Journalism is among the most rapidly changing industries, affected by both technological advances and shifting consumer habits. This makes it paramount for journalism education to keep pace with trends such as changing journalism practices and the migration of audiences to online journalism. One possible outcome of this imperative is for online news or magazine websites to be developed to a) showcase student reporting, b) serve as an educational tool in professional journalism practices, and c) facilitate research into news and journalism innovation. Journalism courses are increasingly making use of their own websites in one or more of these ways, but development, as in the news industry itself, has tended to be haphazard and quite often on a trial and error basis.
This proposal seeks to address this problematic by conducting a survey of news and magazine websites used in AJE member’s courses, their history, evolution and integration into education practice. The aim is not to produce a standard model to be applied in every case. Rather, the intention is to collect and share experiences to inform education and curriculum development. The sharing of best practice can also help to maintain high standards in journalism education.
Questions that will be addressed by this project include:
- What are the different teaching and learning strategies for use of news or magazine websites in journalism education?
- How are websites integrated with the journalism curriculum?
- To what extent are websites used for submission of assessed work and feedback to students?
- Do institutions manage a single website for all cohorts and degree programmes, or multiple websites?
- How is editorial control exercised and how is this resourced?
- Which content management systems and extensions are being used?
- How do these compare to industry standard software and workflows?
- How is multimedia / converged newsgathering and storytelling approached?
- How is social media and community interaction approached?
- How do student websites meet requirements from accreditation bodies and industry expectations?
Phase One of the project will involve two online surveys. The first questionnaire will be sent to all AJE members to map how many have course websites, in what form and for which uses, and also to elucidate views on the biggest challenges and successes encountered. The second survey will be targeted at students in AJE member associations, to ascertain their experience of using course websites as part of their journalism education. Both surveys will gather quantitative and qualitative data.
Phase Two of the project will involve up to five site visits to observe how websites are used in live news days simulating real-life news operations. During these visits we propose to conduct follow-up interviews in conjunction with examination of websites, to scrutinise in finer detail the patterns of application and usage.
This project will investigate both technological and editorial issues. The intended outcome is a report to be made available to AJE members and / or contribution to the AJE journal, outlining experiences and advice. It may be possible to draw together the threads of those experiences into different models of application. The findings may also be of use to accreditation bodies and industry panels.