More Multimedia Training

(Updated Below) This week, the Grady College of Journalism and Macc Communication at the University of Georgia is hosting 65 college students for the Management Seminar for College Newspaper Editors. Some 64 schools are represented, from Florida to Alaska.

MSCNE participants surround a "witness."

MSCNE participants immediately started to call in reports.

In the past, they’ve spent five days sitting in a lecture hall listening to presentations and panel discussions on issues that pertain to them … and that makes even me yawn, and I’ve presented the last two years …

Coordinator Cecil Bently this year came to me with an idea for a multimedia immersion day – in the morning, we do some hands on training in writing, photojournalism, video journalism and audio for the web. Then, in the afternoon, we have a mock event for them to cover – a possible bomb found in an adjacent building. 

The training in the morning had a few hiccups – the 90 minute sessions were too short – and the exuberance of the students in the afternoon produced some web sites that I had to take down. (The editors were broken into four teams and each had access to a blog to post stories, audio, video and photos to. The university departments who helped coordinate this planted a few rumors that, well, got out of hand …)

No real harm was done, and it was a great learning experience for everyone. Because this was a mock exercise, several of the students said they pushed the journalism in directions they wouldn’t on a real story (mostly publishing more rumors and single-source items). That said, they got a lot of information out there fast – one team had their first post up two minutes after being notified. 

Knowing the video shooters would take a while to shoot, capture, edit and post, some teams resorted to shooting cell phone videos.

We supplied still cameras and audio equipment out of our pool, and Canon loaned us eight video kits based on their HV-30 camera. The students went beyond what we provided them and learned a few things, too. Several pulled out their cell phones and started sending in photos immediately, a few succeeded in shooting cell phone video and getting that uploaded. 

Some of the lessons learned included being prepared (one of my favorites): some students decided to shoot with their own still camerasonly to realize they had neither card readers or the cables they needed to download their images. 

With loaner equipment from Canon, each team had two video crews covering the mock emergency.

The general feeling amongst the students seemed to be exhaustion at the end of the day. Even though they were limited to 90 minutes of original reporting, then given two and a half hours for production, several team members snuck into corners and continued working the phones through the afternoon. The competition level was impressive – no one wanted to get scooped, and at least one team quoted another team’s report when they could get some information.

The post-event review was good – each team got 15 minutes to talk about what they did, how they delegated, etc. and then the instructors talked about what worked and what didn’t.

Next year, we’ll move the schedule around – leaving more time for training and less for the mock exercise. We’ll work out more of the technical glitches next time, and maybe have a tighter reign on what gets out there.

Update: One of the participating students posted an entry about her experiences.