It’s been just over a year since I passed on the gauntlet of student media to the next bright eyed
victim, I mean editor. With the Guardian Student Media awards already closed for website submissions and closing soon for other categories, I thought now would be a good time to look at how student media has innovated in the past year and where they can go next.
I have always thought that with a bit more support and a nudge in the right direction student media could contribute a lot more to its bigger brother mainstream media. It should be a fertile breeding ground for ideas, it is after all an (almost) risk free environment – especially when compared with perils of steering a multimillion pound media group.
Who will be the first student paper to abandon print? Which student radio stations compile Spotify playlists alongside their shows? Has a student TV station beamed a show direct to students mobiles?
I have been keeping an eye on a few student newspaper sites to see where they are trying to break barriers and try new things.
The only group I know where they have integrated all three student media disciplines. It’s ambitious and certainly works when it comes to integrating content that is naturally separate in a non-digital world, but makes no sense to separate online.
Nouse have a strong team of developers available and make good use of them, running mini sites akin to the nationals when it comes to major events such as student elections, awards nights and travel supplements. They even run a Fantasy football league on the site for York’s college competition. They clearly know how to put together specialist content for their audience.
I will be the first to admit I am not sure about their new design, but I applaud them for being daring and trying something new. Comments running along side an article are an interesting new approach – as is the ability to browse content via author. Newspapers have always looked to replicated their offline structure online. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because of updating stories, cross categorisation, varying entry points due to search engines and social media. So to shake things up even a little is certainly worth a go.
There is always plenty going on in university towns and cities to justify innovation and resources – local elections should be treated like general elections (as Nouse do). There is a role for student media to play in reporting local crime and keeping a watchful eye on uni and union executives. With more ways than ever to produce content and then to push it out and consume it students should be able to teach mainstream a thing or two.
Who is filming their student council meetings and making them available online? Who is using mobile reporting tools to get breaking content to students as it happens? Who has an action plan, the kit and the drive to cover protests on campus?
I have always maintained that student media should play a grassroots role in developing new ideas, applying new technology (or old technologies in new ways) and generally should be seeing what might happen if you stop asking why not and dive right in.
Google have always hired intelligence over experience because they way something has always been done, or used to be done isn’t always the best. Dumb experienced people can only repeat what worked before, intelligent people can work out a new and better way to do ‘something’. Journalism needs to start supporting grassroots innovation, developing it and then employing the most intelligent people from those ranks to help drive the industry forward.
Let me know what you think in the comments… or at @wannabehacks