On first arriving at Rhodes I was completely nervous. Hearing just how difficult Journalism was didn’t help. I was terrified it would all be too much for me, that I would succumb to the pressures of university life. I faced many difficulties, but I ‘survived first year’ and hope to be back next year…

Being away from home for the first time was difficult. The first day after my parents left found me staring at the ceiling of my little res room, tears in my eyes. I called my parents and was encouraged to be strong. I then made friends and found university sweeter than I had expected. That was until lectures began and work started piling on. At times things were so intense I thought I wouldn’t make it and found myself breaking down and feeling depressed a lot of the time. But, by God’s grace I somehow managed to move on. I survived Rhodes, made it to fourth term and was lucky enough to encounter the world of blogging.

This term’s work was quite different to what we had done previously in JMS1 – it was the most practical course we had done. The first term’s course was quite practical, but it had not involved so much interaction with different technologies and new media. On first hearing about the blogging course I was excited, I couldn’t wait to get started. Once we began however, I was scared. Technology and I have never been friends, and now I was expected to work with all this ‘new advanced’ technology – it was just a bit too much for me. It was even worse when I realised that it was to be group work. I would be able to get help from a group member with my lack of ‘techno-savvyness’, but I generally dislike working in groups. I had to get over that though as I had no choice in the matter. And as the term progressed, I wasn’t always very happy with the group, but we learnt to work together – and even when we didn’t – we did have fun, especially with the photo comic. I still don’t particularly like group work, but I am able to work in a group.

The character of our blog was focussed mainly on relationships, this was a little stifling as to what I could write about, but I managed to incorporate what I wanted to blog about into our blog character. For example, I wanted to write about the ABSA Currie Cup semi-finals as I’m a big rugby fan and thought it interesting. So I viewed how boys and girls relate to sport and how boys generally feel about going out (to a bar) and watching a match with their girlfriends’, and then mentioned the semi-finals in passing. However, this couldn’t be done with all topics. Most of my story ideas were based on my individual thoughts and feelings, and also from my friends. And also things I had heard from others which I thought was interesting and relevant.

At group meetings we all didn’t agree on everything. One such being the character of our blog, relationships, which I found limiting, but we worked on a majority voting system and I was outnumbered. However, I managed to work with our blog even though it wasn’t what I had had in mind. There were other times when I was happy with decisions made but others weren’t. Meetings with our tutor were good, she always assisted and helped us better understand the tasks.

I would evaluate this course as an eight. Before doing this course I knew only the mere basics of dealing with technology, but am now able to do much more, such as create slideshows on a blog and save pictures as jpegs. I have learnt how to write for new media productions, especially media viewed by the public. It has helped me get a feel of what it would be like to produce journalism which is not only read by the public, but criticised too.

Working with genres was a little confining, but I appreciate it for the structure it forces us to follow – when working in publications in the ‘real’ world one is confined to specific genres and characteristics, so it was good to become aware of this and learn how to deal with it now. Blogging is journalism - you are producing work which is viewed, and criticised by others. Blogging allows a platform for a sort of personal journalism where one is not confined to any specific category, but one may explore various fields which one finds interesting and wishes to share their views on. Blogging is also recognised worldwide and allows ordinary citizens to voice their opinions.

Being confined to the theme of ‘surviving first year’ was at times stifling as our main posts had to centre around first years, thus generating story ideas were not always easy. But, at the same time it was easier to work with because as first years we understand the theme better. It eased us into the course instead of just launching it upon us, and thus made the blogging process easier.

Producing work which could potentially be read by numerous people worldwide did make me careful about most of my research. My posts were mainly personal opinion, but I did ensure that it was based on fact as I did not wish to look like a fool. I searched the internet to verify certain facts and I also conducted interviews (which weren’t always pleasant) to make the stories as relevant as possible. Dealing with different sources was at times difficult but it allowed for various ideas, viewpoints and different angles on topics.

Working on this blog I didn’t face any ethical issues. I did learn how to better organise and express myself within a genre and feel that I can better produce work now. Being confined to genre isn’t always fun, but it does teach you the disciplines of structure and organisation.


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