Monday, 26 October 2009

Ian Anderson visits Winchester University

Today we were given the amazing opportunity to have an editor of the bbc 10 'o'clock news give us feedback on our news packages. As frightening as that sounds, it was not all that scary because it is always really great to hear from a range of people in the Journalism industry, its the our only way to absorb as much information as we can about what it is really like, before we get thrown out into the big scary world.

Ian, who has been at the BBC for more than 20 years, started his Journalism career on his college newspaper. Admitedly he says that he started paying more attention to that than his course. He started out at the BBC in production, helping to produce the 6pm and 10pm bulletins and went on to take a role as editor of the 10 o'clock news where he led a team.

He spoke about the importance of the news agenda, checking the papers, the news diary and the offers of stories that would come in every morning.

Ian suggests that if we have an "intrinsic interest" and "want to tell other people stories" then journalism is the industry to be in.
To be effective we must act as a sponge, be open and available so that people want to tell us a story.

Talking about work experience, his opinion is that the best training that is available to us is in local news, whether that is newspapers, radio or television.

Ian placed particular emphasis on the word 'recognition'. Recognise what separates you from everyone else. Be an antena for news, pick up information wherever you are and make something of it!
veryone is just trying to work out what it all means in order to explain the world.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

THE Feature Writing lecture.

We gatecrashed the Year 2 Feature Writing lecture yesterday and found out some stuff:

News is event led, and cannot be planned in advace to a certain degree. Obviously sport is scheduled and so are court proceedings etc. but unlike features, they cannot be planned or written months in advance as this mean the news was no longer contemporaneous, which can lead to legal issues.

Unlike news, features are are also formatted. For example; a magazine will always have a certain amount of pages despite its' content. It may always feature a recipe section or an agony aunt page. Whereas, a newspaper, if it wants can cover a story over any amount of pages according to how 'big' the story is at that time.

Radio 4 has it's morning feature, in the form of a 'feature interview', this will be with the most important person in the country to do with the topic of the day. (E.g If it is about the Budget, it will be with the Chancellor of the Exchequer - Alistair Darling)

"The audience comes for the news and stays for the features."

'Featurisation' - with many newspapers increasingly aiming toward specific markets by acting more like daily magazines.

"Features set the tone of the publication."

Chris has a table* in his notes that outlines the basic differences between News and Features.

- Pictures
Pictures (graphs, statistics etc.) are not always needed in a news story whereas they are vital in most features.
When considering topics to write a feature on, don't simpy 'do a feature on lamps'...instead do a feature interview with the top lamp designer...

Feature formats:
- Confessional interviews
'My true story' OR 'What it's like to be...'
Victim support groups
Triumph Over Tragedy 'TOT'

- Consumer review
1) What is it? What does it do? 2) Is it any good?

- Comment/analysis
(A handy defence for defamation)
Usually controversion otherwise not much point

- Feature Interview
Interview someone about their life BUT it is NOT a profile.
Form of Gonzo Journalism
Like you are on your very own chat show...

- News Features
'Wrap up'
The News: Actress has wardobe malfunction
News feature: Top ten worst wardrobe malfunctions of 2009

- Profiles
Like a living obituary
You DO NOT interview the person but people that know them.

- Investigations
The story is initiated by the journalist.
An overlap with Gonzo journalism
Watergate scandal...

- Observational
Hunter S Thompson
You observe and you tell the story

- Reader Response
Competition entry
Agony aunts
Letters (star letter)

Before yesterday I hadn't considered how may different formats of feature there actually are, not forgetting TV and Radio.
Now that I understand about what each format requires for each feature 'style' I look forward to having a go myself.


Final Cut Pro Training.

Yesterday we had training on the editing software 'Final Cut Pro'.
Chris Horrie made notes and posted them on the Winchester Journalism message board, they are really helpful, explaining how to 'capture', work on and edit your clips.
My notes are a bit of a disaster and barely legible so check out Chris's notes:

They know the lad's identity? ...So do we.

