Archive | March, 2011

Self Reflection

31 Mar

Since creating a Twitter account, I have been excited and unsure about the ability to publish my opinion for all to see, especially as I am following some very high status individuals and celebrities.

I can see how useful a Twitter account is to people working within the communication industry. Having a Twitter account shows that I am interested in communicating with those in the industry and keeping up to date with what other high status individuals are doing.

Within two days of tweeting that I had been given Charminster as my patch, I was tweeted to by a man who works for the daily echo, telling me that he had the same patch. That quickly increased my interest in Tweeting because I could see that it was a fantastic way to create useful contacts.

I have not been blogging as often as I have been tweeting, mostly because I don’t want to write something which offends someone. I am becoming more confident about publishing my thoughts about television programmes though, as I think this is safer ground than “real” life issues. It was exciting when I recently received a positive comment from someone agreeing with a point I made about the programme “Katie:My Beautiful Face”.

I think I will be likely to blog more over the summer when I am travelling and taking on new exciting experiences which I feel people might be interested in reading about. This has made me feel more confident about my writing and has encouraged me to write more similar posts.

I attempted to use Twitter to interview some important figures when we had the investigative report assignment, but I did not receive a reply from any of these, whereas emailing people got a really strong response. So from my experience I still don’t believe that Tweeting is the best way to get a specific answer from a particular person. I did, however, find it extremely useful to look through other journalists blogs and see if they might be worth emailing so I can definitely see why journalists keep an up to date blog.


Jamie’s dream school…except for the students

31 Mar

I have really enjoyed watching Jamie’s Dream School on channel 4. The programme has been running on Wednesday nights for the past 5 weeks and every week it provides me with new amusement. The pupils may be incredibly irritating to watch, and seeing the teachers stuggle does make me a little angry that these people are getting given opportunities they don’t seam to appreciate, but the entertainment is undeniable. The pupils are all post secondary school but have very few, if any GCSE’s, and Jamie is aiming to get them interested in education and ultimately create a better life for them. His Dream school has been named as such, due to his faculty of individuals you would think to be unattainable, from Rolph Harris to Cherie Blair.  

Jamie Oliver teaches catering, which is bound to be successful, not only because it is a subject they can actively participate in, but because the pupils were obviously aware they would be part of a school run by Jamie, so must have some interest in him!

Robert Winston teaches science and does an incredibly good job at it! I am not very interested in science but I would love to join in his lessons. He has eased the pupils into more and more participatory tasks, the first being to disect a frog, the second being to disect a pig (in which some girls had to dramatically run out because they were “going to be sick”), and more recently he asked male pupils to produce sperm samples for their lesson in reproduction. Not only does this get the pupils involved but you can see how chuffed the lads are when Robert starts telling them that they have created enough sperm to fertilise every woman in Britain. As soon as their given a compliment like this, they will take an interest in the next thing that the teacher has to say.

alastair campbell on why politics matters, it didn’t take long for a debate to begin, although perhaps not the type he was after.

Daley Thompson takes them for P.E. which seams to be the most popular subject, possibly because it allows the pupils to get out some of their pent up anger?

Mary Beard tries to teach the pupils Latin, which I can understand their uninterest in, she attempted to make them see the relavence that Latin has to their lives by translating the tatoos on David Beckham’s arms. Call my ignorant, but this use would still not convince me that it is a worthwhile subject, as I honestly don’t care what David Beckham has written on his arms.

Rolph harris’s art classes have been shown a few times in the programme, probably because he is more natural infront of a camera, than the other teachers, and also because he has been getting a very positive response from the pupils. This isn’t surprising, art is a subject that a large number of people can enjoy because it allows you to express yourself and it’s hard to say who is “good” or “bad” at it, because it is so subjective. Most of these pupils seem to need a way of expressing themselves without becoming aggressive, and they clearly do not take criticism very well!

David Starkey is quite hilarious to watch when he tries to teach the pupils history. It was made very clear in the first episode that he has very few communication skills, making him totally ineffective at teaching the pupils. However, he managed, with the help of Jamie and the head teacher, to improve the pupils’ opinion of him by giving them a few compliments…Noticing any themes yet?

