Bruce Gillespie’s teaching fellowship project was an experiment to see if he could use storytelling to help students make stronger connections between theory and practice in his “Reporting and Writing for News” course. He used this experiment as an opportunity to enhance student engagement, which is particularly important in this required first-year course.
To do this, he created a 10-part video series called Brantford Newsroom about a student intern at a local newspaper. Although the character is fictional, the challenges she faces are based on real-world issues, such as racist and sexist news coverage, dwindling newsroom resources, etc. Each episode was accompanied by a digital branching narrative (i.e., choose-your-own-adventure) game in which students assume the role of the intern and consider a range of professional and ethical challenges discussed in class.
“I’m inspired by the important and innovative work that journalists do in a field that changes so rapidly in terms of audience expectations and technology. In response, I try to teach students how to embrace both the uncertainty and the opportunities presented by emerging media tools and platforms,” says Gillespie.
In a survey about the Brantford Newsroom video series and games, the majority of student respondents said they made the course more engaging, helped them strengthen the connection between what they learned in class and what happens in the field, and helped them better understand what it means to work as a journalist.
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