New Student Welcome and Preperation

Dear #IMMJMA student,

If you are reading this, then you have been accepted onto the IMMJMA program. I’m Sharron Lovell, your Programme Leader, and Senior Lecturer for practical modules and I’m really excited to start working with you in September 2017.

This letter outlines some formal information related to your student enrollment and some of the tasks you need to complete to prepare for study in September. It also delivers some advice and material to help you get ready for and to make the most of your year-long study with us. The year will pass quickly, so there is no time to waste!

If you have any questions you are always welcome to email me,

Kind regards,

Sharron Lovell, 

Course Leader, MA in International Multimedia Journalism, Bolton University, UK

Offer and Agreement with the University

If you accept the offer you will enter into an agreement with and enroll with the University of Bolton and Beijing Foreign Studies University. As part of the enrollment and agreement process, you will be asked to carefully read, understand  and adhere to the documents listed below:

  1. The Student Handbook 
  2. The Conditions for Enrolment (
  3. The University’s Statutes and Regulations and Course Fees Policy which can be found at the Student Information – Policy Zone (
  4. The Terms and Conditions below

Term & Conditions

In addition, it is also your responsibility:

  • to act as a responsible member of the University’s community, including treating
  • other members of the community and the public with courtesy and respect.
  • to progress your own academic studies. This will include submitting work when
  • required to do so, self-study, meeting deadlines and attending tutorials, classes, and lectures.
  • to attend all lectures and only to take holidays during holiday periods. As the program is a single year intensive MA all scheduled class sessions are critically important. Students should miss no more than 2 scheduled class sessions each term, students who miss more than this may be forced to re-sit or defer modules. *Charges may be incurred. Please check the program calendar and handbook for scheduled classes.
  • to seek help or raise concerns if you are having difficulty in any area of your academic or pastoral life. Support is available from your tutors.
  • to follow good academic practice, including following the University’s policies on plagiarism, academic integrity in research and conflicts of interest.
  • to ensure that your fees and other charges are paid when they are due.
  • to obtain an appropriate visa if necessary and abide by any visa conditions.

Before accepting your offer you should read the relevant documents listed above.

Preparing for study

There are a number of things you need to do to prepare for study in September. I’m putting things here in order of importance. If you do the first four you’ll be fine. However for those students that have more of free time during the summer, please feel welcome to work your way down the complete list. If you do not already regularly consume international news from quality outlets you will need to start as soon as possible. There’s a lot of information here so I suggest reading one section at a time day by day.

First I have a little advice,

My biggest advice is to immerse yourself in journalism — watch it and read it daily. Outside of news reading, my single biggest piece of advice to you is to make time for your own interests and passions. If you lead an interesting life, you will naturally find interesting stories! As a reporter, you’ll generally find an area to cover, which stems from your personal interests, perhaps it’s a news genre such as economics, sports, education, technology or the environment. Or perhaps it’s a news issue that spans a number of news genres like disability or LGBT issues or migration. Perhaps you love music or animals. Choose an area and get involved — find local and online organizations, join meetings and events. Meet people with similar interests. You’ll also make contacts and connections for your stories this way!

If you are interested in an internship that’s another good idea. Think about what might be a useful experience, once you are on the program we can make some suggestions and see if we have any contacts in your area of interest.

Think about what you want to achieve with your year of study – after all your degree will simply be a piece of paper. That’s important but alone it will not pave the way to your dream job. You should focus on building a portfolio that’s targeted to get you where you want to be. So think about the kind of career or company you ultimately want to work in and channel your work there. Do you want to be a photojournalist? — spend your energy there, go to exhibitions and identify the work of photographers that inspire you, join a local photo club! Do you want to work for nonprofit communications? Get to know the industry, intern and make stories that deal with issues within the area.

Now, before you start diving into the preparatory tasks read the two articles below:

1) I LOVE the advice in the following article – How to be a Journalism Student

2) So you want to be a journalist? First, tell me what is a journalist? And what is journalism for? We’ll be debating these questions in class. See the following articles:


REQUIRED TASK 1Begin or maintain a one-hour a day news habit (at least).

Immerse yourself. Read, watch and listen to the news. Consume both hard news and feature stories. Pay special attention to multimedia journalism. To make things easier we have collated a page of multimedia journalism as well as some international and domestic news outlets for you to choose from. Be sure to view a range we will be discussing your news habits in class in the first weeks. If you read slowly then it’s better to take your time and read less but more deeply rather than trying to read too many things each day without really understanding them – the key is ONE HOUR A DAY.

