Interested in writing, but ready to try a new medium other than print? Fascinated by the new versions of journalism evolving in podcasts? Want to help spread the word about newsworthy activities in the city of Oberlin? In the Podcasting Oberlin News Winter Term Project twelve students will first learn the historical background of the emerging podcast industry, then how to record and edit stories about people doing cool things to enhance our lives in Oberlin. No prior experience in podcasting or journalism required.
: Jan Cooper, Chair, Department of Rhetoric and Composition
I have been listening to podcasts for over 15 years and have been surprised by how long it’s taken for Oberlin students to get interested in them. In the past three years, however, I’ve noticed a sharp increase in the number of students who either listen avidly to podcasts or are already creating podcasts of their own. A year ago 20 students showed up for a casual lunch event that my department sponsored to get podcasters together, and much of their discussion revolved around how to get started and what equipment to use to get good results.
I have a little training and experience in print journalism and have sponsored the Practicum in Journalism course at Oberlin College for 30 years, advising many students who have gone on to careers in journalism and publishing. I also created the original RHET 120 Journalism Basics course for students who were interested in trying journalism but who had no prior high school or job experience in it. I have not myself ever created a podcast, however, and I plan to explore the specifics of scripting, recording, and editing with the members of this project.
The learning goals for this project are to develop
1. Background knowledge in podcasting as a medium of journalism and its roots in radio
2. The ability to critically listen to podcasts and identify their strengths and weakness in content and technique
3. Skill in journalistic reporting and interviewing and the ethical treatment of sources
4. A sense of what constitutes newsworthiness (as opposed to punditry or public promotion) in a subject for a particular audience
5. Experience in scripting and shaping a story for audio production
In addition to giving students articles on podcasting and examples of podcasting to listen to, I would like to set up at least one skyped meeting in class with an Oberlin alum for each of the first three weeks. This will give students a chance to talk to someone who is professionally involved in the field. I also hope that we will be able to participate in the workshop in oral history recording that Tania Boster and Tamika Nunnelly are planning for the whole campus in January.
Students to be Served
This project can serve any student at Oberlin College or Conservatory. I will be looking for students who are interested in journalism and reporting on the Oberlin community—not campus—events. Students more broadly interested in crafting stories via an audio medium, however, are welcome as well. No prior experience in radio or journalism is required, nor will prior technical experience be needed. We will most likely be learning to use the gear together. I will admit 12 students, as I’d like to have 4 groups of 3 students to cover a range of community stories. Students will be admitted in the order in which they apply for the project on the Winter Term Website.
The most important benefit for students that I foresee is experience in connecting skills in writing and journalism with audio recording and editing. Increasingly journalists are expected to create content for more than one medium, and experience in audio production is a plus for new job applicants in a number of communication fields, as well as journalism.
I would also like this project to benefit the town of Oberlin by creating a means of showcasing some of the fine activities undertaken by its citizens. Oberlin lost its sole local newspaper last January, and while the Elyria Chronicle and Lorain Morning Journal try to cover us, their limited resources can be stretched only so far. This year the Oberlin Review is attempting to expand its coverage of town events as well, but it is not published during Winter Term and understandably devotes much of its attention to campus events. We live in a town that deserves to have its activities better broadcast.
Plan for evaluating student learning
Students’ work will be evaluated on the basis of amount and quality of individual class participation and level of contribution to final group projects. To earn WT credit for the project students must attend all classes and complete all assignments.
There is no fee for this project
Number of Students:
January 3rd - January 29th, 2020