Wednesday, March 12, 2008

School Report preview - an amazing idea

BBC Radio 4's Today programme - THE bastion of BBC News' public service radio in News and Current Affairs, which is often credited with setting the day's news agenda previewed an excerpt of an experiment tomorrow.

School Report features pupils from UK schools producing their own news.

This morning Radio 4 featured about 2 mins of a news bulletin from a group of participants, in which the news presenter demonstrated as much aplomb as a season pro.

But it was their choice of stories and the ensuing interview which provided an interesting debate - gripping and enlightening.

Their bulletin, as Radio 4's presenter Sarah Montague would comment more or less mirrored the station's.

Phew ! A sign that would indicate Radio 4 more or less reflects not only what the x million of Today's listeners like, but less prominently the youth as well.

X by the way was 5 million at one point

Asked if they the students found the news difficult to assmble, they commented on the sheer weight of items they had to wade through before making informed choices, but added, the exercise demonstrated it wasn't only grown ups who could claim to be the arbiters of news story telling.

What's interesting in compiling their news using Brit newspapers and to a degree the Net as research is you might expect the stories they picked to be of the same news agenda.

Ergot most of the newspapers on a strong news day run more or less the same news agenda.

Same old or different news
The results with this experiment, while brilliant in one regard, highlight aspects of a project by RTE's Editor of News Michael Lally, who gave over his network to a community to tell their own news one evening. ( click image on page for video)

It was a good exercise but they ( the community) ended up adopting our mannerisms, style of production. They more or less became a version of us.

While I doubt very much anyone of the broadcasters involved in tomorrow's School Report exercise would have been prescriptive, there should, I believe be some nudge to ensure students become more experimental, in both content and production.

Looking at the BBC's website, the variation in news at a more local level appears to ilustratate a break from traditionalism - though that's me speculating.

But it does though propel a much talked about issue within the narrow confines of media and broadcasting, which is Local, hyerplocal news making.

If at a local level the dna of news, its function on the ground, how it impacts local communities can be enriched by pupil and citizen news, that wouldn't be a bad thing.

So could the same experiment be replicated by citizen journalism?

Yes was my answer.

No was that of Channel 4's Mark Roberts.

See what you think?

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