Collaboration on a national scale: journalism educators, students and the 2016 Australian federal election
School of Arts and Humanities
Journalism is a collaborative process that requires individuals to work autonomously and collectively to produce news and information. In 2016, journalism educators from 28 Australian universities collaborated to provide coverage of the Australian federal election in a project called UniPollWatch. This project involved around 1000 students and 75 staff producing coverage of 150 House of Representatives seats that included 346 candidate profiles, 125 electorate profiles and verdict stories, profiles of 26 Senate candidates, and feature stories on nine key policy areas. The purpose-built UniPollWatch website also hosted two large-scale data journalism projects. This paper describes how the largest Australian student university project was devised and how it attracted and sustained collaborative participation. It also reports on the results of a survey of participating journalism academics about the structure of the project and draws insight from their comments about the management of future projects on this scale. The theoretical perspectives of analysis are drawn from journalism practice as well as governance theory, journalism pedagogy and work integrated learning. This paper argues that the UniPollWatch model offers possibilities for further development and adaptation for universities to collaborate for the benefit of journalism education, students and the practice of journalism.