Most university journalism degrees include newsdays or news production workshops where students work individually and in teams to produce a media output of a professional standard. This series of posts aims to discuss the value of newsdays based on my experience running a unit that offers a similar workplace simulation.
- Part 1: Introduction, learning by doing
- Part 2: Do as I say, shiny new newsroom, student feedback
- Part 3: More research required, what news do you cover?
- Part 4: Assessment, other points, conclusion
- Part 5: Examples – journalism news sites
Newsdays are a workplace simulation where the aim is to replicate the ‘real journalism’ that goes on in newsrooms of places like the BBC, Sky and ITN. In the last few years they have become an important and core component of BJTC accredited journalism courses.
Content (copy, audio, video, images) is typically uploaded to a news website, although other outputs are possible including news-based TV programmes.
The BJTC, a broadcast accrediting body, is rather keen on newsdays and insists on no less than 15 days of news production at both level 5 and level 6 (2nd/3rd years).
BJTC guidelines state:
‘Each student must be given the opportunity to acquire and enhance his/her technical skills, both in an individual capacity and as a member of a team, in the context of practical workshops.’
‘In addition to workshops there must be editorial, reporting and presentation contributions to the team production of news production days over a minimum of two consecutive days. These should produce a daily output consistent with industry practice in the particular medium or media.’
Needless to say this is causing more than a few timetabling and logistical headaches. Units, particularly in the second year, often have had to be modified to include newsday where there was none before.
Learning by doing
There are a number of ways newsdays can be run, a constant feature is that students will hold a morning news meeting (usually chaired by a student editor) where students working as reporters will be allocated stories to cover during the day. It is common for deadlines to be set throughout the day and students will be expected to return to the newsroom with material to broadcast or uploaded to a website.
Journalism is a diverse profession /
trade (delete as appropriate), but newsdays reflect a particular working practice most commonly associated with mainstream media where students work in a centralised newsroom. From personal experience I have found that newdays develop a range of important employability skills including team working, group communication and project planning.
There has been little research done into the effectiveness of workplace simulations in the UK, Carmichael et al (2007) study of a three-day simulation at the Department of Journalism Studies at the University of Sheffield being a rare exception. It looked at students covering a general election as part of a newsgathering operation.