Running a journalism newsday (part 4)

Most university journalism degrees include newsdays or 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.


Assessment plays more than a small part in motivation for some students. However, it is important to consider how many newsdays you assess (if any). Whatever the case, it is more important that feedback to students is constant throughout the day. This demands proper staffing.

Ideally, you want academics that are specialists in the individual elements of copy, video, audio, and online in the room at the same time providing ‘over the shoulder’ feedback to students before publishing to a live site.

When assessing group work it  essential to monitor a student’s individual input. Content management systems are not particularly good at identifying which student has written the copy, who edited it and preventing it from being changed before it is assessed.

Individual reflective logs or, even better an individual viva (as identified in the LJMU study) can be great ways in finding out who did what and measuring individual contributions.

Other points:

A)    TV on the web. The clue is that the web is non-linear. I am not entirely sure that all broadcast people understand the difference between TV news and web video.

B)    What are you doing? Are these newsdays just TV or radio units with online tagged on? Getting students to upload video to YouTube and then embed into a WordPress page really doesn’t tick the multimedia output box.

C)    Where is the innovation? Currently, a key growth area is in mobile journalism – both output and for production. Do the newsdays reflect this?

D)   News as a conversation: How are students engaging with their audience users on social media and how is this being assessed?

Conclusion – it is just one form of journalism.

While newsdays tick many journalism educational boxes, they are weak in some areas. It is important they don’t solely focus on ‘now’ skills or just reflect a ‘big media’ model of working which is appropriate for those seeking jobs at the BBC, Sky etc (i.e. the organisations that the BJTC represents).

Entrepreneurial skills and freelance working practices need to be represented elsewhere.

The concern is that these are traditional broadcast modules with a bit of web tagged on just to appear ‘modern’. All a bit old-fashioned linear TV and lacking in interactivity…

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