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.

reporting with a twist?

8 Mar

Features come in a number of formats, including; life style, background, profiles, interview, opinion column and news feature. All of these formats can be written in various ways.

lifestyle feature – These are features about general information e.g. health and nutrition, fashion, weddings, education, dating etc. These will usually be written by someone who is either an authoritative voice with knowledge on the subject, or by a person who has done a lot of research on the subject. These will sometimes by written in first person and include opinion. These are often found in magazines.

Background feature– This is written to give background information on a topic which has recently been in the news. These are often written in a more formal tone and may even use the inverted pyramid style of writing used in news reports. These are often found in newspapers/websites.

Profile feature– Creates a profile of a person, either through interview and research or through other people’s opinions, or research alone. As long as a deep and insightful description of the person is created, that is the main aim. these are found in newspapers such as The New Yorker which publishes longer features.

Interview feature– The are another way to give insight into a person of interest. The body of text will mostly be based on quotes which have come from the interview. These are most often found in magazines.

Opinion Column– Often written in a first person style, these give a well researched opinion of a current issue.

news feature– These can have opinion as well but they are more concerned with giving extra “how?” and “why?” knowledge to a current news issue. These will often use the inverted pyramid style of writing.

So a feature can be about any subject which is of current interest to the public or the magazine readers, for example, a feature about flowers would be unlikely to feature in a Men’s Health Magazine.

Some subjects which are often of interest are: fashion, beauty, cars, technology, media, gardening, travel and food.

Often features will be introduced with a “stand first” which is an introductory paragraph before the lead which tells the reader what relevance the feature has to the present. After the stand first, the feature can start with a lot of description to set a scene to paint a picture in the mind of the reader to allow the reader to get a feel for the scene. Or, the feature can be started with a quote, which is an affective way to quickly grasp the attention of the reader. It is important to capture conversation e.g. include quotes, as well as to use characterisation which involves description of mannerisms, age, address, clothing etc.

He’s at it again

4 Mar

After being so disappointed with the first, I should have avoided watching the second episode of Heston’s Mission Impossible on Tuesday night, but intrigue got the better of me. Alas I was not surprised to find he was back to his old tricks, trying to force unrealistic changes onto a company who’s main priority is not the food it sells. Heston used all his tried and tested techniques to make management of Cineworld come across as being evil, mostly because they are profit driven. Of course, Heston would never sell the food he makes at high prices, no, I’m sure all the food at his restaraunt is cheap as hell, and I’m sure he hasn’t been getting paid an absolute mint for making these programmes either…hypocrite.

 I totally agree that Cineworld food is a total rip off and the profits they make on popcorn is a sign that they do mark up prices far more than the need to but Heston’s techniques to battle that were all wrong. Not only did Heston conjure up far too many different variations of snack that would confuse the staff and customers, but he was creating things that only he knew how to make, such as hot dogs made with ketchup and mustard inside with an edible napkin.

It also made me angry to see him patronising the staff just like he had in alder hay, simply because they couldn’t remember all the flavours he had created, or produce the snacks quickly enough when customers asked for them. If he seriously wanted his inventions to work in the cinemas, he would need to have a lot more patience and the ability to train up the staff to sell his silly ideas.

He was ranting on about calories in popcorn too which wound me up. People don’t go to the cinema for a nutritious meal, they go to enjoy a film and pig out on junk food. Rather than spraying fish stink all over the cinema to help “improve customers’ experience of films”, high sugar levels in food can release endorphins in the audience, giving them a more pleasurable experience.

Also, why did he keep going on about bringing the magic back to cinemas? Cinemas used to be an “exciting and magical experience” because they were new and people didn’t understand how they worked, but now they’re old and we know how they work, no amount of curry flavoured popcorn is going to solve that. I will admit I really liked the idea of candy floss in the cinema…but banana flavour?! He had to go and ruin it.

The cineworld manager said he might continue the special hotdogs and the popcorn icecream, but I doubt either will work as they would still have to cater to people who don’t like ketchup and mustard in their hotdogs, and they already have ben and jerrys ice cream which offers a wider range of more interesting flavours.

Sorry Heston, I believe that was another epic fail, but keep trying cause it’s all good promotion for your restaraunt and that’s all that matters ay?

Reporting on court hearings

1 Mar

Did you know that any member of public is allowed to attend public court hearings? We have the right to know what goes on in there but if we’re honest, most people do not have time or motivation to go! It’s ok though, journalists do the nosey work for the rest of us. But there are restrictions for reporting on court hearings and if these are not adhered to, the journalist can face up to two years in prison.

  1. Contempt of Court: the journalist must not report anything whilst the defendant is still on trial if it could affect the jury’s decision e.g. the defendant’s previous convictions. this restriction also means that the journalist is not able to ask about the deliberations of the jury, nor can they take photographs or tape recordings of the hearings. these restrictions are mostly in place in order to ensure that the jury’s opinion is not affected by anything other than the information heard in court.
  2. Restrictions on Access: The public and journalists are not allowed to attend private court hearings, meaning there are restrictions to what can be reported on those cases.
  3. Reporting Restrictions of 1981: These give the court the power to postpone or ban certain information.

There are two main forms of defamation of the English law:

  • Libel: Defamation in the permanent order e.g. written form
  • Slander: Defamation if the transient form e.g. spoken word

Hold on there Heston

26 Feb

I think James Walton has summed up Heston’s “Mission Impossible” show, very well in his Guardian report. Heston has tried and failed, to come across as the sick child’s hero with his show that argues children would rather eat sick soup and snot shakes, to pizza, chips and spaghetti.

Normally I love watching Heston’s crazy culinary skills and I thoroughly enjoyed channel 4’s  “Heston’s Feast” , in which he’d treat a table of celebrities to some weird and wonderful dishes which followed a theme e.g. an actual gengerbread house made from children’s treats to follow a nursery rhyme theme.

However, this show was a step too far, as Heston tried to pretend that his style of cooking was more appropriate than the traditional style when it comes to getting children to eat in a hospital.

I’m not a fussy eater and I would love to try almost everything that Heston creates, however if I was sick in hospital and someone served me a smoothie that had the look and consistency of snot, next to a bowl of soup created to look like something that I’d just heaved up, I would probably lose my appetite.

The framing of the staff at the Alder Hey hospital was also very dramatic and un-called for. They made the cooks look like…idiots, and Heston implied that they had been purposefully giving the children disgusting food when he pointed out that they didn’t want to face the patients they had been catering for.

Not all cooks have an endless budget to spend on any ridiculous food they fancy, or get to boss around other chefs and revel in the praise their customers give them, Heston. Some cooks have to work their hardest to serve hundreds of people while keeping to all the rules and regulations of the NHS.

There’s no way that Heston’s ideas will be carried out in hospitals and I don’t have high hopes for next week’s installment either. Heston is trying to replace the popcorn in cinemas…stupid.

Heston, you stay at the Fat Duck doing your thing in your appropriate setting and stop trying to change the world one tomato eye ball at a time. We like our traditions, that’s why they’re traditions!