Research, teaching and practice


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Presentation by Lily Canter given at the University of Sheffield, Journalism Studies symposium, March 2012. Reflexivity in the Digital World:
Rethinking journalism teaching and learning in an interactive world

Published in: Education, News & Politics
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  • I felt these Twitter birds represented a reluctant group, a gormless group, and a multi-taking all a flutter group – the journalist, the student and the lecturer – but are all interchangeable
  • -Through personal experience working as a journalist, then becoming a student again, carrying out research and going into teaching have experienced all three perspectives in past 3 years, like many people here today.-Noticed a disconnect and scepticism between academics and journalists in particular, but also students don’t understand why they need to learn theory and are only interested in practice-Even though recent paper by Tony Harcup in Journalism indicates that hackademics see value in journalism research
  • I would argue that it is impossible for us teach new media / digital journalism unless we have a clear understanding of what is happening in news rooms right now.I therefore propose that:1. More pragmatic engagement is needed between journalists and educators, the results of which can be used to inform/develop digital teaching in the classroom2. An understanding of the cultural and economic context of the integration of digital technology in the newsroom is vital such as: day to day resources (i.e staff numbers), equipment available, time available, priorities of news organisations, attitudes of editorial staff3. Must understand that each newsroom is different and there is great diversity in the industry even within the same organisations: some parts of the BBC issue journalists with iPhone as a matter of course, other parts won’t hear of it. Some Johnston Press newspapers have embraced video, others think it is a waste of time. Some national news orgs break news on Twitter others save breaking news for their website/ newspaper / broadcast slot.Therefore students must be prepared to be flexible, adaptable and have diverse technological knowledge and skills4. Only by carrying out research can we have a greater understanding of what is happening in such a disparate industry, the benefits of which are twofold – firstly we can inform journalists about emerging patterns, best practice and audience expectations [i.e what journalists should be doing rather than what they are doing] and secondly we can feed this into our teaching so that when they enter the industry our students are:5. Leading the industry rather than following it
  • -Own research looks at reader participation and interaction on UK regional newspaper websites and their associated social media platformslooking at UGC, reader comments, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr etc, through questionnaire and interviews with readers, interviews with journalists, newsroom observation and content analysis of comments, Twitter, Facebook. From their online social media profile pics you can see LM is more traditional using website masthead whereas Bournemouth Daily Echo trying to create a new identity online
  • Technology has made it easier, cheaper and quicker for audiences to participate and in my research people who regularly participate now rarely even sent in a letter or photo in the pastAudiences understand that there are less gatekeeping restrictions online than there are offline and expect that they should be able to comment on a story or send in a photo to their local paper from the scene of a breaking news storySome prefer to comment on Facebook than on the official website, others are avid Tweeters, some love Flickr, some enjoy taking part in liveblogs, some like 5 mins of fame when their photo is published on the newspaper website, some like sharing stories on Facebook, – very varied, but biggest participatory channel is comments on news stories on official websitesCommenting on stories in particular is seen as a democratic right to voice ones opinion and hold local officials and journalists accountableAudiences really enjoy debating and socialising with other users online particularly in comment threadsAudiences are aware that there is a lack of 2 way communication between journalists and readers and they would like to see more of this, sometimes feel that no-one is listening or responding
  • BE liveblogging football match reports and sports news conferences: 2,000 users logged on and high 2 way interactivity: key is responding to users BE multiple social media channels: facebook, twitter, you tube, flickr, delicious, tumblr: inclusive and gives forum for dominate and subordinate groups, recognises that audience is not homogenous, has different habits and interestsTipexxed tweeting: personal rather than traditional - 50% interactive, 30% sharing, 15% personal, 5% informal job relatedCE and LM: giving voice to diversity of voices, incorporating UGC (copy, photos, video) in newspaper and online, collaborating on projectsAll engaging readers and enabling them to have 2 way interaction with journalists
  • Social media censorship: Facebook and Twitter blocks in newsrooms, lack of trust of staffTime and Resources – reduced staff (LM recent 11 editorial cuts), doing more i.e multimedia, cut freelance budget, have limited time to interact and not viewed as a priorityLegalities – how to handle UGC and in particular reader comments, non-moderation, no measured approach and no interactionAttitudes: journos reluctant to interact with audiences, remain aloof and think reader content is worse than it is but biggest problem is senior exec don’t understand that ok to cross promote (CE logo) send people to other websites, embed you tube videos, websites need individual identity, editors need to be encouraged to innovate and lead, homogenised content doesn’t work
  • Independence to experiment and innovate- News organisations i.e individual newspapers but also journalists need to be trusted Editors need to lead the way rather than take a cautious approach, staff will then follow suit – i.e at LM little drive to interact on social media until I started suggesting things to web editor3. Better communication between editors, web editors and general reporters - perhaps policies on how to use social media or how to respond to comments need to be implemented to make things clearer4. Share good practice rather than being secretive and competitive, get reporters who tweet effectively to explain it to others, rather than expecting everyone to find their own way – but still leaving room for independence5. Interact – ignore the audience at your peril! It will go elsewhere. Respond to comments on threads, blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, post questions to readers, show that you take their views on board
  • -Sheffield Hallam module: Writing the Message Online – introduction to digital journalism-Students had to set up interactive blogs and have at least 10 posts over a 3 month period-Topics could be news, sports, entertainment – 1st years, just about having a go, giving them INDEPENDENT choice-Important to build audience over time and interact with audience-Emphasis on core communication skills but also multimedia, interactivity and building brand loyalty, driving traffic, promoting blog (vital component of my research)-Varying levels of success1. Fairy BlogmotherReader polls, got some comments, responded to comments, promoted on Twitter – INTERACTIVITY GOOD2.Liveblogging of national diving championship – didn’t tell them to do liveblog decided to do it themselves, incorporated words, photos, video INDEPENDENCE ALLOWED THEM TO INNOVATE AND INTERACT3. I simultaneously wrote a blog about their blogs and what they were learning about multimedia and interactivity , had a Facebook page to share blog and ask questions, also set up a hashtag to discuss blogs – INTERACTIVITY HIGH, BUT USING A VARIETY OF CHANNELS
  • Emphasis on core skills (quality and writing style) but also multimedia and crucially interactivityIf we teach our students to be interactive then when they enter the workplace as journalists they will automatically drive audience interaction which needs to develop – fast, to meet demand and expectation.
  • Research, teaching and practice

