I got a peek behind the stage curtain last week, at the University of Westminster / British Journalism Review Journalism in Crisis conference (May 19/20). Geoffrey Davies, head of the Journalism and Mass Communications department, gave me a mini-guided tour of the equipment borrowed for the event – it allowed the live-streaming of the conference throughout; a real bonus for those at home or in the office.
The Journalism.co.uk beat means that we cover a fair few industry and academic conferences, and so we get to compare the technology efforts of the hosts themselves. While Twitter conversation didn’t flow as much as at some events (not necessarily a negative thing – see some discussion on that point at this link) the students’ own coverage certainly made use of their multimedia skills. I contacted a few of the students and lecturers afterwards to find out a few more specifics, and how they felt it went.
“We streamed to the web via a system we borrowed from NewTek Europe, but might purchase, called Tricaster. It’s a useful piece of equipment that is a television studio in a box,” explained Rob Benfield, a senior lecturer at the University, who produced the students’ coverage.
“In this case it allowed us to add graphics and captions downstream of a vision-mixer. It also stores all the material we shot in its copious memory and allowed us to store and stream student work, messages and advertising material of various sorts without resorting to other sources.
“Some of our third year undergraduates quickly mastered the technology which proved to be largely intuitive. We streamed for two solid days without interruption.”
Conference participants might also have seen students extremely diligently grabbing each speaker to ask them some questions on camera (making Journalism.co.uk’s cornering of people a little bit more competitive). The videos are linked at the end of this post.
Marianne Bouchart, a second year at the University, blogged and tweeted (via @WestminComment) along with postgraduate student, Alberto Furlan.
“We all were delighted to get involved in such an important event,” Bourchart told Journalism.co.uk afterwards. “It was an incredible opportunity for us to practice our journalistic skills and gave to most of us a first taste of working in journalism. I couldn’t dream of anything better than to interview BBC director general Mark Thompson.
“We worked very hard on this project and we are all very happy it went on that well. My experience as an editor managing a team of journalists to cover the event was fantastic. We encountered a few scary moments, some panic attacks, but handled the whole thing quite brilliantly in the end – for inexperienced journalists. I can’t wait to be working with this team again.”
A sample of the Westminster students’ coverage:
If you missed the Journalism.co.uk own coverage, here’s a round-up:
- Journalism in Crisis 09: ‘Fifth estate’ models could aid investigative journalism in the UK, says Paul Lashmar
Videos from the Westminster University students at this link. Interviewees included:
- Is World Journalism in Crisis? Speaker update: Nick Davies confirmed
- Is World Journalism in Crisis? The podcasts
- Crisis or no crisis? Speakers divided on whether the journalism glass has anything left in it
- #jsc: Follow the NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Conference live
- California journalism students to be provided with iPads