LCC’s Russell Merryman in the newsroom.
In our latest New Course Discourse feature, we chat to Course Leader Russell Merryman to find out more about the new course MA International Journalism (Online).
Can you tell us a bit about why this course has been created?
I suppose the aim, really, is to make practitioners – journalism or media studies graduates – more aware of the growing internationalisation of the media.
Before the internet, all media was regionalised or territorialised, either by nation or locale, and that was a limitation of the technology that was being used, whether it was newspapers or satellite TV.
The internet’s changed all that, and in effect everybody who publishes now is an international journalist.
But what we want to do is to try and make people more aware of the issues that are raised by that – that the playing field has radically changed – and raise an awareness about the different kinds of approaches to storytelling, narrative, law, ethics and freedom of expression.
Journalism students working in the newsroom.
How does the course content compare to an undergraduate journalism course?
On a good undergraduate programme students will be taught how to edit video, edit audio, deal with laying out a page, use social media, create websites.
What we want to do is take that on and engage people with some of the very exciting new storytelling platforms that are available, that allow people to create in-depth documentary-style journalism.
Long-form narrative, ways in which we can get under the skin of a story much more effectively than we ever could before, and engage the audience in a new type of interactive dialogue.
We want to let people explore and experiment within their own art, as it were, and within their own discipline, and really try and bring their journalism to life. Not just by examining what’s going on around them with an international perspective, but also collaborating with students in other parts of the world.
Artefact magazine, produced by LCC’s BA (Hons) Journalism students.
We’ll also be bringing in people from industry. Many of the tutors who we’re looking to recruit onto the course have experience with international broadcasters and news organisations, and we’ll be bringing in guest speakers as well.
We’ll be looking for the students themselves to bring their own experience from their own part of the world to the table, and make that part of the debate.
All of this works towards a final major project, whether that be a research dissertation or a multimedia documentary. That’s where we want them to get to at the end of the two-year course.
Can you talk a bit more about the ‘online’ aspect of the MA?
The programme is delivered entirely online so there will be no requirement to travel to London, no requirement for visas and no requirement for expensive rents. It’s part-time, so students can study it whilst, I hope, holding down a full-time job.
So it is designed with practitioners in mind – people who want to build their international perspectives on the work they are doing as journalists, and hone those skills with a group of like-minded people in an online community of interest.
For the College, it’s not the first time we’ve done online courses. We’ve got experience of doing those already, with a very successful photojournalism and documentary photography course, and we want to build on that.
Emily Bell, former Editor-in-Chief of Guardian Online, giving the annual Hugh Cudlipp Lecture to LCC students.
We’re going to be looking at a number of aspects of journalism that are affected by developments on the internet and the international perspectives that it brings.
So things like data journalism, developmental journalism, how journalism operates in emerging democracies, is the Western model really the right model? Are there are models that work more effectively in those environments? And what are the limitations and challenges of those areas?
You mentioned LCC’s reputation in providing online courses, but what else can the College offer to your future students?
What LCC brings to the table in this case is the experience of the staff, and the focus on communities of practice and communities of interest, which we want to take into a virtual realm.
Also there is still access to a lot of the facilities, like Library Services and other systems that we provide to the LCC community, which are available online. There are lots of benefits of being a student, even though you’re not physically in the building.
And connections with other courses – students will make those connections online. Students are talking to each other via the internet even when they’re physically in the building, so we’re building communities across those boundaries. LCC has always been keen to do that – it’s in our DNA.
So students will be joining that very extensive group of experts, fellow students and fellow practitioners. We are actually hoping to collaborate directly with the photojournalists, and get people working together on projects.
LCC journalism students working in the newsroom.
What are you looking for in applicants?
We’ll be looking for people who have some background in journalism – probably journalism graduates. We’re looking for experienced storytellers.
I talk to my students on the undergraduate programme and they say, “What can I do next?” And one of the things that struck me was that a lot of them went on to do things like international politics, which developed their worldview but wouldn’t necessarily develop their journalism.
So I thought there was a gap in the market – we can actually provide people with a Masters course which examines international politics and the issues of freedom of expression from an international perspective, but do so with a journalistic worldview.
We will also be happy to consider non-journalists – people who’ve done media and communications degrees, who’ve got some of those practical skills that we can hone into journalism.
Artefact magazine, produced by LCC’s BA (Hons) Journalism students.
What kinds of careers can graduates from the course expect to go on to?
We hope that we will turn out people who are confident about tackling some of those international issues, and will be able to do so either as freelance writers, or in international news organisations – the number of which is actually growing.
We are seeing more and more international broadcasters, internet services and magazines coming online. From the days when there was just CNN and the BBC, now there are a huge number of potential employers who are interested in candidates who have a strong worldview and a strong desire to tell stories that have a global reach.
I hope that we will find stories that nobody else is telling, based on the students’ local knowledge and experience. I think that is a really exciting prospect.
Find our more about MA International Journalism (Online)
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