Thanks to Mr @benarmham of Twitter, although I also happen to know this fellow in the real world, I was at Farnham University last weekend. I thought the University of Gloucestershire was small. Farnham is on a different level of miniscule but is also coupled with a community which is noticeably strong from the outset. Perhaps rather niche as well due to the abundant of creative courses.
One particular aspect of the visit which captured me the most was meeting a few Journalism students. As Journalism and Public Relations are closely intertwined I couldn’t help but compare students from both industries. Especially due to the notorious competitive edge which has always existed between Hacks and Flacks.
I can’t confess a lot of knowledge because most of my evening in Farnham was spent drinking. No, I didn’t forget. Just sometimes it is necessary to drink rather than discuss. You can see below a grainy picture which was taken within the bowels of Farnham’s Student Union.
I suppose Journalism really has two main forms:
- The art of reporting news
- The ‘not so artistic’ form of providing opinions
The detail of attention which Farnham spends focusing on online matters is clear. Students are being directed to set up blogs, twitter accounts and learn how to broadcast using different mediums. Rather than making Journalism students ‘journalists’, this instantly makes a classroom full of ‘citizen journalists.’ Albeit, some of which may need persuading to begin their digital journeys.
If anything the emphasis to build a portfolio of online activity is an attempt to brand a student’s presences online. It is clear that as part of Farnham’s course this is necessary. I’m surprised CIPR approved courses have not introduced a similar personal social media branding exercise yet.
The difference might be that Journalism students must have an online presence. Their industry is one where students cannot afford to take too many risks. They have stepped into an industry which is currently in decline, nobody is certain of its future and competition is rife. It is truly cut-throat in the world of Journalism. Not only are they competing against each other, seasoned professionals but also individuals such as myself who have already established a blog.
I don’t believe being a good blogger makes you a good journalist. Whilst I can comment on subjects and battle ponderings on this digital parking spot – I cannot report news. All of my news comes from mainstream media; television, newspaper (this includes online) and radio. You will find other bloggers receive their news this way also. Blogging opens up the mainstream to reveal the troubled edge of different news angles and opinion.
I also don’t believe that studying Journalism or Public Relations will make you a good writer. Both of these courses are about communication and require students to step outside of their comfort zones. Compare yourself against others in the class and try to imagine why you will be more successful. Don’t become arrogant or needlessly self-conscious. Enjoy your course, always say ‘yes’ to opportunities and try to keep ahead of the game.
Throughout my time in Farnham I couldn’t help but think. How many of these student hacks will one day become flacks? Quite a few are crossing the divide at the moment. If so will a Journalism student have the right skills for PR? Will a PR student have the right skills for Journalism?