This is the single main thing you should do to prepare for your study. Students who do not develop a regular quality news reading habit will always struggle on the program. Journalism can not simply be taught in class only, you’ll need to do plenty of self-study. To be a successful journalist you’ll need to live and breathe it. Getting your news from Facebook, WeChat or portals like Yahoo and Sina is simply not enough alone. You should identify and read from your own favorite news outlets, news apps, writers, videographers, and photographers. As well as consuming news online, you should also include reading newspapers, magazines, watch television, listen to the radio or podcasts, watch online video, photography and graphic journalism. You should be viewing international and domestic Chinese news outlets, including mainstream and smaller niche outlets. You should be viewing journalism on your computer and on your phone/tablet and following the news via websites and apps. Consume news regularly, and do it critically.

Some stories in the compilation are short and some very long, some are journalistic, others are more documentary in nature. Some are video led, others are text led, while others maybe picture or graphically led. Take your time, it’s better to go slowly and really understand the articles or projects than to rush through them. You don’t need to read all of them and you don’t need to go through them in any particular order, consume the ones that are most interesting and appealing to you.

You’ll also need to regularly read quality domestic and international news and features. To help you find diverse quality news outlets we have compiled a list below: We advise following at least three international mainstream news outlets, three smaller news outlets and three Chinese news outlets of your preferred choice.

International mainstream news outlet recommendations:

View online and on mobile via associated apps (If free). View varied content; text, photography, graphics, video and multimedia reporting.

  • The New York Times
  • The Economist
  • The Guardian
  • The Financial Times
  • The BBC
  • LA Times
  • CNN
  • NPR
  • ESPN
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • South China Morning Post
  • PBS News Hour
  • Washington Post
  • Time Magazine
  • Newsweek
  • The Atlantic

International smaller news outlet recommendations:

  • Aeon Magazine: A London-based online magazine about nature, culture, and ideas.
  • AJ+: Al Jazeera’s approach to producing video content that is designed specifically for mobile and social, for a younger online generation. Be sure to download the app.
  • Fusion is a young, diverse (Its staff are 60% non-white) media aimed at millennials.
  • Mother Jones: Independent bi-monthly magazine and news site based in San Francisco. A good example of the strength of non-profit, reader and donation supported journalism.
  • News Deeply — Syria Deeply, Ebola Deeply, Water Deeply, Arctic Deeply. Single topic news sites for in-depth reporting.
  • NowThis: News site that produces content specifically for social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. See how to produce content that not only spreads over social media but actually lives right there?
  • Quartz: Business news site, with selected ‘verticals’, founded by The Atlantic. Also see Atlas, which uses graphics and charts a core part of its content.
  • The 19 Million Project: A network of journalists from a dozen countries who collaborate to provide in-depth coverage of the ongoing refugee crisis.
  • The Skimm A morning briefing — in a newsletter — aimed at millennial women.
  • The Upshot The NYT’s outlet for data-driven reporting.
  • Vice News Vice Magazine’s global news network, launched in February 2014.
  • Ezra Klein’s new venture within Vox Media focuses on explaining the news

Quality Chinese news outlets

REQUIRED TASK 2 — Get connected:

You will need to send prepare details below to pass to your tutor in the introduction week. You will soon be added to a Wechat group and we will use Wechat for communications prior to introduction week and afterward for informal communications. We will use email for formal communications. 

  1. Name:
  2. Chinese Name:
  3. Email for program correspondence: *NOTE: Email must be a logical and identifiable name — not a series of numbers of a typical Chinese QQ mailbox. It’s possible to change your qq email so mail still reaches your old inbox i.e. you don’t need to set up an entirely new account. Random or unprofessional email names which make it difficult for me to identify you are also unacceptable. You will be mailing people for interviews during the program so please pick a professional email id. ‘’, for example, is not acceptable.
  4. Facebook Profile: *NOTE: If students prefer to keep their original FB profiles private they should have a second public-facing account.
  5. Join our Facebook Group *NOTE: Our facebook group -is only open to students. Please subscribe to join and I’ll add you. Our public page which you should like and follow is here:
  6. Twitter: *You can do this in the first week of term if you need advice (Make sure to follow your tutors and the twitter accounts of the news outlets, photographers and videographers and news thinkers that you prefer)
  7. Instagram: *You can do this in the first week of term if you need advice
  8. You will need to get a reliable VPN immediately. It’s an international Journalism program so you will need to see global content and use global social media channels.
  9. Calendar: Finally check the calendar, please note there are occasionally minor changes and we refresh the calendar in full at the beginning of each new term. It is your responsibility to view the calendar regularly and manage your own time, please do not ask tutors for dates and instead familiarise yourself with the calendar and transfer the dates into the most convenient format for you.

