Welcome to my elective blog. Based on my work done over six month in 2011 I elected to work on a project with children. I was commissioned by The Children's Radio Foundation to put together a few packages for two of their show. I then went about producing four packages over a number of weeks. Two packages were aired on a show about literacy and another two on a show about heritage.

My work can be found on Children's Radio Foundation blog site.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Decisions, decisions!

This week has been a long one with things not going as well as I had hoped but it has all eventually come together. I'm at the end of the week and thinking about how I can make the next two weeks different  and how I could make them count. First i'm taking stock of what has happened over the week.  

I  have been working on two things this week; a focus group with Upstarters about their experience of literacy as well as a radio talk with a blind woman about her expereince of learning Braille. If you've only just discovered my blog posts, you would have missed the fact that Upstart is a newspaper for young people written by young people. I spent about four months working on a participatory project with six of the members to help them establish a workable model for their newspaper content to be translated to radio. Using this relationship with Upstart, I organised to have four learners take part in a focus group. I greatly considered whether it would be ideal to do the focus group in an environment that they were familiar with such as a school classroom or at the Upstart offices. From my own experience of interviewing a former Upstarter at the Upstart offices, that place can be rather noisy and a classroom may have the same problem or the acousitics of the place may have been bad for recording in. So it made sense to ask them to come to the journalism department at Rhodes University.It was all organised, they would be dropped off at 2:30 on Wednesday afternoon and we would head to the studio to begin the focus group. 

Two of the Upstarters arrived at about 14.40 and they told me that the other two would not be coming. So I decided that two out of four would have to do and the discussion began. Ready with my questions that would spark discussion, I explained to Athenkhosi and Sindi again about what we were doing so that we were all on the same page. Both students are completing their martic year at Nombulelo High School but they had completely different experiences of learning to read and write. Sindi didn't have anyone at home who would read to her, but instead as soon as she learnt how to read at school, she took to reading for herself and also reads for others at her local library. She was very shy through most of the interview so she wasn't really forth coming with information. Athenkhosi on the other hand spoke at length about his own devotion to learning English in order to work in the media one day. His take was that he's only ever seen successful media people communicating in English so that is was why he has pushed himself to read whenever he could find something to read. Unlike Sindi, Athenkosi had an older sister read to him and he also used to watch his grandmother read her Bible everyday and this motivated him to read.

Throughout the discussion, I had to ask Sindi specific questions directed at her in order to get her talking. Unfortuanetley, my questions were met with very short responses. There were moments where I got the feeling that she get annoyed at Athenkhosi who speaks confidently about his experiences. I tried my best to encourage Sindi to contribute but only towards the end of the interview did she seem to warm up to the discussion.

For my next story I would like to use another focus group to get information from young people about their heritage. Based on this focus group I think that I will have the focus two focus group with the same group of young people. This way, after the first focus group, they will have a chance to think through the ideas they will have chatted about and warm up to sharing their ideas with me and other people. 

Considering that Athenkosi articulate himself the best, I decided to just use his thoughts in the paper edit. I really think that Sindi's experience is as valuable, but she simply didn't say enough for me to use her thoughts. I think that the paper edit has come together rather nicely beginning with Athenkosi's speaking about his sister reading fairy tales to him, to his thoughts on his peers attitudes to reading and then to his own reading and writing experience. The paper edit did turn out to be shorter than expected and so to add to it, I have asked Athenkosi to come in and record one of his poems. I've sent the paper edit to Nina from The Children's Radio foundation and I'm just awaiting her feedback. Then I'll be editing and seeing the package come together this week. 

The radio talk on the other hand didn't come together at all. I met with the lady who would be doing the radio talk on Friday, this after many days of date changes and rescheduling. When I started recording, she began by talking about her background and how she went blind and suddenly she broke into tears. I sat with her for a while until she felt a little calm, but when we started again, the tears just seemed to come. I spoke to her about it, and we agreed not continue with the talk because her experience of learning Braille is still tied to the emotion of her going blind and it was very easy to see that she's not ready to talk about it. 

So, that concluded my week of interviews and now it's on wards to the editing and a new topic: heritage day!

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