Friday, October 17, 2008

Theme of first year

It is with much strain, annoyance, and irritation that I write another academic submission on a topic related to first-year. It is with no other subject except journ 1 that I find myself continuously faced with the seemingly joyful topic of first year life and experiences. Why is there so much emphasis on this topic? I can only presume that the journ lecturers are simply trying to ease the strain of the first year work load by relating easy topics that require little effort in terms of research and interviewing. If this is indeed the motivation behind the topic choice then one can more readily overlook the profound frustration when confronted with a new assignment that invariably requires a database of first year knowledge.

Having been a first year more than once I can confidently say that I have more than enough experience when it comes to any form of first year knowledge and appreciation. I previously studied at UP for two years and am now obviously first year once again at Rhodes. First year is an experience that tickles you only once. Afterwards you realise that your life is not as amazingly awesome as you originally thought and that varsity requires much more work and effort than you cared to imagine. Perhaps my having studied before has spoiled the theme of first year beyond compare. Indeed it is spoiled beyond compare. There is also a possibility that my fellow first years might find the theme rather interesting and insightful, due to it being a new experience.

Regardless of all this I still find great difficulty in understanding how this theme could be chosen not only as a theme upon which to write but also as a potential material source to further our theoretical and practical journalistic skills. I would expect a good journalist to have the capacity to milk information out of any data vessel, especially such vessels that do not want any information to be milked, or leaked. A journalist who has not mastered the skill of acquiring information of various kinds cannot be a good journalist. Journ 1 students are not required to practically acquire information for news purposes and are therefore not maximising their chances at becoming good journalists. Asking first years to write about first years is no challenge. It does not require us to debunk a scenario nor pit our wits to the challenge of information. It leaves us as journalists with no chance of determining what is news-worthy and apply our spoon-fed news values. First year journalism students cannot be expected to master skills that they are not adequately given a chance to practice. Rather present us with a challenge. Give us a word count and a deadline and have no mercy with either, but spare us the curfew on themes.


Daemon said...

Hey Quinn
I sympathise with what you as most of what you say makes sense. You show a great desire for something which requires more effort from you. But, as you stated this is not your first experience as a first year. I agree that our research could have been broader, but our course does allow for us to work beyond first years, it’s just not demanded of us. I think this is better because the bulk of us are just first years, and for the first time. We are still getting used to university life and settling in to the changes we’ve had to experience. Focussing on first years helps introduce us to the world of journalism at a sort of gradual pace rather than just dumping us in the deep end. Seen as this is actually your third year at a university, you are much more used to university life and the tasks of it than the rest of ‘us first years’. Whereas this might be too simple and non-intellectually challenging to you, it isn’t the same for ‘us’. So, maybe you should keep in mind that you have an advantage on the rest of ‘us’ JMS1 students and try to be more understanding.

Skater K said...

Hey Quinn!

I just finished reading your opinion piece on the theme of first year journalism at Rhodes. I must agree with your sentiments that journalism students need to acquire the skills to research different projects. However I must disagree with your logos. The idea that the theme of first year is not a useful topic is something that I do not agree with. I can understand that you may feel limited to this one topic but I feel that this topic is dealing with issues that we are facing this year. The jump from school to university is a serious one and therefore I think it is useful to discuss first year. We have many more years in Journ (hopefully) to engage in a broader field of topics. Thanks for that interesting point of view you have some valid points, keep on keeping on!

Cheerz K-dawg