REQUIRED TASK 3 Get to know the course:


All students must have a basic multimedia equipment set-up, including camera, tripod, lenses, laptop + software, and some audio gear. Excluding laptop, this set-up costs around £1000 GBP. You may already have an equipment set up in that case you might not need to buy anything. If you so need to purchase equipment, you can view our ‘Recommended Multimedia Equipment List’ for guidance. Tutors are also on hand to help you make decisions for your budget. However, you must do plenty of your own research first. Tutors cannot tell you exactly what to buy as every student will have a slightly different set up depending on their tastes, needs, and budget.


(These readings are optional but highly recommend, the program is very intensive and preparation work will make things easier)

  • 1.Multimediatrain: A modular multimedia training course
  • Multimediatrain was developed by IMMJ tutors to sit alongside the in-class media skills training sessions. You’ll find the different modules we teach, (writing, photography, video and so on) running along the top menu. The video training is there to supplement and refresh knowledge learned in class but if you have lot’s of time over the summer you may want to give yourself a head start – especially if you haven’t used a camera before. Simply choose the module you want to learn about and work through the pages in the drop-down menu from top to bottom. Training is primarily delivered in sequential video tutorials, but you’ll also find text and recommended assignments to help you along your way. We cover six disciplines – writing, photography, audio, video, infographics, and mobile.
  • 3: BBC Academy
  • A treasure trove of practical and theoretical learning. It’s free but you may need to switch your VPN to the UK.


(These readings are optional but highly recommend, the program is very intensive and preparation work will make things easier)

  • 1: Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens
  • If you can only do one thing on the optional reading lists, it should be this. It’s a 6-week course and takes around 3 to 4 hours each week. It’s free, you just need to sign up and it’s all online. Chinese subtitles are available.
  • About the course: Never before has the need for News Literacy been more urgent. As news consumers are bombarded with a constant stream of fake news, propaganda, hoaxes, rumors, satire, and advertising — that often masquerade as credible journalism — it is becoming more and more difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. While the public’s faith in the news media erodes, purveyors of misinformation have helped give rise to troubling cultural trends and alarming political movements.
  • This six-week course will help learners develop their critical thinking skills to enable them to better identify reliable information in news reports and to become better informed about the world in which we live. The course will discuss the key elements of journalism from the viewpoint of the news audience.
  • The language of instruction is English, but Chinese and Spanish subtitles will be available. Each week will tackle a challenge unique to the digital era:
  • Week 1: The power of information is now in the hands of consumers.
  • Week 2: What makes journalism different from other types of information?
  • Week 3: Where can we find trustworthy information?
  • Week 4: How to tell what’s fair and what’s biased.
  • Week 5: How to apply news literacy concepts in real life.
  • Week 6: Meeting the challenges of digital citizenship.
  • 2: News Literacy by The Studio 20 program at NYU
  • The Studio 20 program at NYU, directed by professor Jay Rosen, has a project called News Literacy 2016. The site briefly introduces and 11 summarises critical topics including business models, explainer journalism, news on mobile and distributed content — it also collates recommended reading around the topic. If you want to start reading some theory, there’s no better place than here. This is not easy reading, especially for a non-native English speaker. Pick just a few of the articles that are interesting for you and read slowly and thoroughly.

OPTIONAL TASK — Other Reading:

(Only approach these if you really have time. It’s mostly here as a useful list for you to dive into while studying)

  • 1 A good updated collection of resources.
  • 2 This collection of guides explains the basic principles and elements of quality journalism. Many of these guides are largely based on the research and teachings of the Committee of Concerned Journalists
  • 3 Choose and follow at least 3 of these twitter lists Multimedia Awesomeness / Media-Thinkers / Investigative Reporting / Rising Stars in SocJourn / Young Smart Newsies