Google has funded three Data Journalism Scholarships for this year’s intake of Master of Journalism students at the JMSC.
The scholars will devote the first semester to core courses in the MJ programme, and then concentrate on special seminars and journalism courses and advanced computational courses from the Department of Computer Science and the Faculty of Engineering.
Jonathan Stray, a JMSC alumnus and director of the Overview Project at the Associated Press in New York, was one of the judges who picked the scholarship winners. Stray will teach a month-long data journalism seminar as part of the course next year, and will act as an advisor to the recipients.
“Technical skills have become an essential part of journalism both for reporting and communicating stories,” Stray said in explaining the importance of data journalism, which involves locating, analysing and collating publicly available information. “As more and more of the world’s information is stored on computers, and as the volume of that information increases, we need journalists who are able to use computers to make sense of that information.”
Tony Yoo, an Australian, is one of the three scholarship recipients. Yoo worked as a technology risk manager at an investment firm in Sydney. He left his job in January in order to move into journalism.
“Data journalism is an exciting field which is actually growing rather than shrinking like the rest of the industry,” said Yoo. “My IT background and journalistic ambitions make the perfect combination for data journalism.”
Henry Williams is British and has been working in financial IT for the last nine years at major investment banks including Lehman Brothers, Barclays Capital and Morgan Stanley.
Williams – who appropriately found the JMSC through a Google search – decided to leave finance and move into journalism because he wants to be more creative while maintaining his interest in technology.
“Data journalism is a great opportunity for me to use my existing skills to develop a new kind of news,” Williams said. “Overall, what really drew me to and confirmed my choice in journalism at the JMSC is the huge interest in data journalism at publications like the British newspaper, The Guardian.”
Jacky Wong is a Hong Konger who has been working as an equity analyst in the financial industry for the past seven years. He has also contributed to the Hong Kong Economic Journal as a columnist.
“Our society needs competent and well-trained journalists who can present accurate facts in an impartial context,” said Wong.
Lokman Tsui, Policy Adviser for Google Asia Pacific, explained why the Internet giant has focused the scholarships on data journalism.
“We believe there is a bright future for journalism. We see exciting possibilities in leveraging big data to produce great journalism that can increase transparency, encourage public participation and foster collaboration,” he said.