Chevening lecture: How is new media transforming traditional journalism?

Darathtey Din Social Media Ambassador

On Monday, February 27, some of our Cheveners participated in a lecture on new media and journalism hosted by the University of Sheffield.

The lecture panel comprised of Mark Frankel, Social Media Editor at BBC News; Dr Kate Nash, Director of Student Education and Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Leeds; and Dr Omar Al-Ghazzi, Lecturer in Journalism, Politics and Public Communication at the University of Sheffield.

The lecture was facilitated by Professor Gill Valentine, Vice President and Head of the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Sheffield.

The lecture started with twenty minute presentations from each of the experts followed by a question and answer session. Coming from different fields of expertise, each speaker looked at the topic from different perspectives which I found very interesting.

Dr. Al-Ghazzi commenced the lecture with his talk on 'Social Media and Journalism: Post-Truth or Pre-Lie?' Using examples from the Middle East, he examined the impact that social media had had on activism, terrorism, radicalism, and politics.

He brought a few questions to our attention. Despite what people can see on social media, they still don’t understand what is going on, and the example he used was the war in Syria.

So, what is social media doing exactly? ‘We should not think of social media by itself without considering who its users are – the social science aspect of it,’ said Dr Al-Ghazzi.

Dr Nash took the floor second to present about 'Placing the Audience in the Story – Virtual Reality News'.

She started the presentation by asking for one volunteer to wear a virtual reality headset projecting a solitary confinement experience for nine minutes, before asking the volunteer to describe the experience afterward.

I found VR journalism fascinating, not only because I am a gadget person, but also because this topic hasn’t really come to my attention before. I enjoyed how Dr Nash asked us to critically consider many aspects and the ethical side of immersive journalism.

Dr Kate Nash virtual reality journalism lecture

After nine minutes, our volunteer described her experience as interesting in a way that she felt as if she was a prisoner herself. With that, we were asked to keep two things in mind. Firstly, what are the ethics of putting someone through something like that? Secondly, what does it mean to take others’ experience (for example prisoners) for virtual journalism users to use as a base to establish their own experiences?

Mark Frankel presented last on the BBC’s strategy to reach new audiences and build communities on social media. He illustrated this using examples ranging from BBC Facebook pages, Snapchat, and Instagram stories.

He also highlighted challenges that the BBC faces, such as how can the BBC cover crucial news like politics and still do news that people are interested in? How do you make hard news shareable?

The lecture was concluded by a thought-provoking question and answer session from our scholars to the panel. The evening finished with an engaging networking session some refreshments.

Chevening programme officers at the University of Sheffield