Stories and Streams
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Stories and Streams

Teaching collaborative journalism with peer to peer learning

About the Book

Collaborative methods are being increasingly used within the news industry, from Paul Lewis’s investigative work at The Guardian to Neal Mann’s field reporting for Sky, the Farmers’ Weekly team’s coverage of foot and mouth, and Andy Carvin’s coverage of the Arab Spring at NPR. This ebook has been created to support journalism students and tutors in exploring collaborative journalism methods.

The book is based on a pilot project called ‘Stories & Streams’ which first ran at Birmingham City University in the 2011-12 academic year. This approach, then, builds on real teaching and learning experiences. The intention is to continue to update this book based on subsequent classes using the method and others' experience with the same methods. For more background you can find a brief project report at the ADM-HEA Networks Magazine with a fuller report forthcoming in a HEA publication on collaborative learning. You can also find a post about the background on the Online Journalism Blog. The three main findings were:

  • Students produce work that is more distinctive, succeeding in breaking away from the ‘churnalism’ that had characterised previous cohort’s efforts; work is now original, unique and in-depth.
  • The use of stream workshops, rather than whole class lectures, appeared to be successful in generating more activity in the students than we might normally expect.
  • The approach enabled students to develop transferrable and soft skills; research suggests that these skills, which are hard to teach.

About the Author

Paul Bradshaw
Paul Bradshaw

Paul Bradshaw runs the MA in Data Journalism and the MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism at Birmingham City University, where he is an associate professor. He publishes the Online Journalism Blog, and is the founder of investigative journalism website HelpMeInvestigate. He has written for the Guardian and Telegraph’s data blogs,, Press Gazette, InPublishing, Nieman Reports and the Poynter Institute in the US. Formerly Visiting Professor at City University’s School of Journalism in London, He is the author of the Online Journalism Handbook, now in its second edition, Magazine Editing (3rd Edition) with John Morrish and Mobile-First Journalism with Steve Hill. Other books which Bradshaw has contributed to include Investigative Journalism (second edition), Web Journalism: A New Form of Citizenship; and Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives.

His books on Leanpub include Scraping for JournalistsFinding Stories in Spreadsheets, the Data Journalism Heist, Snapchat for Journalists, and 8000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way.

Bradshaw has been listed in’s list of the leading innovators in journalism and media and Poynter’s most influential people in social media. In 2010, he was shortlisted for Multimedia Publisher of the Year. In 2016 he was part of a team that won the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards.

In addition to teaching and writing, Paul acts as a consultant and trainer to a number of organisations on social media and data journalism. You can find him on Twitter @paulbradshaw

Table of Contents

  • About this ebook
  • Research context
  • Using this book? Please share your experiences of teaching collaborative journalism
  • Stories and Streams - a brief explanation
  • Collaborative journalism - what and why?
  • Articles and video on collaborative journalists
  • Peer-to-peer learning: the student experience
  • 1. Organising a collaborative journalism project: from issues to stories, and ingredients
  • Organising the class: facilitating peer-based learning
  • 2. Roles in the team: moving from churnalism to depth
  • The Editor (E)
  • The Community Manager (CM)
  • The Data Journalist (DJ)
  • The Multimedia Journalist (MM)
  • The Network Aggregator (NA)
  • Resources on newsroom organisation
  • 3. Using the Help Me Investigate network
  • 4. Managing workflow
  • Publish regular pieces that come together in a larger single story
  • Set aside time to pull the parts together into a narrative
  • Create ‘sprints’ to maintain momentum
  • Prepare recipes for investigations
  • A sample recipe:
  • 5. Teaching skills
  • Teaching community management
  • Teaching project management (the editor role)
  • Teaching network journalism
  • Teaching data journalism
  • Teaching multimedia journalism
  • Assessing collaborative journalism
  • Weighting
  • Appendix A: key resources in full
  • Roles in a team: moving from churnalism to depth
  • The Editor (ED)
  • The Community Manager (CM)
  • The Data Journalist (DJ)
  • The Multimedia Journalist (MMJ)
  • The Network Aggregator (NA)
  • Publish regular pieces that come together in a larger story
  • 7 ways to follow a field you want to investigate
  • 1. Prepackaged news
  • 2. Corridors of power
  • 3. Events
  • 4. Reluctant disclosures
  • 5. Reports, research and consultations
  • 6. Affected communities
  • 7. Experts and observers
  • 1. Know where the communities are
  • 2. Look for problems to solve
  • 3. Be interested – listen and ask questions
  • 4. Create content out of the process of discovery
  • 5. Link, retweet, attribute and comment
  • 6. Read about community management
  • 1: Brainstorm data that might be relevant to your investigation or field
  • 2. Learn advanced techniques to obtain that data
  • 3. Pull out the parts of data relevant to your field/investigation
  • 4. Add value to the data
  • 5. Communicate the story in the data
  • 1. Write ‘news that I can use’
  • 2. End your posts with a baton that others can pick up
  • 3. Create momentum by posting small things, often, as you move towards your target
  • Step 1: Look for multimedia opportunities in your journalism
  • Step 2: Plan and practise
  • Step 3: Improve the technical side with an understanding of principles
  • Step 4: Start simple, and go from there

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