Dr Jean-Baptiste Gouyon and I started the STSNewsRoom in 2021 to bring together different summer activities underway in UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS). We wanted to expand student contributions to the department’s annual magazine, STS Alchemy. We also wanted to expand student involvement with the new podcast, WeAreSTS. We had the idea of bringing students together to work in a semi-realistic newsroom, work together on identifying stories, then work together on writing, recording, and creating. Teamwork and team problem-solving were important to us.
Jean-Baptiste had the idea of weekly planning sessions with the group, and this has become key to the STSNewRoom’s success. In these sessions, we talk about developing ideas, we problem solve, and we brainstorm. These bring structure to the weeks, and they bring structure to the studentships overall.
We ran STSNewsRoom2021 under pandemic restrictions. Students involved were: Chelsea Tripp, Jasmine Chakravarty, Lujia Zhang, Alex Hancock, Odile Lehnen, and Franziska Link.
We ran STSNewsRoom2022 in person as best we could. Because everyone was set up to pivot to online sessions, we also could operate with some students being off-site. This allowed us to include in the newsroom students who spent their summer outside London. Students involved were: Andrea Lekare, Beatrice Han, Dan Sharpe, Pierre-Elie Balsan, Roha Ali Khan, and Sofia Sancho.
Before 2021, we use the STS summer studentship programme to develop several parts of this overall programme. For instance, in 2020, STS student Nuzhah Miah helped Joe design the WeAreSTS podcast.
STSNewsRoom also brings in STS professional services staff with responsibility for communications. This includes Victoria Mounsey and Giuseppe La Rosa. Victoria has the job of bringing together the disparate pieces we create and moulding it into the final edition of STS Alchemy.
The STSNews room focuses on three products:
From the start, Jean-Baptiste and I were clear the STSNewsRoom needed to use paid studentships. We wanted an explicit tie to skills and careers development, and we wanted to show we valued the work students did through renumeration. Some years before, I developed a model in STS for summer studentships (80 hours work over 10 weeks paying London-living wage with students working with an academic lead on a project put forward from the academic as a genuine aide to their research), and we used that. (See the 2022 advertisement.)
Some of the key elements of the STSNewsRoom posts have been these:
To be eligible for consideration, applicants must demonstrate general knowledge and understanding of Science and Technology Studies as a subject area and must be a currently enrolled UCL students. Some relevant experience in STS is essential (e.g. students should have taken at least the modules HPSC0107, or HPSC0122, or equivalent). General skills for the post include excellent time management, ability to work independently and to multi- task, excellent communication skills, and ability to take initiative. Bilingual students are especially welcome to apply.
These studentships are intended primarily for undergraduate students to offer paid work experience in news writing. Taught postgraduate students may apply, but undergraduates will be considered preferentially. Research postgraduate students are not eligible to apply. Employment requires a right-to-work in the UK.
Each post holder will be expected
- to participate in one weekly newsroom meeting
- to produce, over the course of the studentship, strong written material amounting to at least three short-form and one long-form pieces
- to produce one podcast and to contribute segments in other podcasts
- Being well organised
- Being news-minded
- Being inquisitive
- Excellent writing skills
- Excellent interviewing skills
- Good copy-editing skills
- Ability to work to a deadline
STSNewsRoom is funded by UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS). This limits the number of places we can offer. We annually seek other funding, too.
Timeline for recruitment
Normally, it’s February when we learn how many studentship places we can offer in the coming summer. We advertise the posts through Sts, and go through a hiring process. Places are confirmed by the end of April. We run the programme for eight weeks over June and July, waiting to start until after UCL’s Term 3 is pretty much over so students don’t have conflicting requirements.