I assumed the students would  love Cherie Blair’s lesson on “Human Rights” due to their obsession with people “respecting” them. Indeed, they did enjoy her lesson, they loved getting a chance to talk about their rights and their personal experiences at not being given their rights. The students all seem to believe that the world is against them and they have been held back by others, as opposed to themself.

After a shakey start and having to speak to each pupil individually, Andrew Motion does a surprisingly good job at teaching the students poetry. I say it’s surprising because of his very calm and slow way of speaking, which would even make me lose patience, let alone one of these students!

Simon Callow also gets off to a shakey start in his attempts to teach theatre. But when he gets the boys on in the round house and onto the stage to perform a fight scene in Romeo and Juliet, some real talent is shown and Simon finally sees his hard work paying off.

Jazzie B teaches the students about music and automatically gains their attention due to his ability to speak to them in their “language”, which is similar to that of Ali G. He also bring break dancers into the lessons, making the lessons seam “cool”.

Alvin Hall has the prolifically difficult task of teaching Maths. He does this by basing almost all of their lessons on how to get rich. This is the most affective way he could have chosen to teach the subject because they all seam to want to be as rich as their role models…the almighty rappers.

The students appear to have picked up their values from the rappers who constantly rap about “respect” and I think their parents must have allowed their belief that they deserve respect, even when they don’t give it out themselves.

I know all the students aren’t the same and I’m speaking in quite a derogatory tone but I don’t think I’m alone in my opinion. The students are holding themselves back with their agressive and defensive attitudes but are continuously blaming people around them. They all seem to be becoming better behaved as the weeks go on- although this is probably due to the editors making Jamie look like a miracle worker- and I am really enjoying watching if and how the efforts prevail. Good luck to Jamie and the teachers, I think they deserve an award for their hard work and patience!

Mission accomplished?

31 Mar

I’ve come to the end of term, with only a dissertation and a presentation left to do after Easter. And so I am forced to consider what is next.

At the beginning of the year I started the unit “News and Journalism” and I wrote on this blog saying that I hoped to build an interest in becoming a professional journalist. It amazes me to write, I have not been dissapointed!

The more I practice journalism, the more I realise it is an almost perfect occupation for me. There is nothing worse, in my eyes, than a job which revolves around the same scenery, the same people, and the same slow processes every day. I know that if I were to become a journalist I would have that ability to meet new people and learn new things, develop new relationships, and create new pieces of work every day, several times a day. 

But isn’t that daunting?!

I think the reason why I have avoided the idea of becoming a journalist all these years, is because all the positive aspects, are also the scariest aspects. I already feel so proud of what I have achieved at university so perhaps once I have completed my dissertation I will feel more self assured that I am capable of this profession.


living life to tweet it

29 Mar

Growing up in the 21st century, you know that you need to use social media in order to get the most from your social life. Social media keeps you in the loop. 

Whilst my friends and I have been at seperate universities, living very seperate lives, we have been able to keep in touch very frequently but with very little effort. It has been so useful to be able to email all my closest friends at once and keep a stream of conversation going, even when we are incredibly busy with our work. 

There are a lot of ways that a student can be hindered by not using social media. Doing a Communication based subject means I have to do a large amount of group work and Facebook has been of the utmost importance for these times. Facebook has allowed me to contact other people on my course quickly and I have often created private groups on Facebook and invited those involved in the group projects to allow us to post ideas, links, documents, pictures etc, as we find them.

In a way, though, social media almost allows you to work as a group, without meeting as a group. It makes it easier to work seperately and put your ideas together through the use of the internet, rather than working together the whole time. This could be seen as a negative but I still think it has been fantastic…perhaps because I hate group work! 

Recently I have opened a Twitter account, in an attempt to keep up with the news as it happens. I’ve been amazed to see how often some people tweet! I know it is much easier for an iphone owner, to tweet, than it is for someone who relies on their computer, but I wonder whether some people do things just so that they can tweet about it?

