Portraits of Mauritians by students

!Warning! Long post!

I recently published the post entitled “Portraits de Mauriciens par les étudiants” showcasing my students’ assignments in Broadcast and Digital Journalism/Reporting. The idea to do this assignment came to me when I was seeing our local media houses preparing to publish a lot about the 50th anniversary of our country’s independence about a month before the anniversary date of the 12 March 2018. Most of them were celebrating well-known people, in particular people who have been and are still in the limelight within the short history of our nation.

So, I wanted to do something different that would be complementary: portraits of at least 50 ‘ordinary’ Mauritian citizens, with a special focus on what I call the ‘non-elites’, that is, people who have never been in the limelight or barely. People who have contributed something to our society in their ‘modest’ capacity. The idea was to show that a nation is not just made up of elites, it’s also about the silent masses. I thus asked the students to find people who, despite their ‘unfavourable’ origins or life difficulties, have done or are doing their part. The objective was to try and give a little more voice to the voiceless.

Students were free to make proposals provided they followed the philosophy outlined above. There were no other content restrictions. In fact, I was experimenting to see if they could naturally come up with enough diversity in terms of gender representation and geographical location. More importantly, I was expecting students to stay away from the complacency of rehashing stuff already churned out by mainstream media.

I have to say that in this module, I usually ask students to produce radio news bulletins in the first semester and video news bulletins in the second semester. Somehow, I had been battling with getting them to do the usual reporting stuff by the beginning of the second semester. So, what could I do to raise their enthusiasm? I exposed the idea of the 50 portraits and they all seemed keen to do the assignment.

How did it go?

The bad: In some ways, it did not go as well as I would have liked.

Deadlines: The objective was to get the videos online by mid-March. Each student had to propose and produce 2 mini-portraits (1 per fortnight). Needless to say that the deadlines were never met fully. Some made a special effort but would be constrained by either mundane or technical difficulties such as securing appointments, persuading people to let them in, difficult shooting location conditions, lack of technical capabilities…

The talking heads: I especially did not want the ‘talking heads interview’ style. Students were supposed to bring in enough visual material to intercut with the interviewees so as illustrate their statements and to avoid monotony. Some students failed to do so.

Complacency: Like many journalists, some students were complacent and chose members of their own family or friends as subjects, although, one could argue, why not if they are interesting enough, which some of them were. With two student cohorts making up a total of 28, this was kind of inevitable.

Poor technical quality: Despite talking extensively about the need for stable images, smooth camera movements if any and sober transitions, there were still many shaky camera stills (!), shaky camera movements and dubious transitions.

I listened to myself often reprimanding students and felt sometimes depressed about the whole project which was supposed to raise everybody’s enthusiasm. I was especially annoyed when they came back with gaps in their interviews such as not getting basic information or not asking obvious follow-up questions. I guess that’s also because too many of our mainstream media people just don’t ask follow-up questions. I am particularly annoyed that many interviews start with “Tell me about you” and end with “What’s your message?” with nothing much in between.

The good: In many other ways, I was in for pleasant surprises.

Gender balance and age groups: There was some balance in gender distribution. In terms of age groups, there was a majority of middle-age people, a fair share of young ones, and a few retired persons. One would have imagined that being given that it was the 50th anniversary of our country, there would be a tendency to look for people aged 70+ as witnesses of that time. I was glad this was not the case.

White vs. blue collars: In terms of professional categories, most of the interviewees can be classified as blue-collars, with a few straddling both white and blue-collar categories like the student farmer and the well-known shopkeeper politician.

The nice weirdos and outliers: There were some gems like the people doing ‘ordinary’ but useful things like mending shoes on the street or unique characters such as the tailor cum coconut seller who sings karaoke in Port-Louis. There’s also the very old lady who still works as ‘bonne à tout faire’ and the outspoken and dynamic lady who sells pickled fruits.

Despite this being about Mauritians, one student chose to interview an Indian tailor. His account in Creole of how migrant workers are treated in textile factories was quite poignant despite being sometimes difficult to understand because of his accent.

We also had two Greek Erasmus students who joined in the class. They fully participated and were quick to identify potential interviewees. These were the only interviews conducted in English as the students did not understand Creole.

The good/bad
A company stole a student’s video about former professional footballer Eric Philogène who is now a skipper and posted it on Facebook as its own without given any credit to the student (they even added their logo and credits to the video). Luckily, when he complained, they removed it. The good in this? It means they liked the video and thought it was well done. Though I fail to see how come professional people could do such a thing, at least they reacted positively.

Caveats
For some of my students, this was their first attempt at video production and we had wasted a lot of weeks in the beginning of semester due to the Berguitta cyclone, torrential rains and public holidays. Together with my technician Ketan, we had to give a crash course on handling the camera and tripod and also on how to do the video editing because they had not yet completed a colleague’s module on audiovisual production.

We also have a lack of adequate audio recording equipment at the Mediacom Studio so we have to find tricks to compensate (backup recording with phone or audio recorder, raising audio levels in iMovie) and this obviously does not always turn out well.
[Side note: if there are any sponsors willing to donate for upgrading our material, please do get in touch on chanssc@uom.ac.mu]

End words
It was an exhausting project, both physically and mentally. But if this can get just a fraction of the students to get moving, try out some different stuff, I guess I have to be happy.

