In June 2023, the Specialist (Joint) program in Journalism in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media was awarded a scholarship fund from J-Schools Canada. Successful students had the opportunity to attend either of the King’s Summer School in Data Journalism Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia; and the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) Conference in Orlando, Florida. Read below for more details.
Graduated in June 2023
The King’s Data School was a wondrous introduction to data analysis via SQL, query coding extracting PDF data to code charts and find correlating data, using Datawrapper and even amateur Python coding on our last day. The class was run by Professor Fred Vallance-Jones and he had an assistance professor Kaarina Stiff. The course consisted of a 5-day bootcamp where we covered the above concepts.
The group of journalists ranged from the Atlantic Toronto Star reporter, Canada Press reporters, reporters who were undergoing investigative work into gambling in Canada. The class even went out on a dinner at Henry House, a historic building where we all built rapport and made connections.
The class was amazing as both professors were super intent to accommodate absolutely anyone with any kind of learning style. I personally have an inclination towards writing rather than data analysis and Excel, and every time I was confused Kaarina would come over to make sure I understood the query or where the code went wrong, there was not a single point of the class where I didn’t understand something, and the entire class collaborated to help the individual grasp the concept. We even went to the Halifax boardwalk with our classmates and got a tour from a classmate who was a local Haligononian! As difficult as the programming part of the course was, it was so rewarding and I feel so blessed to be able to say that I managed to strengthen my skill-set with highly valuable skills like Data journalism and coding with the thanks of UTSC!
I had the incredible opportunity to attend the prestigious King's Summer School in Data Journalism, which proved to be a profoundly enriching and transformative experience. Throughout the program, I delved into various aspects of data analysis, gaining valuable and advanced skills.
Throughout the program, I had the opportunity to learn advanced Excel techniques, sort pivot tables expertly, and delve into the complexities of Navicat Essentials (SQL). This immersive experience provided me with a diverse toolkit of invaluable and transformative skills that will significantly advance my career path. Learning under the esteemed guidance of Fred Vallance-Jones, a pioneering figure in the realm of data journalism in Canada and the esteemed Director of Journalism at King’s College, was an enlightening and empowering experience. I was inspired by Fred’s exceptional expertise, which has set him apart in the field, and fueled by Kaarina Stiff’s passionate commitment to data journalism. Their combined influence created an engaging and supportive learning environment that fostered my professional growth as a data-driven storyteller.
The program's well-structured schedule, which lasted from early morning to late afternoon with breaks, provided me with enough time to fully engage with the curriculum and participate in the exercises. The designed framework provided a comprehensive learning experience, allowing me to effectively apply new knowledge to the exercises and foster meaningful exchanges that enriched my understanding of data journalism. Furthermore, Fred's data book enhanced my learning journey by allowing me to explore additional resources at my own pace. It served as a valuable reference tool and sparked curiosity about various data analysis techniques. The well-structured curriculum and supplementary resources significantly contributed to my growth as a data journalist, leaving me confident in applying these skills as a journalist.
I recognize the crucial role that data journalism plays in the current media landscape as a journalist who is interested in the landscape of storytelling. I had a fantastic opportunity to develop these crucial skills at the King's Summer School in Data Journalism, which has the potential to influence the course of my professional journey. The significant influence of these invaluable capabilities cannot be overstated, as they have equipped me with the essential tools and unwavering confidence to effectively analyze intricate datasets and skillfully craft compelling narratives.
This experience has had a long-term impact on my career as a journalist, sparking a newfound passion and propelling me to unprecedented success. I wholeheartedly and confidently recommend this program to fellow journalists who are eager to explore the exciting possibilities of data journalism and reach new heights in their careers.
I had the incredible opportunity to attend the 2023 Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference in Orlando, representing the University of Toronto. This conference gathered esteemed journalists and media members from the United States, making it an event of great significance and impact.
The conference boasted an impressive lineup of panels and discussions, covering a wide range of topics relevant to journalism. Seeing so many professionals coming together to share their insights and experiences was inspiring. What made the conference even more remarkable was the sponsorship of renowned organizations such as CNN, The New York Times, Google Trends, ESPN, NBC, and ABC News, which truly elevated the caliber of the event.
Throughout the conference, I attended several workshops and master classes that expanded my knowledge and skills. There were workshops focused on empowering people of colour in the media industry, project management techniques, and even investigative methods taught by former Pulitzer Prize winners. These invaluable sessions offered practical advice and guidance to serve me well in my career.
Stephen Stock, the national investigative correspondent for CBS, hosted one of the most memorable master classes I participated in. This session fostered a collaborative environment, allowing me to actively engage and share my unique experiences as a journalist of colour from Canada. It was an enriching experience to contribute to the dialogue and learn from experts in the field.
In addition to the knowledge gained, the conference provided an excellent platform for networking. I enjoyed connecting with other aspiring journalism students from esteemed institutions such as Howard University, North Carolina A&T State University, and the University of Miami. The diverse perspectives and shared passion for journalism enriched and inspired these interactions.
I am immensely proud to say that the University of Toronto was well-represented at the conference. As one of the few Canadian students in attendance, we garnered significant attention and interest from fellow attendees. Our presence and contributions served as a testament to the quality of education and talent nurtured at our institution.
My name is Rachel Guanlao, and I had the privilege of attending the Investigative Reporters and Editors’ (IRE) Conference 2023 in Orlando, Florida. The mix of nerves and excitement filled me as I entered classes crowded with unfamiliar faces. Amidst this overwhelming atmosphere, I was determined to learn and grow.
Over the course of the four-day training program, I learned from accomplished and award-winning journalists. Witnessing their passion for storytelling was truly inspiring. It was reassuring to discover they had faced similar challenges to mine when starting out. This instilled in me a sense of hope for the industry's future.
One of the most incredible aspects of the conference was being surrounded by over a thousand fellow journalists. The energy and camaraderie within the community were awe-inspiring. However, the most valuable lesson I took away from this experience was the importance of embracing discomfort. New York Times’ reporter, Matt Apuzzo, eloquently described it as "silencing your inner seventh grader," urging us not to let our self-doubt hinder us from connecting with talented journalists. If I had allowed my initial nerves to overpower me, I would have missed out on the meaningful connections I made.
I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Arts, Culture, and Media Department for granting me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The memories and lessons learned at the conference will forever hold a special place in my heart.