000 government databases are available for download on Data.gov. Journalists who understand data and computation will be able to do their jobs more effectively in a world ever more reliant on complicated streams of information, according to a 2016 report on the state of data journalism education by the Columbia Journalism School and the Knight Foundation.
The challenge for the next generation of journalists will be to adapt data and computational science to reporting and storytelling while upholding the profession’s core journalistic mission. Data have become an important source for reporters covering everything from campaign finance to sports, from climate change and global trade to government corruption. Data give journalists the ability to query large amounts of information, weaning them away from reliance on official and often uncooperative sources.
“We’re essentially increasing our efforts of teaching students how to use investigative data tools to compliment their field reporting,” said Giannina Segnini, director of the Data Journalism degree. “Students who were taking classes as part of the data specialization that we offered were already building databases for investigations like the one we did with Univision about the cruise industry’s risky operational practices. Now, students going through the new degree will continue to do this level of work, plus do things like build interactive applications for reporting and crack codes that help us better understand the world.”
Students in the M.S. in Data Journalism will be enrolled in a three-semester program that goes well beyond data journalism fundamentals and offers an advanced graduate-level curriculum that includes data, computation and innovation classes.
They will start classes in the summer semester, with courses on the foundations of computing, algorithms and databases. Throughout the program, they will get in-depth training on how to acquire, clean, process, analyze and visualize structured and unstructured data using various technologies. These skills will help them find the patterns and outliers that generate journalistic insights, as well as ways to use data to build a narrative. Students in the M.S. in Data Journalism program will be expected to produce an original, data-driven story for their master’s project.
Recipients of the M.S. in Data Journalism will be able to:
· Collect and clean datasets from different jurisdictions across the world
· Analyze data to find and report on relevant journalistic stories
· Scrape the web to collect publicly available data
· Use visualization tools and mapping
· Apply algorithms to access capabilities and biases in data
The data journalism curriculum is taught by distinguished faculty, including Giannina Segnini, Data Journalism Program director; Mark Hansen, director of The Brown Institute; Susan E. McGregor, assistant director of the Tow Center; Jonathan Soma, director of The Lede Program; and Jonathan Stray, adjunct faculty and senior research scholar
The application deadline for the new degree program is Dec. 15, 2017. Classes for the first cohort of the M.S. in Data Journalism will begin in 2018. For information and how to apply visit: https://journalism.columbia.edu/ms-data-journalism
About Columbia Journalism School
For more than a century, the school has been preparing journalists in programs that stress academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry and professional practice. Founded with a gift from Joseph Pulitzer, the school opened its doors in 1912 and offers Master of Science, Master of Arts, a joint Master of Science degree in Computer Science and Journalism, and Doctor of Philosophy in Communications. It houses The Columbia Journalism Review, The Brown Institute for Media Innovation, The Tow Center for Digital Journalism, and The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. The school also administers many of the leading journalism awards, including the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards, the Maria Cabot Prizes, the John Chancellor Award, The John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism, Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award, and the Mike Berger Awards. www.journalism.columbia.edu
Chantal De Soto