“Skype has been a complete game changer for us. It genuinely is a revolution,” says the director of the MA and BA journalism courses at the University of Winchester, Chris Horrie.
This technology is enabling his team of students to do a live election webcast using Skype and Livestream, via its site winol.co.uk, drawing in teams of students from across the country – from Kingston University, University of Buckingham and University of Westminster.
The cross-university team plans to cover a range of constituencies in: Winchester; Eastleigh (Chris Huhne’s seat); Southampton (two constituencies); Isle of Wight; Devizes; Bethnal Green; Twickenham (Vince Cable’s seat); Battersea; Whitney (David Cameron’s seat); and Aylesbury.
While Horrie admits it won’t look as good as BBC or Sky, he says they’ve “made the £1 million sat truck redundant” with their Outside Broadcasting (OB) using Skype.
Their goal, based on promotion so far, is to have 1,000 viewers live online.
Each team consists of three: one to present; one to operate the camera; and one to run Skype. As well as the live outside broadcast, the team plans to run live output – interviews and packages – from the studio.
But Horrie stresses the process as well as the final product: “We are recording all of this so we will have hours of fantastic teaching materials which we are happy to share,” he says. Bloopers and mistakes are “the best part of the learning process”, he says – as long as they don’t cause legal problems.
Additionally, they plan to to publish a comprehensive “how to” video for producing the Skype OB.
In this video (below), WINOL election editor and second year journalism student Catherine Hayes outlines her hopes for the all-night continuous broadcast: “This project is absolutely massive. We’ve looked it up on Wikipedia and no-one has done anything bigger than this… The difference is we’re actually going out to a live audience – and this is what makes it real.”