Posts Tagged ‘Journalism’

Away day thoughts: digital skills

Posted on June 22nd, 2015 by Bernie Russell

When we look at core digital skills, we tend to focus on the production modules, and on particular tools and technologies. Our procurement process, for example, is nearly all devoted to our production work.

Digital skills aren’t all to do with production, though. Our digital first approach should apply to our theory and context modules as well. We should look right  across our programs at the basics of how students use their computers, how they do their research, even how they use the internet. It wouldn’t do us any harm to look at our own practices while we’re at it.

Keyboard shortcuts
This is the obvious place to start—entry-level, literally digital first. Keyboard shortcuts are a much more efficient way to work within an application, or to work at the level of the operating system. I’d suggest we deliver a list of basic shortcuts for Windows and the Mac OS to level one students.

Too obvious? I’m not sure.

Ctrl-F is a case in point. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen students scrolling laboriously through a page of text looking for a particular phrase, rather than just hit Ctrl-F.

A quick, editable list wouldn’t hurt, and could help.

D1st toolkit
We have a session in the level three online module about assembling a digital toolkit. That’s too late. By then, students are using their default option for project management and sharing resources: Facebook, which isn’t really much use for either of those things.

They’re using pen drives for storing and moving files, and they have different files on different machines. And very few use browser extensions to save, share or clip pages.

Most use web mail, but a lot of them don’t bounce their university mail through.

Project management
There are lots of tools out there, but maybe not that many free ones. It’s possible to use WordPress, and I’m sure there are project management functions in our production and editorial apps. Google+ is fine (better than Facebook), and I’ve had teams stitch together a suite of tools (mostly around Skype).

One student introduced the team to an app called Trello, which is really useful (and free). And, of course, it may be that colleagues have their own approach to this. If so, we should be sharing these approaches so that (d1st) project management becomes part of all our modules.

Browser extensions
The students must put together a suite of browser extensions to curate and share web content. It doesn’t much matter what they are as long as they do the job.

I’d suggest as an absolute minimum that they should use a social bookmarking site to save and share material they find on the web. (I use diigo, but there are lots of others out there.) These are powerful research tools that allow users to tag and share content with colleagues or team members.

They might also want to look at extensions that will let them

  • share content over social media;
  • add things to their Amazon wish list;
  • capture screenshots of all or part of a web page
  • email web pages with one click (though this is also a core browser function anyway).

And they should be using different browsers so that they can see how they render web pages differently.

Cloud servers
All the students should be using some kind of cloud-based hosting service to store and share files. Again, it doesn’t matter which one – Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive (which is probably the best supported – you can run it on an Xbox). But they (and we …) have to get them used to storing and sharing content remotely. This would be useful for team projects and for research, especially dissertations.

(What about Blackboard? I’d say use it for official material, but that’s all.)

Back to basic
Of course, this is all very basic, and perhaps many of us and many of our students are already using these tools or similar. But if so, we should still articulate this and make it part of our work so that we can build a genuinely digital culture.

And we also should remember that it’s the end result that matters. We should be getting the students to try things, to experiment. Whatever will get the job done will do. The last thing we want is a shopping list of specific programs or tools. There’s already far too much of that approach in journalism and in the academy.

Of which more later …



Away day thoughts

Posted on June 19th, 2015 by Bernie Russell

One of the things we’ll be looking at on our away day (June 25) is breaking up the current structure for our production modules, which is too tightly demarcated, and no longer reflects industry practice (if it ever did). Read the rest of this entry »

Beyond the printed page

Posted on May 25th, 2015 by Bernie Russell

There’s a lot to think about in this upbeat report from mediatel newsline from the annual PPA conference on Thursday (21 May) – with the headline theme being that “magazine brands will continue to move far beyond the printed page”.

