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The new Student Publication Association needs to converse with existing communities

August 7th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Training

Josh Halliday, an undergraduate journalism student at the University of Sunderland and InJournalism editor, takes a look at a new student organisation. A version of this post originally appeared on his blog. A disclosure: he launched Euro CollegeJourn, an online student community, earlier this year.

The UK-centric Student Publication Association will be a ‘national representative body’ for student publications ‘which supports student publications and their contributors by offering guidance, knowledge sharing, links in to the industry and become a forum for all involved,’ according to notes from a preliminary meeting last week, which I have permission to quote from.

These early developments suggest that online resources will be central to the SPA (or SJA according to their website.) Such online resources will seek to provide information and resources regarding good practice and legal issues.

Member publications will have the option to upload their content to the SPA website allowing for ‘affiliated publications’ and industry experts to see their work and, presumably, offer feedback and advice.

There is also plans for an ‘alumni association’ to allow for ‘strong industry contacts to be sustained and have a base of knowledge and experience which affiliated member publications can use to their advantage’.

Regarding the set-up, there will be nine regional representatives whose job it is to report back to a central body, enabling the Association to make ‘informed decisions about how it should operate and run itself’. The regions represented are: London and East Anglia, South East England, South West England, the Midlands, North East England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

Now my take. Any organisation which acts as a forum for student journalists and student journalism can only be a good thing.

I think the SPA would do well to get in touch with, and be inspired by, CoPress in the US. CoPress are, in their own words, an ‘organization dedicated to providing college news outlets with the technical resources and support network they need to innovate online’.

Look at what they’ve done with a wiki, a forum, published conference calls, engagement with the online community through social media; all ‘best practice’ essentials, in my opinion.

I admit, when I received the email from the SPA, it concerned me that it was the first I’d heard of their plans.

It would have been good to see mention of it on Tomorrows’ News, Tomorrow’s Journalists, a purpose-built forum for student journalists.

Similarly, with Euro CollegeJourn. Even though my project is currently on a summer hiatus it would have been good to see Association members involved with it.

In the hope the SPA will join the existing and evolving online conversation. I’ve reserved a Twitter account especially for them. It’s @StudentJournUK – take it, it’s yours.

Nonetheless, I wish the Association every luck. What better time can there be for meaningful collaborative work between journalism students?

What would you like to see a representative body for student journalists and student publications do? How could they help you out? Leave a comment below.

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