Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Blogger Who Came Back From A Cold

Apologies for my absence readers, my Easter break co-incided with a horrifically virulent chest infection that laid me low for some time. Now I've improved and term has recommenced, I am getting back onto the media observation platform...and also getting the first briefing on the much touted 'News Production' exercise.

This is a major, multi-tutor led initiative to quickly absorb and apply news research and production skills. Running from May 10th until June 18th, we will:

  • Research, produce and record a five-minute live affairs programme of broadcast quality, including at least one pre-recorded video sequence and an in-studio live interview with a relevant guest (not just some casualty from the Union Bar)
  • Cover a 'staged' press conference given by a senior West Yorkshire police officer, reproducing a real conference on a real crime he gave previously
  • Produce a web-centric news article suitable for online publication
  • Undergo an hour and a half news quiz on current affairs
  • Produce a five-hundred word retrospective article on the whole exercise
All whilst practicing our shorthand skills for an exam at the end of June. To old media hands, this may seem a regular day of work; to a bunch of first-year media students, this appears more like the labours of Hercules. Tutors off-handedly mentioned the loss of eighteen students since we began the course in September of last year...attrition is biting deeply into our numbers.

I also have the bitter experience of our first TV production exercise, in which no-one was confident working any of the studio equipment; tutors covered director and video sequencing, and I handled sound engineering for about four other groups, as well as technical support in creating video inserts.

Do I feel my group will have more of a chance this time round? I'm afraid not; it's time to get prejudiced, and make some cruel sweeping judgements. I do not mind going on record expressing my scorn for the concept of 'Sports Journalism', a separate undergraduate degree alongside pure Journalism, and the fringe topic of Journalism and PR. How one can specialise in such a narrow field is beyond me, especially as an undergrad - post-grad studies would seem to be the more suitable time for focusing on one topic.

Anyway, Sports Journalists unfortunately fit the stereotype; they're almost all football shirt wearing, lager-swilling, rap-obsessed egotists with all the subtlety and focus of a catapult. On the previous TV exercise, I found them to be the least experienced with the equipment, and the most likely to dissolve into giggles or sabotage projects 'for kicks'. So, these Sociology or Sports Science rejects are now trying to be regular journalists when all they want to do is cover the match - and for the purposes of our exercise, each group has been selected by tutors to prevent the carnage of previous attempts, when entire groups of 'mates' sank because none of them would take on the responsibility of a difficult role.

Let's look at the break-down of Group Three, with Tycho shall we? There are:
  • ONE Journalism and PR student
  • THREE Journalism students (myself included) , and
  • ELEVEN Sports Journalism students
Remember the tragedy of the Titanic, when there weren't enough lifeboats to go around? Imagine that, but now the lifeboats are also made of lead.

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