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Panpa Bulletin : August September 2007
6 PANPA Bulletin August-September 2007 PANPA columnist Mark Pearson says some journalism schools have been turning out "all-rounders" equipped to work in integrated newsrooms for more than a decade. Journalism schools would be the first to admit they can improve their game on many fronts, but they can rarely be accused of being behind the times. The latest move towards integrated newsrooms is no exception. While the newspaper industry adapts its processes to a new multimedia environment, some university journalism programs have been teaching students how to produce text, sound and images in a digital environment for more than a decade. Over the past 20 years, journalism schools have experimented time and again with new technologies for reporting. The University of Southern Queensland was producing a daily newsletter on Apple Macintosh SE20s using PageMaker 1 way back in 1987 when almost all newspapers were still encoding ancient VDTs with lengthy format scripts and outputting their copy to bromides for waxing and paste-up. Bond University was established in 1989 with a network of fibre-optic cable, herald- ing one of the first fully wired communities. Our journalism students were soon produc- ing an email newsletter for the campus -- passé today but revolutionary at the time. In 1995, not long after the Melbourne Age created a basic text and image web- site, Bond established a daily multimedia website called Australian News Briefs -- complete with text, images and sound grabs of interviews. Students would follow up wire stories with phone calls to the nation's newsmakers who would rush to offer their comments to this futuristic internet news service. So 12 years ago you had the nation's first truly integrated newsroom, not in a news- paper but in a J-school. In 2004 we intro- duced a web-based community television news program titled 'Bond Network News (BNN)' -- serving the university and broader Varsity Lakes community on the Gold Coast (www.bond.edu.au/media/bnn/). Computer-assisted reporting was anoth- er field pioneered by journalism educators with their students from the mid-1990s. Several of us -- most notably Deakin University's Stephen Quinn and the University of Canberra's Kerry Green (now at UniSA) -- were recruited by industry to travel the countryside explaining this 'new- fangled Internet thingo' to journalists and demonstrating how they could find great stories by accessing information on govern- ment websites and chat rooms. Now the expression 'computer-assisted reporting' is about as standard as 'tele- phone-assisted reporting'. Many of Australia's two dozen tertiary journalism programs are operating integrat- ed newsrooms and Deakin University, the University of Queensland and University of Canberra all have actual subjects titled 'Multimedia Journalism'. Others encourage students to take minors in multimedia or offer such skills through strands of other subjects like news- paper reporting. The University of Wollongong requires its Bachelor of Journalism students to under- take two compulsory convergent journal- ism subjects as well as graphic design and web design courses. Head of School Stephen Tanner reports the university has just approved a second newsroom including two radio studios, two high end television editing suites and a larger editing/teaching suite. The University of Canberra moved to a converged model in 2005. All students receive training in basic print and broadcast interviewing, research and writing skills during their foundation year then move on to improving print and broadcast reporting skills and online news production. Their work is showcased in a web-based production titled nowUC (www.nowuc. com.au), combining text with video clips of actuality via YouTube. Course convenor Jennifer Kitchener said the model has worked well. "Educationally it has been very suc- cessful as it not only allows us to provide students with a 'real world' learning experi- ence but it also provides more publishing opportunities for their work than previously possible with traditional media," she said. "The job market has also opened up for students because now they all receive a grounding in print, broadcast and online journalism." The University of Queensland's John Cokley lays claim to coining the expression 'integrated journalism' in his PhD thesis in 2004. Journalism schools' integrated newsrooms -- right there with you Uni ver sity of Wollongo ng stud ent s lear ning to produce multime d ia jour nalism fr o m their integrated newsroom. University of Wollongong students learning to produce multimedia journalism from their news University of Queensland subject called 'Newspace' will be rebadged as 'Integrated Journalism' in 2008. University of Technology Sydney has introduced video, audio and background documents in online magazine Reportage and is aiming for full multimedia newsroom environment by 2009 - developing "storytelling skills across all media".