Centre for Advancing Journalism students covering the Federal Election via UniPollWatch

Centre for Advancing Journalism Masters students are part of Australia’s largest newsroom, reporting on the 2016 federal election campaign through the UniPollWatch project, a groundbreaking national student journalism project.

With participating students from 28 universities, the project aims to cover every lower house seat in the country with electorate and candidate profiles and reporting on key policy issues.

It will also feature key Senate candidates and “explainer” articles to make politics accessible to readers and especially first-time voters.

The Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA) is proud to publish the UniPollWatch project. Via online and social media platforms, and in partnership with Guardian Australia, student work on UniPollWatch has the potential to reach a diverse and wide audience.

“Students have become experts on their electorates, the candidates and the issues at play. They are an incredible resource and are contributing in a significant way to the overall coverage of the election," said University of Melbourne UniPollWatch Co-ordinator Cathy Harper

“The project is a valuable real-world reporting experience at a significant time in politics,” she said.

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.

UniPollWatch Editor-in-Chief Andrew Dodd, from Swinburne University of Technology, said UniPollWatch is a world first.

"It started with four universities covering the 2014 Victorian election. It worked so well we're now replicating it on a larger scale with JERAA as the publisher. It is now the biggest university student journalism project ever undertaken in Australia," he said.

“UniPollWatch will provide in-depth coverage of every electorate, most candidates and key election policies. Its clear and accessible online platform provides at-a-glance information.

“We understand the constraints for political journalists in covering the whole nation, so UniPollWatch offers a mosaic of local stories, which will add to overall coverage, while giving journalism students around the nation a chance to actively report on the election.”

Student work is expected to be featured in the Centre for Advancing Journalism’s The Citizen and the Melbourne School of Government’s Election Watch.