On page 17 of the Sun the headline reads 'He's Distraught', this relates to the 16 year old 'Beachball lad' that I refered to in yesterday's blog who threw his red inflateable onto the pitch during Saturday's Liverpool game. Apparently the die-hard fan is 'devastated' after he was named 'Public enemy No1' by fellow footy fans.

The Sun pairs today's article with the same picture used in yesterday's, in this photo the boy's face has been pixelated, but what is most entertaining is that the Sun has added the comment 'The Sun knows the lad's identity - but is keeping it concealed to to protect him.' Obviously a last minute decision, after revealing his identity to approximately 3000 people yesterday, lets just hope for the Sun's sake that most of the 'moron's in a hurry' have recycled yesterday's paper already.

Monday, 19 October 2009

A taste of the good stuff!

Today's Sun covers the story of the young Liverpool footy fan who threw his inflatable beach ball onto the pitch during Saturday's game.
We had been discussing the legal actions that could be taken if this boy could be identified, as he could be the target of abuse etc. but luckily his face is pixelated in the picture featured in the 'Goals' pull-out.
However, I noticed shortly after, that on page 15 of the news the Sun have used the same picture without pixelating the boys face. We thought this was interesting and our lecturer suggested that we persue this by contacting the Guardian.
A fellow student phoned up the news desk and was given an email address, to which he emailed the information about the Sun to and a few hours later he had received a reply and a £30 tip fee.
Real-life journalism in action and all it took was a flick through the Sun.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Shorthand? I vaguely remember that word...

I have had my copy of Teeline for Journalists by Dawn Johnston since the first year of University and all I got round to doing is learning the alphabet, which is lame, so I am going to make a conscious effort this year to make time to fit in some shorthand practice.
I actually do remember thealphabet despite learning it over a year ago but it is definitely something that needs some hardcore dedication and is not just a 'do for 10 minutes once a month job'.
I have not been through the whole book but it is set out really well and it came with a cd that tests what you have learnt as you go along. I liked this aspect as it adds a little pressure as there is a time limit, this definitely made me concentrate more, rather than just testing myself and having all the time in the world.
I will blog about my progress...when there is any.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

'no smoke without fire...'

 The main message of the today's Media Law session was:
Publication + Defamation + Identification = Libel
The lecture was based on an example of defamation made by a journalism student about another student on his blog.
It was an excellent example to discuss, as in certain situtions it could, theoretically, become a serious case.
In this case the student had used the name of another student in an example of defamation,  however the statement (Jo Bloggs is a homosexual) that was used within the example could be taken as an innuendo and therefore the other student was libelled:
It was Published
It was a defamatory statement and
The student was identified.

The only defence for this would be Justification ( if it can be proved that Jo Bloggs is in fact a homosexual).

We touched on the Banbury case, whereby 39 police officers sued a newspaper in 1993 after they insinuated that 'some officers' at the Banbury station were corrupt.They won their case as the statement had defamed all officers, the defence accidetal libel was not good enough.

"There's no smoke without fire"

Defamation also counts eve when a published statement 'tends to defame', there does not have to be proof of defamation as such. (e.g that a person has lost their job etc.)

"the typical tabloid reader is a moron in a hurry"

The more serious the defamatory statement the better the defence needs to be.

Defamation is not the same as telling a lie about someone (possibly malice) or falsehood. (e.g Mr Smith is from the UK, when in fact he is from the USA, its not true but it does not defame him in any way.

Obviously these lecture notes are just that, lecture notes, so they are lacking in detail and some explanation, I will get round to making a 'Media Law Glossery' any day now...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

"Tough love"

The 'Camera and Sound' session with The Don went practical this week, with a quick recap on white balance and how to balance audio levels then a dash out of the door to film a package on 'how technology has impacted Higher Education/University learning'.
Although we felt the pressure, it was an exciting process, consisting of firsty attempting to get an interview with anyone who had an opinion on the impact of 'technology' or simply someone of status at the Uni that wasn't on their lunch break.
Unfortunately we were unable to grab a main interview but we filmed three Vox Pops and managed to shoot three (really quite short) PTCs, as well as a few GVs of the KKB, Learning Cafe, MMC and the new TV Studio.
This was my first opportunity to go out and film a package. I love the buzz  and the pressure of the deadline and even though we did not complete the brief to the level we had expected, I learnt a lot by simply being out there, doing the practical stuff. Small things like setting up white balance, keeping to the rule of thirds and monitoring sound levels are made a lot easier to understand when you are able to put it into practice.
I wasn't too nervous about Don and Brian seeing our unfinished package because it is now whilst we are at Uni when making mistakes is ok and simply another way of learning.

