The editorial team at HuffPost UK will be giving assignments to undergrad and postgrad journalism students at Birmingham City University (BCU) to offer them a real-life experience of working in a newsroom.
At the same time, it will help students from diverse backgrounds, in particular, to access the media industry through networking.
"Clearly, there is a difference between studying journalism in a classroom and working in the industry, and we want to provide a link to bridge that gap," said Jess Brammar, executive editor, HuffPost UK.
'Disruptive publishing' and ‘journalism innovation’ are amongst existing modules offered by BCU. To help students understand what these buzzwords mean in a real newsroom setting, HuffPost journalists will set challenge briefs that they could themselves encounter in their day-to-day work like, for example, how to engage young audiences throughout the election season.
"The idea is very much to bring realistic newsroom scenarios to students, and to set them tasks that they would be asked to complete in a real-life journalism job."
BCU confirmed modules will continue to be marked through the university board but the journalists involved will offer informal feedback mid- and post-assessment.
"It's crucial that journalism as an academic subject is rooted in the way newsrooms actually operate,” Brammar continued, adding that the partnership will also see HuffPost UK journalists Paul Waugh and Nadine White offer masterclasses, drilling into how they write for news, lifestyle, politics and entertainment.
Amongst the challenges students face is a sense of not belonging amongst industry professionals and an inability to speak to strangers. Other recent mentorship initiatives tackled students' fear of not finding a job post-university.
"It's so important that both the basic skills of story-getting – picking up the phone, working with a source to build their trust, finding fresh angles on a running story – are instilled in new journalists, as well as a sense of the culture of newsrooms and the day-to-day pressures," said Brammar.
"Learning how to pitch stories to editors who make those decisions in real life every day is something that will help BCU students to make the transition into newsrooms after they graduate."
The project also grants work experience placements for both undergrad and postgrad students, plus the potential to commission student journalists for work accepted by the publisher.
Brammar is also hoping that through the scheme, her team of journalists will learn about how to access the younger and student demographics and create compelling content for those audiences.
"The two-way benefit of this relationship is at the heart of what makes it so exciting," she said.
"The way people consume journalism is changing, and many newsrooms have been slow to get ahead of that. To be able to work with young students in this way is a resource that many journalists would kill for. I am so excited to hear about what kind of journalism they are interested in and which stories they want to read and watch."
We are diving deeper into driving diversity in your newsroom at our Newsrewired conference on 27 November at Reuters, in London. Head to newsrewired.com for the full agenda and tickets
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