Universiteit Leiden

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Journalism master’s students get to work in the city for Leiden 2022

In 2022, Leiden will be the European City of Science. University lecturer Jaap de Jong has created special assignments for the journalism master's students to celebrate this: they will go into the city to visualise knowledge from the city.

The fact that Leiden will be the European City of Science in 2022 is an honour, according to Jaap de Jong. 'It means that Leiden has an extra opportunity to show Europe, the world and the inhabitants of the city what an incredible city of knowledge Leiden is. For me personally, it means that I can use it to offer my journalism students an interesting experience.'

Leiden in extremes

De Jong is currently arranging for his master's students of the Journalism and New Media study programme to work for the Leidsch Dagblad (Dutch regional newspaper ed.) for one year, as city photographers, a section of the newspaper normally filled by professional photographers. ‘The students will work in pairs on the theme 'Leiden in extremes'. Extremes can be defined as, for example, the oldest and youngest tree, where they will photograph these trees and interview experts about them. In this way, students bring the (academic) knowledge to a wide audience in images and write an accompanying article,’ says De Jong.

Fifty stories

De Jong does set his students a challenge. ‘Top notch journalism is expected, it has to have substance. How students achieve this is up to them; the extremes are a guideline for students to really start wondering about the city. I hope that together, the students' stories form a beautiful and original way to get to know the city better and to discuss the knowledge here.’ Yet for the students, it doesn't stop at just an article: 'In addition to the article, the students also have to make a podcast, about what else they found out and about readers' responses to their articles.'

De Jong, however, has even more ambitions: 'The project would be complete if they were to conclude it with an exhibition in which they exhibit their images. Of course the project will only be fully complete when a book is created as well, which I want a few students to make. It will be an incredible opportunity to deepen skills and to get to know the city better, you will remember something like this forever.'   

Leiden journalism

In addition to this project, De Jong has come up with a second project, especially for his students: Journalism in Leiden in which the Leiden history of journalism is mapped out. ‘Students can use this as a subject for their thesis. You can investigate, for example, how the people of Leiden obtained news during the Siege of Leiden or what the oldest newspapers in Leiden are. For this project I want to collaborate with other master's and bachelor's programmes of the Humanities.'

The year 2022 will thus be a very special one for the Journalism and New Media master's students. 'I really want to give the students a fun year with two incredibly beautiful projects. I hope they enjoy the fact that Leiden is such a special city of knowledge.'

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