Young people across the south west are telling their own story of London 2012 thanks to two innovative projects that have given them the skills and voice to be ‘citizen journalists’.
The projects form part of the South West #media2012 community an international network that brings together members of the public as citizen journalists to use social media networks to share their experiences, views and thoughts on the Olympics.
Dr Emma Rich, from our Department of Education, has led research activities to explore what and how young people learn as they engage with citizen journalism around the Cultural Olympiad.
The projects give young people the chance to highlight regional experiences of the Games and to find their own voice to bring out stories that do not make mainstream news channels.
In Weymouth, the Olympic venue for Olympic and Paralympic sailing competitions, a group of young people have been blogging and using social media to report on events and topical issues and stories in the run-up to the Games. This weekend they will be reporting live from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing events.
Sports writer David Goldblatt has given them expert training on how to be a citizen journalist, and armed with mobile phones and iPads they are gathering interviews, photographs, and video stories from a dedicated media hub on the seafront.
In Bristol, young people from the City of Bristol College, studying a BTEC Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production, focused on the build-up to the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
They interviewed Paralympic athletes training at the University of Bath, including silver medallist Ben Rushgrove, and made a short film which is set to be screened for the public at Weymouth seafront in the new 360° Dome, as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad by the Sea programme.
The projects were carried out in collaboration with RELAYS (Regional Educational Legacy in Arts and Youth Sport) at the Watershed in Bristol and the City of Bristol College.
Sacha Butterworth, tutor at the City of Bristol College, said: “The students got a great deal out of this project. From a production point of view they realised the pressures of interviewing people with tight work schedules and how to structure a complicated edit.
“More fundamentally they were exposed to disability first hand and felt inspired by the determination and dedication of the Paralympic athletes that they interviewed.”
Dr Rich believes that the project has successfully enabled young people to learn about art, sport and culture in their own locality, as well as furthering our understanding of how people social media can aid learning.
She said: “These projects provide a rich insight into the pedagogical features of new media infrastructure given that the London 2012 Games coincides with scheduled targets set by the Digital Britain report and Race Online 2012 suggesting a new phase of potential engagement, learning and way of reporting made possible by these developments in technology.
“Projects like these examine how social media spaces can provide opportunities to challenge traditional Olympic and Paralympic narratives and function as critical forms of public pedagogy. The young people have developed critical media skills and learnt to think about the Olympics and Paralympics in a different way.”