Now we have to be more pro-active, taking every bit of the constructive criticism from the lecturers and working on it; watching tons of regional news programmes and  using the University's facilities as much as possible whilst we are here. We need to practice with the equipment until it becomes second nature so that when we do step out into the big scary world we can be confident in our skills and not make the silly mistakes that we are making now.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

TV Presenting and Editing session.

On Monday Angus ran a lecture outlining the Do's and the Don'ts of Television Reporting. We watched a few VTs created by a previous year in order to analyse their strengths and weaknesses.

Angus's notes covered:
- Always RESEARCH and plan ahead!
- Know the location
- Equipment check
- Permission (for location, filming, people etc.)
- Shoot asap.

- Shoot in sequences, with different size shots, always maintaining continuity.
- Shoot cut-aways
- Remember the Rule of Thirds
- It's always better to shoot a little more than is needed BUT not too much!

!Don't start with a PTC  (remember it must ADD something to the piece and place yourself in the action.)
-  Use movement (e.g walk before you talk)

- Get cut-aways
- Sometimes it might be acceptable to use the infamous 'noddy'.
- Intro shots for interviewees

And now...
- Start writing up the story asap, whilst it's still fresh in your head!
- Check the pictures - availability etc.
- Organise any graphics that are needed.

The story...
- Write the intro/link first!
- The 5 Ws. (Who/What/Where/When/Why)
- Never repeat content from the Link.
- 1 idea per sentence, keeping it present tense when possible.

Stay FRESH! Use PLAIN English!

- Simplify numbers (e.g 74% is almost 3/4s) - graphics might help to explain figures.

Creating your package:
- Tell a story, in sequence
- Start with the best pictures
- Use captions - don't name the interviewee in piece
- Keep "Grabs" to approx 20secs max.(x3 Vox pops)
Alternate shots/angles - left/right by standing on the opposite side of the camera
The end of your piece should have meaning - never end with an interview/SOT/SOQ

And... DON'T end with..."what happens next remains to be seen..." (one of Angus's big NO NOs!)

How to survive a Press Conference...
1 - Get there EARLY!
2 - Find a good spot to set up your camera (always stay next to your camera for Q&As.
3 - There is no harm in asking if there will be any one-to-ones.

BEWARE...of the 'media scrum'
- Start rolling asap
- Prepare for 'the crush' - look out for one another; you're in a team!

Overall, the session was definitely a well-needed recap on EVERYTHING, but what happens in the next lecture remains to be had to be done!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

A glimpse of hope for journo newbs!

The publication ‘Writers' Forum’ covered a feature on ‘Writing profiles and Interviews’ by Melissa Lawrence.

Melissa Lawrence gives hope to inexperienced writers, outlining where she started, what she did and how she became a ‘successful freelance journalist and writer.

Lawrence started out as a teacher, but soon discovered that this was not her calling and so she began an adult education course in ‘writing’.
Her immediate ambition was to get published and very soon after starting her new career she made into the Guardian.
A clear message that resonates throughout the article is that without putting herself out there, conquering her fear of interviews and by simply being pro-active, she would not have been as successful as she is.

She gives tips on interviewing:
- Put the interviewee at ease and establish a rapport with them, despite how nervous you might be feeling.
- Listen to the answers. Don’t worry if you stray from your list of questions.
- Do not be opinionated but at the same time try not to be too distant otherwise the person may not open up to you.
- Practical – Staple your sheets of questions together as to save from confusion.
- If you need a little break to gather thoughts, ask a question that you do not need the answer for so you can catch up.

