The ‘Demo-Lition’ Protest March Documentary (+260MC Week 2 Questions)

I have been planning over the last week to produce a media artefact around the student protest march up ahead, taking place on November 10th in London against proposals to lift the cap on tuition fees. The artefact would be a documentary, interviewing students at Coventry University, and possibly some of the lecturers as well, so each side can voice their thoughts.

For 260MC, this week we have also been set a task similar in vein. This week involved us producing a media artefact which involved doing an off-the-wall style interview, and then contemplate creating something that was more personal to us. Now, although politics have never truly been my forte, I do believe that raising tuition fees to £7.5k a year is a bad thing, and that’s why I am doing the documentary, to report, and also to further understand, the incident. I was doing it for portfolio, and also for me own private interest, but since this module seems to be asking for something of the like, I shall use this future project as a basis for this week’s work.

The interview produced earlier in the week was about the misrepresentation of media students. Coincidentally, this is actually a relevant artefact, as the protest march will be directly linked to how students represent themselves as a collective. It is all in future terms – on the day of the march, anything could really happen. Misrepresentation is clearly the word at the heart of the protest – perhaps students are seen as being alcoholics, and young people who use taxpayer’s money to stay out of work for as long as they can. Incidents such as this didn’t help:

Indeed, from my own experience, drinking seems synonymous with student culture nowadays. When at college, I had the naive notion that university could have been boring, surrounded by intelligent people that made me feel like an idiot, and unintentionally made me feel small. This was not the case, which is perhaps a good thing – I am not the brain of Britain, but I like to think that with 300 UCAS points, I earned my right to have a place at university.

This is where I shall insert a side-argument – are the exams getting easier? GCSE and A-Level results continuously get better with each passing year. I remember feeling quite happy when I heard that my year were the most academically successful thus far. But now, such results are almost expected. Was a B, a B and C at A-Level really a true test of my intelligence? Are people who should not be deemed ‘worthy’ of university being let in? Crucially – are these people the students who have the least amount of money?

I was born on what was effectively a council estate. Little by little, me and my mum eventually managed to migrate to a middle-class suburbia around the corner. Through personal reasons, I came to have a little money to my name. Had I not got that money, could I have come to university? The first thing every MP seems to jump to is the Student Loans Company. It is a business so inundated with applicants that it’s system crumbles almost every year under the strain. I am eligible for ‘maximum everything’ because my household income is so low. Yet, even this year, my halls of residence ask for the money up front, otherwise they deny you accommodation. Money to the tune of £1,500, before the loans have even gone through. Then there’s the trips, and social events. If you really want the best out of the university experience, you need to have some money stored somewhere to fall back on when you need it.

So, why raise tuition fees? To stop the poor students getting in – stereotypically the lesser intelligent of the social ladder? Is it to make the cutbacks, which our PM seems to be promoting – stop students using the SLC so the government doesn’t have the lend so much money to so many people. Is it a case of making the education system look more competent? Being able to say that not just anybody can go to university anymore. Restrict it to the privileged. It has taken many years for the education system to get to where it has, and these proposals will be a backward step – but for better, or for worse?

In relation to the questions, the media certainly represents students in a bad light. We are always in the spotlight for drinking, partying, and generally doing anything except studying. Of course, this is not wholly the case – yet I can testify that there are small truths to the stereotypes. Next week there’ll be a ‘Carnage’ night taking place, one such event which the above student was taking part in. It caused a media storm of outrage, and according to my mum, students were never seen in the same way again. In other words, all respect for us was lost from that point onwards.

Lest not we forget people were paid to go to university not so long ago, until we were accused of ‘dossing’ and abusing the system, at which point they implemented the tuition fees once more. Currently at approximately £3,500 a year on loan, the proposals will add another £4,000 to the sum, increasing debt by double, but reducing the number of students by half. On the surface it seems illogical – in terms of money, half the students paying double the money gives no financial gain to a government that claims the education cuts have been purely economical.

These matters are largely seen through the eyes of the government and the public, which appear to be the two main driving factions behind the media of today. I find that since neither are being directly affected, it seems to make much more sense to interview those who are – the students who may pay more, and the lecturers who may benefit.

I am choosing to do a documentary on this, although much as we have been exploring this week, there are a variety of ways I can conduct my report on the event. I will, as always, make it as interesting as possible. I plan to interview students before the events, and then take footage of the march from within the march itself. ‘Vox Pops’ style footage may be taken during the march with fellow campaigners. This documentary will also serve to tell my story of the event, and what the day actually entailed (including the journey there, and the return journey). Interviews with the public may be beneficial, as would footage of any political speeches. Generally, I’ll take footage of as many different things as I can, and mix them the way that looks right in the editing suite.

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