“My name is Ithu and I’m a closet couch potato”. That’s my confession, and in my closet it should remain. For the duration of your time at this post, you will get a sneak peak into this closet… if you dare. To be completely fair to myself, I must mention that I am not the conventional couch potato. The couch is my bed, the television is my laptop and the bag of popcorn is usually Kellogg’s Coco Pops. Nonetheless, I do believe that I display the typically lazy tendencies of a couch potato. You can therefore imagine how pleased I was to learn that the subject matter of our JMS1 fourth term coursework was blogging. Elation! Good times ahead! How demanding could a course on blogging possibly be? … I was soon to find out.
A weblog, the internet told me, is a personal online journal that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption. Having had several journals in my life, I was confident that this would be enjoyable, and be more like play than it would be like work. Apparently I underestimated one part of the blog definition – “frequently updated” – and found that it takes more than posting necessary assignments once a week to produce a gobsmackingly amazing blog. And so the rollercoaster ride began.
Team work works! I realised this under-estimated universal truth within the first two weeks of my term as a frequent blogger. I suppose that this is my opinion because I was working with an awesome group of young journalists. Being all females, we were simply destined to succeed. Although we had all grown somewhat accustomed to working individually, our attitudes towards the subject matter helped us help each other to enjoy the work. This attitude was one of overwhelming excitement. There is something about new media that sets young minds alight with the fiery idea of limitless possibilities, which is exactly what the internet offers.
The lounging ladies that made up “Confessions of a Couch Potato” were Raisa, Karabo, Farren and me. Our ability to evenly delegate tasks and reach consensus on important debates contributed positively to the group morale and improved the ultimate product of our blog. Our story ideas were obviously all based on the guidelines given to us in our assignment instructions. We were still able to be creative in sprucing and spicing up our blog. The concept of couch potatoes sprouted from our mandate to produce a friendly, approachable blog that first years would find easy to relate to. And we all know that it doesn’t get much lazier than a first year!
Blogging falls in right there with citizen journalism. It is highly criticised and has gained much criticism from media actors who don’t consider it worthy of being labelled as a branch of journalism. I nevertheless believe that it is a wonderful form of liberalistic journalism. Blogging definitely awards the author more freedom than writing in a printed publication would. I don’t think that blogs should be placed in similar sub-categories as newspapers and magazines, simply because blogging is about the personal opinions of an author, whether biased or not, and not about hard news and factual reporting. As a result, we were given the freedom and flexibility to experiment with a relaxed form of writing that isn’t confined to the rigid structures of the JMS Style Guide. In addition to this, the topic given to us (Surviving First Year) could be handled in so many ways and addressed from so many different angles that compiling assignments was not impossibly challenging.
My favourite assignment was the profile article. For reasons unknown to earthly creatures, I enjoy interviewing people and retelling their stories through my eyes. The sources I encountered through these interviews were generally approachable and co-operative. I believe that I have developed a certain level of journalistic ability during this course that has enabled me to find tremendous ease in conducting various forms of research. It is in this manner that I feel I have most grown as a producer of media.
The nature of technology and the internet is such that there are seldom boundaries, and restrictions are minimal. For this reason, the group members may have often felt that there was something more that could be done. More done to make the blog look attractive, more widgets added, more pictures and videos incorporated with the stories, more posts written! Alas, we could not achieve it all, but we certainly put in our best efforts.
All in all, my experiences as a young blogging journalist have been without a moment of boredom. There was indeed a lot of work to be done, especially for a self-confessed couch potato such as myself, but it was eventually all worth it. I would rate my personal growth on a scale of one to ten as a seven. Now that that’s all over with, where’s the remote again?