I've been inspired by a number of people in my first steps into journalism: teachers, colleagues and more teachers.
I've been encourage and disheartened in equal measure by my BA Journalism course at the University of Central Lancashire. I'm nearly at the end of my second year having taking the "print" route after first year. I was disheartened facing another year of "print", where the main tasks were writing more stories, producing a newspaper (which isn't published), and learning shorthand. I've been taught good writing, style and production software already. It seemed more of the same. But now I'm encouraged once more…
Yesterday, as a bolt from the blue, my course leader informed the current crop of second year students that there's a new way, enterprise. In a bold move, the journalism school has teamed up with the media technology school to give third year students the opportunity to run their own media companies. This module was already open to media tech students (graphic and web designers, software engineers) but this is the first time it's been available to journalism students. J-students will team up with these media tech students to form new media companies, teach them entrepreneurship, and incubate these new businesses. What a massive head-start this would have been for Ed Walker and BlogPreston if this was available to him a couple of years ago.
What the Hacks and Hackers events run by ScraperWiki have shown me is that great things can happen when journalism geeks and computer geeks team up. Skills journalists take for granted such as news values, communication and style are often lost on the hackers. Skills hackers take for granted like coding in Python can go way over the head of the journalist. But together some really great projects can be created.
I applaud my department for taking such a bold step and I'm going to grasp at the opportunity with both hands. I'm aware my year will very much be the test case/guinea pigs for this but when else will I have the opportunity to run my own media company with no risk if it fails?
Only with universities (and hopefully more media companies) funding experiments like this, will the new journalism find a way.