Stories and Streams, Week 1: Exploring the Education and Olympic Context @BCUMedia #media2012

Today kicked off the first ever joint Online Journalism and Alternative Media 2nd year production module at Birmingham City University. After spending some time (re)developing the model for delivery, this morning was where we put our shared google documents into practice.

Process: News Conference and Forming of Groups

After an hour long news conference (video above shows format), where students were encouraged to explore the potential issues and research questions to aid their future investigations, they were asked to complete a short questionnaire (based on skills and interests) in order to establish which role they were be given for the duration of the module. Each group has 5-6 members, with each member having a different role in the group – which will be rotated at least once in the course of the semester so that everyone gets a chance to try a different job. These include the editor, the data journalist, the multimedia journalist, the network journalist and the community manager. The detailed job description of each role and their expectation for production are available here. The BCU newsroom etiquette charter is also the backbone behind the investigation principles and is available here.

From this roles, they were then asked to think about what they need to know and what workshop session they should attend during the breakout sessions. There are three streams, delivered by Paul, Caroline and myself and each session provides a different take similar themes for each week, where the student must not only think about what they need for the ongoing investigation but to in turn, relay back for they have learned at each session to the rest of their group, providing a peer-to-peer support network in their groups and challenges the one-to-many format.

Some snaps of the workings behind formulating research questions around the Olympics and Education.

Stream 2: Understanding the Alternativeness of Alternative Media (Multimedia Journalists)

The Alternative Media and Web Production theme has two core elements this week: 

1) the understanding the elements of ‘alternativeness’ in relation to the case studies presented – and being able to help the other members of their groups to find those stories as part of wider investigations. What is the dominant ‘mainstream’ message and how and where are the alternative(s) presented?

 2) producing content for the web, which might not necessary just be producing websites. These can include audio (podcasts and interviews), video (documentaries, news features, exposés, creative content, subversion and detournement) photography and graphic design, events and the coverage of events, live blogging and on-the-ground reporting (amongst other styles) – there is no limit on what and how things are produced using the tools that available to the students, it’s down to their own perspective and desire to create and learn how to carry such production out.

Some advised tasks (based on the week 1 workshop on Alternative Media) to be thinking about as Alternative Media students working as Multimedia Journalists:

Find the ‘dominant’ stories around Education and the Olympics this week (depending on group’s theme), read newspapers and listen to show’s such as Radio 4 Today show in the morning (or on bbc iplayer) that tend to break and spark the themes of news discussion of the day – including responses by bloggers. You need to be developing a research portfolio and background to the dominant reporting around the olympics or education so that you can understand the role of the web and alternative media in contrast – find the responses to these stories in the blogsphere and social media and keep a record of links and where you found them, what format they exist in and who is producing them. Recognize patterns that emerge, when and how are education/Olympic stories conveyed – how are they responded to? Who influences the responses and who and what are the alternatives to the mainstream approach? Where do you (and the rest of your group) fit in?

From now the students will be working in their groups to carry out an investigation around the best issues that they came up with this morning. They will be working as teams to carry out work relating to their individual roles in order to produce something more than just a ‘story’ – this will be the process throughout the entire term, where they will be expected not only to produce suitable responses to critical issues but also to combine the principles of research and practice throughout their different themes. These will feed into two key networks, #media2012 (through my involvement) and Help Me Investigate (Paul’s involvement.)