Smocka – the annual content production period of journalism students

Smocka is an annual training period focused on the production of multimedia news and current affairs content by journalism students at different stages of studies at the Swedish School of Social Science (Soc&kom) as well as media students from the Arcada University of Applied Sciences.

Over a period of three weeks, the students collaborate to produce journalistic content for various platforms. They actively monitor news across all media, create radio programmes and podcasts, publish a newspaper and produce content for social media. All the content produced is collected on the website Smocka evolves in line with changes in the media environment, and students are encouraged to experiment with new formats, platforms and production methods.

At Soc&kom, studies in journalism have always included hands-on assignments, but the current form and name of Smocka go back to 2011. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Smocka was produced remotely, which developed students’ ability to work flexibly and responsibly. In spring 2021, the radio studio at Soc&kom was renovated and its technological solutions were upgraded, which has provided students with new opportunities to produce content.

For the journalism students at Soc&kom, Smocka is a unique opportunity to try their hand at journalism by putting their theoretical learning into practice, while also preparing for the job market. Students can develop their skills in a safe environment and receive feedback on their work. They try out different roles in news production, working as reporters, radio producers, layout editors, weekly news editors or editors-in-chief.

The core idea is that students work together, with the more senior students supervising the more junior students, while the teachers take the role of coaches (a ‘flipped classroom’ approach). This brings together students who are at different stages of studies and provides them with new experiences. First-year students take on the role of reporters, second-year students do radio work and podcasts, whereas third-year students work as producers, with the layout of the Smocka newspaper or in management and editor-in-chief positions. Communication students in the Master’s Programme in Social Sciences serve as Smocka’s responsible publishers. Arcada’s students mostly contribute to video production, but may also take other roles, depending on their interests.

The basic principle is that students take more responsibility each year as they progress in their studies and learn more. By supervising their junior peers, senior students become aware of their own development, which is an important part of the learning process. Through daily feedback and systematic reflection, students develop their skills and their ability to reflect on journalism, its methods and editorial roles. Smocka prepares students for future careers in journalism and increases their sense of community, providing them with networks for the rest of their lives.