first discussion

Tonight at 6 pm in Waterfront Building 602, we’re convening the first UCSjournalism meeting, considering questions like the following:

  • Is there a difference between national and local media, as suggested in the Leveson report? (Tip: the 48-page summary is a quick read, though elliptical in places.)
  • Do journalists have roles or responsibilities beyond reporting the news, such as building the public sphere? Should they have?
  • What’s the difference between journalists and ‘citizen media’ such as bloggers?
  • What kind of media do we want to have in Ipswich?
Everyone from the university and beyond is welcome to join us. These meetings will morph into a research seminar over time; there is no assigned reading for this one although I did flag up a chapter from Jay Rosen’s book on public journalism. The following meeting is in January – please let us know (journalism@ucs.ac.uk) if you want to be on the mailing list.
In other news, we are offering the Digital Freelancing and Features module in the spring with a focus on arts writing – it can be taken standalone as continuing professional development  – and I’m planning a general journalism taster course as well. Details TK.

social media

I’ve been to a couple of advanced social media and online journalism training sessions in the past few weeks, and the mantra that keeps resounding in my mind as a starting point isn’t from either of those. It’s from a talk at Atrium studios by Suffolk County Council arts development manager Jayne Knight. She said to the art students:

“You need to be on social media. Otherwise people can’t read up on you secretly and you’ll never be invited to any meetings.”

The advice from the training was mostly oriented to people in situations where their performance is measured in follows and retweets. If you’re one of those people, you will have to echotweet soundbites along with the herd, lard your words with @handles and #hashtags, court any and all interactions, construct an appearance of being always-on. That is the conventional instruction on social media for journalists today. There is also a case for microblogging as a quality medium, for deliberately being unpredictable so that your stream remains unique and irreplaceable with another, but I haven’t heard anyone else make it. Although I have seen people do it.