Edited by Akeem Favor
Around 30 postgraduate journalism students of Newcastle University used this event to take part in an international project with “International Women’s Day” as their focus. On Twitter and on their website, www.popupnewsuk.net, they posted news stories exploring women in society as part of the Pop-Up Newsroom project. The project connects students from universities and organisations in six different countries including India, Holland, Brazil, Armenia, USA and the UK. Newcastle University is so far the only university in the United Kingdom that takes part in the project.
This is the second time that Newcastle University participated in the project. The first edition took place in November 2013 with the topics of austerity, poverty, and deprivation and included universities from the USA, UK, Taiwan and India. By the end of the day, the #livepoverty edition had accumulated around 1/3 million impressions on Twitter and included interactions with organisations and people around the world including the United Nations.
The idea to create an international project was born when teachers from different countries met at a conference and noticed that each university already used Pop-Up as an opportunity for students to report about a topic, explained David Baines, senior lecturer at Newcastle University, journalist, and one of the professors involved with the project for the Newcastle University division.
The students use smartphones to record interviews, take photos, and post the progress of their stories on Twitter. During the day they develop their news pieces, write article or make videos according to the topic they have chosen.
“The project is a new concept of journalism and a valuable learning experience because they can report with the gadgets they already have,” said Baines.
Baines also believes that the project is a great opportunity to learn and understand the complexity of journalism. He hopes to arrange at least one project for the university per year.
Another target of the project is to reach people all over the world and create awareness of women issues. Having the cooperation of different universities has the advantage that different perspectives can be shown and shared at the same time.
The students began working on the project two weeks in advance.
“The project helps us use the knowledge from lectures in practise,” said Yolanda Liu, an international master’s student from China studying at Newcastle University.
“Moreover you feel the pressure to finish a story in a limited amount of time.”
She considers the project as a great and challenging experience. She participated in the project both times.
“I love the project because it helps us forge contacts and improve our skills,” said Akeem Favor, another master’s student at Newcastle University.
Favor was a member of the steering committee that coordinated the efforts of the Newcastle University division of the project. For him this is his second time participating in the project; he also served on the steering committee last year. This time he was responsible for redesigning the UK division’s website.
During the day the students also ran a live show that broadcasted three times and updated the audience with Pop-Up News UK’s current stories. The show not only allowed some students the opportunity to present their research results, but to also focus on how International Woman’s Day was presented in the UK locally and globally.
Even in light of a few minor setbacks, the live show crew showed their dedication and perseverance.
“It’s hard to run a show like this, even if you planned weeks in advance. You can never avoid problems like external or technical issues,” said Carla Fitoiu, one of the live show organisers.
“Then you have to find another way to get a story, but that makes it challenging. The personal feeling is great because you get the impression of having accomplished much at the end of the day.”