Lawrence reveals some of her simple but effective ‘moves’; from pitching ideas to editors to over-preparing before the interviews in order to ease the nerves and writing up her notes straight after as ‘deciphering her handwriting’ was made impossible if she left it a couple of hours after the interview. (Something that would certainly benefit me; with handwriting equivalent to a seven year olds'.
Her interviews would last around 45 minutes and most were conducted whilst still in her pyjamas; finding phone-interviews ‘made the process seem less scary’.
It did on a few occasions however, go wrong which is why she emphasises the importance of checking the facts, i.e. spelling of interviewee’s name, contact details, age etc.

Lawrence wraps up by leaving a final note of hope:
“Believe me, if I can do it, with no journalism training, no shorthand and no contacts in the media industry, then so can you.”

Writers' Forum:
Melissa Lawrence:

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Media Law part 2

I finally get to post blogs from Thursday after having lost access to the internet...a blogger's worst fear realised!
Today’s  Thursday's Media Law session was mainly about Libel. Chris will be covering the Libel notes in more depth next week.

The case of Mary Whitehouse versus Gay News


The publication Gay News had committed blasphemy by publishing a poem that insinuated that ‘Jesus was a Homosexual’.

- It is defamation to call some ‘Gay’.

Always AVOID innuendo!

1) You may not know whether it is true or not.

2) It suggests that you know that it is defamation.

Defence for defamation: 1) Justification (it is in fact true)

2) Comment (e.g joke, passing comment...etc.)

3) Qualified Privilege (Contempt of Court)... anything said in court cannot be used against them, or Parliament – it is Statute.

Robert Maxwell

‘Is KGB Agent’ – defamation – defence would be qualified privilege.

Malice -
-Only Judges, Parliament etc.
-MPs have Absolute Privilege.
-As Journalists we should never report something that we know to be untrue.
-Even quoting someone can be malice because it is transferred to you.
-Always check that something someone has told you.
Skinner case – suspected Malice?

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

THE Don's Camera & Sound sesh.

Today was a vital lecture for me especially, not having had training with the cameras previously, I was eager to take in EVERYTHING.
I am pretty sure and hopeful that I could now do a little more than switch one on.

The cameras that we will be working with is the Sony PD150/170.

Don went through the history of news production and then discussed risk assessment, (i.e identifying hazzards, being aware of who may be harmed and recording findings etc.)

- Consent/release forms or record on film the parent/guardian giving consent for any children who will be in the shots.

ARC - Aspect Ratio Conversion
4:3 Vs 16:9

We then went through the menu on the cameras, white balance, 'zebra' for checking exposure, etc.

Don went on to explain the Rule of Thirds, demonstrated with footage he had filmed.

(Above: random google image to show Rule of Thirds.)

We have another session with Don next week where we will be taking the cameras out, filming our own pieces and hopefully using the skills we learnt in the 'Final Cut Pro' workshop to edit our shots.

Forget Olay and L'Oreal, try the latest in anti-ageing...

Today's Sun reveals the latest in anti-ageing, sperm.
According to the Sun, scientists discovered a substance in sperm that 'slowed the ageing process in mice' and can apparently even reverse it.
So, great news for all of those 40+  mice-women who are feeling low about the wrinkles, not to mention the masses of middle aged wrinkle-laden mice who now have a new lease on life. And they say animal testing is a bad thing.
For many women however, the disappointment of not being half-mouse will be overridden by overwhelming annoyance that it is in fact men who have held this secret and who knows just how long they have known.

This priceless substance can also be found in Soya, Grapefruit and Wheatgerm, which seems a little less remarkable but still good news. As long as it does actually work on humans; nevertheless I am pretty sure there are numerous wrinkle-fearing women that would be more than willing to push out the mice and get testing.

The same substance has also been linked with possible treatments for Alzeimer's Disease which is hopefully ahead of anti-ageing on the list, so unfortunately for many, Olay and L'Oreal will have to do for now.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Web. Monday's lecture.

