TinkerList is applied in many different industries such as podcasting, events, news broadcasting, television,… but also for educational purposes! Therefore, we had a chat with Joe Michalczuk, Program Leader of Journalism at University of Winchester, to find out what that exactly looks like.
So you’re involved at the University of Winchester. What do you exactly do?
So I’m the program leader of journalism, so I look after all about journalism courses for undergraduate students.
And are you also involved in the production industry of television or film?
No, so my background is news journalism. So I had ten years at Sky News, which is a big network over here. And then I worked for ITV for Good Morning Britain. But then I’ve left journalism and now I’m working for the university.
You use TinkerList during your classes, where did that idea come from?
So basically, we have um… It’s a very practical course at Winchester, so we have a weekly ‘news day’. We run the course as if it’s a live operating industry journalism newsroom. And so every week the students put together news programs. There might be radio or podcasts, it might be television. And so we use TinkerList all the time with them: so they use it to plan their stories, they use it for their production meetings, we then use it when we’re doing the news day with scripting, Autocue, checking stories in the system. So it’s integral to how we do journalism now at Winchester.
Is it only used in journalism studies or is it also used in other segments at the university?
So it’s only used- Because it’s such an industry specific piece of software, it’s only journalism students that use it. And it is one of the things that were kind of most proud of, actually, because it really gives us students a chance to work with something that’s some of the really high industry standards. So when they go out into this kind of working world, then they use this kind of cloud based rundown software, which you’ll see more and more media companies using in the UK.
And how are they experiencing the classes?
I mean, I mean, they love it, I must admit! When some of the lec- the teaching staff were first showing TinkerList, Um… It all looked like… It all looked quite complicated. But the 18 year old kids just pick it up straight away and they was around with it and they’ve got no problems. And, you know, the teaching staff got no problems with it now either. But they picked it up straight away. It was incredibly intuitive for them. So, yeah, they love using it.
Yeah. And how are the classes structured exactly? Are there different modules?
As part of our undergraduate degrees we have sports journalism, music journalism, entertainment journalism, just normal journalism; Um… And all of those students come into the same group on our news days. So we run it very much like um… like you would any sort of news network. So you have showbizz reporters, and sports reporters with politics reporters,… And they all use TinkerList, they all build a program together.
We have a weekly program, but the students will use it more than once a week because they will be working on their stories throughout the week. So that’d be building their items and their scripts and we have a news conference on a Monday as well where we go through the running order of the show, which is on a Tuesday. So we use TinkerList as a group on a Monday as well.
Mm-Hmm. Do you just drop them in Tinkerlist and let them experiment?
Yeah, no. So we… We have an initial training session, but after that we’ve just dropped them in at the deep end. So some students might be working on the script for the program. Other people might be looking at the running order and the different items, so ‘VT’, ‘ULAY’, ‘GV’,… Yeah, they just use it as if we would in the industry. We try and replicate industry practice at all occasions. So we try not to do ‘traditional teaching’ and say: “This week we’re doing Autocue”; we’re trying to use it like we would when they eventually go and get jobs.
Yeah, yeah. Is it pretty straightforward? User-friendly?
Yeah, I mean, we’ve genuinely had no problems with it whatsoever. It’s incredibly intuitive, and it’s also easy to rectify mistakes when they happen. So if you delete something by mistake or you want to go back and check an earlier version of a script, they can do that really easily. So we’ve had no problems picking up at all. And the fact that it’s cloud based has been fantastic for us because it means that if students on location or if they’ve had to isolate due to COVID or or whatever else, they can still participate in the session and they can do it from home or another part of campus, So that’s been an absolute godsend in the last year or so.
Do they -and do you- see potential long-term? As in: do you think that TinkerList is sufficiently integrated in the UK so that the students will definitely use it in their professional lives?
Yeah, I mean um… So when I was working at Sky News, we used iNEWS, which has been around for a long time. But the BBC, which is the AMPS. But all of these programs are quite- You have to be sort of IN the newsroom, or you have to have a laptop that has that software loaded on. There’s been a new network that’s just launched over here called ‘GB News’ and they’ve gone to a cloud based rundown software system. And I think Sky have it as well. So I think it’s the obvious way the industry is going.
I think it’s a great market for TinkerList in the UK. Cus I’m certain you guys are massive on the continent and in Belgium and Holland but… UK is this untapped market and we hope to be playing a very small part in hopefully getting more TinkerList over here!
Yeah, hopefully. Fingers crossed.
And did you teach something else before us? Or were there other systems
that have been taught?
So before TinkerList we were using Microsoft Word and printing out everything out on paper and using cue cards… It was very convoluted and very difficult. And so, yeah… TinkerList literally transformed the way we do journalism here at Winchester. Night and day to how we used to… It’s been fantastic for us.
Mm-Hmm. What was the biggest motivation? To be… more ecological?
Yeah. I mean, I could say it was for “Save the planet”, but I think everyone got fed up with sticking and gluing it. (laughs)
And just things getting lost! And as soon as you add printers into the mix like… it can just go wrong. Print is just: “Always go wrong” from my experience. So being able to have something on a tablet or laptop.. It’s just been a game changer. And just to be able to… really replicate the industry practice of changing programs as they happen. So if a presenter is going through the autocue and they don’t like the way it is scripted, we can just change it. Or if something breaks while we’re on air, we can just change the running order and change the scripts.
So everyone’s updated yeah.
Yeah, it’s just having that flexibility to to do that kind of thing has been amazing.
Alright! Short but powerful interview (laughs) Keep us posted about anything that we
can help you with.