A love for data and journalism, along with a chance meeting over hot chocolate, propelled Sandra Svoboda’s entry into the MLIS program in the summer of 2015. Svoboda, an award-winning journalist and Special Assignments Manager at WDET, had most recently been covering Detroit’s bankruptcy when she observed shareholder groups making generalizations that were largely unsupported.
“There were a lot of the same conceptions about the city and the region regarding poverty, demographics, lots of big topics,” she said. “We started thinking about ways we could use data to reinforce or dispel myths while also explaining the data itself.”
Thus was born Detroit by the Numbers, a WDET and Data Driven Detroit collaboration that aims to separate fact from fiction and drive informed conversation about regional social issues. Since its inception in March 2015, the series has gained a lot of listener interest, bolstered by a digital online presence.
A few months before, Svoboda was hosting tours of WDET during Midtown’s Noel Night, where she first met SLIS Instructor Kim Schroeder, also Coordinator of the Archival Administration Certificate Program. It wasn’t long before the conversation turned to the archives and digital management offerings of the MLIS program. Svoboda subsequently reviewed WSU’s offerings online and remembered that chance conversation.
“I looked at the coursework in arts, culture, environmental science, history,” she said, “But I had done archival research before, and knew that I could find ways to support my love for history and data with a blend of offerings from the SLIS program.”
Already, she says the coursework has informed her work at WDET.
“The Archival Administration class (7710) has already got me thinking about a project the station is working on for next year,” she said.”Working with primary sources, learning about access to information, any organization can benefit from that type of knowledge.”