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Video courtesy Youtube

Tiger revolutionises Chinese journalism and media education

by Lei Yang

Since the Tiger photo incident in 2007 many journalists in China got a wakeup call. The published pictures of a believed-to-be extinct South China Tiger were proved to be fake. This has caused journalists to verify information more carefully.

Citizen journalists were the first to question the authenticity of the photos and real journalists realized the importance of their non-professional counterparts.

The boom of the citizen journalists provided opportunities for journalism students in China to experience real life journalism.

The web is full of news that has not yet been reported. This could be easily accessed by Chinese journalism students.

Merging forces

At the beginning of the academic year 2008, the Research Institute for cross-media was co-founded by Chengdu Economic Daily and Sichuan University.

The resource sharing between an educational institution and a news agency is a big step forward for Chinese journalism students. For the first time, students can take part in media practice instead of mainly theory based lessons.

The course

Based on each case study, students will be taught where and how to find story ideas, and how to verify the authenticity of the stories posted by the internet citizens.

Students who have chosen this course will be asked to find the story ideas from the websites or online communities.

If the clues provided by the students are newsworthy, the journalists from Chengdu Economic Daily will follow up on the story and report on it.

Skinflint contacted Xi Zeng, The director of News Centre, Chengdu Economic Daily who sees the merger as a good thing.

"This way the newspaper can get much more story ideas and at the same time the students can get the opportunity to cultivate their news sensitivity and get an understanding of the media industry. It’s a win-win strategy for both institutions."

"Since the sensational 'South China tiger photos incident' more and more Chinese media organizations have woken up to the importance of citizen journalists in China."

Xi Zeng thinks that students will get invaluable benefits from working alongside journalists.

"Before this students could write news for school newspapers and take pictures, but their stories were not published in official publications. Through this cooperation with the local newspaper, the initiatives of the students are mobilised."

Students give thumbs up

Jie Zhang, teacher of Literature and Journalism at Sichuan University told Skinflint that students are enjoying the course.

"We've got positive feedback from students for this course. They enjoyed the newsgathering process, which propels them to think innovatively and independently."

Zhang hopes that their students will now be considered for internships at other media organizations.

This kind of program is an exploration in combining teaching and practice and means that journalism students in China can get more opportunity to prepare themselves for the real media world.

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