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u of i | University of Illinois Students Fight Campus Crime

Written By Rana G on Friday, December 17, 2010 | 7:30 PM

Students from the University of Illinois fight crime by establishing the website campuscrime.net. Responding to unprecedented concern about crime on campus, 41 University of Illinois students created this interactive online resource so fellow students, parents and others could get past myth and rhetoric and examine campus crime in a uniquely interactive way.

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 (a Discovery course for entering freshmen) — worked for more nearly a month researching and designing the site.

They 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 all 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 that 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 is designed not only to maximize reader involvement but also to increase comprehension by allowing diverse readers to reach their own, personally relevant conclusions.

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