Last summer I was the 2013 Google Journalism Fellow with IRE. Since I was reunited last week with all the great people in Columbia, MO for the computer-assisted reporting boot camp, it seemed like a good time to check in and tell folks a little bit about my fellowship.
This spring I’ll complete a masters in journalism from NYU. I specialize in longform and investigative journalism and was definitely not the typical candidate for a data-driven fellowship funded by Google. But I applied to be hosted at IRE last year because I wanted to start using datasets and statistics in my reporting. One of the great things about IRE is that you don’t need programming or web development skills to attend a training, CAR boot camp, or conference and learn how to incorporate data into your reporting.
During my eight-week fellowship I worked with crime data to assess law enforcement response to hate crimes. Because I was at IRE, I had access to the NICAR data library. I also upped my SQL and Excel game (got better at using spreadsheets all around, actually), and met incredible journalists from across the country at the IRE conference. Plus Columbia, MO is a super cute town, guys! For real.
After spending eight weeks at our host organizations, the other fellows and I went to Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA and met with leaders in Google search, news, and Geo Media (and got to try on Google Glass). We gave presentations at a TechRaking conference, and met execs from BuzzFeed, Vice, and YouTube. By the end of the summer I knew more about data and had a better understanding of how technology and media intersect.
For those of you who qualify for the Google Journalism Fellowship (must be a student able to work in the United States) APPLY! Now! But even if you don’t, I think IRE is a great resource for student journalists. Student memberships are super cheap and allow you to attend conferences, get access to tip sheets, join the listserv, and get help and guidance from hundreds of smart journalists doing some of the best investigative and data-driven work out there.