Learning Skills in Journalistic Skepticism while Recognizing Whistleblowers


This paper explains a didactic program of blending provocative teaching method with experiential learning - within the third year of the Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies - University of Wollongong, Australia. There are pedagogical imperatives for developing the professional ‘self’ in respect to citizenship, journalistic values and practice. The challenge is to acknowledge ethics and principles of human rights, while simultaneously embracing the transforming online, open-source Internet technologies. This can be achieved through a learning combination: exposing students to ‘provocative’ counter news, while setting experiential learning assignments to engage volunteer journalism sites and their similarly aligned aspirational values. The approach first acknowledges Chomsky and Herman’s propaganda model of news, then it presents participants with a judicious and provocative news-flow with verifiable, current and yet alternative news - otherwise misrepresented or omitted in mainstream news. Participants are then asked to write and publish news stories of their own, through the Wikimedia Foundation project, Wikinews. In association with regular ‘editor’ volunteers, Wikinews develops students’ news-writing skills, appreciation of editorial processes and respect for accuracy and due-diligence. Exposure to the ‘provocative news-flow’ alerts participants to propaganda and obfuscation, while it assists in identifying actionable news stories. In combination, these processes connect the emerging journalist to a sense of belonging to a professional ‘newsroom’, while providing them challenging and authentic learning. A network of volunteer practitioners, including their student colleagues and their tutor as ‘chief of staff’, may also develop a sustainable pool of future Wikinews contributors and editors.

Author Information
David Blackall, University of Wollongong, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: ECE2014
Stream: Virtual spaces: digital technologies and communications

This paper is part of the ECE2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon