Tag Archives: Newcastle University

IFNC pilot will launch Newcastle University’s events on journalism

Newcastle University will this month hold the first in a series of seminars exploring ethnic diversity in the news industry workforce.

The seminar Widening Ethnic Diversity in the News Industry Workforce: Towards Solutions will coincide with the launch of the Independently Funded News Consortia (IFNC) pilot schemes; an initiative in which interested parties are invited to bid to produce local content to replace the ITV regional news network.

Newspaper and broadcasting companies, independent producers and universities have formed Independently Financed News Consortia (IFNCs) to bid for around £21m to run three multi-platform pilot news services in Wales, Scotland and the Tyne Tees and Borders region.

But the news industry as a whole has a poor record of reflecting in its workforce the cultural and ethnic diversity of British society – and minority communities are entitled to expect changes if they are sharing the costs of this project.

Speakers at the event on 20 January at Newcastle University include International Federation of Journalists president Jim Boumelha and Bob Satchwell of the Society of Editors.

The two-year series of seminars, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, will take place at six universities across England and Wales.

Sunderland survey results: What do journalism students want from their training?

Ninety-one per cent of journalism students think web-based skills were ‘vital’ or ‘important’ skills for journalism students, according to a recent study on the future of journalism education.

More than half the respondents were in favour of learning coding skills too.

But some of the most interesting ‘data’ from the University of Sunderland’s survey comes in the individual responses from students:

  • “At the moment I’m spending so much time mastering ways of presenting information that I’m not spending anywhere near enough time understanding what story should be told. I’m learning slick presentations of slim stories. This can’t be right,” said one student.
  • “I don’t think newsgathering and writing should be in the same category. Journalism doesn’t revolve around the print product, it revolves around reporting.”
  • “I feel there is already too much emphasis on web-base skills, as you can find good stories without using the web. Having to learn web-coding as part of the course would, I feel, take away from actually going out and finding stories.”
  • And in response to the question, ‘what would you like to see added to your course curriculum’, popular topics: more online, more specialisms and more business/entrepreneurial training [see Newcastle University’s plans on this topic].

(Interesting to compare some of these student responses, which were gathered by contacting journalism schools and online, with the results of the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ (NCTJ) recent skills survey.)

More responses to the University of Sunderland’s survey, which had 144 responses, can be seen below, courtesy of @joshhalliday’s blog:

Entrepreneurial journalism – how Newcastle University is shaping up

In an industry facing fewer jobs and more journalism graduates, the concept of the entrepreneurial journalist (an idea freelancers will be familiar with) is growing in popularity.

Earlier in the year, Birmingham’s City University launched MAs in Online Journalism and Freelance Journalism with a strong focus on entrepreneurship and enterprise.

“We will be exploring new business models and I think that is the chief difference. We’re certainly not relying on the existing structures,” Online Journalism MA course leader Paul Bradshaw said in March.

“Ultimately the industry is crying out for this and there’s clearly a demand for it.”

So it was good to hear from Newcastle University‘s David Baines and Dr Ciara Kennedy at Friday’s Association of Journalism Education (AJE) conference about the institution’s plans to bring more of these skills into journalism training.

The university has already introduced business and entrepreneurial training to other disciplines using its Solvers programme – next year will see the same crossover with the journalism school.

The aim? To teach ‘a new world view, the benefits of an entrepreneurial life, knowledge of how to and the start-up process, networking skills’.

Speaking about the changes, Baines said elements of the traditional freelance journalist would be developed – for example, expanding journalists’ business skills, such as negotiating payment for work.

“To be self-employed is not necessarily the same as being enterprising,” he explained.

“Do journalists want to be a business? They want to be journalists. We’ve a long standing tradition of journalistic values being established against business values.”

The idea of entrepreneurship will be embedded in the curriculum with students expected to bring more than just starting points for their projects to the table, with ideas to develop them beyond the course.

One area that these skills will feed into – hyperlocal publishing and journalism, says Baines: “Hyperlocal – isn’t that a business model that a couple of our graduates could take on? They could take on local papers on their own terms and do it better than them.”