I’m writing this as a note on my iPhone as I walk back from class, because I simply can’t wait to talk about the “Magazine Production and Online Journalism” module. The class size is tiny- about 12 students in all, and the Mac lab probably seats 20 or more. Some might not have made it yet, as yesterday was a huge party night and the class is held at 9 am, thirty minutes from campus. Our main project for this ‘semester’ (British courses run year-long and therefore don’t have the concept of semesters built in) is to write, edit and create an entire online newspaper. Sadly, the second assignment -and reason why I was so very interested in the class- does not begin until January. Sadly, I will be home by then. That project entails making a 16 page magazine entirely by yourself on any content/topic you like. I still plan to ask for information on how they’re going to manage the project, as I seriously wanted to do that and add it to my portfolio. We’ll be using Adobe In Design in Feature Writing, which is great because I am familiar with the program. In “MPOJ,” we will use WordPress for our online newspapers (See my URL. Perfect.) and apparently, Adobe In Design and Issu for the magazine. I worked with Issu when I did the online winners booklet for the Young Southern Student Writers Convention this April, but I didn’t use In Design in conjunction with that. I bet the outcome is a really valuable and useful product. Honestly, I am pretty upset I’ll be missing this assignment, as I have so many creative ideas when it comes to magazine journalism. Everything from writing feature stories, news bits and columns, to creating an ascetically stimulating minimalist layout, choosing fonts, editing images, selecting content, and sculpting a distinct persona for the magazine deeply interests me, and I wish I had the opportunity to do this under the guidance of experienced professionals. The group newspaper project will be a good way to make friends with my classmates though, so I’m looking forward to it as well. Because my final assessment for the semester has to be a 2,000 word paper or equivalent project, the module tutor Natalie said I could just be more involved in the process, perhaps taking on more writing or editing. I’m happy she suggested that, because I really want to put a lot of work into the online newspaper project since I won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of taking the full year course.
As in the “feature writing” module, there are two tutors/lecturers for “MPOJ.” Natalie, the assistant tutor there today, was so helpful, approachable and gave an interesting lecture. She even sat down with me for a little chat on how I was adjusting and what I’m studying here. I spoke with her about some of the reporting and projects I did at The Pulse last spring, and she gave me some positive feedback on what to include in an online portfolio. Despite what many people like to say, journalism isn’t a fading profession. The lecture focused on the positive aspects of pursuing a career in journalism, and she gave us some useful links to places where jobs can be found in the UK. I think this will be expanded upon in my “Working in the Media” module tomorrow morning, so I’ll be sure to write a response to that lecture later.
For the ‘seminar’ portion of the three hour class, we created the basic framing of a web page to provide a sort of platform to market ourselves on. I’d honestly not given much thought to having an online CV (typically called resumes in the US. CVs are much longer), but Natalie explained that as a true freelance journalist, which we all will be trained as post graduation, having a strong online presence allows people to come to you when they want to buy or commission a piece. Having all my stories online through The Pulse is really useful in establishing my name. Even though it’s a relatively small paper in the scope of international journalism, it was a great way for me to get started and shows I can write interesting, informative stories for a city I am not native to. True, I am from a town two hours away, but that is far enough away to make me ‘alien’ to the area. I learned a lot about Chattanooga in my time at The Pulse, and the adaptability skills I developed there will be valuable when I eventually move to the UK to work as a journalist.
Everything is relative. I tell myself this so much it has basically become my mantra. If better opportunities present themselves, naturally I will take advantage of those. However, I’ve been pretty impressed with Chester’s journalism department and the classes they offer, and I’ve only been to two of my four classes. Things could change, but at this point I wholly picture myself returning to Chester or the UK for a masters in journalism.
Like yesterday, this class helps affirm I’m in the proper career and location that will allow me to be the person I want to be for the rest of my life.