NI student journalists reach younger audiences through viral TikTok news videos

  • A group of student journalists at Ulster University are going viral by creating TikTok videos to share Northern Ireland lockdown news with younger audiences.

    In almost 48 hours, postgraduate students Victoria Johnston, Peter Moor, Jane Corscadden and James McCarthy had clocked up nearly 30,000 views collectively on the social media platform.

    They each share short explainer videos lasting no more than 60 seconds on the various stages in which Northern Ireland is going to move out of the current coronavirus lockdown.

    Presently unable to attend their journalism classes or physical exams at Ulster University’s Coleraine campus, Victoria came up with the idea of keeping busy by creating the short-form content.

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    She said: “My sister (who is 20) saw the lockdown plan and said ‘I just want to know when I can see my friends.’ The government plan can be hard to understand and the news can be intimidating and depressing, especially for young people who just want to know the facts.

    “The numbers speak for themselves, my followers are all around aged 16 and I’ve had comments saying thank you because before they didn’t understand the different stages of lockdown.

    “Making one minute videos is a great exercise in journalism too – you have to combine audio, video and the explanation in such a short space of time. It’s also good because people absorb all of the information without even realising and all of a sudden it’s finished.”

    Victoria asked some of her fellow classmates to get involved as there are eight stages to be explained, and having a team onboard means quicker content and good experience for future job prospects once they all graduate.

    They don’t plan on stopping at just the lockdown news either.

    Victoria added: “We have editorial plans and for example Peter’s had loads of ideas on explaining through TikTok how single transferable voting works, and explaining NI’s different political parties. It helps engage the younger audiences a lot.”

    BBC Radio Foyle have even been in contact with Victoria and James to discuss their newfound success.

    The news quartet's videos can be found on the mobile TikTok app by searching for #ulsterjournos.

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    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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