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Media School students curate Summer Speaker series, The Bigger Picture

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  • Written byChloe Murphy
  • Published date 31 August 2021
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Image credit: Jens Wolter.

As a discipline, publishing enables us to share stories and spark conversations. Evolving across a range of print and digital platforms - from books and websites to magazines and newspapers - it offers opportunities for commissioners, designers, producers and marketers to develop creative content while exploring innovative ways to engage with new audiences.

The Media School at London College of Communication supports students to develop the tools needed for a range of future careers. With opportunities to both take part in and coordinate practical projects, our courses complement critical theory by providing a more holistic understanding of professional life across the media landscape.

In Summer 2021, students on MA Publishing and MA Arts and Lifestyle Journalism were given the opportunity to build key project management skills through their Summer Speaker series, The Bigger Picture. Designed as a collaborative curation, this initiative aimed to connect audiences with individuals who are creating unique spaces and facilitating different perspectives across different strands of contemporary media.

“Inspired me to continue what I’m passionate about”

The May schedule introduced a number of key figures from diverse areas of specialism: Jacob Barnes, Editor-in-Chief at Soft Punk Magazine, explained how his publication pushes against the idea of  ‘high- or low-brow’; Serlina Boyd, founder of Cocoa Publishing and Cocoa Magazine, shared her experience of bringing the UK’s first Black children’s magazine to life during the Covid-19 lockdown; and Nicci Rosengarten, Creative Director of Moon Lane Group and Manager of Moon Lane Bookshop, discussed the importance of raising equality in children’s books alongside that of access, representation and roles in the wider publishing industry.

In June, award-winning writer Ella King talked about the development of her upcoming debut novel, Bad Fruit (Harper Fiction, July 2022), alongside her full-time career as a lawyer; founder of Imagine Me Stories, Keisha Ehigie, shared insights around her business – a monthly subscription box of books and activities which enables Black children to find their realities reflected in fiction; while portrait and social documentary photographer Bex Wade discussed her experience of working with leading clients such as the BBC, Brooklyn Magazine and the New York Times.

One of the series attendees, MA Publishing student Rhiannon DePaauw-Holt explained that the series helped to broaden her understanding of different perspectives across the publishing and journalism landscape.

“I loved chatting to women that I wouldn’t necessarily get a chance to if it weren’t for this speaker series,” she said.

“You could really feel a sense of passion from all the speakers, which in turn really inspired me to continue what I’m passionate about.”

“Really exciting to bring a diverse range of voices to other students”

Gabrielle Dixon (MA Arts and Lifestyle Journalism) and Leah Felton (MA Publishing) were part of the student curation team that developed The Bigger Picture. Gabrielle explained that the complexities of managing a series of live digital sessions also brought a series of advantages when facilitating discussion.

“Engaging with people virtually is always difficult - there are so many subtleties of body language that you realise you’re missing - but being able to record our speakers and having those films made accessible for students studying abroad and in later years has been really valuable,” she said.

“Plus, the chat option on Blackboard Collaborate makes it easy to take questions, and it’s definitely less intimidating than speaking to a room of people!”

Leah highlighted how taking part in the opportunity not only enabled her to develop her personal skill set, but also provided access to speakers who generously offered their time and their experience to support the next generation of the creative industries.

“Being part of curating The Bigger Picture speaker series has been such an incredible experience,” she said.

“I’ve really enjoyed the process of finding unique voices within the publishing industry and having the opportunity to reach out to amazing companies like Moon Lane Group, Imagine Me Stories, and Cocoa Magazine.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have virtually met all 6 of our speakers while engaging in inspiring conversations around how students like us can get into the industry, and how we can help to bring greater diversity. Each speaker had their own unique perspective, and I am very excited to see what the future has for each of them!”

“Curating the event was a welcome challenge as I was able to engage with people in the journalism industry that I admired,” agreed Gabrielle.

“It was really exciting to bring a diverse range of voices to other students, and it was a positive experience to bring in speakers who were different and unique.”

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