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October 27 2010


Games Designers and Journalists exploring new narratives.

Presenting Ideas

Presenting Ideas

Meld ‘upped sticks’  to London for its latest foray into new forms of cross platform narrative.  Coinciding with the London launch of Sandbox, UCLan’s creative and digital industries centre at the British Film Institute, journalists invited from the BBC, the Independent, the Guardian, SKY News, Johnston Press, Haymarket Media were joined by Skillset and the Broadcast Journalism Training Council to work with professional games designers and students from UCLan’s MA Games Design programme.

The aim of the day – to collaborate and develop a new game on the theme of ‘democracy’. The cross disciplinary teams were given a basic structure to work within. As well as making sure the end result was compelling, simple and innovative the games needed to:

  • demonstrate cause and effect (results from actions)
  • build/create a user community,
  • grow and develop with that community,
  • respond to users not direct them,
  • be social, inclusive and free.

The Sandbox team were on hand leading the newly formed groups through a series of exercises designed to foster creative collaboration. Four teams each produced a game concept and pitched it to their peers before assessing its viability and desirability.

One of the teams at work

One of the teams at work

Paul Egglestone, who set the project up, said: “What’s really interesting about a process like this is the very different approaches both Journalists and games creators take to narrative. Journalists think of themselves as ‘storytellers’ – as do games creators – but their priorities are very different. Gamers want to build a great game. A decent story provides the vehicle for the game whilst the focus is firmly on the gaming experience. Journalists don’t generally focus on the user experience – they concentrate on telling the story.”

This is the latest chapter in an ongoing project that draws together senior editorial personnel from the BBC, the Times, the Guardian, the Independent, Johnston Press, Trinity Mirror, Haymarket Media, Nokia research as well as freelancers, Indies and sector skills representatives. They’re all committed to working out where the future of journalism lies and to explore new ways of telling stories on digital platforms.

Developing ideas

Developing ideas

Andy Dickinson is leading the project for the School of Journalism, Media and Communication. He recognises the value of this contribution from working journalists taking time away from the cut and thrust of the day-to-day news cycle to collaborate across print, broadcast and online to determine the skills future journalists will need. He says: “The project is at a really exciting stage. We’ve already used the Sandbox method to develop three new MA level modules aimed directly at working journalists. The new digital journalism masters will survey the digital landscape and offer a range of intellectual, creative and digital or technical skills that our ever growing industry panel tell us they’ll be looking for in future.”

This part of the process isn’t due to finish until January 2011 but the first of the new digital modules are ready for delivery online and the School of Journalism, Media and Communication will be recruiting from September this year.

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December 09 2009


The 2012 Journalist: Your future?

Top Journo and  launch editor for Guardian local Sarah Hartley was one of the delegates at our recent Meld event to look at the future skills of journalists (and the world they will be working in). She’s been pondering  the future, how close it is and what others think it will have in store.

This post first appeared on Sarah’s Blog

A journalistic world where personal branding is a lifestyle, managing micro communities is second nature and developing areas of specialist knowledge is essential for survival in what is a freelance work sphere where multiple revenue streams as a sole trader are the norm.

Welcome to the lot of a journalist in 2012!

That’s my personal summary of far more detailed discussions spent considering such things as part of the MELD experience last week.

Held at the futuristic Sandbox at UCLAN, the two-day industry think-tank to consider what skills the journalist of the future might need prompted some interesting dilemmas.

Looking forward such a relatively short amount of time was a tricky experience, not least because the audience who will be old enough to vote in three years time, are one of the first who will be true digital natives.

Today’s teenagers have only ever known mobile phones, games, the internet and on demand services. They are also unlikely to have got the newspaper habit, so how will their experience of the world impact on journalism?

But as we all wrestled with the issues of who will be funding the journalistic endeavour of the future, how organisations will need to change their structures and the skill sets individuals might be faced with, there was one aspect which sparked little controversy – that the next generation journalist is most likely to be a freelance worker.

And for that individual journalist, the future which emerged from our discussions operated in a complex personal ecosphere where some sort of web presence was the essential hub of activity, where earnings could come from sponsorship and affiliate relationships alongside mainstream media commissions for content packages, or access to the special interest networks which they had nurtured and managed.

Contemplating the short-term with some of those who may help shape the future of the industry was a thought-provoking experience  – and wasn’t purely an intellectual exercise.

Some of the input from the sessions will help inform journalism educators about the tools the journalists of the future might need.

I’d be very interested to hear what other journalists think the future might hold – join in with the time travel if you will! What do you think lies in store? Is the scenario detailed above a world which you’d embrace or recoil from? Where do you see the journalist of 2012? Thoughts most welcome.

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