The 2014 UniPollWatch project brought together the journalism schools of four Victorian universities to cover the 2014 state election. The project was a unique experiment in political journalism education and provided valuable lessons about experiential learning, cross-campus cooperation and industry engagement. It also created a potential model for large reporting projects, involving journalism programmes at many universities working together to cover topics for the public’s benefit, while enabling students to gain real-world skills. The campuses were each designated eight key, mostly marginal, electorates and were encouraged to provide electorate and candidate profiles, as well as other news and information. The reports were compiled on one website, housed off campus and not identified as being associated with any one university. The project partnered with The Age newspaper and a number of student reports were co-published in the newspaper. The results of the project can be seen at www.unipollwatch.org.au. This article places UniPollWatch in the context of other large-scale student reporting projects in Australia and elsewhere and discusses how the project was structured and how it fostered authentic, real-world learning. It also addresses key challenges and discusses the major pedagogical and journalistic lessons gained from this groundbreaking project.
- cross-campus cooperation
- industry engagement
- political journalism education
- student political reporting
- teachinghospital model