Data journalists from The Economist and Sky News will be among the panellists waiting to share their wisdom with those aiming to follow in their footsteps

By Chris Lines(Senior Communications Officer), Published

On Thursday 8th July, City, University of London’s Department of Journalism will host two special panel discussions to celebrate the launch of its new MA Data Journalism degree.

City’s Department of Journalism has been at the forefront of journalism training and education. The Department has included data journalism as part of its offer since 2011 and some students have gone on to be preeminent in their field – for instance, John Burn-Murdoch (now of the Financial Times) has recently won a prestigious Sigma Award for his data journalism (see below for full details).

Indeed, data journalism remains an integral part of several other City MA courses; it helps journalists break important stories and fact-check what is happening around them.

As the number of data-specific roles in the industry have increased, City is launching a new MA pathway this September to ensure those entering the field have the skills to thrive in this fast-paced and exciting area of journalism.

The panel discussions are open to all students interested in a career in data journalism, but particularly for those thinking about studying for an MA this September.

The first panel, which kicks off at 10.45am, includes a keynote from Alex Selby-Boothroyd – the head of data for The Economist – who will be talking about what data journalism is and the nature of his role.

The second panel, from 2pm, features three City data journalists – one who graduated last year and two who have gained employment as data journalists before the end of their course:

  • Amy Borrett (MA Financial Journalism, 2020), now working as a data journalist at Sky News
  • Joely Santa Cruz (MA Interactive Journalism, 2021), now a data content specialist for DC Thompson Media
  • Ben Wylie (MA Interactive Journalism, 2021), about to start work for Insurance Insider

Sign up for the event as the Department of Journalism celebrates the launch of MA Data Journalism.

Alumnus scoops Sigma Award

A City Journalism alumnus has won a coveted Sigma Award for his work during the pandemic.

John Burn-Murdoch, a Financial Times journalist who graduated from the MA Interactive Journalism programme in 2012, was awarded for his ‘consistently impeccable and exemplary’ data visualisations that display and explain Covid trends, having published the first version of the publication’s Coronavirus Trajectory Tracker chart which compares and analyses how the pandemic is affecting countries and regions across the globe.

The Sigma Awards celebrate leading contributions to data journalism from around the world, empowering, elevating and enlightening its global community.

Burn-Murdoch said it was an honour to receive the award, having worked tirelessly during the last 18 months to extract and present the newest data to readers.

He tweeted: “We're not in the business of making charts to dress-up stories. We make charts that are the stories.”

Jonathan Hewett, Director of Postgraduate Journalism said Burn-Murdoch was thoroughly deserving of the award and his recognition was testament to the dedication he has shown in both student and professional life.

“John was a standout student on our MA Interactive Journalism course from the first year of data journalism teaching ten years ago,” Hewett said.

“As an MA student he quickly grasped both the importance and the possibilities of data-driven work, and it’s wonderful to see his outstanding record of innovative, explanatory and always thorough data journalism being recognised.

“Many successful data journalists have launched their careers from City, and our MA Interactive Journalism in particular.”

To reflect the growing significance of digital information in the industry, a new programme has been introduced and will run for the first time at City from September 2021.

Glyn Mottershead, Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Course Director of the new MA Data Journalism course said Burn-Murdoch’s work in the pandemic shows the power of high-quality analytical skills, and believed there was never a better time for aspiring journalists to develop data-handling techniques.

“John’s work during the pandemic has been exemplary, and his visualisations have been an inspiration to many data journalists for the way he has evolved the charts and how they communicate.

“It’s always great to see one of City’s alumni at the forefront of their field.

“John’s work should also be a catalyst for those looking to kickstart their own careers in data journalism, and the MA Data Journalism programme will equip students with a greater understanding of the role and use of figures and graphical representations to uncover news stories.”

Additional reporting: Hamish Armstrong

To find out how to potentially follow in John Burn-Murdoch’s footsteps, sign up for the Data Journalism panel discussions on Thursday 8th July. The sessions are open to all students interested in data journalism, but particularly those considering an MA this September.


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