Student Journalist Create Local Crime Maps

Tarleton State University


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

STEPHENVILLE, Texas—Information about campus and city crimes is just a click away with the publication of two maps created by student journalists from the Department of Communication Studies.

The maps are part of the Light of Day Project sponsored by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.

The project aims to help students learn how to access government records. Amber Ward and Monica Pierce, editors for Texan News Service, filed requests under the Texas Public Information Act with Tarleton and the Stephenville police departments for crime reports from 2009-2010.

Students in media writing courses helped catalog each police report into databases that are now interactive maps on the Texan News Service website (http://www.tarleton.edu/texannews). About 60 students helped with the project.

“Sinking their teeth into this kind of real journalism teaches students about the role journalists play in our communities,” Texan News Service adviser Dan Malone said. “A lot of reporting is filing requests and culling through tons of data to make sense of it for the public. These student journalists are shining the light of day on crimes on and around campus as a public service.”

The online crime map shows reported crimes on the Tarleton campus between 2009-2010 and Stephenville for 2010. Each dot on the maps represents the location of a crime reported to police. Clicking on the dots provides details about the crime.

“I feel like we are providing a wonderful community service with having Tarleton and Stephenville crimes mapped in an easy-to-use format,” said editor in chief Ward. “People have the right to know what is happening on their campus and in their neighborhood. I’m very proud of our work and I hope that we can continue to provide for the Tarleton and Stephenville community.”

For managing editor Pierce, “The Light of Day Project has been a time-consuming project but I am very excited for the end results.” She said she hopes the data will help people in Stephenville, whether they are looking for real estate or just want to be more aware of their surroundings.

Six other universities participated in the project, including Abilene Christian University, Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, Texas Tech, and the University of Texas at Arlington.

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