My flight is delayed by three hours, so I am going to use this time to jot down our project update for this week. We just got done with the Karachi training this afternoon. For this training, we probably had the best venue we have had so far during the series: the Centre for Excellence in Journalism at the Institute of Business Administration. It’s this state-of-the-art journalism facility set up in Karachi a few years ago, and, with a great administration at the helm of affairs, it has turned out to be an excellent place for media development.
Our Karachi participants were probably the most remarkably diverse people so far in our four city-based trainings: we had reporters, producers, a web editor, a talk show host, a journalism student, and an award-winning documentary filmmaker. But at the same time, the group was also the most apprehensive when it comes to numbers and data. Before I had boarded my flight to Karachi on Tuesday, I had already spoken to three participants who were worried they might have signed up for a too-advanced course on data journalism. I had to assure them that our trainings were for beginners and were practice-oriented so we would actually work on data sets to learn the skills rather than simply speaking about tips and strategies and calling it a day.
That apprehension was visible on the first day of the training when we were still going through the more theoretical and discussion-based topics. But thankfully, by the third day, everyone was all smiles and enjoying the crazy business of data analysis and visualization. One participant even walked up to me later and said this is the first time he had attended a workshop where he felt he actually learned something. Tears of joy, I say. Tears of joy. I guess I would also not be this relaxed if it wasn’t the end of our training series and if I wasn’t stuffed full of delicious Karachi food right now. But jokes apart, we are really happy with the way the trainings went. We know we only worked with around 40 journalists altogether, but we feel this was a great start and perhaps some of these journalists would continue working on data stories and inspire others in their newsrooms to also do the same.
The next few weeks are going to be lots of work for us. We have to finalize the module for our advanced skills bootcamp and figure out its logistics plan. We also have to start working towards the launch of the project’s website for which we have a great plan. The information requests also need our attention now. So much work, so little time. But I’m sure we’ll be able to carry on the good form and momentum from this phase of the project to the next.