My housemate made me laugh, she locked herself out of the house in the middle of the night and the first thing she did, was update her status, “I’m locked out the house and everyone’s asleep!” It amazed me that she was stuck on a scary road where several drug dealers and muggers live and the first thing she wanted to do with her phone, was let the world know what had happened, rather than ring someone in the house.

Any time something like that happens it just reminds me of the film Wall-E and makes me wonder how long it’ll be until we do float around staring at a computer screen, living our life through the internet! I don’t think I’ll live long enough to see things get that bad, but I can definately see myself nagging at my future children to take their eyes off their damn computer!

Katie:Still a beautiful face

29 Mar

I very rarely cry at television documentaries, but when I watch “Katie: My Beautiful Face” on channel 4, it really hit me hard.

Katie Piper was a stunning television presenter/model enjoying a vibrant social life clubbing several times a week, until the age of 24 when an ex boyfriend changed her life forever.

Katie met Daniel Lynch (or Danny as Katie calls him) on Facebook and they dated for two intensive weeks. Danny became very possessive over Katie and his sporadic moods started to scare Katie. Little did she know that Danny had a history of violent behaviour, including throwing boiling water in a man’s face.

One night, his intensity came to a head when he booked them a hotel room to stay in together. When Katie did not agree to sex with him, he violently raped herbefore holding her captive for eight hellish hours. He smashed her head, beat her, threatened to slash her face with a razor and said he would hang her with a belt. Later he claimed to have been high on steroids. They drove back to Katie’s flat where, to her relief, he agreed to let her out of the car but told her if she told anyone, he would kill her.

They spent the weekend apart and Katie did not tell anyone what happened, not even the doctors who had to glue her head wound. He contacted her continuously, and on Monday he started insisting that she go to the internet cafe to check the emails he’d sent her, after hours of refusal, Katie gave in and left her apartment to check her emails.

CCTV shows Katie leave her apartment whilst still on the phone to Danny.

‘I saw a man in a hooded top walking towards me,’ she says. ‘He was carrying a cup. I assumed he was a beggar so I reached into my bag for some change. He came up close, like he was going to speak, and threw liquid from the cup at my face. The pain was indescribable, but for a split second I remember thinking, “How rude to throw coffee when I was trying to help him.” I could feel my skin and clothes burning off me.’

All Katie’s facial skin and fat was burned off on one side of her face, her left eye was no longer working and her throat was badly burnt. Katie was put into an induced coma and all the skin from her face was removed and replaced with skin from her back.

Diane, her mother, gave up her job in order to care for Katie full-time. She massages Katie’s face four times a day to keep her skin supple. This sounds like a relaxing procedure, but I found it extremely hard to watch as Katie’s parents stretched the skin around her face and chest, as Katie lay there looking extremely uncomfortable.

Katie also has to wear plastic masks in the day to flatten her scars and a balaclava masks at night to help stretch the skin. To begin with, she had to be fed with a tube directly into her stomach before having several surgical interventions to widen her oesophagus.

The psychological damage was even more upsetting to see. She could not shower for months, due to her fear of the feeling of liquid on her body. She also was too scared to leave the house, making her life seam pointless.

When Katie is shown receiving a phonecall and discovering that Danny has finally been found guilty, she is overwhelmed with happiness…and so was I! Later in the programme, they discover that he has been given a life sentence, with a minimum of 16 years, which still does not seem enough in my eyes. But Katie still has nightmares and fears Lynch’s release. When he obtained a phone illegally in jail he used it to post a message on the internet saying how much he missed her. She has now closed all of her social networking accounts.

Since the documentary was aired, Katie has given messages on the channel 4 website, thanking all those who have sent her supportive messages. “When you have support you can get through anything and to have such wonderful public support really is such an amazing feeling and I am very grateful…At the weekend, after the documentary was shown on Channel 4, I went out for dinner and also went shopping. Lots of people approached me and congratulated me and I felt proud and held my head high while out and about in public. I couldn’t feel like this without all this support, so thank you everybody for giving me my confidence back“.

Katie’s second documentary “Katie:My Beautiful Friends”, shows Katie’s new found confidence since the first documentary was aired. She is starting up a new charity The Katie Piper Foundation, to raise money for a specialist rehabilitation centre for people with facial disfigurements.

