In a one of its kind experiment, students from four journalism schools from four different continents found themselves reporting for a single newsroom this Saturday.
The non-stop mobile journalism project named ‘Global Popup Newsroom’ had students from journalism colleges located at Taiwan, UK, USA and Chennai going out to the field armed with mobile phones/tablets in the 24-hour period and reporting on the theme of ‘Economic Inequality’ which were all put together on a temporary news website specially created for the project.
The project kicked off at 9 am in Chennai with 60 students from the Asian College of Journalism. After 8 hours of work, ending at 5 pm IST, the newsroom was taken over by their counterparts at the Newcastle University, UK, followed by the journalism students of California State University, United States. The students from the National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan, meanwhile uploaded their stories through the 24 hours.
“Subjects like poverty does not tend to get enough attention at the newsrooms across the world. So the idea was to have journalism students from various parts of the world come together to report on poverty as it happens around them and give voice to these sections through the stories that can be put together in any digital format be it a video, report, graphics or pictures,” said Priya Rajsekar Assistant Professor, New media journalism, Asian College of Journalism.
In ACJ, the reporting students were divided into six groups focusing on six sub-themes under the common theme of Economic Equality. The sub-themes were Gender, Elderly, Differently-abled, Children, Slum Dwellers and the LGBT community. Apart from the reporters, a Command Centre with students was set up at the college to coordinate with respect to the uploading of the stories as and when it happened.
“We had two trials to ensure that everything went alright. But we learn a lot of things on what all can go wrong. Sometimes the batteries are down or there is a problem with the mobile phone or tablet and the whole thing gets crashed. You have no time to change things here. We have to have standbys ready and it also calls for a lot of flexibility,” said Payal Shah one of the students. “Another thing is the exposure to technology. There are a whole lot of platforms out there in the digital world that we can use to tell our stories and through the project we get to know how journalism students from various parts of the world are telling their stories. We don’t have to stick to conventional TV or print media, we can be flexible if required.