While much of the nation was in COVID-19 lockdown, QUT journalism students were busy preparing content for their new online magazine, produced via a ‘virtual newsroom’.
Q-KURV is a digital-first, multimedia news and lifestyle publication now available online. It was organised and produced by QUT Journalism students during the first semester of 2020.
QUT Senior Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies Dr Jason Sternberg said 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, has just been published and is 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,” said Dr Sternberg.
“The publication is interactive and features multimedia stories about Brisbane-related arts, business, sports and recreation activities. The first issue includes an insider’s look at Death by Pinball, a marathon pinball event hosted by Netherworld in Fortitude Valley.”
Students Alana Kennedy-Tucker and Caitlin Duan produced the story, Dirty denim is out of fashion, which also 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 isolation conditions made it feel like a more real-world experience than completing an assignment.
“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,” Alana said.
“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.”
Dr 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,” said Dr Sternberg.
“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 80-page publication includes text and video-based stories, along with 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 isolation.
“This provided them with the opportunity to demonstrate resourcefulness, creativity and resilience – qualities that are essential for succeeding as a journalist,” Dr Sternberg said.
“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 added they were surprised how quickly the students picked up the technology.
“They really took this challenge seriously. The lockdown may have actually forced us to be more creative,” Dr Scully said.
“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.”
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 magazine will be made available online in both PDF and multimedia forms. The ultimate aim is to produce a monthly Q-KURV.
Main image: QUT journalism student Alana Kennedy-Tucker at Q-Kurv launch. Photo Dr T.J. Thomson
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