Carleton Journalism students have officially launched the new digital-only Capital Current platform, publishing stories that matter to Ottawa residents, from news and in-depth coverage of important issues to offbeat features and profiles of local personalities.
Capital Current is part of a longstanding tradition of local outreach for both the university and Carleton’s School of Journalism and Communication. With almost 40 students working on the publication at any given time, plus additional content gleaned from the best assignments produced across the school, journalists-in-training are able to polish the digital storytelling skills they’ll need to work in the industry. At the same time, they are giving Ottawa’s diverse neighbourhoods the stories and information that is often missing in the local market.
For example, Capital Current was first to report on the thousands of local residents who can’t vote in municipal elections. It examined traffic problems in Barrhaven and College wards. It asked why so few people run for school board trustee. On municipal election night, Capital Current reporters took to social media to post video, interviews and quotes from the two top mayoralty candidates and some of those running for council.
It has delved into topics ranging from how cannabis legalization may affect the community, to the fast-expanding sport of pickleball in Ottawa.
“Integration with the local community is an ethic that Carleton values,” said Prof. Aneurin Bosley, co-publisher. “It has always been part of what Carleton is. I would say that Capital Current is not only building on that tradition, but actually taking it in an interesting new direction because we’ll be immersed much more fully in what’s happening in local communities — plural — around the city, and helping to identify those communities in some ways that don’t necessarily have manifestations in the media.”
The focus is on creating a dynamic interactive online publication.
“This is a great way to tie together everything we’ve been learning in the program so far,” says fourth-year Journalism student Haneen Al-Hassoun. “It’s setting us up for journalism work outside the classroom.”
Capital Current will continue to broaden its range, telling stories across Ottawa’s geographic communities, as well as its demographic communities, such as Indigenous, immigrant and LGBTTQ+ groups.
“This experience is definitely a confidence booster,” said Carleton Masters of Journalism student Lisa Johnson says about being among the first group of students to contribute to Capital Current. “It’s been great to work with my classmates and our instructors to produce local stories.”
With guidance from faculty, students come up with story ideas, then do research and reporting, leading to a range of different types of content, from traditional words-and-pictures articles to photo slideshows, videos, podcasts, map-based narratives, data-driven infographics and more. Some of these stories may emerge from feedback shared by Ottawa residents who ask for coverage exploring specific issues.
This type of responsiveness will be one of the hallmarks of Capital Current, with students no longer tasked with shaping stories that have a two-week print shelf life. The plan to listen to what community members want to see will also lead to greater relevance.
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