Journalism education and tips for journalists

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Course introduction

I have been very busy preparing for the next semesters courses (and consequently remiss in my blogging).
I thought it may be of passing interest for some of you to see what kind of courses i give so here is the intorduction I sent to the students.

We live in a culture whish is rapidly becoming more and more image based. Visual literacy is becoming as (in some cases more) important as textual literacy. Images are central to our understanding of the world around us. Images are also central to how we present, represent, make meaning of and communicate with the world around us. How we visualise things and how we visually present things are areas which most of us have taken for granted. This course will help us examine how we look at things and how we can present things visually.

To achieve this, the course has two main components; theory and practical.

The theoretical module will give an introduction to theories of visual culture and the relationship between the observer and the observed.
What is it to see? What is it to be seen?
Images can be a powerful way to allow information and conversation to enter the public sphere. They can also be a powerful way to obscure meaning.

We will be looking at the public sphere and how images, particularly digital images intersect and interact there.

Recent years have seen an explosion in the amount of digitally published material. There are now literally thousands of millions of documents available on-line. Electronic networking and a range of communication-enabling technologies have led to us spending more time in cyberspace. We go on-line in ever larger numbers on an increasingly global scale.
We work, access the latest developments in academia, get the latest news, talk with friends, play games, look for partners…the list goes on.

Yet all too few of us are digitally literate (and this includes journalists, many of whom belive themselves to be).

In today’s “information-age” students, teachers, journalists, researchers and others must equip themselves with the tools needed to mine this digital information face and to (re)represent the information nuggets in an accessible way. We need to be competent in modern information retrieval skills. In tracking down and verifying facts. In being able to sort the “true” from the “false”.

And equally important, being able to visually/digitally present the material so that it can be accessed on-line in an easily understandable way

The practical module will introduce the necessary information-gathering and digital publishing skills needed to achieve this digital literacy.

More specifically the course will look at how visuality in cyberspace differs from and intersects with visuality in theatre, newspapers, photography, television etc.
What kind of space is cyberspace? Is there a digital public sphere? How does this impinge on politics, ethics, and democracy?

Examples will be given from websites of voluntary organisations, political campaigns, corporations and governments.

Here the students will contribute with their own analyses of the intersection of the popular and the scientific in visual communication.

The course also gives grounding in digital research, including;

  • Information retrieval
  • Optimisation of search language
  • Interrogating national and international databases
  • Using WWW-based search engines
  • Intelligent agents
  • Evaluating on-line information
  • Using email as a research tool

We will also look at on-line communication including;

  • Uses of international expert networks
  • Discussion forums and retrieval of archived material
  • Real-time communication (e.g. MSN/Yahoo messenger, ICQ, Web-chat etc.)
  • Real-time conferencing

Also basic digital publishing including;

  • Planning a website
  • Basic and advanced HTML
  • Sound & Vision

You will work on a project in which you will do the following:

Research the topic using all the tools available, plan the visualisation of the material, publish the material digitally (creating a website is the most usual way) and publicize the site.

You will also present a paper documenting –and applying the theoretical perspectives gained during the course – your work.


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