Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

Journalism’s “fame academy” gets blogging

Posted in Adam, Broadcasting and Media, Journalism by Adam Westbrook on January 15, 2009

It’s good to see a whole raft of postgraduate journalism students at City University now with their own blogs.

City – or the “fame academy of journalism” as it was once described – is  recognised as Britain’s leading school of journalism, a nudge ahead of  Cardiff, Westminster and Leeds Trinity All Saints.

It’s got top names, like Adrian Monck, Stewart Purvis and Roy Greenslade on its books, and more household names in its alumni than you can mention here.

But when I was there just two years ago, there was just one student blogging: me.  In fact the internet – although recognised as a valuable research tool – was somewhat sidelined in the curriculum.


Instead we focussed on getting the skills and the art of traditional TV and radio nailed.

But over the road at Westminster, almost every student was blogging, and under the tuition of David Dunkley-Gyimah producing TV and radio content online. Learning how to produce a single story three ways, not to mention the valuable art of Video Journalism.

Now I don’t think any students in my year suffered from that, but you couldn’t help but feel City might suddenly find itself out of date.

However, the numbers of student blogs of this years intake, including:  Shona Ghosh, Ali Plumb, Beth Mellor (all of whom I’ve met in various places), Abigail Edge, Claire Dickinson, James Bray, Lara King, Tommy Stubbington…suggests the internet has moved up the agenda in EC1. And rightly so.

I’d be interested to know what any of the above, or any other current City hacks think about the courses online credentials: get in touch!


6 Responses

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  1. shonaghosh said, on January 16, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    You’re right, it is slowly moving up the agenda. When I applied for City earlier this year though, ‘Internet’ was still a specialism module rather than integrated into the main curriculum which is pretty shocking considering how things are going. To City’s credit, online tutor Chris Brauer is basically an all-knowing god about making use of the web both to self-publicise (necessary evil) and research.

    Can’t believe you were the only student blogging two years ago – out of interest, do you think that’s actually helped you, job-wise and skill-wise?

  2. adamwestbrook said, on January 17, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Good question…and a difficult one to answer. Skills wise I think it has helped, it’s been a great place to focus ideas and keep writing-and start a good debate. And its introduced me to some important people. But all my jobs so far have been in radio newsrooms: I don’t think any of my editors ever knew I blogged! I’m pretty sure it will help me in the future though-if anything it just shows you’re down with the whole web2.0 thing!

    Haha a neccessary evil indeed…the self promotion sits uncomfortably at first, but then somehow you get used to it!

  3. Lara King said, on January 27, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Interesting post Adam, although I couldn’t help but notice that all of the City bloggers you’ve mentioned are on one or other of the print courses. From what I’ve heard from friends on the broadcast side, online journalism is still slightly sidelined. Whilst us newspaper students were badgered into blogging from day one (and rightly so in my opinion), the broadcasters still don’t seem to have been put under any such pressure. But with increasing convergence between print and broadcast media, I wonder how long City’s course divides will remain relevant – shouldn’t we be shown how to shoot and edit video and the broadcasters be told how to write something short and snappy for the web?

    Things are definitely moving in the right direction though. As Shona says, online lecturer Chris Brauer is a bit of a web genius and his lectures are part of all City’s postgrad journalism courses, so the information is certainly there for the taking whichever pathway you’re on. Now that the department’s new facilities have finally opened, things may get even better. This term’s timetable includes an “online masterclass” for us newspaper students, so it will be interesting to see what we cover there. And there’s still a focus on a very strong grounding in news, writing, law and other skills, which remain invaluable whatever medium you’re working with.

  4. adamwestbrook said, on January 27, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Good point about the city bloggers Lara. As a broadcast alumni, I’m sad to hear I might still be one of the only ones doing it. And you’re right – with convergence with us now, print journos should be getting some video story telling training. I’ve come to the conclusion that the more of these things you can do, the more valuable you’ll be, in a world when longterm contracts just don’t exist anywhere anymore.

  5. nataliedonovan said, on March 4, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    really interesting thoughts here, just one thing I have to pick up on… city a nudge ahead of cardiff? don’t think so!

  6. Faarea Masud said, on May 5, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    I’m studying Broadcast Journalism at City now, and I have to say online journalism takes up a big chunk of our studies. Multimedia, CSS and HTML coding, mash-ups, Web 2.0…etc etc….they all take up a significantly large chunk of our syllabus. We have to create ‘multimedia portfolios’ now, integrating every possible platform in to a single website, customising our own coding and incorporating interactivity. In fact, we’re told that we simply cannot survive without knowing about online journalism.

    And yes, Chris Brauer is a firecracher. He told us about Twitter WAAAAAY before everyone the rest of the world!

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