IDS student Ying Yu Chen (MADev12) tells why, for her, in order to be a journalist focusing on global issues you should consider studying development.
"What I am learning at IDS is how to wear various critical lens when I look back at some scenes I witnessed, or stories I listened to. I find learning about power especially useful. Power dynamics do not just appear in economic, social, political spheres, they are also entangled with gender, spatial, seasonal, environmental and intersectional dimensions; in other words, it is everywhere."
Alternatively we can revise this power through participatory approaches. Participatory approaches have the potential to provide us with more spaces to deepen the stories. In IDS classes I have learned how to shift the power of the microphone to the interviewees, and flip their positions from question-receivers to story-contributors.
For instance, rather than filming people in our stories, we can let them take photos of their own lives for a few days with cameras. University of Sussex doctoral researcher Tunde Alabi-Hundeyin demonstrates this approach in the Utopia photovoice project.
Speaking their languages, trying to stay at their places for a few days, or just walking around and talking to the people in that area at different times (day and night, or in different seasons for instance) are essential strategies to explore underlying issues behind people’s lives. In addition, collaborating with local journalists or fixers, and possibly co-writing or co-creating the project with them is a key to involving deeper local perspectives. The most important, as Robert Chambers mentions every time in his workshops, is to negotiate enough time and budget to conduct our projects. If the topic matters those editors of media outlets should understand the necessity of time and energy investment. It is never easy, but I hope I keep this in mind on my journalism journey; to primarily sensationalise the issues I draw on, and emphasize the people I care about.
Photo by Andrew Butler on Unsplash
"Studying at IDS provides me with the chance to study with a broad range of people from various backgrounds and countries (this year’s students are from 71 different countries), but perhaps if I was studying journalism it would be easier to target the direct industry and to link up with people who can help my career move forward"
There are limitations to developing my reporting skills by studying development at IDS. For example, report writing is quite different from the academic style, and I have to develop both capabilities at the same time. I also find I need to take more time to understand the fast-moving media industry, in particular to learn how media companies apply multiple techniques to analyse data and present stories. Similarly, understanding how media plays a role in shaping the global landscape in politics, democracy, and international issues is essential, but hasn’t (yet) been highlighted in the development field. Last but not least, I am lacking networking in the media industry. Studying at IDS provides me with the chance to study with a broad range of people from various backgrounds and countries (this year’s students are from 71 different countries), but perhaps if I was studying journalism it would be easier to target the direct industry and to link up with people who can help my career move forward.
"In my case, studying Development Studies helps me build a sense of structural comprehension and deal with the complexities of power. Plus, being aware of these limitations guides the kind of effort I need to make to improve myself"
Studying Journalism would have equipped me with certain journalism skills, and I don’t mean to downplay its impact. However, I think it is fundamental for those who are considering working in this field, to rethink what you really need. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ recipe and there are no shortcuts. In my case, studying Development Studies helps me build a sense of structural comprehension and deal with the complexities of power. Plus, being aware of these limitations guides the kind of effort I need to make to improve myself. I am sharing my experience with you to show the deep connections between Development Studies and Journalism; I hope you find it useful.
Main Image: Journalism by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 ImageCreator
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