Campus emergency phone at night
An emergency phone keeps a lonely vigil for crime just off the Main Quad.

Why students undertook this project

This is an updated version of a site originally undertaken in fall 2010 when 41 University of Illinois students responded to unprecedented concern about crime on campus to create an interactive online resource that would allow fellow students, parents and others to get past myth and rhetoric and examine campus crime in a uniquely interactive way.

The initial site, first-place winner for online news reporting in the Society of Professional Journalists' national Mark of Excellence competition, was created by students from Associate Prof. Eric Meyer's courses — JOUR 425 Graphics and Design course (a required course for news-editorial seniors and first-semester journalism graduate students) and JOUR 199 Flash Journalism Online Discovery course for entering freshmen. They worked for nearly a month researching and designing the site.

Image of earlier version of site

Original CampusCrime.net, winner of Society of Professional Journalists' national Mark of Excellence for online news reporting

The updated version you are visiting was created by a separate group of 35 students enrolled in Meyer's JOUR 425 course for the spring semester plus three students from the original class, who enrolled in a JOUR 460 independent study to continue working on the project. The JOUR 425 students again spent about a month creating all-new content for the updated site. Students in the independent study worked on this project and others during the course of the spring semester.

The students once again adopted what can best be described as a 21st-century approach to the project, avoiding "he said, she said" stenographic journalism by focusing first on obtaining underlying data and documents, then crowd-sourcing the story via social media and online surveys, before finally beginning to look for answers from authoritative sources.

To present their findings, they again chose a 21st-century technique — non-linear storytelling. Rather than create text-based narratives that force readers to follow only one pathway through the material, they presented without comment audio highlights of hundreds of interviews they conducted and created interactive features that allow readers to query the data their research uncovered in whatever manner the readers desired. This alternative storytelling technique was designed not only to maximize reader involvement but also to increase comprehension by allowing diverse readers to reach their own, personally relevant conclusions.

The site was manually coded in fully compliant XHTML 1.1/CSS 2.1 and produced with liberal use of original Adobe Flash animations and audio-video packages in the Beschloss Family Media Design Center at the College of Media. Hosting services were donated by Hoch Publishing Co. Inc. of Marion, Kan.

Instructor

Producer / editors

Interaction

Design

Racial impact

Victims' stories

Audio-video

Data analysis

Multimedia journalism

Survey

Additional reporting

* indicates volunteers who continued to work on the project after Commencement for no additional academic credit.

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