Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Shock of the New(s)

News is shocking. 80% is about trauma. This is why news so often ends with 'cute' stories about scrabble playing dogs or other such nonsense. People finish watching the news and feel alright. If they thought about the rest of the broadcast it would be death/rape/murder/war/ in no particular order. They would probably then want to die from depression.

We Journalists (well I'm on the magazine option so I'm not quite a Journalist, apparently...) come face to face with people in awful situations. We have to walk a line between professional responders and human beings in the wrong place at the wrong (and yet right) time. It's hard to remain focused when things around you feel they are overtaking you, that you are hopeless to help people in peril. But this is what we must do.

The world is an evil, evil, place and it seems the worst kinds of people are winning the war against the minority - a glance at current films being screened shows the type of people that Hollywood knows will be moronic enough to go and see - and as Journalists we have the ability to put into the public domain thoughts, opinions and feelings that can influence people for better or for worse. We have to learn to use this privilege carefully.

When we confront those in shock, in trauma, in pain and suffering, it would be easy to forget all thoughts of professionalism and want to help. But the reporting of an event can have a far greater effect on a much wider scale. Think of Live Aid - all brought about from Michael Buerk's harrowing report from Ethopia.

I don't know if Journalists need to be told they could be affected by what they see, I think the entire human race needs to be told to be ready for a life of misery - when the news is concerned - of evil people carrying out evil deeds on (usually) undeserving victims. This isn't news. This is life.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's Alright Ma (I'm only Blogging)

Here is a link to my Blog of the Week: Allan Jones has been following the Bob Dylan tour and giving an interesting overview and critique of the set lists that have been played. Probably only one for Dylan fans or anyone with a passing interest in real music but it's all good stuff.

Other Dylan Blog titles I could have used...

Tangled up in Blog
(The Answer my friend is) Blowin' in the Blog
Like a Rolling Blog
Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blog Again

or even the very pithy

Blog Dylan

I think I chose the best one by far in the title... but feel free to add any that are better.

The Problem with Online

Online Online Online. It's the only thing worth reading these days. Apparently...

Forgive me for being argumentative but online is only a stop-gap for proper journalism. It gives you what you want when you want it, but like a sandwich at lunch, it's only a snack before a real meal of newspapers or magazines - (this metaphor has got confused but you get the point...)

I love BBC online but it is filled with mistakes, especially the Sports section and as Amanda Powell told us the other day, people, users sorry, only stick around for a few minutes and so the news is nothing more than the bare minimum that a person can remember to sound intelligent when down the pub with their social networks.

Other online sites have similar procedures/problems and it all leaves me underwhelmed (can you just be whelmed?) by how robotic it sounds. When you read a quality paper or a well-written magazine the writing is far more interesting, absorbing and treats you with a degree of respect. The world seems to assume we all care, watch and even vote on Big Brother, X Factor etc. when in fact some of us are intelligent enough to realise it's a money making gimmick dressed up as 'entertainment'.

Whilst Online journalism is going to become a mainstay of our future it does not represent the end of anything. Some of us will still want a well-written, crafted in-depth piece about the music of Led Zeppelin, or the drug problems in South America or something else which Online Journalism does not want to cater for.

Monday, October 23, 2006


More fantastic reporting in the media today. Richard Hammond has given his first interview since that crash and he has 'revealed' that he 'almost died'. I'm pretty sure when he was in that coma we all knew he had almost died. Crashing a light weight drag racer at 300mph is not exactly conducive to a healthy bodily state.

But yet 'Revealed' was the word thrown about the BBC website like something I would expect from FOX News (cunning? ravaged? sly?). Why is it so hard to read back what you have written to see that after just eight words you have made a very basic mistake? Especially from the BBC who are just so goddamn trustworthy. I love the Beeb but it doesn't take long looking around their lovingly crafted website to start noticing glaring error upon glaring error; And on that bombshell...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Give me another shot of news

Whilst enjoying a laid-back pub quiz on Thursday night the television on in the grad centre was on News24, because us post-grads are so mature we only want News, Or TMF in the day… Anyways there was an odd moment when the story running on the BBC News 24 channel went to the news that Prince William wears glasses, coupled with (so the BBC upholds their position of trustworthyness) a picture of William with said glasses.

But this wasn’t enough. The BBC need a quote. What could they say? Who would give a pithy quote regarding specky William and his new glasses. Then who should phone up but a spokesman. A spokesman! The BBC’s prayers were answered. What vital piece of infomation should they extract first. What does your average man…..or woman want to know about a young man and his glasses. How often he wears them! Of course. Thus the headline ran…

Spokesman: He only wears them occassionaly

Thank the skies for News24. Without constant, uninterrupted, never-ending, efficient, popular, interesting, vital, and above all, breaking news, where would we be?!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Keep on Blogging in the free world...

Iain Dale spoke very passionately and interestingly about the new media advancements, in particular his own online TV site 18 Doughty Street. The lecture centred on the very interesting subject of how left-wing media coverage of politics has become. In Cardiff the odds of finding a copy of The Times are less than Elvis crashing a UFO into the Lochness monster eating a Yeti.

The fear of offending any group, especially religions, has turned news coverage into a spineless jelly of reporting.

The notion of a free speech television network was particularly appealing when you look at how pathetically safe and non-offensive all news TV has become with the possible exception of some features on Channel 4 News.

However I feel his obvious slight bias towards Cameron, and in particular his Video Blog, which has attracted so much media attention recently, did come through when discussing this point. Just because a politician, especially the head of the opposition party, takes up the idea of a webcast video, does not mean we should instantly respect it.

It would not have been difficult for Cameron and his PR people to realise that the overly cynical public would immediately reject his video as nothing more than PR exercise. It would have been a far better idea to make the video a little less 'homely' and a little more 'intellectual' because let's face it, we don't see politicians as the same as us, whether they wash-up or not. They put themselves in a job which leaves them open to ridicule, press invasion, scrutiny and rumour, for a job people have little or no respect for anymore and nothing resembling a major financial reward.

Despite this it was refreshing to hear someone willing to voice opinions that people would not immediately agree with let alone not immediately disagree with.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Online Journalism Lecture 12/10/06

Lecture 1

Amanda Powell (right), current editor of, spoke about the pressures and issues which arise when dealing with the news feed on an online website; especially one which has almost 11 million hits a month.

The immediate need to write the story, check facts, ensure it is legally sound, and then publish it was at the forefront of her lecture. Her talk centred around how an online website is designed to keep a user 'clicking' - a user who on average will only stay for four mintues - and in that time deliever as much interesting, informative and above all accurate infomation in such a short space of time.

With such a short space of time in which a reader will give a site his or her attention it does seem as if the reporting of news on such an instant level leaves little room for creative input or anything more than a very broad and basic overview of a story and it's quite possible to see how news reporting - even for a site as respected and diverse as the BBC - could become nothing more than 'factory line' reporting in which an article must be churned out, checked, uploaded, and then the journalist will have to move on to the next piece for the site.

With a magazine article or feature there is a lot more room for creativity and in-depth analysis as well as being able to engage the reader on a far more conversational and yet intelligent level as your reader is far more likely to be willing to read the entire article.

Despite this ever-so-slightly negative view of online news reporting I did find Amanda's talk very interesting and as the BBC is such a giant (or dinosaur?) in the journalistic world (in any medium) it was certainly enlightening to hear a high-ranking employee discussing the workings of a top-level internet news site.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Welcome to my blog. Updated regularly, and featuring all the best from the lecture series on PG Journalism from Cardiff University, and possibly some musings on other things that have happened. Enjoy!