ECU journalism students cover Federal Election through UniPollWatch project


ECU journalism students David Trescuri and Jacinta Payne interview Greens candidate for the seat of Perth Tim Clifford.
ECU journalism students David Trescuri and Jacinta Payne interview Greens candidate for the seat of Perth Tim Clifford.

EDITH Cowan University (ECU) journalism students are reporting on the 2016 federal election campaign through the UniPollWatch project.

The project aims to cover every lower house seat in the country with electorate and candidate profiles. It will also report on policy issues, feature key Senate candidates and run “explainer” articles to make the election process accessible to readers and first-time voters.

ECU senior journalism lecturer and UniPollWatch WA co-ordinator Kayt Davies said she had embedded the work in the unit so the articles and candidate profiles the students were writing were for assessment.

“They are learning as they go, dealing with real world challenges involved in getting people to speak on the record about politics in a way that makes sense,” Dr Davies said.

“I also have five senior students who have taken on the role of being editors on the electorate level, managing groups of students, sub-editing their work and ensuring that all relevant issues are covered.”

The first UniPollWatch project was conducted in Victoria for the state election of 2014.

Journalism educators saw that the success of that project could be extended nationally to provide coverage of the 2016 federal election.

ECU Journalism and Broadcasting student Mathew Dower said the project helped broaden his understanding of politics.

“As someone who hasn’t been as aware about politics as some others, my understanding has grown in spades over the summer and throughout the first ten weeks of semester,” he said.

“The project has enhanced my interest in day-to-day politics so much that it’s made me want to pursue a career in political journalism in the near future.”