For the final project in the Practical Journalism 1 unit for the first year, we had to get into groups and create a newspaper from scratch.
Out of all my assignments presentations and projects that I have had to complete throughout my first year, this is the project I’ve been looking forward too.
This is the project that all of our written piece of coursework and all our lessons have been aiming towards and I could finally put what I have learnt into action.
Getting into groups however has always been a pain and a worry of mine as if the groups aren’t assigned to us, I struggle to get to join the group that I want to in time before all of the groups are made.
In this particular case, I spoke to my tutor and asked if I could join a group of my friends that I wanted to work with.
I felt that this would relieve my anxiety as I had already worked with them before, I knew that we would be a great team and we would each complete our own work.
Receiving the brief we began to plan together as a group and set to work. The whole group had to complete a newspaper full of stories of different word lengths.
The whole group had to find, research and write four 300 word stories and twelve 150 word stories.
After long conversations we decided to find all of the stories together and then separate the stories between us and write the pieces, and then have regular meetings to see how we were all getting on and to help each other, then come back together at the end and put the finishing touches to it.
Splitting the work equally between the four of us, we were each responsible for finding, researching and writing one 300-word story and 3 x 150 word stories.
When I first saw the amount of work we had to complete for the project I was overwhelmed, but it really helped me to know that I had a really supportive team behind me that would help me along the way.
Researching and looking around De Montfort University and Leicester for inspiration and using a key eye for a story as a journalist, we all find stories to write that caught our interest.
I found my first story in the weeks leading up to the De Montfort University student elections. I found out about the story on the SU elections through various posters advertising and promoting it.
I decided to write about the student union elections as I felt it was a current and exciting subject which benefited not only the student unions but De Montfort University itself. I also thought very strongly about the theme of this article as at the time I was considering of running for Disability Representative in the elections, so I felt particularly eager to write this article for our newspaper.
Completing all of the outer research, we all went as a group to the student union office to speak to someone as a group to gather as much of research as we good.
We then organised a face to face interview with the voice manager at the SU about the elections.
I did feel quite apprehensive about conducting this face to face interview as I am not a very confident person, speaking to people I don’t know very well makes me very nervous and anxious.
However I felt comfort in the whole group conducting the interview together so the pressure wasn’t all on me and I could chip in when I thought of a relevant question that I thought may be beneficial to the article.
Prior to the interview, we had done an extensive amount of research into the student union and the elections and based on this, we developed a series of open and closed questions in order to get the best angle for the article and that the information required would give us a good quality of content to include in the article.
While I was conducting the interview, it also gave me the chance to try some improvisation. I asked questions based on the answers the interviewee gave, which proved very useful for the article.
I was sure to record the interview so I had the details on hand to look back through when it came to writing the article.
Reviewing the material I got from the interview, I found it was of good quality, so good, Ii decided to make it into my 300 word article for the newspaper.
On the positive side, we had a lot of material to work with, but this was also a disadvantage.
Despite how many times I tried, I couldn’t fit all of the details in one article under the word count restriction, so regretfully I had to gloss over some of the details in order to keep the article in the word count.
Everything considered though, I was really excited about this article and proud of the result.
Once I had completed my 300 word article, I turned my attention to one of the 150 word articles. As we had targeted De Montfort University with the student elections article, we decided to target one at Leicester.
We as a group felt it was important as our newspaper is targeted toward a audience of Leicester and DMU students.
Once again, we conducted the research and did the interviews together, but I was in charge of constructing the article.
Asking around, we found one story that caught our attention was students speaking about nightlife in the city of Leicester.
They weren’t happy about the options they were given and often resulted to only attending one night club as it was the best atmosphere and affordable in the student budget.
Though it was students who suggested this story for our newspaper we found that students were very reluctant to speak to us for this article, but luckily we secured two interviews that helped us with the article. When I started to write the article I found that the details that the students gave me it was quite good and accurate and the quotes we got were useful for the article.
This actually benefited the article as it was only 150 words so I was able the article accordingly.
Another of the 150-word articles I wrote, based on a local campaign called ‘DeStressU’. We found out about DeStressU while we were studying in the libary, working on our newspaper project.
We conducted an interview with the head of the campaign.
Through conducting the interview we found it was a very important campaign and worth reporting on, however we were apprehensive about reporting on it – with the emphasis it needed in such a restricted word count.
Through conducting the interview face to face and recording the interview we were able to gather all the information needed for the article.
Observing the events of the day, also allowed us to make notes of what else to include in the article, but also gave us opportunity to speak to students attending the one day campaign.
Slowly I was able to create a article for my group newspaper.
The final article I worked on for the group newspaper was based a theatre production of ‘Oliver’ which was being performed by DMU’s theatre society.
I decided to write an article on DMU’s upcoming theatre production based on the information I got from my halls mate who is part of the theatre society.
I thought this would be a good article for our newspaper, but also the society could potentially use the article for promotion, increasing the amount of people to attend their performances.
The theatre society were busy practicing for the upcoming production, so I found it hard to secure an interview.
After fearing that I wouldn’t be able to write this article, I managed to conduct an interview with the co-owner of the society via Facebook.
Having already completed a great deal of the research about the production, I already pre-planned the questions I was going to ask and therefore the questions easier to conduct.
I also was more confident in conducting this interview as I had previously conducted interviews for this newspaper and the interview was over Facebook appose to face to face.
I found the article easy to construct as I had a good quality of material as the internees were easy to talk to and were happy to answer every question and gave detailed answers. It showed that I could interview well and effectively.
I need to continue to build up my confidence and my interviewing skills as a journalist.
Referring back to the fourth article, I felt that the quotes that I got from the co-owner of the theatre society were detailed and descriptive and overall I felt pleased with the article I produced.
After completing the articles for the group newspaper, I headed back to the classroom and worked on the design of our newspaper.
Ahead of our newspaper project, we learnt how to use ‘InDesign’ software and experimenting with it as this was the software to create our own newspaper. I found it difficult as I did struggle with its more physical and technical aspects, though I did continue to practice, I had to accept my weakness.
Luckily the other members of my group were talented and was able to work the software, while I made my contribution elsewhere. Working together, we acted as a group, played to our strengths, covering each other’s weaknesses.
We manipulated the word count for each of the completed articles so they were able to fit the design and template that we were given.
Slowly we separated the crucial information from the substantial material.
We also gave our opinions and changed the angles of our articles to see if they made a stronger impact then the previous one.
Slowly, we created a newspaper was as polished and looked professional.