SJMC Graduate Student Named Finalist in Online Journalism Awards

SJMC graduate student Becky Larson is a finalist in the Online Journalism Awards (OJA) This prestigious competition recognizes excellence in online journalism through awards in professional and student categories. Becky’s project, LoudAustin, was developed in Dr. Cindy Royal’s Advanced Online Media: Coding and Data Skills course during the Spring semester. The course explored storytelling with data about the music community in Central Texas and was funded through the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education from Online News Association, Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Rita Allen Foundation.

screen shot from Becky's project, located at

screen shot from Becky’s project, located at


For this project, Becky identified noise complaint data through the City of Austin Open Data Portal and visualized the data that was tagged “loud music” in several different ways: by month, top four zip codes and through an interactive presentation that allows users to input their own zip codes. The project demonstrates a strong grasp of programming and Web development techniques that are in great demand in modern media organizations.

“Becky did a fantastic job assimilating a range of new skills and identifying a relevant data set. Her project demonstrates the power of data-driven storytelling and is proof that programming skills can and should be taught in mass communication programs,” Dr. Royal said. “Her project is the only finalist in the category that utilizes data in such innovative ways.”

Other finalists in the Student, Small Teams category include projects from University of California at Berkeley and University of Southern California. The winners will be announced at the 2015 ONA Conference and Online Journalism Awards Banquet on Saturday, September 26, in Los Angeles, Calif. Good luck, Becky!