Circle of Blue & BSU

Circle of Blue and Ball State University Form Global Multimedia Reporting Project

Immersive program puts advanced students in the center of “one of the decade’s biggest news, policy, and technology issues.”

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Video by Ball State University.
Immersive program puts advanced students in the center of “one of the decade’s biggest news, policy, and technology issues.”

MUNCIE, IN, (February 1, 2011) — A select team of Ball State University journalism students and the online global news organization Circle of Blue today announced the start of a comprehensive multi-media reporting project to document the intensifying competition between water and energy in China, and the effects of climate change in the Great Lakes region.

The partnership joins Ball State’s intensive immersive learning program in multimedia journalism with the world’s foremost online news and science organization covering the global freshwater crisis. Ball State and Circle of Blue over the next year will produce path-breaking interactive graphics and on-the-ground reporting about the growing confrontation between water, energy, and climate that is influencing the world’s two largest economies.

This is the second time that Ball State’s nationally recognized multimedia journalism faculty and students have collaborated with Circle of Blue. Last year, Ball State students produced more than a dozen data visualization graphics to illustrate Choke Point: U.S., Circle of Blue’s comprehensive report on the confrontation between rising energy demand and diminishing freshwater reserves in the United States.

Circle of Blue & BSU

“The 18 students, who were hand-picked for the program, are conducting original reporting and visualization design that will be seen by Circle of Blue’s global audience, from workers in the field to members of the World Economic Forum,” said Jennifer George-Palilonis, the Ball State professor who is directing the students. “This real-world collaboration puts students right in the middle of an important international news issue during one of the most dynamic, changing periods in the history of journalism.”

Across campus, Ball State University is committed to immersive learning experiences such as the one with Circle of Blue. The goal is to give students the opportunity to work directly with top professionals, providing authentic workplace experiences that encourage students to strengthen their technical skills as well as their capacity to perform as valued colleagues.

The Ball State-Circle of Blue collaboration achieves this on three levels:

  1. Students will be conducting original reporting that will be guided and edited Circle of Blue journalists. Their work will be published on the Circle of Blue Web site, which has an international global audience of 100,000 unique visitors a month.
  2. The collaboration exposes students to new models of 21st century journalism. Students will gain first-hand experience with Circle of Blue’s non-profit business model, one of the ways journalism is evolving to meet the information needs of a national and global community in rapid transition.
  3. Ball State students will help Circle of Blue illustrate in charts, maps, and interactive graphics a never-before-been-told story of the powerful impediments to China’s frantic development. In Choke Point: China, Circle of Blue finds three trend lines — rising economic development, water scarcity, and increasing energy demand —that are forming a tightening noose around China’s modernization. The project begins online publication in weekly chapters starting on February 15. Choke Point: China is produced in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars China Environment Forum.

“This is one of the decade’s biggest news, policy, and technology stories,” said J. Carl Ganter, Circle of Blue’s co-founder and managing director. “We found that over the last 15 years, China developed some of the world’s best water conservation and efficiency tools and practices to avoid the confrontation between water scarcity and rising energy demand. We also found a host of new challenges is forcing China to consider a much different approach. Ball State’s talented and motivated students will help tell that story. The results will be seen and appreciated around the world.”

Related Links
Memo to Hu and Obama: Water and Energy Choke Points Merit Time at the China-U.S. Summit | Circle of Blue

The collision between rising energy demand and declining freshwater reserves was not on the summit agenda, yet large expanses of the United States and China are being buffeted by new dimensions of water scarcity that impede development and economic opportunities.

Circle of Blue report included in new book by World Economic Forum
Water Security: The Water-Energy-Food-Climate Nexus
Circle of Blue’s report, “Choke Point: U.S.” is featured in the new book, Water Security, published this week by the World Economic Forum and Island Press. Water Security contains compelling commentary from leading decision-makers, past and present. The commentary is supported by analysis from leading academics of how the world economy will be affected if world leaders cannot agree on solutions. The book suggests how business and politics need to manage the energy-food-water-climate axis.”
Daily reports from the front lines

The partnership will continue through summer 2011, when Circle of Blue will host a number of Ball State students for summer internships. The students will report on the considerable environmental risks and economic transitions that await Great Lakes states as a result of accelerating climate change. The university and Circle of Blue plan to extend the project through fall 2011 with another immersive learning course that continues the collaborative efforts between Ball State students and Circle of Blue editors.

Circle of Blue

Circle of Blue, founded in 2002 and based in Traverse City, Michigan, is a non-profit affiliate of the Pacific Institute, and the premier news organization in the world covering freshwater issues. Circle of Blue’s news desk supervises a national and global network of multimedia journalists and produces trend-setting reports from every continent that are referenced widely by international policy makers, thought leaders and convening events such as the World Economic Forum and Aspen Ideas Festival. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences wrote in 2010 that “Circle of Blue is filling a niche by providing specialized content that is considered essential by an audience of shared interests but that can’t be found in such detail anywhere else. In many ways, it is reflective of a shift in how we define journalism, or at the very least, in how we go about producing and sharing it.”

Circle of Blue’s news staff includes Director J. Carl Ganter, a nationally known journalist and multimedia producer, and Senior Editor Keith Schneider, a New York Times writer and former national correspondent.

Ball State University Multimedia Journalism Program

Jennifer George-Palilonis, the journalism graphics sequence coordinator and George & Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Multimedia Journalism, leads the 18 Ball State University students participating in the joint project. She has published a book on information graphics reporting titled, A Practical Guide to Graphics Reporting (Focal Press, 2006). She is a media design consultant and has worked on the redesigns of more than 30 publications. She regularly speaks at professional and academic conferences on the power of visual communication and teaches upper-level courses in graphics and design at Ball State.

Ball State has been providing journalism education for more than 80 years. The Department of Journalism is a part of Ball State’s College of Communication, Information, and Media, one of the largest communications colleges in the nation. Since 1979, the department has been accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC), which is the international journalism accrediting body.

This innovative approach to multimedia journalism education has earned the department significant acclaim and respect in the various industries it serves. Students, faculty and alumni are regular recipients of academic and industry honors.

Jennifer George-Palilonis
George & Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Multimedia Journalism
Ball State University

Keith Schneider
Senior Editor
Circle of Blue

Ball State students produced more than a dozen data visualization graphics, such as this one about low water levels at Hoover Dam, to illustrate Choke Point: U.S., Circle of Blue’s comprehensive report on the confrontation between rising energy demand and diminishing freshwater reserves in the United States.

Click through the tabs of the interactive infographic below to visualize different scenarios and statistics for this ongoing story.

Graphic © Daniel Cooper and Danielle Aber/Ball State University for Circle of Blue
To view in html, please click here: Hoover Dam’s Troubled Waters.

A visualization of Hoover Dam’s production capacity throughout a persistent decade-long drought that threatens to halt its power. Click on the tabs within the graphic for more information. If you are having trouble viewing this graphic click here.

Graphic created by Ball State University graduate students Daniel Cooper and Danielle Aber, with data compiled by Circle of Blue’s Brett Walton. Contact Brett Walton

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