Local Data Journalism Initiative

Empowering journalists to tell stories about issues impacting cities, through high-quality data science

Investigative journalism increasingly involves digging into large data sets with granular detail on topics such as housing and real estate, policing and crime, voting and elections, education, climate, and government finance. Analyzing and presenting this information in a rigorous, engaging, and impactful way takes significant time, computational power, and expertise — at a moment when many newsrooms are strapped for resources and staff.

Leveraging the University of Chicago’s robust data science infrastructure, the Local Data Journalism Fellowship will establish partnerships between news organizations and university data science teams. Journalists will be appointed as Data Journalism Fellows at the University of Chicago and will work with these data science teams to conduct ambitious investigative journalism on critical issues affecting cities, using the highest caliber data science and artificial intelligence tools and methodologies. The initiative is run in partnership with the Data Science Institute and the Mansueto Institute.

About the program

The Local Data Journalism Initiative selects journalists who work at local news outlets and University of Chicago data science students to spend a summer working together, alongside our expert data science faculty. Journalists and data scientists can apply now for the summer of 2024.

What sets this effort apart from existing university data journalism programs is that, rather than attempting to train reporters to be data scientists in a few weeks, we connect them with university faculty and students who will conduct data science projects and provide analyses and visualizations needed to complete their stories. This empowers journalists do what they do best: investigate leads; build relationships with sources; and tell powerful, impactful stories — knowing that the data and results they’re reporting have been rigorously analyzed and validated.

The data science team will include on-campus faculty and a group of students from the University of Chicago with skills relevant for each accepted project. By the end of the summer, journalists would be presented with completed data analyses and engaging visualizations, validated by the University of Chicago, that can be used to shape impactful stories about pressing urban issues.

Contact miurban@uchicago.edu with questions.


About Us

The program is a partnership between the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation and the Data Science Institute at the University of Chicago. The Data Science Institute frequently partners with organizations from academia, industry, government, and the non-profit sector – including past projects working directly with journalists – to help them leverage data and technology in service of their mission. The Mansueto Institute runs several successful initiatives, working with a variety of stakeholders, including the Kreisman Housing Law and Policy Initiative, and the Environmental Frontiers Initiative. The Institute’s director Christopher R. Berry, has experience working on big data projects that have led to award-winning investigative journalism and reforms in local government.