More than 140 million Brazilians go to the polls this year to elect their representatives. Journalists who know how to analyze candidate’s data and election results and public opinion polls, and who can perceive what is of interest among voters, will lead electoral coverage. To help with this challenge, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and the Brazilian National Association of Newspapers (ANJ), in partnership with Google News Initiative, launch the free online course in Portuguese “How to Cover Elections Without Error: Data and Polls to Understand Voters.”
The course will bring together great experts on the subject, under the coordination of José Roberto de Toledo, editor of Piauí magazine, who has experience covering the last 17 elections. Additionally, students will hear from Keila Guimarães, data editor of Google News Lab, Cláudio Weber Abramo, co-founder of Data.org and former executive director of Transparency Brazil, and Daniel Bramatti, president of Abraji and editor of Estadão Dados.
During this four-week course in Portuguese, students will learn how to read and interpret public opinion polls, use Google Trends to understand voter interest in key topics, collect candidate data from Internet sources, and analyze and present election results.
“Even the journalist who is not going to do election-focused reporting can take advantage of this course. It’s a unique opportunity to learn from some of the top experts in the field who will share their years of experience in electoral coverage and show you how to avoid common mistakes to work with electoral data and polls,” José Roberto de Toledo said.
As with all Knight Center courses, instructors will present video lessons, and participants will also have access to presentations, readings, discussion forums, and weekly quizzes. The MOOC is asynchronous, meaning there are no live activities. Students can participate and complete practical activities throughout the week at their own pace, on the days and hours of their preference.
The course is designed for journalists, but is open to anyone interested in learning how to collect and interpret electoral data and polls. There are no prerequisites, participants will only need a stable internet connection to access the weekly modules.
“The role of journalism in electoral campaigns in all countries has never been as important as in these days of social networking and use of digital platforms for manipulation of public opinion,” said Professor Rosental Alves, founder and director of the Knight Center of the University of Texas in Austin. “But electoral coverage has become more complex. Journalists and citizens in general need to be empowered to understand the vast amounts of data available, polls and the enormous flow of information that is rapidly disseminated across networks.”
“As in previous professional training projects for Brazilian journalists, the Knight Center is proud and grateful to partner with the National Association of Newspapers ANJ) and Google. In similar partnerships with ANJ and Google in recent years, we have had the opportunity to train thousands of journalists, students, and journalism professors with other MOOCs. Now we are happy to be able to tackle this important issue in a Brazilian election year,” Rosental Alves said.
Students who successfully complete the course, including weekly questionnaires and weekly participation in discussion forums, may obtain a certificate of completion upon verification by the Knight Center staff. The certificate is optional and will be available in PDF format for US $30, attesting to participation in the online course. However, no formal course credit of any kind is associated with the document. The payment of the fee can only be made using an internationally valid credit card at the University of Texas at Austin’s secure website.
The National Association of Newspapers brings together the main newspapers in Brazil. ANJ was created in 1979 to defend freedom of expression, thought and propaganda, the unrestricted operation of the press, observing the principles of responsibility, and to fight for the defense of human rights, the values of representative democracy and free enterprise.
Google News Initiative (GNI) is Google’s initiative to foster the growth of journalism in the digital age. GNI marks a milestone in Google’s 15-year commitment to the news industry and reflects the company’s collaborative efforts to help the industry build a stronger future.
Thanks to donations from the Knight Foundation, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas was created in 2002 by Professor Rosental Alves, who holds the Knight Chair in International Journalism at the Journalism School of the University of Texas at Austin’s Moody College of Communication. The Knight Center distance education program began in 2003 and is funded in part by the Knight Foundation. Over the past five years, Knight Center MOOCs have reached more than 135,000 people in more than 170 countries.