After a semester of work the end has finally arrived, yet it seems as though I have been left with more question than answers. While our group has thoroughly addressed the questions that we confronted, often the answer just lead to more questions. However this is the nature of the project that we tackled– a project that explores a system that is still in its early stages. As I sit and reflect on the work that has gone into this semester, might I add with little stress, it has dawned upon me that we may have just done something right.
As I defined my role in previous blog posts as “the analyzer” I would argue that each of my group members were all participants in the analyzation process. Early on we discovered that no longer was the project about “who was doing what” but instead “how are we as a group going to approach this question of open journalism.” In order to define my role it is necessary to discuss my background. I approached this topic of open journalism from a journalists perspective. I am currently studying Journalism, with the intentions of getting a job in the industry, and I needed to discover how open journalism will affect the likely hood of that. So for that purpose, I was responsible for dissecting the changing role of the journalist. This required in depth research to the current state of the journalist and how open journalism is threatening the way that the journalist works. I also looked into solutions for the threat and what the journalist needs to do in order to move along with the times. Some of the issues that I encountered through this exploration would have to do with sifting through an overwhelming amount of information and making sense of it. There is A LOT out there to influence my findings. The key to working through this problem was to not get carried away with tangents. I needed to constantly remind myself of what our group goal was to discover and to stay focused.
As I sit here now, two days before our assignment is due writing this post with little stress it has been clear that our progress throughout the semester has been the key to our success. As a group we employed a strategy of consistent work throughout the semester rather than attempting to write everything at the very end. What this meant was that every week, individual group members were responsible for completing a task that the group would collectively decide on. This did not mean that some people were in charge of assigning roles, but on our weekly group meetings (which I will touch on later) we were able to assess our progress and in turn decide what we needed to accomplish in the upcoming weeks. On a personal note, while I was often able to complete the tasks that my group set out for me (mostly out of fear of being “that exchange student”), deadlines did not seem concrete. It was much easier to approach my group with the story of how I had “no time” than it would have been a professor for instance. Essentially, this came down to self-discipline, which when employed is your best friend and when forgotten about can be your worst enemy. I almost always made friends with self-discipline, but there is always the week when you show up with no work to show for yourself, I guess it’s just a fact of life. Most importantly, our group consistently contributed to our research blog, where we were able to compile our information throughout the semester. What this meant in the end was that when it came to developing a report, there was a lot more cutting in pasting of work we had completed than frantic smashing on key boards with blank pages.
The strategies that my group and I employed throughout the semester is a reflection of the in-depth research report that we have ended up with. For starters, our weekly meetings Monday morning at Pearson’s were a great way to monitor ourselves. Not only did this force us to acknowledge the existence of Media Industries 1 within a crazy semester, but it forced us to actually do some work. We would use this time to discuss what we had contributed in the previous week and what preparations we needed to make for the following one. It was also a great way to meet face-to-face and chat rather than just send email or write in a Facebook group. That being said, Facebook, Google Docs and email were a fantastic tool that our group used to communicate. It was a way for us all to contribute any ideas that we had at any time, rather than holding onto it for a group meeting. It also gave us a chance to develop on a more personal level which I believe allowed for easier communication between group members. Our most effective strategy would have to be the use of our research blog, as I have previously mentioned. The blog was a way for us to consistently write for an audience and force ourselves to get ideas out there. Originally we created the blog as a way to get feedback from external resources- in a sense to participate in open journalism. However, the blog never really blossomed into a dialogue with an audience, but that does not mean that it wasn’t useful for us. It has been the bulk of our final product, and the work we did on it throughout the semester has placed us in a good situation at the end.
I would hate to say that we had no problems, as there are always problems. However as a group and personally I would say that they were few and far between. The major recurring issue had to do with the fact that my group members struggled with creating a balance between their PP1 course and this course (on top of all the other courses we had). While this was not detrimental to anyone’s work, it presented that issue that the members almost had to choose. This meant that at times there would be an unbalance in the amount of work that some group members did on a weekly basis compared to others. However, in the end, each member put in a substantial amount of work resulting in what I believe is an in depth report. The way that this was dealt with was the assignment of weekly tasks, which helped keep everyone on track (for the most part). Also having the ability to communicate via the strategies employed as discussed above, made it easier for the group to be open about there problems. A personal issue that I struggled with through the semester would often be “what do I do?” For the most part, we worked on everything as a group, but there would often be times when I felt like I could have been doing something more, or that maybe I wasn’t doing the right thing. This was worked out by eventually just laying on the table where we were and where we wanted to be. From the analysis we would be able to delegate tasks to reach where we wanted to be, this really helped me keep focus.
Connections & Intersections
This course for me has been an opportunity to thoroughly analyze a topic that has concerned me since I began studying journalism three years ago. But aside from the actual content that I have absorbed, I think I have also learned a lot about my abilities as a student. At fear of sounding cliche, coming to a foreign country and engaging myself in the education system and people has been a remarkable experience. When you come to a country that on the surface may seem so similar to your own (as Australia may seem to Canada) it is only when you really invest yourself can you notice the difference. What I have learned from this country and the people in it has been substantial and will be so important to my growth in the industry. I have had the opportunity to work with a group and enjoy it! Group work is one of those things that is not always easy or preferable, but the learning journey that I have been on with my classmates has been enriching. I have learned how to discipline myself to do work rather than just rely on professors to tell me when and where to be and what to have done. This class has really allowed me to grow and mature as a student. The content of our assignment will be so imperative to my future career as a journalist. This assignment has given me the opportunity to research one of the major problems facing journalists now and what this means for the career of a journalist. As I head back to Canada to complete by Journalism undergrad I have a new, more optimistic view on what the world will hold for me as I embark in a career in journalism.