Blogs! Blogs! Blogs! I think we've all finally seen the light and the importance of our blogs. It's taken a year to sink in and after mondays lecture with Chris there is now no excuse why our blogs can't be optimized to the max. We will defeat google.
What now?...
- Keep track of traffic to my blog.
- Link Bait - what can i add to my blog in order to pull in the punters? is excellent link bait.
- Form Follows Function.
- - excellent way of tracking websites and their popularity. Added the toolbar function.
- SEO - 'Search Engine Optimization'
- SERP - 'Search Engine Return Position'

We also learnt a bit about Google. We now know that it doesn't 'search' the entire web because it doesn't actually have 'all' the answers, as much as we'd like to believe in the power of Google and is in fact just a massive filling system. The Google index can only return information that is within the google search engine.
'Spiders' also featured largely in the lecture; the metaphorical term for the computer programme used to analyse web pages to see what it's all about before adding it to the Google Index.
Spider's also spot the URL, so if it's an '' its a winner because it proves it's a legitimate site. Google likes this. (e.g 'Journalism' in the title may help.)

- On-page SEO (tags, video, pictures...etc.)
- Off-page SEO (other sites, links...etc.)

Keyword density - our blogs should constantly be appealing to the 'Spiders' by using relavant keywords and using them repeatedly throughout. (But not too much!) Approximately 5% should be about the topic that you wish to be returned in a 'search'.

-Meta tags - do not make irrelevant to content.
-Pictures! Alt tags, attribute text.
- Domain names - ''...hmm..
- HTML - coding.

We have to get high ranking sites to link to our page. (e.g wikipedia; if i write an article that relates to a topic on wiki. i can add my url to the page, can be risky as anyone can remove me but will give it a go.)
Also, other students can link to us, other universities (e.g City University), if we contact other bloggers who's blogs appeal to us we can 'Comment Spam' and add our URL, its one sided but it's still a link!
- Submit site to other directories; Yahoo, Bing.

- Add a Glossery? - a list of terms specific to a topic of interest or hobby; this is another way that will enable links and SEO.

Book - 'Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity' by Jakob Nielson.

Always be aware of lighting.Outside is best.

Two types of picture.
1. Point picture, i.e mugshot, helps with positive identification. (e.g 'David Smith has been charged with murder' - more than one David Smith, a picture can help clarification of identity.)
2. Action picture. (Does what it says on the tin.)
- Explicit consent - agrees but can later deny.
- Implicit - posed, happy about it.

Now I just have to put it all into practice.

I Googled me.

My blog of yesterday's 'Writing for the Web' session with Chris will be posted shortly but after a quick search of 'Maxine Erasmus' in Google, I discovered this article about the Wheelower National Shooting Championships that took place in in Stoke Mandeville in June this year. It was a great experience for a first competition and it was awesome to walk away with a silver medal.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Photography exhibition.

During October Exposure photography group will be holding an exhibition at In The Frame, in Highcliffe, Dorset.

'Local College Photography training has inspired a group of adult students from Hampshire and Dorset to hold their own public photographic exhibition. It will be at "In the Frame" Gallery in Highcliffe High Street, from 1st October, through to 29th October 2009. Members of the public are encouraged to come and visit.

Photo's on display are as varied as the photographers, who represent a range of professional skills* , backgrounds and age. Their friendship has grown from a common passion for photography.

Inspiring and interesting subjects are the basis of the topics chosen by each person. The group hopes to enthuse visitors with their work, whether they have an interest in art, photography or for just something to see. The group will be exhibiting different images in other venues during 2010 and beyond.
Each student has dedicated the last two years to improving their variable photographic abilities. Some will go on for a third year to achieve full qualification status and option to enter the Royal Photographic Society.'

Gary - Auto Engineer
Graham - Purchasing Manager
James - I.T. Manager
Marlene - Artist
Maxine - University Student - Journalism
Mike - Business Development Consultant
Peter - Quantity Surveyor
Sharon - Professional Artist and leader of the group.