The University of British Columbia Graduate School of Journalism has become the first journalism school in Canada to sign on with DocumentCloud, a new project that aims to index and organize source material unearthed by investigative reporters.
Launched in 2009 with a two-year grant from the Knight News Challenge, DocumentCloud is a place for reporters to both file their research and to search for information that has already been uncovered. Described as a “card catalog for primary source documents,” it aims to open a public beta site this spring.
According to a post from UBC’s website, co-founder Aron Pilhofer says that partnering with journalism schools will be beneficial first because young students have grown up in the information age, and are often very willing to adapt to changes in technology, but also that “journalism schools are one of the few remaining places where investigative journalism is flourishing. As traditional news sources cut and cut, we are seeing journalism schools across the country starting to pick up the slack, and produce some really outstanding work that deserves wider distribution. We believe DocumentCloud can help do just that.”
Though many Canadian journalism schools excel at teaching through practice and experience, rather than from a textbook, investigative reporting is truly one skill set that is difficult to learn unless you’re actually doing it. This could be an excellent opportunity for the students at UBC to both contribute to the Canadian media landscape and pick up some important skills along the way. I can’t wait to see if other j-schools will follow UBC’s lead.