National collaboration of news organizations and journalism schools undertakes “wartime effort” to map novel coronavirus data in the public interest

  •  
  •  
  •  

A journalism collective led by the team that produced last year’s national investigation into lead in drinking water, “Tainted H20″, is spearheading a countrywide effort to help local newsrooms report on the impacts of COVID-19 in their communities.

Through “Project Pandemic: Canada Reports on COVID-19” — led by the Institute for Investigative Journalism at Concordia University and supported by the Canadian Association of Journalists and Esri Canada — news organizations will be able to access free regional and national data, live maps and other interactive tools to support their reporting.

“It is not a stretch to say that this is the equivalent of a wartime effort,” write IIJ director Patti Sonntag and CAJ vice-president Brent Jolly in their invitation to collaborators. “But in this time of crisis, we believe that news organizations and journalists can work more effectively in tandem with each other to better serve the public.”

The data co-op has partnered with Flatten.ca, a web tool launched by engineering students at the University of Toronto that allows users to submit data about potential COVID-19 cases, which will be used in addition to public health agency data. 

“Project Pandemic,” which is expected to run through Sept. 15, has hired 10 student reporters from partner universities.

“In response to feedback from media companies, we developed a data co-op suited to all levels of need,” says Sonntag. “The audiences for all news organizations, no matter how small and large, deserve the same access to quality information.”

CAJ is hosting a digital event featuring Sonntag on Thursday, April 23 to discuss details of the collaboration.

For more information about how to join “Project Pandemic,” contact IIJ director Patti Sonntag at patti.sonntag@concordia.ca or CAJ vice president Brent Jolly at brent@caj.ca 

Disclosure: J-Source publisher Christopher Waddell is a member of IIJ’s editorial board.

Editor’s note: This post was updated on April 20 at 4 p.m. ET with new information about the resources and programming offered through “Project Pandemic.” It will be updated further with additional details as they become available.