I genuinly still think that Katie Piper looks beautiful and her story moves me, even just thinking about it, I hope she has a more fullfilling life than she ever could have had before, because she truly deserves it.

“I realise my life before was so superficial” Katie said in a Daily Mail interview, “I used to refuse to go out if I had a spot on my face. Now I wish a spot was all I had to worry about. There are people who point and stare. One man even knocked my sun hat off and laughed at me. Those times hurt, but I won’t let them get me down. I’d like to be able to have a husband and family one day. I can’t live a life of regret.”

Modern Reporters offer Power to the Public

26 Mar

“We need to know what happened there and whether it had anything to do with Ian’s death”

Wrote Paul Lewis in his Guardian report after Ian Tomlinson died of an alleged heart attack after getting caught up in the G20 protests, in April 2009.

Lewis’s report asked the public to have their say and within a few days, twenty reliable witnesses made contact. Nineteen were previously un-known and used social media to make contact.

This report referred to a man called Ian Tomlinson, 47, who had been walking home from work and un-knowingly passed through the police cordons of the G20 protest, just moments before he collapsed and died. Police said that he had died of a heart attack and the officers policing the protest had done their best to help him. They were not investigating any further.

An un-named organiser of the protest, interviewed for one of Lewis’s reports said, “We want to know what happened and we want to show our solidarity. We can’t accept that people can die inside a police cordon and for us to receive no information about it”.

A reconstruction of Tomlinson’s last 30 minutes was obtained from the witnesses. The most damning evidence was a video filmed by a New York hedge fund manager, just minutes before Tomlinson’s heart attack. It showed policemen hitting Tomlinson with batons and pushing him to the ground, leaving other members of public to help him back to his feet. Daniel873, a G20 protester, commented on a Guardian report,

“I also saw police hitting people from behind with their shields and batons…I remember thinking at the time that somebody could have been killed in that.”

 The testimony of the witnesses, were submitted to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The commission immediately launched a criminal investigation, leading to a post-mortem.

The post-mortem revealed Tomlinson had died of internal bleeding, not a heart attack.

For this investigation, Paul Lewis won a Rat Up a Drain Pipe award for outstanding investigative journalism in 2009, as well being named reporter of the year at the British Press Awards in March 2010. 

Lewis admitted in a Guardian report, “I wasn’t convinced about Twitter at first, but it quickly turned out to be quite useful for investigating”

This rounding up of the public through social media has become a useful tool for professional journalists and has now come to be known as “Crowdsourcing”.

 The term “Crowdsourcing” was coined by Jeff Howe and Mark Robinson in a 2006 edition of Wired magazine as, “the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call.”

In journalistic terms, this basically means using the public’s knowledge, to help with investigations. 

Robert Levy succinctly points out the importance of crowdsourcing for journalists, in Collective Intelligence: Mankind’s Emerging World in Cyberspace , “Since ‘no one knows everything, everyone knows something, all knowledge resides in humanity’”.

Chris Roush, founding director of the Carolina Business News Initiative, emailed me the findings of a study he conducted this year. The study found that professional journalists were most likely to use social media to find sources, story leads and information and Twitter provided the most valuable sources of information.

Journalism which reports information found from social media has been viewed negatively at times. The reports of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 exemplified the unnecessary upset that can be caused when a journalist puts speed before accuracy. Many professional reports at the time included rumours of mass deaths, rapes and bus hijackings, which journalists found online but were later found to be un-true. 

Professional journalists have to be web savvy when reporting from online sources, as Walter Lippman, one of America’s most respected journalists, says in Public Opinion,

“If there is one subject on which editors are the most responsible, it is in their judgement of the reliability of the source”.

When used correctly, social media can be enormously useful.  I spoke via email with Tony Harcup, a professional journalist and author of Journalism: Principles and Practices, who pointed out the importance of getting the balance right,

“If social media makes journalists think that all stories can be generated without ever leaving a building, then it will be a bad thing…but if social media is used in conjunction with good reporting and investigative skills, then it can be very positive.”

