Monday, June 21, 2010

The journo educational crisis

David's e-book ( pdf) working with Nato forces in 2005 looked at some of the methods and tips behind working in conflict zone.

There's a lot to take from Francis Becket, an author and journalist's article We're losing journalism education, just as we need it.

He says:

"I understand the Independent (newspaper) will stop publishing its Thursday education pages. Their last appearance will be on July 1.

Education - real education, that is, not training in the skills required for work - is in greater danger than it's been in my lifetime. Education journalists, who a decade ago would have been sounding the alarm, don't have access to their platforms any more".

More here

It had me thinking, particularly in this solitude time attempting to capture my thoughts and experience in a book, combined with teaching and training exercises over the last twenty odd years. And then in two weeks we're in Chongqing, China.

First things first. A revolution in traditional journalism or storytelling, no one perhaps can dispute and there have been countless attempts, many successful, to illustrate the future.

Adam Westbrook's self-published e-books have proved very successful in capturing an audience, and showing how the strength of ideas can still travel.

With the Ipad and related techware a more radical future appears to be opening around video+text books. Further evidence comes from ex-bbc colleagues of mine bidding for a multimillion pound contract for video delivery into the classroom.

And the blogosphere e.g., Multimedia shooter has shown itself a great resource for learning. So, I asked myself what's the point of me publishing. What am I bringing to the table?

Education is about learning from our past
And the answer struck me from previous posts where I have spoken about my background.

The precis is something like this: 1987 (BBC Radio); 1990 (BBC TV Reportage); 1992 (BBC World Service/ ABC News/ SA TV/ Radio 4); 1994 (Channel One TV); 1996 ( WTN) 1997 (London Tonight/ producing in Africa);1997 (Channel 4 News/ BBC Breakfast/advertising Soho company) 2001 (politics show); 2001 dot com companies.

Bizarrely this peripatetic sojourn around broadcasting has in my eyes been my failure - in part because of the manner in which broadcasting was skewed culturally and technologically. You just were not allowed to be multiskilled in broadcasting. This was the era of monoliths.

However the knock on effect, whether it was BBC Newnight or Channel One and the Net in 1994 has been the different methodologies myself and many others have been privy to.

And in many ways it's been these different different insights and workflows, also working alongside some highly talented people, that has shaped me, and is the basis of a book in which I can reveal methods and tips. was conceived by this mashup in 2005.

Journalism Training
Then there's been the training. Outside of creating stories, it's an area I deeply enjoy and have been fortunate to be involved in training since my early career (87), then South Africa, and more recently working with the Press Association and various outfits around the world e.g. Cairo TV.

Training I have learned has to be bespoke, because you're dealing with a range of experiences and personalities. There's no one size fits all.

Lecturing has different challenges balancing theory and practicals around a middle ground whereby students must reap the rewards of their own research - pedagogy.

We're in the final project phase of supervision at the moment with the potential for some amazing student work to emerge. And when it does it will be there work, sweat and toil.

The brief: take a single story issue and building a story. Chapter 8 by the way in the book.

Freytag's basic triangle as seen in Stephen Meadow's interactive, sits at the core of good solid story tellings, with an obvious plot featured in David's book. It can also be modified within multimedia.

It's not just the changes enveloping educational journalism we're all aware of but the experiments, and successful outcomes that many of us are looking for.

Those answers, I often believe do not lie in the profession, as many of Harvard Business Review articles in business strategy have shown.

Southbank Centre's Artistic Director Jude kelly, last January launched Collision - a deeply rich invigorating programme for mid carer artists. Any Journalism educator reading this would be minded to have a close look at it.

My good friend Patrice Schneider and I shared thoughts on a similar idea, and the concept is still up for grabs. Bring together creative journalists of different disciplines and create the surroundings for a healthy exchange of ideas.

Not as a conference, but something more tangible. Mr Westbrook, we will get the creative fight club up an running.

But perhaps after its had an outing in Chongqing, China. Next month four profs, me and my head of department head out to one of its leading universities.

So back to the beginning, where our education seems to be waning, (there are still great pockets of excellence by the way) the Chinese are upping the stakes. China's projected growth is a whopping 11.9% and the news today that China may allow its Yuan to appreciate, just shows the commanding position it has found itself in.

The mood appears to be China understands the value of investment, and quietly behind the scenes. There's a double whammy here.

Firstly predictions from an international conf. I attended that by 2015 the number of foreign students from China to Australia, the US and UK will fall significantly, will take crucial foreign earnings from theses territories.

It will also squarely place China, with its penchant for educational innovation, at the forefront. Innovation, web, China... don't scoff!

Our mission next month is to share ideas in lecturing and mentoring students, alongside training exercises which are designed so students can network ideas. I don't doubt also that we'll pick up vital methods, which I believe will work here.

And that in itself I hope will prove worthwhile inclusion in tomb I'm hoping will blur the borders between many of the storytelling disciplines.