The Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA) today launched UniPollWatch, a national collaborative student reporting initiative on a scale never before attempted in Australia.
The students will cover all 150 House of Representatives electorates, developing electorate and candidate profiles and stories on key issues and policies.
UniPollWatch editor-in-chief, Andrew Dodd, from Swinburne University of Technology, says the project, which is supported by Guardian Australia, is a world first.
“The idea started with four universities covering the 2014 Victorian election and that worked so well we decided to replicate it on a larger scale with JERAA as the publisher,” Dodd says.
“UniPollWatch is now the biggest university student journalism project ever undertaken in Australia.
“Throughout the election campaign it will offer insights into relevant people and issues through the eyes of journalism students, many of whom will be voting for the first time in this election.
“UniPollWatch will provide in-depth coverage of every electorate, most candidates and key election policies. Its clear and accessible online platform, provides at-a-glance information.
“We understand the constraints for political journalists in covering the whole nation, so UniPollWatch offers a mosaic of local stories, which will add to the overall election coverage, while giving journalism students around the nation a chance to actively report on the election.”
JERAA president Matthew Ricketson says it is a fantastic opportunity for budding journalists.
“UniPollWatch is a great initiative for journalism students around the country,” Ricketson says.
“It brings the classroom to local campaign events and the (electronic) tally room, giving students the chance to learn-by-doing, in a live environment that will sharpen their professional skills and ensure they contribute to a key national event.
“This is where journalism education is heading in the 21st century. Journalism schools and their students can play an important role in providing comprehensive coverage of newsworthy events and issues, in a way that no other media organisation in the country has the resources to undertake.