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Ryerson School of Journalism students produce stories for Tainted Water series, the largest journalistic collaboration in Canadian history

By: Declan Keogh
December 06, 2019

Nearly 20 students and alumni from the Ryerson School of Journalism were involved with researching, reporting and writing stories about Ontario’s drinking water as part of a national investigation into tap water.

The students, along with Rob Cribb, external link, an investigative reporter at the Toronto Star, were part of a consortium of more than 120 editors, reporters, students and faculty members from 10 media organizations and nine universities that contributed to the Tainted Water investigation. The project was facilitated by the Institute for Investigative Journalism based at Concordia University, external link.  

Much of the work originated in the senior investigative journalism class taught by Cribb, where students formed teams looking into different drinking water-related topics including lead contamination, issues affecting First Nation communities, and Ontario’s water policies and regulations.  

None of this could have happened without the dedication of Journalism students from RSJ and across Canada. Many students continued to work on the project part-time throughout the summer as publication moved closer.  

When I took the same course the previous year, we heard how students prior to our group had contributed stories to the Price of Oil series, which was the first iteration of this national collaborative model. I was inspired by the students whose journalism had such a lasting impact on the world around them. When the opportunity to work with Cribb and the class arose, I jumped on it. I helped with the research and reporting before and during the class and it eventually led to a paid summer fellowship with the IIJ.  

So far, dozens of articles and broadcasts, external link have featured the work of RSJ students and alumni, with more still to come. Tainted Water’s collaborative model shows one way to make high-impact journalism in the face of a changing industry.

 About the Tainted Water investigation, external link

About the Tainted Water investigation from Toronto Star.