Students Practicing Citizen Journalism
I am building a teaching module in which students practice citizen journalism—researching, writing, and disseminating journalistic reports on issues and events that they believe deserve more, or alternative, public attention—and to support this endeavor by building a website that aids students in the design, production, and publication of their work.
The idea that non-professionals can and should contribute information on the events they witness has been around for a very long time, as personal computers, the internet, social media, and mobile devices have become nearly ubiquitous in many parts of the world, the impact of citizen reporting has grown exponentially. Any individual with a smart phone can now record events in real-time, post them to the internet and social media sites immediately afterwards, and, in some cases, see those posts go viral locally, nationally, or even globally.
The primary goal of my fellowship project is to bring hands-on, experiential activities into the study of media and journalism practices, as well as the implications of those practices for social, cultural, and political dynamics at home and abroad. In short, I am building a teaching module in which students practice citizen journalism—researching, writing, and disseminating journalistic reports on issues and events that they believe deserve more, or alternative, public attention—and to support this endeavor by building a website that aids students in the design, production, and publication of their work.
The teaching module I am designing for this project focuses first on helping students identify stories that are either important but underreported or highly reported but lacking alternative perspectives. These might be stories occurring close to home (e.g., in the Netherlands). Or they might be stories taking place abroad, but which students believe deserve more attention from western (or other) audiences. Second, the module teaches students some of the basics of citizen reporting—how to find potential interview subjects, how to search for data and documentation, how to craft a story, etc. Finally, the module helps students devise a plan for the dissemination of their reports.
Beyond mere skill acquisition, however (and therefore in contrast to most citizen journalism training), the teaching module is designed to promote critical thinking about and application of theories and concepts commonly taught in academic courses on journalism, mass media, and media and politics. For example, rather than simply trying to craft a story that will capture readers’ attention, students learning under this teaching module are asked to consider the implications of bringing drama and sensationalism into their reporting—to assess whether and how sensationalistic elements can be appropriately applied.
To aid both teachers and students implementing this module, I am building a complementary website. At minimum, the website will support and enhance:
- Instructor-student communication
- Student-student communication (for coordinating small group reporting)
- Collaborative story writing and editing
- Collaborative photo editing
- Collaborative video editing
- Posting and dissemination of final reports
Rebekah Tromblé, Faculteit Governance and Global Affairs, Political Science
"I’m bringing a deep commitment to teaching excellence and innovation, a strong perspective on best practices that has been built over years of teaching and learning in multiple educational settings, access to an international network of educators focused on teaching innovation, and a track record of aiding others in improving instructional practices to the Leiden Teachers Academy."