Monday, March 12, 2007

I've seen the future - and it's a lesson for us all

Students at the University of Westminster took a step closer to the the real world on Friday when their new multi-media newsroom was opened by the BBC's director of news Helen Boaden.

It cost £120,000, several years to get off the ground, is possibly the first of its kind and mirrors the sort of newsrooms major publishers are begining to create.
Boaden was clearly impressed as she joined a large group of invited guests to watch a 30-minute broadcast before being asked to perform the only low-tech function of the day - cut a ribbon.

It's an advance of which the university is rightly proud but also one that will massively benefit students. The best part of the event was watching the students doing their stuff on screen, rough-edges and all. Hundreds of hours in lecture theatres and poring over books can never match the sheer doing of the job.

As a visting lecturer at Westminster I'll be watching development closeley, not least to see what we 'experts' can learn and take back to industry. After all, what better guinea pigs that the bright young people we'll all probably end up working for in a few years.

During wine, nibbles and schmoozing afterwards, several people asked me how that prepared to the Telegraph newsroom but I couldn't oblige as I'd left on the eve of the move to Victoria.

The only insights I could offer were that it's a lot noisier than Victoria (I'm told even those breaking in new shoes do so publicly) and the students buy their own coffees on site. From what I hear the cost of a cuppa is considered so dear, there's a constant stream of people in and out of Starbucks at Victoria station.

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