November 7, 2013
Equipped with only their cellphones, graduate journalism students at California State University, Northridge will collaborate with more than 100 other students at universities in India, Taiwan and the UK on Nov. 16 to report about poverty in each country.
The project is part of the Pop-Up Newsroom, a temporary virtual newsroom that periodically springs to life to cover stories live, using only mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Its student reporters rely entirely on social media tools, especially Twitter, which allows only 140 characters per post.
“We will use few words to cover a big story,” said journalism professor Melissa Wall, creator of the newsroom. CSUN students will Tweet video, photos and text about topics ranging from free medical clinics for the poor to homeless veterans to soccer leagues for at-risk youth.
“One goal is to help students learn a new kind of journalism which uses tools that appeal to younger audiences who get most of their information online,” Wall said. “Our other aim is to show how poverty is a problem no matter where in the world you live.”
While poverty has become an even greater problem worldwide since the economic downturn of 2008, media coverage has tended to focus on political debates rather than the people most affected by the decline, Wall said.
“Our students will provide an intense burst of reporting on poor people here in Los Angeles,” she added.
In India, journalism students at the Asian College of Journalism will cover “deprivation” of the poor. Taiwan’s National Chung Cheng University students will cover poverty as a national issue while in the UK, Newcastle University students will report on the effects of austerity cuts on ordinary people.
One of the project leaders, Newcastle University journalism lecturer, David Baines said the initiative “offers opportunities for those people who are often spoken about, to speak for themselves.
“This is an experiment. We are exploring new ways of doing journalism and it might help to point towards new directions for journalism in the digital age,” he said.The Pop-Up Newsroom can be found on Twitter @PopUpNewsroom or at popupnewsroom.net.