By Kristie Pladson
The second-to-last INsPIrE-Project workshop took place in London in mid-October, hosted by City, University of London. Three media sciences students (myself included) arrived wet and cold at our hostel on a rainy Thursday evening, but a warm dinner reception at a local community center was waiting for us nearby. There we met the other participants—some local, others from universities around Europe—and enjoyed a delicious, home-cooked meal and Welcome Cocktails while we learned about our upcoming project. We would be making video projects together with young locals from the neighbourhood. The idea was to have media students from university working collaboratively with interested, local young people with no formal media training on a news story and see what the results would be. While we ate, a couple of the local guys shared original poetry and rap music with us, and afterwards we all got to know each other a bit more.
The next morning, filled up on free pastries, breakfast sandwiches and coffee, we spent a few hours learning the ins and outs of video reporting with a smartphone from our trainer, British radio journalist Jack Soper of Radio 4 and the BBC. After lunch we hit the streets in groups of three with the goal of producing a 90-second reporting segment by the end of the work day. My group, consisting of myself, fellow Uni Tübingen student Philip, and Jamaican-born, London-raised local Brandon, had the topic “being European”. Being from different countries and backgrounds and not knowing each other very well, it took a moment to figure out how we would get this project done together as a group. But once we got started, we fell into a really effective group dynamic. Brandon was really open and friendly and had no problem asking nearly every person we saw on the street if they would answer a few questions for us. Once he’d introduced our project, I would run the interview while Philip handled filming. We ended up with some really great sound bites and clean camera shots. We also had a really diverse choice of interview partners. I would give that credit to Brandon for reaching out to everyone around us. This was a huge strength for our final product and it demonstrated really well the benefits of this collaborative reporting style.
Once we had the interview material, Philip edited our segment together using an app designed specifically to produce such video projects. The app was so simple that we struggled with its limitations, like the limited music selection and the automated volume levels. But ultimately we finished on time and were pretty happy with our work (see below for the results). We ended the day with a dinner all together at a tasty Turkish restaurant in one of London’s busiest going-out streets.
On Saturday morning, we feasted once again on pastries and watched the results of everyone’s reporting from the day before. Along with the topic “being European”, other groups reported on “Young people and mental health” and “Staying safe in the city”. Every group did something a bit different, even the ones with the same topic. All groups were a big mix of nationalities, languages, media experience, and personal backgrounds, yet every group found a group dynamic that worked, and everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves. After a group photo it was time to say goodbye and head to the airport.
I learned a lot in those 48 hours in London. I got experience with smartphone reporting, a media which is sure to become more and more important in our digital age. More importantly, I met and worked with people with backgrounds completely different from my own, and our project was all the better for it. Thanks to City University of London for the great experience!
The next and final workshop will be in Barcelona in November!
Photos: Lindsay Greenhouse, Savvas Panas, Kiron Patka