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Website looking at traffic safety a hit in Qatar

Site was designed by a group of female journalism students from Northwestern University

Website looking at traffic safety a hit in Qatar
A group of journalism students from Northwestern University in Qatar have designed a multi-media website dedicated to road safety in Qatar.

Students at Northwestern University in Qatar recently developed a comprehensive website that investigates traffic safety in Qatar.

QatarAccidents.org gives users an overview of traffic safety in the country as well as insight into the lives of traffic accident victims. The site also features stories on traffic safety in the country and original journalism pieces.

"This is terrific and impressive work," said Richard J. Roth, senior associate dean of the journalism programme 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 developed the site as part of an advanced multi-media journalism class that teaches web-based journalism skills. Stories produced for the website by the students feature written stories, high-quality video, 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 programme and 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.

Despite the modern techniques involved in multi-media journalism, students relied on old-fashioned reporting methods to get information for their stories; interviewing local traffic experts, drivers and car accident victims to uncover facts about Qatar's road safety.

The idea behind the project, according to Northwestern University, was to give students an idea of what it is like working in a real newsroom before they finish their degree studies and begin their working career.

"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.

According to the university, the website has already gathered quite a readership.

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

A group of all-female junior students developed the site as part of their coursework.

"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."

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