First published 6 July 2020

While the rest of the nation was in lockdown, Journalism students at Queensland University of Technology were busy preparing content for their new magazine Q-KURV.

Q-KURV is a digital-first, multimedia news and lifestyle publication, which is now available online. Q-KURV was organised and produced by QUT Journalism students during the first semester of 2020. 

The production exercise explored new publishing formulas with the purpose of reconstituting a more sustainable digital-first business model for news media. 

The first of four upstart magazines, Q-KURV Water, was officially published today and is currently available for download on Apple’s iTunes Store

Q-KURV is a news, lifestyle and fashion magazine that draws its content from Brisbane and southeast Queensland. The publication is interactive and features multimedia stories about Brisbane-related arts, business, sports and recreation activities. 

This issue includes an insider’s look at Death by Pinball, a marathon pinball event hosted by Netherworld in Fortitude Valley. 

It also hosts a video fashion show and a conversation with Brisbane indie rock band the Selfish Sons.

Students Alana Kennedy-Tucker and Caitlin Duan produced the story, Dirty denim is out of fashion, which appears in the first issue of Q-KURV. Their work combines an investigation into the environmental damage caused by manufacturing a wardrobe staple with a video fashion show featuring op-shop pieces.

Alana said creating Q-KURV under lockdown “felt like we were working in a job scenario, more than just for an assignment”.  

“It’s extremely important to be a multimedia journalist,” Alana said. 

“This is, I think, where the future of journalism is headed, where we’ll be working in multiple locations and using multiple technologies to bring things together. It allowed people from both regional areas and people in the city to collaborate and create something that sounded like one voice.

“I think this opportunity as a group of young people interested in journalism allowed us to look into our community and share stories from Brisbane that don’t usually get covered.”

QUT Senior Lecturer Dr Jason Sternberg said Q-KURV’s production was an example of the university’s commitment to educating acclaimed, future-focussed communicators. 

“Whether it be the Summer bushfires, or COVID-19, professional communicators from all sectors have played a critical role in providing the public with information in 2020. They have educated, informed, and in some cases, they’ve helped save lives,” Dr Sternberg said.   

“QUT is committed to the students who will perform these essential jobs in the future, inspiring them to tell engaging stories that help make the world a better place.”

The publication runs 80-pages, and includes examples of text and video-based stories. There are also photo essays, an audio profile, animations, and at least one music video. 

Dr Sternberg and former CNN journalist and journalism educator Dr Michael Scully worked with 68 QUT undergraduates enrolled in a second-year journalism class CJB202: Production Journalism. 

Dr Sternberg said the students were challenged to produce content with whatever technology was available to them in lockdown. 

“This provided them with the opportunity to demonstrate resourcefulness, creativity and resilience – qualities that are essential for succeeding as a journalist,” Dr Sternberg said. 
 
“Our aim was to encourage students to think beyond words and pictures and create immersive multimedia experiences, while also respecting the key principles of journalism such as ethical integrity and a commitment to the public.
 
“Mike had produced similar projects in the past with his students in the US, so we knew it could be done. However, the students exceeded our expectations because they knew it was a unique opportunity. How often do you get to launch a digital magazine in the middle of a global pandemic?”

Dr Scully said they were surprised how quickly the students picked up the tech. 

“They really took this challenge seriously. The quarantine may have actually forced us to be more creative,” Dr Scully said. 

“Jason and I believe that the future of journalism is multimedia and we told the students they didn't have to master all the media forms. Instead, we wanted them to appreciate and understand the potential each medium has for storytelling. 

“It's clear that the legacy news community is struggling with the transition into the digital age. We thought we’d try our hand and a digital-first publication searching for a model that might serve the news world.”

While the initial intent of the class was to produce these magazines, this production cycle survived and thrived despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the need for QUT to move all its teaching online. 

It was from this ‘virtual newsroom’ the students conceived, produced, designed and packaged the work. 

“One of the things we had to do was be very on top of messaging online. Using those platforms in a way almost made things faster,” Alana said.

“I could respond from my end and Caitlin could respond from her end and there was no waiting around. 

“That gave us the ability to keep working collaboratively until we felt like we had a very strong piece.”

Three more issues of Q-KURV— which draw their themes from the four elements of air, earth, fire and water—will be presented during the next 100 days. Water is now available for download; Fire will publish on 15 July and Earth and Air will be presented in August and September. 

Each of the four magazines will be made available online in both PDF and multimedia forms. Doctors Sternberg and Scully hope to sustain the production model and continue producing content under the Q-KURV banner on a regular basis. Ultimately, they aspire to publish Q-KURV monthly.