Last summer, 250 data journalism students from across the UK applied for the first Google News Lab Fellowship. Eight students — from City, University of London, Cardiff University, University of Leeds and the University of Edinburgh — were successful and gained a two-month placement with one of seven different news organisations. The Fellows were offered a unique chance to learn amongst journalists and contribute to a functioning newsroom.
We’re excited to announce the second year of the Google News Lab Fellowship UK, and the expansion of the program to offer placements for the first time in Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Across all six countries, we’ll be offering 28 placements with some of the most innovative and prestigious publishers and broadcasters in the region.
April 2017, update: Announcing the Fellows selected so far…
BBC News Labs — Varun Bala Krishnan, Goldsmiths, University of London
Financial Times — Anna Ridler, Royal College of Art
Full Fact — Giacomo Boscaini-Gilroy, Imperial College London
Haymarket Publishing — Hannah Evans, City, University of London
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism — Rachel Lavin, Goldsmiths, University of London
The Guardian — Niamh McIntyre, City, University of London
The Telegraph — Serla Rusli, City, University of London
The Times — Nell Mackenzie, City, University of London
Trinity Mirror — Jessica Jones, Cardiff University
Independent. ie — Cillian Sherlock, University of Limerick
Irish Times — Jennifer Purcell, University of Limerick
Journal. ie — Andrew Nathan Roberts, University of Limerick
Newstalk — Simon O’Leary, Ballyfermot College of Further Education
RTÉ — Ciara Del Grosso Bates, DCU
Aller media — Erika Bergman, Lund University
Dagens Nyheter — Lovisa Bergström, Linköping University
Expressen — Tobias Blixt, Mid Sweden University
Metro — David Ohlsson, Luleå University of Technology
SverigesRadio — Hanna Brolund, Stockholm University
Børsen, Søren Vestergaard Thiesen, University of Southern Denmark
Ekstrabladet, Ole Krogsgaard, University of Aarhus
Helsingin Sanomat — Olli Pietiläinen, University of Tampere
Kauppalehti — Jyri Tuominen, Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu
Mediahub — Iriz Silander, Turku University of Applied Sciences
YLE — Henri Salonen, University of Tampere
Aftenposten — TBC
Nettavisen — Alexander Egge, University of Oslo
VG — TBC
As we get set to offer a new cohort of students the opportunity to be a Fellow, we asked two Fellows from last year to reflect on their experience in 2016.
We first spoke to Josh Robbins from ‘City, University of London’, who joined The Bureau of Investigative Journalism for his summer placement.
I applied for the Fellowship because it was a golden opportunity to get full-time work experience at a leading media organisation. It went well beyond the length of a typical internship and was also paid; in other words, it was a first step into professional journalism. The emphasis on data journalism also appealed to me because I believed strongly — and still do — that as a student journalist, your best chance of producing good stories is by using Freedom of Information requests, data analysis and visualisation. It is difficult, near impossible, to get some officials and institutions to talk to you as a student journalist but with data you are on a level playing field with the big players.
The placement was amazing: at ‘The Bureau’ I was surrounded by a small team of exceptional journalists who were also very friendly. I received help to develop two of my own data stories into accessible and coherent news packages with case studies. One of them was picked up by BBC’s 5 Live Investigates and I also got to make my TV debut on Russia Today! The Fellowship transformed me from a student journalist who was handy with data into a bona fide data journalist. It gave me a lot of confidence and I continue to improve my skills. I am now very competent at using programming languages to scrape and manipulate data — something I would not have dreamed of 12 months ago.
I have since been back to the Bureau for freelance work and was delighted to get a byline in The Guardian for a major animal welfare story. I am also freelancing as a data journalist for Ecostorm, an ethical investigations agency, thanks to a contact I made while doing the Fellowship. I left university just four months ago and I already have a string of quality bylines. This would not have been possible without the Google News Lab Fellowship.
We then spoke to Georgina Rannard from the ‘University of Edinburgh’ who joined the BBC News Lab in London for her summer placement:
I applied to the fellowship because I wanted to understand how newsrooms and platforms are grappling with changes and opportunities in digital media, technology and distributed news. My background is in research and freelance journalism, and this gave me the chance to see technology in the heart of the newsroom.
BBC News is a huge operation and working with Labs let me see lots of different parts. I wrote a report about the Trust Project — an ongoing academic project with a consortium of media about how to improve public trust in media — and prototyped a tool with developers and researchers at BBC. I also worked with the Audience Engagement team that use real-time data in the newsroom, which gave me the opportunity to pitch stories in morning editorial meetings. I also took part in a BBC World Service hack — and was even on the winning team! I continued working with BBC after my fellowship, and recently was on the winning team for the Trust Project hack in London.
The fellowship opened my eyes to the myriad opportunities and challenges of the technological revolution in media — is also enabling newsroom to connect and learn about audiences in ways not previously possible, to create new and exciting stories, and is challenging journalists pretty much everywhere to think and work differently.
A thank you to all the students who applied and participated in our program last year. We look forward to welcoming a new cohort of students this year to expand and broaden the impact of the Fellowship program.
If you’re a student interested in applying or learning more, click here.
The Fellowship program is a reflection of our values at the Google News Lab. For all the opportunities technology may enable, great journalists will always be at the heart of great journalism. We look forward to continue strengthening the program and helping develop the next generation of storytellers.