By Matt McGregor
The Waikato Independent is an online newspaper produced by journalism students at the Waikato Institute of Technology. All stories published on the site are made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 Unported Licence.
The Waikato Independent is edited by Charles Riddle, Lecturer in the School of Media Arts. As Charles explains, “We use the Waikato Independent as a teaching tool. What we’re really interested in is getting our students’ work published as widely as possible.
“We put their work up under an open Creative Commons licence so that any of the community newspapers or websites that like the work can feel free to republish it, as long as they acknowledge the student as the author.
“The idea was that other media would pick it up, because the more widely a student can get published, the better it looks on their CV.”
Other media are paying attention. In February, this story about a local talent show contestant, written by Caitlin Wallace, was picked up by Hamilton News Live; that story, in turn, was picked up by the New Zealand Herald, New Zealand’s largest newspaper. “It can have that knock-on effect that we’re not even always aware off.”
Faculty at Wintec’s School of Media Arts have introduced Creative Commons licensing as part of their wider focus on media law and copyright, specifically in their third-year Web Media course.
Most students, Charles says, are happy to give their work an open licence. Occasionally, a photographer will want to maintain ‘All Rights Reserved’ copyright; otherwise, as Charles puts it, “we keep everything open.”
But what about when students graduate? Charles notes that his students may not always have a choice to use open licensing, especially if they work for more conventional news organisations. “But if they’re going to end up in Public Relations, using Creative Commons makes a lot of sense, really. We have quite a few that go into that. I would expect that they would write under Creative Commons.”
While noting that Creative Commons licensing is still a new concept for many, Charles points out that the licences have been a success for Wintec’s journalism students.
“It works fantastically for us.”