20 Feb 2015 20:05 IST

On the fast track to change journalism

A student at the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), Chennai, excitedly clicked a picture of people watching an online broadcast in the college’s lecture hall.

And then she tweeted it @globalnewsrelay, whose feed ran like a commentary at a sports event. Among the many announcements was an amusing picture of a sign on the London Underground that announced the event called Global News Relay (GNR). The News Relay, named after the track event, streams pre-recorded news shows on a Web site in real time, like a broadcast on television.

The GNR, which was held on March 27, saw 10 colleges and journalism departments from eight countries link up to broadcast 12 hours of content that was streamed online from the University of Salford, UK.

Students of ACJ were the first from India to take part in this global initiative. The project is the brainchild of Sarah Jones, a journalism lecturer at Salford.

In an email interview Jones said: “The idea was to bring student journalists across the world together to create their own rolling news channel. It was a chance for students to explore different methods of storytelling from different countries whilst picking up on best practices. Students often don't have the chance to work in international news at an early stage in their career.”

The relay has journalism departments from America to Australia taking turns to pick up the baton to showcase up to two hours each of pre-recorded content to a global audience.

The participating students complement the online broadcast with social media activity, such as live tweeting, to grab the most eyeballs. The event started with Salford’s broadcast at 9 am GMT onquaysnews.net and ended with the same university closing the last leg of the race at 9 pm GMT.

Devadas Rajaram, professor at ACJ, said: “This enables students from different countries to work together and showcase their cultures, arts and politics on a single online platform.” Ajit Bhaskaran, who teaches TV module here, said: “This is a new means of reaching out to people. You see a convergence of different platforms.”

Rajaram explained: “The main theme is collaborating and turning universities into labs to push the boundaries of journalism.”

Jones said the event was well received and was a learning experience. For instance, she said, students at Salford enjoyed the editorial meetings with students at ACJ via Google hangouts. She added: “We want to expand on this to hold regular editorial meetings for all participants on a Google Hangout basis, similar to how Al Jazeera were operating their Open Editorial. This will ensure greater collaboration and further improve what is produced.”

Jayanth Pamaraju, a student of broadcast journalism and assistant producer of the ACJ segment, said: “Once you go to the world of corporate media, convergence of media and this kind of production may not be possible with tis much freedom. There would be too much pressure.”

Tanveer Gogada, a student of broadcast journalism and producer of the ACJ segment, said almost 30 students from New Media and TV streams at the ACJ spent 10 days to put together almost two hours of content that covered the elections, the Election Commission, and so on.