The next project: a brain dump

My last project on enterprise terrified me because I didn’t think I had it in me to be entrepreneurial. This one, production labs, terrifies me because a) I don’t feel like I’ve done anything yet and we’re already four weeks into the module and b) and I’m struggling to see where I’ll end up. Maybe this is important, maybe it isn’t, but I like to visualise the goalposts and what it is I might be kicking through them when deadline day comes around.

 

Mojo from Robyn Bateman on Vimeo.

 

I have no idea where this blog post will lead me, but I’m writing it in an attempt to lay my thoughts on the table. Here goes…

What and why?

I want to focus on mobile journalism and with more mobile phones in the world than toilets, it’s a pretty important tool. I’m led to believe this module is about upskilling, picking something out, focussing on it, and becoming competent. All a bit woolly, I know, but I’m comfortable creating stories on a mobile phone albeit it only at a basic level. I want to ‘go pro’ and become a bloody good mobile journalist, both in terms of storytelling and juggling the technology (and being practical too – I don’t want to lug a mass of kit with me everywhere and neither do I want to be caught short, so what’s the compromise?) And I’m really keen to share what I learn with others. What I love most about being good at something is showing other people how to do it. Knowledge is pretty useless if you don’t pass it along.

How?

Good question. What I have in my head is researching a bunch of stuff, trying a bunch of stuff, recording a bunch of stuff and talking to a bunch of people. And wrapping it up in a nice-looking website. Oh, but this is an MA so it needs to be a bit more high-brow than that, and it will be. Honest.

To start there will be:

  • Interviews with experts and other people who are dabbling with mobile storytelling
  • An online course on mobile journalism: everything I need to know about everything you can do to tell stories with a smartphone
  • Research: patterns, trends, predictions, thoughts, lessons.
  • A website: somewhere to record all of the above.
  • Creativity: I don’t know if you score MA points for creativity but I’d like to package some of my content up in a creative way (more on this later)

And lastly there will be an assignment which will involve a whole heap of critical evaluation. I’m my own worst (best?) critic and that’s a good start.

Other angles

As I said above, I’m interested in passing on the technical skills. But I’m also interested in how, practically, the use of the mobile phones can/will/is transforming news room set-ups and how that affects workflow patterns. What I mean by that, is will more traditional methods of reporting be overtaken by the sheer amount of cool things you can do on your mobile phone in the field? And the speed with which your content can be published?

I’m also interested in how we take a single story and present it to our audiences in whatever format and on whatever  channel is best for them. Adaptive content. It’s no longer as simple as pressing a publish button on a website – social media is a game changer when it comes to consuming and publishing news so how to we rework our stories?

One step on from that is who creates these stories, from start to finish, and when multiple teams are involved, who takes ownership and how are these stories worked on efficiently? Workflow. I’m interested in this because I work for a university’s communications department where several teams dip their toe into the content creation pool, all with a slightly different objectives and all owning a different channel. So, should content come first and channel second (I think so) and which team should take ownership of a story and at what point? Which is the most efficient way and what workplace practices need to be introduced to help?

For starters, we need to create content for the chunk, not the blob – a great definition!

Context

I went to a content strategy workshop last November run by the awesome Picklejar Communications which flagged something I hold dear when creating content: try and solve your audience’s pain. And this was echoed by Caitlin Moran in this BBC video on the future of journalism – people want to consume news with context – how does this information directly affect them as an individual, how does it solve a problem they’re having, how does it impact their life? No longer can you throw out your news stories and expect them to cut through the noise – the internet is home to far more content than a human being has the capacity to consume, so yours needs to be good to get noticed. And this requires much more thought than we perhaps give it.

Did that help?

Yes, yes it did. Reading that through has helped form some sort of structure, I need to get on with it, hone the project down to risk taking on too much with too little time, and immerse myself in the world of mobile journalism. Starting with some planning tools and project management strategies to help me flesh out the bare bones of this project and deliver something worth kicking through those goal posts.

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