Fairfax Media will this year partner with two of the country’s best journalism schools to pilot a course which is designed to help students and educators keep better pace with newsroom innovation.
The “Innovation in Modern Journalism” unit will be an Australian-first media collaboration trialled at Queensland University of Technology and RMIT University with a view to permanent inclusion in the journalism curriculum from 2016.
The unit links students with day-to-day newsroom challenges and encourages journalists of the future to find new ways to engage with large audiences who are migrating to modern – in particular, digital – platforms.
“Newsrooms are changing rapidly to meet audience demand,” Fairfax Media Group Director, News and Business Media Sean Aylmer said.
“New roles are emerging to effectively manage the daily news cycle, and each specialist has their own set of challenges.
“We feel it is important for journalism students to be aware of these challenges so they feel comfortable with the innovation process, modern story-telling techniques, and emerging news platforms.
“Newsroom management has changed. We realise that young journalists in many cases will be the drivers of technology. Their ideas are critical to the success of our business.”
Course creator, Brisbane Times editor-in-chief Simon Holt said more than 60 newsroom specialists were engaged in the project.
“Data experts, designers, product managers, app specialists, social media editors and others from the Fairfax Media network in Australia and New Zealand were approached to help share their expertise and provide modern newsroom insights,” he said.
“We went right through the newsroom to ensure all corners of innovation were covered. Given the right scope, we hope this course is a licence for students to think creatively when it comes to telling important news stories.”
RMIT University Deputy Dean of Media Associate Professor Lisa French said the collaboration was a significant industry engagement for the School of Media and Communications journalism programs.
“RMIT journalism has had a long-held relationship with Fairfax and this initiative more formally extends the association into the teaching and learning space. It means that RMIT journalism students will have a direct line to industry and will be highly visible to this significant employer. It is likely that the outcome will also be a significant source of knowledge for journalism educators,” she said.
“Our programs are distinguished by unique initiatives that feature work integrated learning, and this partnership is a jewel in the crown for journalism students. It will provide them with a unique experience where academic learning is undertaken in the context of its application in the workplace.”
QUT Head of Discipline, Journalism, Media and Communication, Jason Sternberg said the initiative with Fairfax provided an outstanding opportunity for students to learn from highly experienced news media professionals, and would give the industry access to fresh ideas from the next generation of journalists.
“Journalism and higher education are both undergoing significant changes in the way they do business,” Dr Sternberg said.
“QUT prides itself on being a ‘university for the real world’. That means more than just teaching skills. It’s about empowering students to make a positive contribution to their profession.
“This initiative enables experienced journalists and the next generation of media professionals to collaborate on projects that may help shape the future of journalism.
“The collaboration goes way beyond the traditional guest lecture from a working journalist. It’s the start of an ongoing experiment in new ways of story-telling.”