Students complete investigation into Qatar’s road safety

Students at Northwestern University in Qatar recently completed work on a groundbreaking website that investigates traffic safety in Qatar.

The website, QatarAccidents.org, features original journalism and gives visitors both a rare overview of traffic safety in the country and insight into the experiences traffic accident victims suffer (see video at bottom of this page).

“This is terrific and impressive work,” said Richard J. Roth, senior associate dean of the journalism program

at Northwestern University in Qatar.  “It’s even more impressive to know that they did every bit of this work in just five weeks while taking a full academic course load.”

The students who developed the site did so as part of an advanced multimedia class that teaches students high-level skills in web-basedjournalism. The stories students produced take on all the forms of modern web journalism – written stories, high quality videos, informational graphics, and interactive maps.

“The multimedia aspect of this project is unique to journalism in Qatar,” said Omar Chatriwala, a lecturer in the journalism program who was one of four faculty members to oversee the project. “You don’t often see journalism presented through as many different mediums as our students used on this project,” he said.

Though the stories were told in new and interesting ways, the students used traditional, time-tested reporting practices, relying primarily on interviews with local traffic experts, drivers and car accident victims to uncover facts about Qatar’s road safety.

The project was designed as a means to give students an idea of what working in a newsroom is like before they began their professional residencies in newsrooms around the world this month.

The four faculty members who advised the students on the project provided only as much guidance as students needed to successfully complete the project.

“Our goal was to give them a taste of what it’s like to work in a newsroom with as little interference from us as possible,” said Chatriwala.

The site has already earned an enthusiastic readership.

“Thank you for this project,” wrote a reader posting under the name Amirah in the comments section of a story about an accident victim.  “I encounter dangerous driving on Doha roads every day, and it scares and frustrates me.”

The site is a valuable piece of journalism, Roth said.

“If the awareness caused by this site saves just one life or saves one more person from losing the ability to walk, then all the hard work, the late nights and early mornings will have been worth it,” Roth said.  “We are very proud of them and I urge everyone to spend some time on the site.”

The students who developed the site are all female and all juniors in the journalism program. They included Laala Al Jaber, Mai Al-Mannai, Ola Diab, Shannon Farhoud, Camila Ferriera, Rana Khaled, Thouria Mahmoud, Shereena Qazi, Ashlene Ramadan, Zainab Sultan and Nazneen Zahan.