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Journalism Graduate Students Launch Data-driven Social Justice Reporting Lab

A group of graduate students in CAMD’s School of Journalism, Media Innovation program, recently launched The Docket – a data-driven media lab focused on criminal, social, and economic justice issues. Emily Hopkins AMD ’17, Brilee Weaver AMD ’18, and Priyanka Ketkar AMD ’18 founded the outlet as a way to cover and bring attention to various social justice issues in Boston, many of which often go underreported. The Docket, through leveraging the tools of the Journalism program and other available university resources, strives to reach, engage, and educate an audience that is invested in understanding Boston and its unique social challenges.

The Docket’s mission builds on the work of Homicide Watch Boston, a news site run by the School of Journalism that covered every homicide in the city from crime to conviction. It will be giving way to the more expanded coverage of the Docket, but the determination to shed light on stories of justice – and injustice – remains.

“Not everyone is represented in today’s mainstream media, but everyone deserves to have their voices heard and stories told about them,” said Emily. “We truly hope that The Docket drives conversations around the issues that overwhelmingly effect marginalized groups in the Boston area and generally go unnoticed.”

Leading up to The Dockets launch, Emily, Brilee, and Priyanka had a timely eye-opening experience when they attended the Unsolved Homicide Awareness Day and Flag Raising event, hosted by Women Survivors of Homicide Movement and the Boston Police Department Area B2.

“As we heard the stories of the women at this event, it truly drove home the importance and need for an outlet like The Docket,” said Priyanka. “It was an emotional and intense day, but when the attendees heard about our ideas and the launch of this project, we were met with an overwhelming sense of enthusiasm. We hope that these community members will take advantage of The Docket to share their incredibly moving stories to a broader audience.”


The Docket team. L to R: Emily Hopkins, Priyanka Ketkar, Brilee Weaver

In addition to involving contributors from the community, The Docket team views this venture as an opportunity to collaborate with other schools and disciplines on campus from sociology and criminal justice to data science, and help communicate the impressive work various students and faculty are doing. It will serve as an important, and flexible, vehicle for students in classes to get their work published, whether it is a written feature, podcast, video, photo series, or anything in between.

The Docket is founded on, and will continue to be strengthened by, co-creation,” explained Brilee. “While we currently have a small team of writers in place as we launch the new platform, we intend to attract a wide variety of contributors from the School of Journalism and far beyond.”

With the website recently launched, this is an exciting time for these Media Innovation students and their project, which is truly collaborative and open to experimentation as it continues to take shape.

‘’Social justice reporting is at the heart of what a lot of our students work on here within the Media Innovation program and the School of Journalism as a whole. And we’re excited to take that kind of public interest reporting and data journalism to the next level of learning and community outreach with a home platform like The Docket,” said Dina Kraft, program coordinator of Media Innovation.

Be sure to check out The Docket here, and follow the lab on Twitter for real-time updates.