Also, I have to consider that most of our student cohorts come from lower and lower middle class families with limited means in terms of transport, personal equipment and cultural exposure. There were no sexily shot or edited videos for this reason. Had I been working at a private TEI with privileged students, the outputs would probably have been more glossy and glamorous. That would have been too easy maybe…

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Portraits de Mauriciens par les étudiants

À l’occasion du 50ème anniversaire de l’indépendance de Maurice, nos étudiants avaient pour tâche de réaliser des mini-portraits de Mauriciens. L’idée est de ne pas se contenter de couvrir des personnages déjà connus mais plutôt de donner la parole à des “citoyens ordinaires”, de découvrir leur petite histoire et leur petit quotidien. Car, les petits quotidiens sont aussi importants collectivement et constituent la structure même d’une société…

Voir la playlist des portraits en images ici

Étant donné que c’est un exercice pédagogique destiné à permettre aux apprenants d’expérimenter avec la vidéo, la qualité des productions est inégale (avec une distribution normale inhérente à toutes les situations d’apprentissage). Le but du jeu est de mettre toutes les vidéos en ligne afin de motiver les étudiants qui sont tous notés dans le cadre de leur cursus universitaire.

Les commentaires constructifs qui prennent en compte l’objectif pédagogique sont les bienvenus.

Nous espérons pouvoir mettre en ligne plus de 50 mini-portraits d’ici fin avril 2018.

Ci-dessous une sélection de quelques portraits en images:










Voir la playlist des portraits en images ici

Reportages des étudiants sur la Zourne Internasional Kreol 2017 à l’UOM

Texte de Marie Daniella Jolicoeur et Alexa Marie

La Zourne Internasional Kreol a été célébrée le lundi 30 octobre à L’Université de Maurice  pour la 17ème année consécutive. Au niveau mondial, cela fait maintenant 34 ans que la journée est célébrée. La journée a débuté par le discours du Professeur Arnaud Carpooran, le doyen de la Faculté des Sciences Sociales et Humaines de l’Université et celui du Dr Sachita Samboo, chef du départment de français.

Arnaud Carpooran au micro de Mandira Dawoosing:

La cérémonie protocolaire était suivie d’une discussion autour des poèmes en français et en anglais traduits en créole par le poète Michel Ducasse dans son recueil Enn Bouke Bwa Tanbour, une séance animée par Bruno Jean-Francois, professeur en littérature francaise à la Penn State University.

Michel Ducasse et le Prof. Arnaud Carpooran au micro de Shivanee Vencatachellum et Bhommija Jaglall:

Michel Ducasse au micro de Indeeree Rungien, Vidushi Chamroo et Neevedita Nundowah:

La journée a surtout été marquée par une séance parlementaire traduite en créole par les étudiants de BA French et BA French in Translation de première année sous la direction de Yani Maury, chargée de coursà  temps partiel et doctorante à  l’Université de Maurice. Le but de cette séance n’était pas de parodier les politiciens mais de savoir si la langue créole pouvait être utilisée au parlement.

Yani Maury au micro de Varun Nathooram:

Michel Ducasse et Yani Maury au micro de Neeveditha Nundowah:

Cette simulation a suscité de nombreuses réactions. Les spectateurs ont pu partager leurs opinions. Ils étaient plusieurs à demander: si les politiciens arrivent à parler le créole pendant les meetings, pourquoi donc ne pas l’utiliser lorsqu’il s’agit de prendre des décisions pour le peuple?


Autres intervenants:

Daniella Police-Michel au micro de Salman Utim: 

Guillem Florigny au micro de Ashley Seetannah:

Marjorie Desveaux, Vice-Presidente du CSU, au micro de Mehryne Annoar:

Galerie de photos:

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Troisième série de bulletins radio des étudiants en journalisme (2017-2018)


Le bulletin radio fait partie des exercices imposés dans le cadre du module ‘Broadcast and Digital Journalism/Reporting’ enseigné par Mme Christina Chan-Meetoo en deuxième année de BSc (Hons) Journalism à l’Université de Maurice.

Voici donc la troisième série de bulletins réalisés par les deux groupes constitués dans la classe.

(Voir la première série de bulletins radio ici
et la deuxième série ici)

Bulletin de Mehryne et Nazrana

Bulletin d’Indeeree et Parvin

Deuxième série de bulletins radio des étudiants en journalisme (2017-2018)

Le bulletin radio fait partie des exercices imposés dans le cadre du module ‘Broadcast and Digital Journalism/Reporting’ enseigné par Mme Christina Chan-Meetoo en deuxième année de BSc (Hons) Communication Studies with Journalism à l’Université de Maurice.

Voici donc la deuxième série de bulletins réalisés par la classe.

(Voir la première série de bulletins radio ici)

Bulletin de Shivanee et Bhoomija

Bulletin de Davina et Kristy

Premiers bulletins radio des étudiants en journalisme (2017-2018)

Le bulletin radio fait partie des exercices imposés dans le cadre du module ‘Broadcast and Digital Reporting’ enseigné par Mme Christina Chan-Meetoo en deuxième année de BSc (Hons) Journalism à l’Université de Maurice.

Voici donc la première série de bulletins réalisés par les deux groupes constitués dans la classe.

Veuillez noter que ceci est un exercice pédagogique destiné à permettre aux étudiants d’apprendre les métiers du journalisme tels que:

– Rédacteur-en-chef / Rédactrice-en-chef
– Présentateur de journal / Présentatrice de journal
– Journaliste reporter

Pour le premier semestre, les étudiants sont appelés à faire un briefing, allouer les sujets, faire les interviews, monter les sons, enregistrer les présentateurs et monter le tout en un bulletin, comme dans une vraie rédaction radio (à l’exception de la diffusion en direct).

Bulletin de Thibault et Varun:


Bulletin de Ashley et Mandira: