What exactly do you learn on a Broadcast Journalism degree course?

Many people ask what the value of taking a journalism course is at university. Why don't you just take a course in English or History and then do a masters? That of course is an option. Instead, I opted for the longer version: 3 full years of learning the ins and outs of Broadcast Journalism at the University of Leeds. The course is 50% practical and 50% theoretical.

If you're considering a Broadcast Journalism course then hopefully this post will be of some use to you. I'd like to stress that this list is by no means exhaustive and more of a taste of what you can expect to find on a Broadcast Journalism course. Most of what I'll focus on are the practical skills, as opposed to what I have learned in term of topics.

Below I list of some of the things I've learnt on the course:
  • How to use a Marantz recorder
  • How to reference academically
  • How to read and write for effectively
  • How to convince people to be interviewed
  • How to film on an NX70 and Sony A1 camera effectively
  • Editing on AVID - a very powerful tool, industry standard
  • Editing on Adobe Audition
  • How to use BURLI
  • Manual filming
  • Journalism ethics - this is a huge topic which we'll be covering over the three years in one form or another
  • How we got to where we are today in terms of technology, starting all the way back with the telegraph
  • The Hutton report
  • The importance of timekeeping in a TV studio
  • How to operate the basics of a TV studio - including autocue, directing, turbo, astons/lower thirds, vision mixing
  • How to operate a radio studio - the desk, recording phone calls, recording voiceovers
  • The Hutton report again
  • News-gathering tools
  • Social web tools - advanced Twitter search, Hootsuite, advanced google search, twitter fall, etc.
  • SEO - tags, headline writing, article writing
  • Writing for radio
  • Writing for web
  • British politics - a full in-depth introduction taught by the Politics department
  • How to decipher press releases
  • Media law - We'll study this in more depth in 3rd year but we're covered libel, slander, Children and Young Person's Act, what you can and cant report during court, Sexual Offences Act, and much more.
  • A whole host of academic journalism and media related topics which would be too extensive to cover here
  • New Media work issues
  • Did I mention the Hutton report?

Some skills I developed for myself:
  • How to phrase questions to get the answers you want (yes, I know...)
  • How to conduct yourself before, during and after interviews
  • How to make interviewees comfortable
  • The importance of contacts and calling people (and not just hiding behind emails)
  • How proactive you need to be as a journalism, things don't just fall into your lap
  • Time management - on top of all the lectures and seminars, we also have to find and produce our own stories.
  • More confidence on the phone
  • Leadership - this is usually voluntary as you aren't forced to lead a team but if you do you'll learn a lot of about how to get the best out of people.
I'm sure there are many others, but these are the ones which struck me. I'll try and update the list throughout the course. It's important to note that courses vary between institute to institute, and even year over year (especially as my year is the first to try this new type of course). If you've got any questions on whether my particular course covers a certain topic let me know in the comments.

Photo: jsawkins from flickr
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About Giovanni Costa

Radio journalist, newspaper editor, travel writier, tour guide and Disney Cast Member. These are just some of the things Gio has done in the past few years. He loves visiting new destintions, trying new food and wants you to come along for the ride!
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