Induction to Media Practice

As a part of Media and Communications study, the Induction to Media Practice Course is production-based, allowing students to graduate from the programme with a portfolio to present to potential employers in the future. The course includes journalism, Television, Photography, Radio, Illustration, Scriptwriting with Prose Writing and Animation. Among those courses, Television and journalism interest me more, because TV Journalism is exactly what I want to do in my future career.

In the following of this paper, I will discuss all the work we have done throughout all the induction courses and analyse the key skills I have acquired. Then I will evaluate how I would like to develop television production and journalism to a more advanced level. The course of journalism provides a brief introduction to the conventions of journalism and an introduction to basic skills of being a professional journalist. At the beginning, the course mainly focuses on the understanding of questioning and listening. Students are separated into two groups. One group of students act as reporters and the other as players.

Based on basic facts provided respectively, the reporters are supposed to find as more information as they can by questioning the players, in order to write and file a story to meet the news deadline. On the other hand, the plays must answer questions according to the details they have been given, but they do not answer more unless reporters asked, otherwise, it would be too easy for reporters to challenge the questioning skills. During the playing of the ‘game’, some reporters asked too many unconcerned questions and caused incorrect understanding of the whole story.

In another word, they did not gather the main point of the event, so that they could not write a satisfied report later on. More seriously, some reporters fabricated part of the plots and it did not match the basic facts at all. Therefore, being reporters, it is extremely important to ask key questions and listen to the players very carefully from the beginning, then grab the key point of the whole event. Furthermore, reporters have to respect the fact of the event and take responsibility of what they tell and write. Fairy tale is always beautiful, but it is not true!

News reporting is the learning point next. Students are divided into several groups and each group have a selected news topic for interviewing people. Once a group has gathered enough views from different interviewees, they will write a report, containing the general background of the news and various opinions of the concerned topic from those interviewees. After practice, we have learned basic skills of interviewing people, gathering information, recording the views of interviewees and how to write all the information gathered.

We need to be aware of the news topic we select; think about whether it is interesting or important enough to grab viewers. Moreover, writing style is also a key point to improve news reporting, it would still be a boring story if you have done every step right but failed to write it well. After the fundamental learning of journalism, I found that all the skills and concept I have grasped would be helpful and useful for my further TV Journalism study. However, the course amphasize journalism only, has no linking skills and concept between television and journalism.

But the skills of interviewing, news gathering, reporting and so on, would still service to my career in the future in aspect of journalism. During the course of Television, we are firstly introduced the principle of operating a video camera, based on that, then we learn higher skills on shot formats, camera angles and sound in relation to performance and the involvement of the viewer as well as sequencing. Until having no question about using the camera anymore, we work in groups to create a short drama and complete the shooting of piece about the created drama by the end of the first day.

The following work is to use computer to edit the shooting of piece taken last time, by adding music and text, finally complete a short drama for presentation to the whole class. How to use a camera and understand the importance, in visual storytelling, of the selective use of shot formats, camera angles, sound in relation to performance and sequencing is one of the key skills this course provides. It is crucial because a good structured story can be defective if the shot formats or camera angles used unsuitably. Another key skill is representation of the drama.

The meaning of the drama has to be perceived by its viewers, if no one can understand what you are trying to represent, your work can be a completely failure, then you have to reconsider the content of your story and the way you express your idea. Therefore, creating a clear and significant idea is what we must think about from the very beginning of making a drama and any story based video or programme. Finally, teamwork is also an essential skill we need to learn as doing television production. Nobody is able to complete a film on its own, even a short drama, you still need cooperation with other people.

However, during making drama in the course of Television, there were unnecessary arguments between team mates sometimes, in such a case, the assessment of the drama could be delay or even stopped. Thus, agreement is a critical part of working with other people. Since I would like to obtain a career in TV journalism, television production is requisite. During the study of the course of Television, I have learned useful skills such as camera operating and representation of meaning. Moreover, I also realised that how important teamwork was.