    1. 1. Research, teaching and practice:why educators, students and journalists need to hold [virtual] hands as they enter the interactive age Lily Canter, Lecturer in Journalism, Sheffield Hallam University
    2. 2. Context
    3. 3. 5 step approach Leading Research not Flexibility based following & diversity Cultural & economic contextPragmaticengagement
    4. 4. Researching regional newspaper websites
    5. 5. Audience research tells us• They are participating in greater numbers• They expect to be able to participate• They like to participate via different platforms• They view participation as valuable• They like to interact with other users• They would like to interact with journalists more
    6. 6. Best practice
    7. 7. Constraints Attitudes Resources LegalitiesCensorship
    8. 8. Independence Leadership SolutionsInteraction Communication Share good practice
    9. 9. Into the classroom
    10. 10. First class 70+ Upper second 60- Lower second 50-60 Third 40-50 Fail –40 No spelling, punctuation, 70 Several errors but Poor quality with many Highly inaccurate whichQuality grammar errors. Accurate, Only minor errors adequate quality. mistakes. may lead to a correction. tight copy and excellent and good video/photos. video/photo framing and content. Excellent mixture of Good mixture of Adequate mixture of Lack of substantial No multimedia only text.Variety substantial text, video, multimedia but multimedia but an over content. Text not substantial. photographs and graphics. may be some reliance on one medium. Limited multimedia and Posts on a wide range of overlap. Lack of substantial text. repetitive content. related topics without repetition. Engaging and entertaining. Engaging and Adequate attempt to target Bland writing style and Poor writing style. NoWriting style Targets a specific audience mostly centred on a an audience. Some little cohesion. Target theme and no attempt to and maintains a coherent theme. Written evidence of a coherent audience unclear. target a niche audience. theme throughout. with specific theme. audience in mind. Excellent attempt to Good attempt at Some attempt at Limited attempt at No attempt atInteractivity interact with reader via interactivity with interactivity on a small interactivity beyond interactivity. polls, comments, a variety of scale but limited in hyperlinks. hyperlinks, user means. scope. . generated content, social . media etc. Use of innovative methods to engage readers.
    11. 11. ContactLily CanterPhD Student, The University of SheffieldLecturer in Journalism, Sheffield Hallam