Journalism studies and Wikinews

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'Walking the Streets' mapping workshop for Guimarães 2012 (photo João Sousa) by tm on Wikimedia Commons
David Blackall overviews a project that asked journalism students at the University of Wollongong to write Wikinews stories. Copy of this video, and an audio version, at Archive.org.

Over the Autumn Session of 2011, a University of Wollongong Investigative Journalism course assigned students to write, review and attempt to get stories published on Wikinews. It was found that Wikinews was effective for improving participant engagement and motivation, and for enhancing the quality of submissions. Wikinews review and editorial processes assisted with assessment and moderation, and students were observed engaging in and reflecting on the real-world problems and issues of the profession as a result of the assignment. The workload of the course coordinator and assessor was shared by the Wikinews volunteer reviewers, but those reviewers - while happy to assist in this instance, voiced concerns at the sudden increase in their workload and suggested that the University expand their engagement with Wikinews to address this issue. Work continues, and it is proposed that post graduate courses set review and editorial work within Wikinews as assignments, thereby expanding Wikinews capacity to take submissions generally, and especially when undergraduate journalism course submissions come in.

Project coordinators[edit]

Links[edit]

Abstract[edit]

From "Wikinews – a safe haven for learning journalism, free of the usual suspects of spin and commercial agendas," Refereed Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association conference: Communicating Change and Changing Communication in the 21st Century, ISSN 1448-4331.

Online distributed and networked voluntary journalism, across all media, is attracting attention as an alternative news service - offering situated, active, learning opportunities for emerging journalists. The internationally oriented journalism site Wikinews is positioned to offer high-quality learning in newswriting; while emphasizing ethics, reliability and therefore accuracy. Wikinews also offers opportunities for supported production and learning in the converged media context for original investigative journalism across the print, audio and visual formats.

This paper reviews the assignment processes in two 2011 undergraduate subjects in journalism, where Wikinews was used for publishing and assessment. Wikinews was effective for improving student engagement, motivation, quality and reflection, which greatly assisted assessment and moderation. Students were observed engaging in and reflecting on the real-world problems and issues of the profession, with several reporting their higher levels of motivation and understanding. This culminated not only in the publishing of international news stories, but also saw to improvements in writing care and quality, drawing from the open source peer review and the publishing processes of Wikinews.

Reflections from coordinators[edit]

n:Brian McNeil

From the point of view of one of the "senior editors" on Wikinews, the most troublesome concern over a significant number of students being assigned to publish on Wikinews is that the project has a small core of contributors and reviewers. Being myself in full-time employment in addition to contributing to Wikinews and carrying out administrative duties, I felt I was not able to devote sufficient time to constructively critiquing student work; however, I would argue students would face the same lack of mentoring in a first placement with any mainstream publisher.

David Blackall

Going into this project, I had no experience with editing Wikinews, or any other MediaWiki for that matter. I was however, attracted to the principles of the project, and impressed by the policies and processes in place at Wikinews. Brian's responsiveness to our enquiries was particularly encouraging, and I thank him very much for his support throughout this pilot. I particularly note his concerns for the workload placed on the Wikinews volunteers, and we must consider what can be done to minimize this, while at the same time working to expand that volunteer base so that Wikinews can continue and grow.

Additionally, through numerous conversations with Leigh, I've become inspired at the prospect of using Wikinews and Wikiversity to set up open courses, with robust assignments, that theoretically at least, make it possible for more people to learn the skills of journalism, and perhaps even reduce the cost of obtaining a formal qualification, if that were needed. To this end, I've been working with Leigh, developing my skills in the use of these wikis, to prepare and publish another course on Video journalism. I will be running this subject in 2013, and look forward to seeing if our ideas have a chance of flourishing.

Leigh Blackall

As an educational designer working in universities, I'm looking for ways to make the boundaries between formal and informal education more permeable. In proposing this project, it seemed to me that if Journalism students were being asked to prepare news stories, that there would be benefit in them being asked to publish their news stories on a channel like Wikinews. When we investigated the viability of this idea, we came to see Wikinews as an ideal extension to the assignment, given the strict diligence to verifiable sources and copyright outlined in the projects policies, and demonstrated in practice. We realised that it would be a real challenge for the students to successfully publish a story to Wikinews. I also wondered if the Wikinews platform and processes might be a way to effectively reduce the marking workload of the course assessor, if that diligence in the Wikinews editorial could be sustained and trusted. Facing the reality of the impact this project had on the Wikinews volunteers, it occurs to me that we must also develop a post graduate course with assignments in Wikinews review and editing, so to assist to develop and sustain the project.

See also[edit]

In this article the authors contemplate on the ideology involving the Web 2.0 services for journalism. They present their analysis on the ideological assumptions regarding the effectiveness of journalism 2.0., especially on online interaction and social networking sites. They also explore the material concretization of these assumptions particularly on users of participatory websites like Wikipedia or {YouTube} links and newsmaking within a corpus of news media websites in Europe and America.

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