All UK journalists have been at some point trying to engrave the 16 IPSO Editors' Code of Practice into their memory ahead of media law exams.
It is essential knowledge because most UK newspapers and magazines are regulated by IPSO, the Independent Press Standards Organisations. IPSO also rules over complaints against the UK press and those decisions come down to whether or not a news organisation has abided by these rules. They cover all of the ethical judgement calls that journalists and editors routinely make every day.
For this reason, journalism students up and down the country whip out their McNae's media law book and start mapping out revision diagrams using A4 sheets of paper, sticky notes and highlighter pens.
But what if you popped on a podcast? It might not be a substitute for textbooks but it can help you keep that knowledge locked into your brain.
That was the thinking of Sanny Rudravajhala, a freelance journalist with the BBC and also a student at the University of Salford, doing a Master's in broadcast journalism, alongside a National Qualification in Journalism. He put out a podcast, Journalism Revision: IPSO Editors' Code last year to help others get to grips with the IPSO code.
A 35-year-old husband and father, Rudravajhala received support for his studies from the NCTJ Journalism Diversity Fund. He also spent nine years as a science teacher, with a degree in psychology and a Master’s in sport and performance psychology. But he always aspired to be a journalist since his first football match report, aged 13, for his local paper, the Middleton Guardian.
Rudravajhala is now set on a career change, and part of that ambition is launching a podcast to help other students with their studies. Journalism.co.uk spoke to him via email about the show.
Delighted to say that all 1⃣6⃣ episodes of my podcast series on the @IpsoNews Editors' Code of Practice are done!— Sanny Rudravajhala (@SannyR1985) January 13, 2021
If you want a better understanding of UK print journalism, ESPECIALLY for @NCTJ_news qualifications, then this is for you.#journorequest pic.twitter.com/7NFvx5UARK
What inspired you to create your podcast, Journalism Revision: IPSO Editors' Code?
The thing about press regulation is that on paper, it looks really boring. But when you actually look at the stories behind rulings, they can be fascinating. There were a few things out there but nothing as easily as accessible as a podcast series. So, I figured that if I could put something together, it could fill that gap and also help with my own learning too.
From my time as a teacher, I know that one of the best ways to learn something is to try and teach it to someone else. Having to understand each part of the code well enough to explain it in a way that is, hopefully, interesting helps us all out.
What can listeners expect from the series?
Each episode is a bite-sized amount that, first off, outlines the code and then goes through examples of rulings that either upheld a complaint or were dismissed. By the end of an episode, a picture has been painted that brings the code to life.
I had a bit of a deep dive with my sources but principally the IPSO Editors’ Code Codebook is great. It is quite a sizable document that I would have been put off reading but picking out the best examples in there was my first stop. I also leaned on IPSO’s own podcast to listen to some discussions around the clauses. I added to that with the IPSO and PCC ruling archives to get extra details to help make things more memorable. Added to all that was McNae’s "Essential Media Law", wider press coverage and a little bit of inspiration from Radio 4's 'The Corrections' podcast series too.
What is your advice to students as they go through your episodes?
What I have realised, especially with the exams, is that the scenarios you will face can tally with examples that I have drawn on in the series. So if you have got a bit of an episodic memory like me then I would recommend trying to imagine the scenarios behind the rulings playing out. Having a copy of the code to hand is great too and a cup of tea is always good.
Each episode is so small that I actually would find time to sneak in listening to them whilst I was pottering around the house. Like bonus revision when I am getting dressed or attempting to tidy the bedroom.
On-demand revision in an on-demand world seems like something the modern student can do with.Sanny Rudravajhala
Typically, students will use books, lecture notes and online resources to prepare for their exams. What kind of experience do you think podcasts offer to students as a revision resource?
There is just something about writing notes. You cannot quite replicate it and there is something about engaging with a physical newspaper that gives it that tangible element that makes it feel more real. So I do not think we can ever dispense with that. I made all the notes for the podcast on lined paper with pens and pencil crayons.
But I do think in our busy worlds podcasts help the pushback as our time is eaten away. Learning a new profession takes so much brainpower and energy. You are essentially rewiring your brain. On-demand revision in an on-demand world seems like something the modern student can do with and there is definitely a place for podcasts to help with revision.
Any final advice do you have for students going into their exams?
I am so guilty of overthinking things. I think it comes from skills still being new and not automatic. Before you know it, you can second guess yourself and go down a complete hole with little to show for it.
I am trying to snap out of that and go with my gut instinct in the exams. When the scenario comes up, what immediately jumps out at me as the top line? Chances are, what I have picked is the top line. And perhaps, in the time allowed in the exams, being a perfectionist with these things can take a back seat for a decent copy that is on time.
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