Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Creating a beat system to find stories is a win-win situation

   Now that the syllabus is handed out and the first day of school is over, it’s time to get to business. While the students complete their first homework assignment next week (learning about the history of news), I will be busy creating a beat system for the course.  
   A beat system is designed for journalists to hone their expertise on a particular topic or geographical area. For our purposes, each PJ student will be assigned a school (School of Technology, School of Health Sciences, etc.) to cover throughout the entire semester. This will allow them to get to know the instructors and students on their beats, making it easier for them to find good stories that would otherwise be overlooked.
   The students are responsible for finding stories, showing up to the event or classroom on time, documenting the event, gathering caption information, and ultimately posting their photos and essays on their blogs for a grade. Most of their shooting assignments, except for sports, will be derived from their beats.
   The beauty of this system is that anyone, particularly those they cover, can view the student blogs at any time!
   So, I'm actively comprising a list of deans and instructors willing to participate in this pilot beat system. I also need to figure out the best way of communication between the PJ students and the instructors. Coordinating the work of the PJ students with the Owens Outlook is another possibility.
   At this point, the College of Technology, the culinary program, and the EMS school are on board.  If this system works, the students can continue to cover these beats each semester!
   It's a win-win situation!

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