  • Condé Nast International president Nicholas Coleridge told the conference that the company is still launching magazines around the world, but it’s taking on staff with a much wider skillset: it’s hired one hundred people to work in Camden on a new e-commerce business, and is is also investing in an “enormous” new video team.
  • Hearst Magazines UK CEO Anna Jones warned of the effects of ‘digital disruption: “It’s like white water rafting and you have to be prepared to pivot and change not on a quarterly basis – but a week-by-week basis.”
  • Time Inc UK’s CEO, Marcus Rich said “digital disruption was ruthless to the businesses that could not adapt to change.”

And to j-schools?

Anti-Mail campaigners seek tighter press control

Posted on November 3rd, 2009 by Bernie Russell

The anti-Daily Mail campaign that followed Jan Moir’s column on the death of former pop star Stephen Gately is still going strong. Read the rest of this entry »

Reuters handbook online

Posted on September 8th, 2009 by Bernie Russell
Another useful resource – and it kicks off with a strong statement on journalist ethics.
There’s a separate style guide for sports journalism as well.

Another useful resource – The Reuters Handbook of Journalism – and it kicks off with a strong statement on journalist ethics.

There’s a separate style guide for sports journalism as well.

FT puts on the style

Posted on September 7th, 2009 by Bernie Russell
FT puts on the style
Press Gazette reports that the FT has put its style guide/lexicon online.
This looks like a great resource, and should probably be added to reading lists for all the writing and production units?

Press Gazette reports that the FT has put its style guide/lexicon online.

This looks like a great resource, and should probably be added to reading lists for all the writing and production units?

Citizen journalism: here to stay, says Northern Echo

Posted on September 6th, 2009 by Bernie Russell

Press Gazette reported on September 4 that the Northern Echo wants to hire “30 members of the public as contributors to its ultra-local websites“.

Long-term plan
The recruitment drive is part of a long-term plan by the Echo to “increase the amount of ultra-local content on its websites”,  according to assistant editor Nigel Burton.

The new recruits, who range from 17 to 70, will file about three stories a week. They’ll get training in photography, story structure and the site’s content management system.

Each correspondent usually has a journalist mentor, who will be a staffer with several years experience, as a point of contact if they have any problems. And, yes, they get paid.

Not about cost
Nigel Burton was adamant that the project is not about cost, saying “this is definitely not a move to replace our writers with so-called citizen journalists”.

“I cannot see a time when a paper like The Northern Echo would resort to using news submitted by reporters who have no formal NCTJ training.”

Augmented actuality
He makes the point that the Echo has the largest circulation area of any regional newspaper in the country, and that the staffers just couldn’t cover an area that size in detail. The network of local correspondents will augment news coverage by providing “ultra-local news on our community micro-sites”.

And the community has responded positively, though he concedes that there’s a problem with churn, and the Echo needs to keep pushing for new blood.

But, hearteningly, he says that people are keen to write for their local paper.

He also said that this is another way to find good journalists, saying that “we have identified three correspondents who have the talent to go all the way, and have held discussions to see if they are interested in the NCTJ pre-entry course”.

What about the implications for journalism education? Does it mean we should look more closely at developing networking  and communication skills, maybe even training and project management skills, as well as production skills?

Maybe, says Nigel Burton. But the production skills remain key, especially internet and multimedia skills:

“I think it’s more important to make certain students have a really good understanding of the internet and multi-media. The Echo always looks for people capable of filming and editing video/podcasts etc, as well as crafting a neat turn of phrase or two!”

Next move?
This is obviously a development we need to monitor and respond to in our curriculum development. Note also the stress on NCTJ standards and web skills.

Perhaps we need a brief survey of other local newspapers which could include looking at content, talking to correspondents, etc.?

Full interview
You can read Nigel Burton’s answers in full here: Read the rest of this entry »

Journalism – still a class act

Posted on July 27th, 2009 by Bernie Russell

The Economist points out an odd ommission from press coverage of Alan Milburn’s report on the lack of social mobility in the UK: the fact that journalism has become one of the least mobile of all the professions. Read the rest of this entry »