The use of social media to report international events has been rising since Flickr, the photo sharing media tool, was launched in February 2004 and that year sparked widespread support for The Indian Ocean Tsunami. A wealth of images of the tsunami on this site opened journalists’ eyes to the strength of the publics’ photo journalism.

The next groundbreaking event was the Hudson River plane crash in 2009 which was one of the first international events reported via social media, as Janis Krums used his iPhone to post a photo and tweet the message,

“There’s a Plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy”

The Hudson River story continued to evolve through social media as it was reported via the online crowdsourcing newspaper, NowPublic.

In more recent developments, Crowdsourcing websites such as NowPublic,  intersect and storyful have become invaluable during events when people need to be reconnected with loved ones living in hazardous areas.

Most recently, since the nuclear plants were hit by the Japan Tsunami, a radiation map website called RDNT has been created by uncorked studios, which allows people to submit a radiation reading from where they are in order to map out worse affected areas.

“This ongoing crisis has highlighted the need for trusted sources,” the uncorked team say on their website, “With conflicting reports of radiation levels in affected areas, we wanted to build a way to report and see data in an unbiased format.”

This innovation has allowed the public to take matters into their own hands. Social media has provided the public with a tool which has aided other recent international events. Protests throughout the Middle East have been fuelled by the ability to plan protests via social networking sites such as Facebook.  Plus protesters have been able to get their message across to other countries through the increased media coverage.

People in the Middle East have even relied on social media to inform them on how the protests have progressed. MirHossein Mousavi, a man involved in the protests, summed up the force of social media with this tweet,

“We have no national press coverage in Iran, everyone should help spread Mousavi’s message. One Person = One Broadcaster”.

Mousavi’s words are strong. But the freedom of speech that social media has allowed should not promote the idea that professional journalists are no longer needed.

When I spoke via email to Rosie Swash, a Guardian journalist, about her impression of how social media has shaped journalism she said,

“The power is now distributed between the journalist and those on the ground. That kind of balance is crucial in journalism and of great value.”

Rosie is referring to the power journalists used to hold when they were the only ones with access to the news. As Friend and Singer point out in Online Journalism Ethics: Traditions and Transitions,

“The journalist’s role has now become modified, they must become expert searchers and synthesisers of information in an easily digestible format.”

This means professional journalists are still important for their reliability and for their sharp and efficient writing skills but now there is more of a democracy within the world of journalism.

The worse thing a professional journalist could do at this time is to ignore the wealth of information available through social media. Instead they must offers power to the public, and work with them to create powerful journalism.

Patch Report

26 Mar

Road Works create business for Charminster Trader

One local florist has seen the benefits of traffic caused by road works at one of the Charminster’s busiest junctions.

Sarah Patient, owner of Flowers at 166, is surprised by the increased interest in flowers since road works on Charminster High Street began in January, after being delayed to avoid hindering traders over Christmas.

“Sales are up 30% which is quite incredible…it’s all because people who would normally be rushing home from work, have had time to think about popping in,” Sarah said.

After opening the independent shop only two years ago, Sarah, 43, has seen business bloom, “my friends all said I was crazy opening a shop when the economy was so bad but I’ve had no trouble, I think it’s all about staying positive in times like these.”

The road works at the junction of Charminster High Street, Alma Road and Richmond Park Road aim to make roads safer by resurfacing roads and replacing pedestrian crossings.

Steve Streader, the site representative said there have been mixed views about the work, “It has caused some upheaval because of the proximity to peoples’ homes and businesses, some residents have had to vacate their driveways for a day or two, but they’ve been very understanding.”

Motorists have been diverted around the works via King’s Road and Heron Court Road. Sam Hall, a Charminster resident and Bournemouth University student said, “I’ve been late for lectures because uni buses have got caught up in the traffic.”

Martin Quinn, estate agent at Quinn and Co, works in an office facing the road works, “The constant noise of the drills makes it so hard concentrate, it’s a real nuisance.”

Mr Streader is aware that some traders may have been affected, “Companies can apply for a reduction of rates if they show a loss of trade in the 17 weeks of the road works.” 

“The good news is, we are over half way through and on track to finish by the beginning of May,” Mr Streader said.