This is my independent study proposal. It’s a little messy, but I’m posting it here to get feedback and to connect with other journalists and others invested in communities who have similar concerns about media narratives across social boundaries.
There is great focus in the Medill curriculum on audience. However, information and cultural narratives often gets transmitted beyond the intended audience of a story. Furthermore, the experiences and perspectives of a reporter, the community being covered in a story, and the audience of the story can be dramatically different with regards to race, class and other dynamics that divide a city like Chicago. For instance, does media coverage of youth violence in Chicago help lead to solutions to end violence or does it only solidify incomplete perceptions of different groups of youth and different neighborhoods in the city?
How is the way a story is reported by journalists or interpreted by the audience mediated by these divisions? Are there stories whose impact spans different communities in Chicago? How does one report these stories in a way that resonates across social divisions? How do current publishing models limit broad-reaching resonance of a story? How might emerging models better reach socially segregated audiences? How do people who don’t consume traditional news media get information to answer questions and solve problems in their lives? Can reporting help erode social divisions?
This independent study will explore these questions through monitoring and analysis of the Chicago media ecosystem and documented conversations (meta-reporting) with professional journalists, community-based media and community advocacy or activists groups.
While my experience at Medill has thus far helped me build a solid foundation of reporting skills, I feel like I am not much closer to understanding how journalism can help meet the information needs of communities in overcoming challenges facing them. This is an important personal, academic and professional goal for me and I feel this study can bring me closer developing vision for new models of journalism.
Students will be expected to consume media from across the breadth of Chicago’s media ecosystem every week from papers like the Tribune or Sun-Times, to broadcast nightly news, to public media such as WBEZ’s 848, to independent media such as The Chicago Reporter, local papers such as the Skyline or Austin Weekly News and blogs and Twitter feeds from community groups and members. Special attention should be paid to responses to media including comments, letters to the editor and blogging about media coverage.
All assignments will be submitted as public blog posts that will allow other Medill students, instructors and readers in the community at-large to comment on the student’s observations.
Every week students must submit a 300-word or longer response to a story from the student’s readings in the Chicago media ecosystem. The response should explain how explain how the story either effectively or problematically frames a community issue for different groups of people across a variety of experience or how the reporter acknowledges or balances her personal experience and culturally-mediated perceptions (or fails to) in reporting the story.
Throughout the quarter, the student will have conversations with professional journalists, independent media makers, community media organizations, and community action groups about reporting stories across different social experiences. The student will be required to approve the people to be covered with the faculty advisor twice in the quarter.
Students must submit five stories documenting these conversations. Print stories should be at least 500 words long. Two of the five stories must be multimedia stories (audio, photo slideshow, video or other interactive) of 2 minutes or comparable depth for non-linear formats.
The faculty mentor will evaluate media responses based on the clarity of argument, consideration of multiple perspectives and relevance and uniqueness of the story and media outlet selected.
The stories documenting conversations with participants in Chicago’s media ecosystem will be evaluated for quality, originality, relevance and media production in a manner similar to second quarter MSJ reporting courses.
The mentor should post responses as comments on the blog to help encourage other responses.
|Week 1||Conversation proposal for weeks 1-5 due
Media response post due
|Week 2||Media response post due
Story #1 due
|Week 3||Media response post due|
|Week 4||Media response post due
Story #2 due
|Week 5||Media response post due
Conversation proposal for weeks 6-10 due
|Week 6||Media response post due
Story #3 due
|Week 7||Media response post due|
|Week 8||Media response post due
Story #4 due
|Week 9||Media response post due|
|Week 10||Story #5 due|