So… a few weeks ago I started the MA Radio course at Goldsmiths University. It’s been an amazing time so far – it’s pretty incredible spending so much of my time on the thing I love most.
I thought I’d record some of my thoughts and reflections after the first few weeks.
The course is split across creative and journalistic work, with a strong emphasis on the connection between the two – how the learnings from the creative side can be applied to journalism, and vice versa. This approach really works for me, and I’m enjoying being inspired and challenged in equal measure.
Thoughts on radio journalism
On the journalism side, I’ve noticed that many of us are grappling a little with our feelings about ethics and journalistic integrity. It’s weird learning to be a journalist when your relationship with the media as a citizen feels mixed and fraught. In general, journalism is really important and I am extremely grateful for the good reporting that goes on. But we all see unethical or poorly informed choices made by journalists and programme makers all the time – whether for clicks and ratings, or just out of pure ignorance.
I’m still piecing together my thoughts on this, but I think I have sensed in myself and other people some ~feelings~ about the importance of having a really strong personal ethic as a journalist. Apart from anything else, news based programming often can’t give much time to any given topic within a single broadcast. So even with the best will in the world, there’s a constant risk that your reporting could be reductive on topics that are actually very complex or nuanced.
I wonder whether one approach is to identify the areas you’re most interested in, and gradually explore the complexities and depths of those topics over a long period of reporting – where each individual piece gets at a different detail. That way, you could build a more complex picture for people who choose to follow your reporting over time.
One thing is very clear – it would be an easy fallback to become a clickbait journalist, and much much harder to dedicate yourself to the really important and high quality reporting that the world desperately needs (especially in this fake news era). I’m sure my feelings on this will crystallise further, but these are just some thoughts I’ve been ruminating on as we start our journalism study and practice.
Thoughts on creative radio
On the creative side, I am much less conflicted! It’s been a real joy to spend so much time listening to creative work, analysing the techniques and impact of the work with my class, and starting to make things ourselves. We’ve already each produced a one minute ‘sonic biography’ soundscape, and it was awesome to listen to each other’s work for the first time.
We’re currently working on our first assessed piece – a five minute feature which is due in early December.
My sonic biography, for posterity: