In Mongolia, VCU professor emeritus is teaching data journalism
Jeff South, an associate professor emeritus who retired from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2020, is serving as a Fulbright specialist in Mongolia, where he is training journalists in data journalism and fact checking. South, who taught journalism for 23 years as a faculty member of the Richard T. More than 200 journalists from across the Central Asian country have registered for South’s three-day workshops on how to find, analyze and visualize data and integrate it into news stories. “Data journalism isn’t a substitute for ‘shoe-leather’ reporting — going to public meetings or protests, interviewing government officials, combing through documents for newsworthy information and talking to everyday people,” South said. As an extension of the workshops, South is helping to assemble teams of journalists to work on data-driven stories, exploring possible topics such as corruption, air pollution and mining operations.
“I’ll work with each group on the data and other reporting and help translate their stories into English,” he said. South also will work with the Mongolian Fact-Checking Center, which was established by the Nest Center to counter misinformation and disinformation online and in the media. “I’ll share my tips on how to establish the provenance and truthfulness of social media postings, photos and other online information and how to investigate sketchy websites and digital accounts,” he said. Mongolia, a country of about 3 million people spread over an area the size of Alaska, has a media system of around 500 print, online and broadcast news outlets. “It’s been an eye-opener on a robust, freewheeling media system — very different from the government-controlled systems in China and Russia, the countries that surround Mongolia,” South said.
He added that Mongolia has a high literacy rate, more than 99%. “Mongolia is a society that greatly respects reading, learning and the printed word,” he said. South’s project, which will conclude June 23, is funded by the Fulbright Specialist Program, a program of the U.
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