But throughout the study, documentary making was absent, which plays an important role in TV journalism. Radio production introduces a basic radio feature production and appropriate techniques, such as research, actuality recording and scriptwriting. It also teaches us to work with other students. Firstly, we were assigned to do individual works. For example, a whole radio program consists of many parts-music, news reporting, forecast, showbiz, etc. And news reporting also contains actuality recording as well as reporters and news gathering.

All the works needed to be done individually first, then after cooperation and combination, a completed radio program was created. Every single part of it was important, imagine how a radio program would be like if there was no music transition at all. Secondly, in the following week, all the individual works and preparation were combined and mixed by computer editing, and we could finally made a ‘live’ radio program in the studio. In general, teamwork in radio production was particularly significant. The whole program could not be done if even a very tiny part was absent.

It required us to share the ideas and information, and cooperate all the time. Once again, I have experienced how teamwork works and how important it would bring us to complete a media production. The future working opportunity of the course could be radio programme maker or producer. But further study is needed, such as variety of production skills, interpersonal skills and organisational skills. Animation allows us to produce a brief piece of animation, developed from initial concept and taken through to a polished production. After being separated into groups, all the members of each group worked together.

The first step is to create a uniform concept, which was the meaning and message the group will represent. This is the same to making the drama, the representation of your animation must be easily perceived by its viewers. Otherwise, even your images or your sounds are excellent, viewers can hardly understand what you are trying to say, your whole work on this will be a failure. Learning animation could have a career in advertising industry, which is “the nonpersonal communication of information usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature about products, services or ideas by identified sponsors through the various media”. Bovee, 1992, p. 7)

A short video represents significant and impressive meaning. The course trained me once again, using a clear, meaningful idea to represent the concept of the work, and strengthened my skill of representation for the career and further study of television production. Illustration requires us to make a small portfolio of diverse artwork, which could be a picture or an image with text. After being introduced the importance of brain-storming, in the development of ideas and a couple of training of image-making, we start to do illustration for a newspaper.

The key skill of illustration is to extract from the written word and create image to develop a visual concept. As we have already known from Television and Animation, representation of concept is important. Once you create a concept that few people can understand or your image is not attractive enough to grab viewers, then you need to keep developing your drawing skills and the presentation of concept. There are many fields we could do illustration for, contemporary magazine and book for example. Therefore, the career for illustration could be working for magazine or publications.

Illustration can be done individually, thus, there will be not argument to interrupt your work. But, you have to think more carefully since no one shares your opinion, make sure viewers understand your idea and extract the essence of the original content. The course of Photography contains camera use, lighting and printing, gives chances to develop basic skills and knowledge to construction and production of photographic images. Camera use is extremely important, it is the same principle as camera use in Television production. Incorrect use of camera would probably cause absolutely no meaning of the picture.

Meanwhile, printing affects the quality of pictures too. Be aware of taking and developing the films, both key skills can be vital. Camera use provides me opportunity to practise understanding of the importance of selective use of camera angles, but compare with video, films do not need to be edited afterwards, so we do not have to think about sequencing while taking a photo. As a photographer, working area is also wide. It can be advertising, book, magazine etc. because pictures are required anywhere in the media industry except Radio production.

However, there are still many disadvantages exist. Images, pictures are not movable and neither have sound. Compare to video on the television, they are possibly less attractive to audiences and views. Finally, Scriptwriting with Prose writing teaches us how to write script and prose for film, TV drama or radio play with creative thinking. Creativity is the key point of being a scriptwriter. Let’s think about the most tedious movie you have seen before, how horrendous it is if a scriptwriter lacks creativity! This course helps me to understand the importance of being creative.

In the further study of TV journalism, particularly as doing TV production or programmes, I would use more imaginative thinking to make the work more interesting. But creativity has a range, it is yours not others after all. So, creative thoughts have to be understood by other people, by viewers and audience. In conclusion, the Induction to Media Practice Course covers almost all the areas of media practice. After a brief study of all, I have grasped the fundamental skills of each field and understand most of the key skills and their significance to my further study.