Case Study Proposal

For the third term of my BA(Hons) Journalism course at University College Falmouth, I will be undergoing a work placement at Stranger Collective, a creative service and copywriting agency based in Penryn.

Stranger Collective started out as a bimonthly youth, lifestyle publication titled ‘Stranger’ which launched in September 2004. The magazine offered a flavour of life in Britain today, shining the spotlight on the talent of young people in Cornwall and focused on the creative side of Cornwall’s culture with a mix of music, film, environment, current affairs, surf, skate and fashion. The last printed edition of the magazine was published in August 2007 after 16 issues; Stranger now continues through Stranger Collective, publishing features, reviews and news on their website as well as one-off print projects, such as zines, produced to coincide with local events and festivals.

I first heard about Stranger through a couple of their colleagues who I had previously worked with on projects at university (creating a student publication and helping to run the writing department’s website). After visiting their website, I realised that their style was very similar to my own and that they focused on subjects I was interested. Stranger Collective, as well, is a very small and unique publication which was my main basis for a work placement this year as I worked at my local newspaper last summer and wanted to gain a different experience. They are the type of magazine that I hope to work for after I graduate which lead me to become very keen to want to work with them as I think they have a lot to offer me.

I contacted Stranger through their Director, Helen Gilchrist, who heads up Stranger Collective. Helen moved back to Cornwall in 2003 to secure start-up funding for the first issue of the magazine and has since been editing it for three and a half years. She offered me a placement starting on May 9th which will be for up to three weeks. During this time, I will be writing updates for their website, writing for The Poly and Port Eliot, and potentially doing some research/writing for their client work.

My research question for the case study is “How does a small, online publication survive?” My case study will focus on Stranger’s change into an online-only publication, the reasons behind this, how it happened, and how it has affected Stranger Collective in its present state. The purpose of this case study is to gain information about Stranger Collective itself, but also to link to journalism in a wider context as the concept of online journalism rapidly increases. I have chosen to research this question because of its current position in the world of journalism today and also because it is a subject that I have a genuine interest in, especially when it will affect my aspiring future career. Furthermore, both of these matters are reasons in themselves to why it is a question worth researching.

I hope to achieve a well researched case study that will explore this question from a variety of contexts. I plan to gain information through interviews, mainly with Helen but also with other colleagues I will be working with, through a questionnaire with colleagues who experienced the change into an online publication, and possibly a questionnaire with the public into their views on the matter. I will also gather additional data by researching into other publications, such as national newspapers, which are currently going through changes related to online journalism as well. I also hope to find alternative literature reviews online and texts in the library that will help inform my research from a wide perspective.

I don’t think my own views will affect my project because I am asking it to gain knowledge into something that I do not already have any previous knowledge in. This also means that I will be bringing an inquisitive and objective approach to my project, which will hopefully lead to a decent outcome. I also realise that I need to remain aware of the ethical considerations that I must also take into account during my work placement. I will maintain any confidential information, share my own information when asked, make sure people know what I am doing and always explain the nature of research thoroughly, establish an open relationship, be straightforward, and always gain permission.

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