Monday, 17 May 2010

The Student Take on the Professional Act

Our News Production 'exercise' continues apace, with today featuring an in-depth news 'quiz', a favoured task of several lecturers. Twenty questions were fired at the combined Journalism, Journalism & PR, and Sports Journalist student body, with seven taken from the BBC Website here and the remaining thirteen devised by Senior Lecturer Dean Naidoo.

I spent most of the morning poring over The Times in greater detail than usual, as well as skimming the BBC site - although not the quiz unfortunately - and running twitter in the background, following up links like a bloodhound on a scent.
However, I did quite poorly in the quiz - a measly seven and a half overall. Post-match analysis indicated this was seemingly par the course, and the poor girl whose answers I marked scored somewhere between a one and a three!

It led me to wonder about the efficacy of a broad quiz on all news stories - we covered everything from the new Transport Minister and the Emergency Budget, to the Gloucestershire mountaineer who conquered Everest for the eighth time, and Mr. Walliams' new partner. My concern was that, as a selective news reader, I would probably omit to even consume the latter two stories as entirely outside my interests.

The tutors argue that as proto-Journalists, embryonic hacks still blinking our rosy, optimistic eyes, we should attempt to consume as wide a range of news topics as possible. My counter is that journalists don't multi-skill in their fields of expertise, so why should we as readers? I'll follow up on a sports story, such as Lord Triesman's resignation, because of the relevance to moral reporting and undercover 'snooping', but without the details of the sting operation, this would have been just another football official leaving a job, in a sport I tolerate at best.

At times, the faculty's exhortations seem almost desperate - I refer you again to that academic wanderer of bizarre relevance, the Sports Journalism BA - when urging us to expand our curiosities beyond the narrow interests we have as mere humans. I cannot help but feel that breadth rather than depth is the current yardstick of Journalism study.

Perhaps my cynicism is blinding me to the real truth; I am between five and seven years older than all of my contemporaries, and both my media tastes and journalistic styles are already established. For the Sixth Formers joking on the back row of the auditorium, perhaps this will be the time when they decide just what they want to read...?

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