We’ll do books, you do proper discounts

Now that I have pulled my head out of the proverbial that is video editing apps – lord knows why I thought I could box that one of in a few posts! – I have been catching up on my feed reading.

A post that caught my eye was Mindy McAdams hardware requirements for trainee journalists. Just to reinforce Mindy’s caveats here, she does say these are thoughts and maybe better aimed at grad rather than undergrads, but bearing that in mind, here is what she recommends

  • Require them to own a good-quality small point-and-shoot camera that can be used for video (see previous post).
  • Require them to buy a decent microphone and a decent digital audio recorder (I’m talking about a kit that comes to about $200 U.S., total).
  • Require them to have a relatively new laptop computer, either Windows or Mac.

For here a relationship with the tools of the trade is the key here:

I think perhaps we have come to the point when a journalist should have the kind of relationship with his or her computer that a photojournalist has with the camera. It is always with you. It is always ready.

Bryan Murley agrees wholeheartedly and sees echoes of an earlier post of his in which he talks about the value of broadening your palette of skills when it comes to being a journalists

You can use new media to be a great reporter. Or you can use it as a crutch. I happen to think there are a lot of talented student reporters out there who can become great if they’ll understand and use these tools appropriately.

It’s something that I’ve been giving a bit of thought to as I pulling together reading lists for the coming year. It struck me how much money we expect students to pay for books when we know that students will, in general, not read them.

So I’ve been toying with the idea of adding software to my reading list rather than books. Spend 30 pounds on soundslides rather than that journalism history book. You know the one. The one you’ll use for one quote.

We are fast moving in to a world where specialist software is more expensive to purchase and update than a book, yet in education we commit to providing software for students but expect them to pay for books. Is that the wrong way round or is it just me?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating getting rid of books (or journalism history, for that matter) or put the cost of software on the students. I’m saying we train these students to use software as a skill that they will carry with them in to industry so why not get them to invest in it now and, as Mindy suggests, build a relationship with it. The more contextual information – the book learning – is our (educations) addition to the pot and we should support that properly, with well stocked libraries rather than over stocked desktops.

Hardware like cameras and laptops is a sticker issue. There is always the issue of less well-off students and access to kit. But in that respect I think we need more effort by manufacturers to make student discounts more generous on hardware. After all, get them early and they will stick with you.
So, how about it Dell or Apple? We’ll try and get a few more books and create people who will make your products fly, if you produce a 40% student discount on your hardware.

2 Replies to “We’ll do books, you do proper discounts”

  1. I agree with Mindy’s thoughts but I do not feel that higher education courses, particularly the one I’m on, would advocate the purchasing of software over books. Especially considered the pathetic provision of books we have for some modules in our library.

    The financial situation is getting tougher, I had to buy a laptop the other week because my desktop finally packed up and died (managed to revive it enough to get the hard drive off and backed up), but now I have to take on a part-time job as well as my final year studies to finance having this laptop.

    I’ve got a digital camera, with a decent Sony Mic, I’ve got a laptop (with all the right software, but there’s no way it’s proper software because there’s no way I can afford to buy it), but I’ve also got McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists and The Ethical Journalist by Tony Harcup and they are just as essential to my course, just because of the way it’s structured.

  2. So far we have not gotten into requiring students to buy software. We do “require” them to buy books (some of the students don’t do it, and there’s no way we can force them).

    The education pricing for most of the online production software is quite good — except for Photoshop, which is still very expensive. I find that most of the serious students in online design do buy Adobe Studio 8. Where and how they acquire Photoshop … I don;t ask and they don’t tell.

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