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Announcements

Discourse Media earns CJF Innovation Award nomination for Moving Forward

Recognition from Canadian Journalism Foundation highlights the rise of collaborative data reporting

We’re excited to announce that Discourse Media’s project Moving Forward has been shortlisted for the Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF)’s 2016 CJF Innovation Award for advancing the quality of journalism at a time of unprecedented challenges and demands for change. Discourse is nominated alongside finalists CBC North and The Globe and Mail.

Moving Forward is a crowdfunded, collaborative journalism project that produced issue-based, data-driven reporting on Metro Vancouver’s spring 2015 transportation funding referendum. 

We created Moving Forward to respond to a need for nuanced reporting about the issue of transportation in the region. The majority of media coverage was largely conflict-driven and politicized because journalists struggled to access data and information about the transportation system, leaving voters underinformed. 

Our newsroom did the heavy lifting of scraping and painstakingly pulling data from the transportation authority’s annual reports and partnered with academics to produce original datasets and interactives, making information about Metro Vancouver’s transportation more accessible to journalists and the public. 

We asked voters what information they wanted, and their responses informed the angles for our reporters’ investigations.

We invited media outlets to republish our content with a Creative Commons license and in response, 13 news outlets across the region republished our work or reported original stories using our data.  

“Moving Forward served as a proof of concept that collaborative models could enable us to do deep, ambitious journalism as a small team,” explains Erin Millar, Discourse’s co-founder and CEO. “We overcame conflict between the value systems of our academic and media partners and found that the journalism was better as a result of this productive tension. While we anticipated reluctance . . . we found a profound openness to new solutions.”

Jon Woodward, a reporter at CTV News Vancouver, offered this praise for Moving Forward: “In a debate characterized by at best noise and at worst outright lies about our transit system, Moving Forward shone out as an honest, data-driven look at the real challenges of moving people in this region — and the people of Metro Vancouver are better off for it.”

Multi-newsroom, data-driven collaborations like Moving Forward are gaining more attention, following projects like the Panama Papers, where the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists brought reporters from over 100 media organizations together to make an immense set of leaked data accessible to the public. 

Last week, Millar spoke about the newsroom collaboration trend at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy alongside data journalist Anne-Lise Bouyer from Journalism++ and Andrew DeVigal, endowed chair in Journalism Innovation and Civic Engagement at the University of Oregon.

We’re honoured that Moving Forward was nominated for the CJF Innovation Award and we are more motivated than ever to continue producing innovative, impact-driven journalism. 

Our other collaborative projects include Possible Canadas, where we supported 10 student journalists from across western Canada to report on what their peers hope for Canada’s future.

On April 20, we are launching Power Struggle, an international collaboration with nine journalists from outlets like Al Jazeera, SciDev.Net and the Thomson Reuters Foundation reporting on energy poverty and energy access solutions in their regions.