Bob’s eye view of AMPA 2.

Verily I tell you there is a way.
So the second AMPA get together has happened and those of us who were there will (I hope) agree it was interesting and worthwhile. I wanted, though, to share a couple of thoughts before the weight of work or the sand of summer beaches covers our heads and AMPA slips slowly down the ‘to do’ pile.
In her introduction Professor Diane Kemp referred to the meeting being not so much a conference as an occasion to evangelise on the place and power of practice in media teaching. On reflection there was something of an air of the evangelical about the day – not just because we weren’t even twice as many as the Apostles gathered in an upper room – but in the way we finished by setting out what we will each do to take our message into the world.
So what of the thought-provoking out of body appearance of Richard Horsman questioning the idea of universities as the place for teaching journalism? (See his blog on this site). Do we cast him in the role of Doubting Thomas? I think not. I’d prefer to see his contribution as more Pauline….Richard’s letter to the community at AMPA or 1 Richard to the Academics. I say this because I think there is a great deal in what he said to set us thinking about how we approach not just journalism but media/film/production teaching in future to reflect fully the important part we think practice plays in that teaching.
Richard is right that the academic year, timetables, term dates, modules and so on can hamper what it is we really want to do. Add to those ‘snags’ the fact that we are might even be working with students following different routes and the hurdles might seem insurmountable.
At BCU, where I work, we have been thinking about how we might create a news hub. The vision is a single multi-platform, outward-facing news operation run by students with undergraduates, postgrads, print and online types, those on TV and radio courses all working together. It sounds great but I’m sure you’re already asking how you can teach across cohorts and courses, where assessments fit in and (the big one) who has editorial oversight and responsibility? They’re the questions we’re asking along with how do we timetable that activity and, oh yes, where might we find space for it?
You won’t be surprised to learn that we don’t have the answers. (If you do we’d love to hear from you). The point is that our thinking is moving in that direction and I’ll bet we are not alone. As AMPA we talk about how we are proud of our practice and professionalism. Surely it’s not beyond us to shake up the system.

Bob Calver.

Birmingham School of Media.


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