Happily, however, there is still some very good work being produced by journalism graduates, as I discovered yesterday evening at the private view of UCA Farnham’s graduate show.
Adam Leveridge – who I persuaded to pose, probably against his better judgement, next to his final year project here – produced a nice piece on the competitive psychology of Formula 1 racing.
As well as phoning New Zealand to interview Formula 1 neuroscientist Kerry Spackman, Adam also snagged some quotes from UK racing legend Stirling Moss and made the most of his work experience at Autosport to blag some live action shots from an official F1 photographer.
It’s a sound basis for a feature, it’s well-written and has a nice solid layout. I was also pleased to see that, like several of the other strong pieces here, the copy was pretty clean. (Yes – a good sub would have had something to work on to clean up the style, but I’ve seen worse – even on the published page).
I also really liked this footie-based feature on Newcastle United manager Alan Shearer by Matt Burton. Now, I have absolutely zero interest in football as a sport, but Matt’s piece was well-written with a sense of authority – and he also made the layout work really well. It’s a solid, commercial piece of work, and he clearly has a strong eye for design and detail.
When I first encountered UCA’s journalism course, I was a bit suspicious of its stress on students completing a project that required them to, in effect, act as everything from art director to sub editor. I thought there was a danger that undergraduate journalism students would spend too much time finicking with things like typography and not spend enough time worrying about things like, well, writing clear prose.
I still think that’s worth being aware of. It’s far too easy for students to get bogged down in the minutiae of choosing background colours and forget about the big picture of their work.
But in the context of today’s rapidly changing and consolidating media, journalism graduates will be forced to widen their skills base. Just being able to write, even well, isn’t enough these days. Layout, sub-editing, and now digital skills are all vital to ensure they are in with a chance to earn a reasonable living in the media’s increasingly cut-throat world.
F1 fan Adam Leveridge has already got his business cards printed. On them he claims to be a journalist already. On this basis I’d say he wasn’t far wrong…