As the 2006/07 academic year draws to an end, the journalism students at UCE Birmingham have to show off their work at a final year exhibition of all media students’ work. How do you ‘exhibit’ journalism? That’s the challenge.
This year we’ve had three projects involving online journalism: the first was a news magazine and website aimed at 11-14-year-olds – ‘4 You‘. The second, a website to support a television news production, UR-Central, aimed at “under-represented communities in Birmingham”. And the third (not yet finished), is a blog-based service around disaster-related news.
The two that are now finished both had their strengths and weaknesses. UR-Central suffered, it appears, from the common problem of ‘production team not communicating with web person’. The resulting website is patchy, with some empty areas where ideas are suggested but not built. But there’s some Flash video, slideshows, a forum, and feedback opportunities.
The team behind 4 You were much better organised. One member built a content management system, incorporated feedback forms, games, a live weather feed, and a messageboard; there were image galleries, with invites for users to submit content; they blogged during the ‘live’ week (some better than others); and they even produced podcasts.
Particularly clever was the use of hyperlinks and the ‘title’ tag to explain concepts such as ‘Foreign secretary’ to a young audience. There are calls for readers to engage and contribute throughout, and promotion of the printed product.
If you want to see more of these and other projects in journalism, design, photography, television, radio, PR and new media, the exhibition takes place in Birmingham at Gosta Green, Corporation Street from Thursday June 21 to Saturday June 23. The students have set up a Facebook page on the event and, it seems, a media exhibition website too.
And what prompted me to write about all of this? Matt King, top class online journalist that he is, wrote on my Facebook wall to shame me into blogging about it. Clever man.