Throughout my Journalism course at Edinburgh Napier University, thus far, the practical work has to be the main factor in my development as a journalist. The multimedia reporting module has done a job to encapsulate the theoretical learning from all previous, and all current, modules in a way that allowed me to be more practical with my skills and knowledge.
We often used the Scottish independence debate as a basis for work in classes, understandably, as it is such a big news story for this year. In one of the first multimedia lectures we were split into groups and made to record podcasts discussing issues to do with the referendum. Our group remembered the thinking that discussing issues already discussed, made for articles or podcasts that didn’t really constitute news. For that reason we decided do a podcast that would appeal directly to our age group (18-23) and decided to de-bunk some popular myths about the independence referendum. I was happy with how it went, as I gave plenty opportunity to put into practice all we had learned about podcasting and using the radio studio, and I think the idea was genuinely original. (https://seangordon182.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/scottish-independence-debate-audio/)
Another article, about the Independence referendum, I produced in class was entitled “You Decide”. This article, strangely enough, was inspired by graffiti I noticed in the Dalry area of Edinburgh. Someone had spray painted two blue lines to create a saltire and the words, you decide. Although not an overly ‘newsy piece’, I tried to convey opinion in a way that I felt included ‘newsy’ ideas. However, the main multimedia idea here was that I felt the inclusion of a picture of the graffiti, as to me that was the new part of the story, and carried more strength about the awareness of the independence debate in Edinburgh.
However it was not only work that I did in class that I feel were products of the module, but the extracurricular work we were encouraged to dol.
The piece I originally did for the Edinburgh Reporter (http://www.theedinburghreporter.co.uk/2014/02/alistair-darling-accuses-salmond-of-blindfolding-the-electorate/ ), on Alistair Darling visiting the Piecebox Café in Edinburgh to talk about the developments in talks about the currency union for an independent Scotland, led to the use of what I’d learnt about finding a ‘newsy’ angle on the story. Because in the day prior George Osborne had definitively said that Scotland wouldn’t be able to share the pound wouldn’t be allowed to share the pound with the rest of the UK if it went independent. For this reason I had to find something that would give the story and edge as all that Darling said about the story was basically repetition of what Osborne had said in the days prior. So for that reason I referred to the Andy Bull book Multimedia Journalism and one of its first and defining quotes about “What is news?”: “News is something someone, somewhere, doesn’t want you to report”. For that reason I listened to what I had recorded and picked out a quote that could be seen as a direct attack at Alex Salmond and his independence campaign. Darling claimed that Salmond was asking Scots to go into the polling stations blindfolded about what would happen in an independent Scotland. This worked in Andy Bulls logic as it is something that Alex Salmond wouldn’t have wanted Scottish people to hear.
One of the things that is particular to writing a successful blog (not merely for personal pieces) is using your own passions or interests to find a niche, to create something original. This is the premise for a lot of my blog posts, relating directly to cycling. As both a racing cyclist in Britain and a fan of professional cycling around the world I have expert knowledge to be able to write in a way about cycling others can’t. This allowed for me to be able to write race previews for races, cyclocross in particular, for the Edinburgh Reporter and for my own blog.
Furthermore to this due to the fact that I actually take part in many of the cycling events that go on in Scotland, I can give a perspective from inside the race. I’ve learned that this can create a much fuller report of what is going on in a race as opposed to standing on the side-lines watching. Not only can you actually see, and be involved in, proceedings but you can give insight on what goes on in all stages of the race. A lot of journalists will be at one point on a course or at the finish waiting to see who raises their hands. Cycling is a complex sport in all disciplines, and it’s very often more interesting what’s going on in the heart of the bunch that what’s going on at the nose. I’ve learned that a fuller insight often results in a better article, such as the one I did for Dig in at the Dock! this year. (http://www.theedinburghreporter.co.uk/2014/01/rider-diary-dig-in-at-the-dock-cyclocross-race/ )
To conclude, I think the practical work I have done in class, and outside, have really been the main factor in tying up all the knowledge and skills gained from the multimedia reporting module. Only practical work could have done so in such a way as to hone skills instead of just confirming them.