I think one of the greatest benefits of the research group I am a part of, is that we all seem to be enthusiastic, or at least highly interested, in defining and researching the concept of Open Journalism. It took us a little while to arrive at the topic, but once the idea was there, we pretty much ran with it. I know I’m excited about it! For me, personally, I am broadly interested in the changing relationship between, or rather the blurring of the lines between a media producer and a media consumer. This is relevant in the field of journalism, especially so in the digital age that has been flourishing for many years. I’m interested in how newspapers are adapting to the online world, how the interactions between a journalist and a reader are changing, and finding out exactly what Open Journalism is – I want to be able to give a clear answer to that, especially when there seems to be several variations of definitions out there.
One of the main questions that I’ll be looking at within the group is “How and why are mainstream news outlets in Australia attempting to incorporate aspects of open journalism?” which gives me a good starting point, with a lot of broad aspects to cover. But I think here, I have come across my key difficulty when undertaking any research assignment – starting. Group discussions and the reading material that has been contributed to our shared drop box folder and Facebook page have all been excellent, but finding that extra bit of motivation to really sit down, summarise, annotate and critique a reading, then to begin writing is something that I have always found the hardest. And like I said, narrowing the research field into something manageable. Time management is also difficult when it comes to the scale of the task we’ve undertaken. All of us obviously have other essays and assignments to write. I feel like there is a crucial time to get major work done here, and I’m worried that it may slip by.
So what’s my solution?
I have found during the course of my studies, that what works for me in terms of getting motivated and getting things done, is as simple as writing a list or schedule of what needs to be done, and when I should do them. If I tell myself that I’m going to start writing an assignment on such and such a date, at such and such a time (when I know that I’ll otherwise be watching a movie, or browsing the internet) then ninety percent of the time I will actually do it. Planning, setting goals and making an agenda I can work to (however simply I lay this agenda out) is something that I find extremely helpful. In the coming days (make that a Friday evening – if it’s written down, then I’ll do it, see?) I’ll set dates and times that I can set aside just for Media Industries (and for my other courses – can’t be forgetting those!)
As for what I’ve done already – reading. I’ve been reading articles that fellow group members have shared, their thoughts on them and some I’ve found myself. I’ve even contributed some to the drop box folder. Gathering a wealth of relevant articles and information will hopefully lead to more sources. I have been reflecting to some extent on the research journey itself on this blog where I try to post, not a lot, but rather more detailed posts (quality over quantity if I can) but sometimes it’s worth doing a quick post if I find something interesting/relevant and don’t have a lot of time. A lot of the posts that I have at the moment were when I was trying to figure out what I was interested in, and I even did a post on the ‘research journey‘ Our group has set up a shared blog where we shall be posting our own individual findings. This will make things a lot easier in terms of collating and combining our research, and as James noted, writing in a public space will make us think more about what we’re writing, and how we say it. It will force us, in a way, to write better.
In terms of where I’ve been looking for information? Library databases for a start, and they have been pretty useful. I have a tendency to focus on academic articles, and I’ve been looking for some focusing on The Guardian newspaper if I can, but I’m thinking I will branch out to look for pieces about successful examples of open journalism in general, and I will be possibly examining some statistical analyses comparing where people get their news – how many still buy newspapers as opposed to looking online, and how many people will go for the big news sources, like The Herald Sun or The Age? If a more open model of journalism is the way things are going, how many people still persist with the traditional model etc. Those are some more things I want to know.
I’ve said it already, but one of the reasons I’m looking into this topic is because of it’s relevance. It goes without saying that this report/essay we produce at the end will hopefully be of particular interest to those in the field of journalism itself – students and (maybe) even academics alike. I can’t believe (and anyway, evidence shows) that it is possible for journalism to continue in the same way that it has for the last few decades. There have already been shifts with the advent of the digital age, and hopefully this can provide insight into further changes that will take place. It could also intersect, and here I’m returning to my original and most basic interest, with studies or research into the changing media producer/consumer dynamic. ‘Media Industries’ covers an incredibly broad spectrum, and journalism is a part of that.