Summer pilot program will boost learning to select groups

Carleton Prof. Gina Grosenick is teaching one of the courses for the Faculty of Public Affairs summer professional institute. (Susan Hickman Photo)

A new initiative of the Faculty of Public Affairs (FPA), the Professional Institute, will run two professional development workshops in the River Building in June under the tutelage of highly qualified and experienced individuals in their respective fields.

The pilot project is offering a data journalism boot camp and a strategic communications workshop for non-profits. In future years, the initiative will expand to incorporate courses offered by different departments within the Faculty of Public Affairs.

“Through the institute, we want to share with the public the expertise that the faculty can assemble,” says Andre Plourde, dean of the Faculty of Public Affairs, “and thus build on Carleton’s tradition of creating connections between the university and the community.”

Over the weekend of June 21-22, David McKie, a CBC investigative producer and a research-methods and data-journalism instructor at Carleton, and Glen McGregor, an Ottawa Citizen national affairs reporter, will lead a data journalism boot camp on how to turn raw data into news stories. The session will offer working journalists, writers and journalism students and professors intensive hands-on instruction for working with electronic records by using spreadsheets and mapping software, for example.

“(McGregor) and I know how to access this data, find patterns and tell important stories based on those patterns,” says McKie, an award-winning journalist who has used access-to-information and computer-assisted reporting to write investigative stories. McKie uses two textbooks he co-authored in his Carleton courses: Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Comprehensive Primer, and Digging Deeper: A Canadian Reporter’s Research Guide.

“Increasingly, municipal, provincial and federal governments are uploading all sorts of data, that measure everything from refugee claimants to restaurant inspections or car recalls. This data provides journalists with a rich source of story ideas,” says McKie.

While data journalism has always been a component of study in the program, a dedicated data journalism course was launched last fall for the first time, under McKie.

“This is not only an essential tool for undergraduates, but also a competitive advantage. Every journalist should be comfortable enough to open up a data sheet.”

McKie foresees an increasing number of mainstream news outlets depending more on their digital platforms to deliver the news, and data becoming a growing source of hotspots. Canada, he says, is a little behind such American publications as the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, which have the capabilities to use information from data in daily and award-winning journalism.

Carleton Prof. Gina Grosenick, a strategic communication and advocacy researcher, will lead a two-day workshop June 25-26: Advancing your Non-Profit through Strategic Communication Practices.

The seminar includes a textbook, a strategic communication planning template and a networking reception. Small- and medium-sized non-profit organization personnel will have the opportunity to be more effective in their communication practices, to set realistic goals, to identify target audiences and to optimize their communication with media.

“Non-profits are so strapped for resources and capacities,” says Grosenick, who worked for 20 years in the non-profit sector as a lobbyist, communicator, executive and project manager. “Why not be as effective as possible with your communications to your external audience, so that you can meet as many of your goals as possible?”

Pointing to the fact that small-sized non-profit organizations generally do not have dedicated communications staff, Grosenick says this course will offer participants an opportunity to gain professional development “to help them do their jobs better.”

The participants, she says, will learn to put thought and strategy behind their communications, making one strong message work harder for the organization.

Learn more at:

Data Journalism Boot Camp

Non-Profit Strategic Communication


This entry was written by Susan Hickman and posted in the issue. Bookmark the permalink or share the following short URL for this article via social media:

Susan Hickman

By Susan Hickman

For nearly four decades, journalist Susan Hickman has written about every imaginable subject for sundry newspapers and magazines in Canada and abroad, as well as for CBC TV and CBC Radio. She has also managed various publications, including academic newspapers and technology magazines, and was recently commissioned to write a guide for foreign missions serving in Canada. Currently, she is working on a couple of personal memoirs.

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