18 May 2016
University of the Sunshine Coast Journalism students have become part of Australia’s largest newsroom, reporting on the 2016 federal election campaign through the UniPollWatch website.
UniPollWatch is a ground breaking national student journalism project, with students from 28 universities reporting on key policies and producing electorate and candidate profiles for every lower house seat in the country.
USC students will be covering the candidates and hot-button issues in the contentious Sunshine Coast seats of Fisher and Fairfax, as well as Longman and Wide Bay.
USC UniPollWatch Coordinator Dr Peter English said the website, published by the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia, provided an excellent opportunity for students to engage with politics ahead of the election on 2 July.
“Our region has some very important seats and candidates – and now our students have a front-row seat,” he said.
“Our students are writing about the key players and issues across our local electorates. It is providing them with a greater understanding of grassroots politics as they prepare to enter professional newsrooms.”
A partnership with Guardian Australia is set to expand the audience of UniPollWatch, particularly for first-time voters.
UniPollWatch editor-in-chief Andrew Dodd, from Swinburne University of Technology, said, “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.”
USC Journalism student Lloyd Copper is profiling the LNP candidate for Fisher Andrew Wallace and said the project had been a valuable opportunity to engage in hands-on reporting.
“This project has demystified politics for me,” he said. “I wasn’t really interested in politics before but doing these stories has made things clearer for me.”
UniPollWatch can be found at www.unipollwatch.org.au.