Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Born to be Wild...

We finished our first edition of Wild magazine today (the website should be up by Friday) and it's a great feeling. After several weeks of gathering stories, taking photos, getting quotes, facts and information to finally see all that work beautifully laid out in colour is very satisfying.

From the initiation of the concept, the first meetings through to the final page being proofed and finished, for about the fifth time, it's a long process, but hugely rewarding. And we're already designing the pages for issue two which features mountain boarding, skiing, rambling and camping.

Given that we have made this entire 28 page magazine without any finance or backing and all without being able to promise outside contributors any visible means of their help apart from on the website, it makes me wonder how good it could be with financial revenue and a published product...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

An Unclear View...

Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, was this weeks (very well attended...) lecturer on the R&R series.

Although he too spoke about the threats to print from online and UGC he did it from more of a perspective of someone at the very top, the front line and who was as in the dark about the future as anyone else.

He was open and honest on both the opportunities this new wave of Web2.0 has created for the media, and the downright annoyance at the loss of the old, top-down and basically all-powerful media world that existed just five or six years ago.

From the dramatic rise of The Huffington Post in the USA, a website with a far higher hit rate than the NY Times website, (and which bizarrely was started on May 9, my birthday, and features a blogger named Dan Worth, my namesake...), to the Independent's re-interpretation of a newspaper as a "viewspaper" it was an interesting look at the changing world of the newspaper. A world on which even Rupert Murdoch has said "I can't predict five years ahead."

He discussed the unique perspectives offered by their "Comment is Free" section and the way the instant responses that can be posted on commentators posts has helped improve the quality of journalism. The instant response has created a fear of being jumped on and criticised by the mass army of readers and bloggers out there who are just waiting for a reason to attack.

The newspaper people shifted uneasily at his frank and discomforting reply to a question about being worried at the decline of newspaper sales with the response of "Yes, yes I would be worried."

On one level it was a fascinating look at the future, or possible lack of, for newspapers and on another it made me glad I'm studying magazine journalism...although it's not all good news for magazines either...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Last night I got to interview the jazz pianist Jack Reilly. It was a highly enjoyable interview and it was fascinating to be able to chat with someone who has led such a rich and varied life.

From touring with John Cleese, dining with Bob Hope and releasing his own CDs, it was a constant series of interesting stories, ideas and opinions.

Before interviewing Jack I was off taking photos of a fellow course member dry slope skiing for our course magazine WILD. It's a busy life, but a varied one...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Hot Fuzz Review

Turning to the film world...

Hot Fuzz, the latest effort from the team that made Spaced and Shaun of the Dead, is a cop-buddy movie with a classic, rural, Wickerman style spin. (The classic, British film, not the bizarre, bee based, American remake...)

Full of comedy violence, a la Final Destination, great dialogue, homages to numerous films in the same genre, namely Point Break, and yet all driven by the unique style that Simon Pegg has created and used so well throughout his career, it's the perfect comedy/ drama mix.

Timothy Dalton is superb as the blatantly evil, and yet somehow charming, supermarket owner, while Nick Frost is perfect as the slightly incompetent yet likable sidekick to Pegg's character, Nick Angel.

Some have criticised Pegg for playing such a straight character, but by the time he's leaping through the air to kick an old lady in the jaw, and the audience react to this with laughter and even cheering, it's hard to know just how straight his character really is...

On another point it's nice to have a film that manages to mix violence, comedy, good characters, a far out storyline and great scripting and still treat the audience with a level of respect and intelligence. So many "comedies" these days are nothing more than a pathetic plot, stretched out with tired and predictable sexual jokes and gross out scenes.

And special mention must go to the Swan which plays a minor, yet vital role, throughout the film...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Just when you think you've know it all...

Originally uploaded by Dan Worth.
Isn't the internet fantastic? It still amazes me.

Not only can you order food, DVDs, CDs, and anything else you could possible think of from eBay, you can also upload photos, tag them, share them with the world, click on a map where you took them, and then, just to get really fancy, you can export them to your blog, write the blog post on another page, and it will post it for you. Phew...

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Today was the second lecture from Richard Tait. And very insightful it was too...

He went into great depth about the Andrew Gilligan, BBC, Lord Hutton, Dr David Kelly, 45 Minute "sexed-up" claim and the rather shocking failings that led to the BBC being dragged across the coals in the Hutton inquiry.

It was fascinating hearing how a short "two-way" between Gilligan and John Humphreys at 06.07am on Radio 4 led to one of the most dramatic examples of shoddy journalism being uncovered and held to account in recent years. Despite the report essentially saying the Government lied about the 45 minute claim, at no point did anyone actually ask Gilligan if his "source" (which we now know was David Kelly) had explicitly said "45 minutes".

As it turned out of course, it was an inference, not a quote. And from this, as Richard Tait said, a potentially award-winning piece of journalism which uncovered serious misgivings from several senior intelligence sources about the Iraq dossier, was instead responsible for Hutton inquiry and all the upheavals the BBC suffered as a result. All because Gilligan went too far with his story.

He, ironies of ironies, sexed-up his own piece of journalism, and in a profession in which "words are precision tools" and there is "no tolerance for error" he paid a heavy price.

A sobering reminder of one of the first, and most basic, rules of good journalism: Check your facts...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Freelance? Who's he and why is he in prison?

Freelance is a funny old game. Putting in numerous hours for no money and often for a tiny piece that gets edited to within an inch of its life. So why do it?

Last night I got to interview Andy Spence, a member of New Young Pony Club (second in from left), and then watch them live on the NME Rave Tour. It was a very enjoyable experience and nice to chat to someone involved at the heart of the ever changing music scene. Here is the review, and here is the interview...and the single review...it's like I'm their personal reviewer...

I suppose freelance is done for all the obvious reasons -the freebies, for the portfolio etc. - but I think partly it is done for the chance to get out, meet people and do things, that you just wouldn't usually get the chance to do.

However, I don't think anything will quite beat the feeling of getting an article published and getting paid too. If anyone wants to help me experience this feeling, please don't hesitate to get in touch...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Weekly Round Up

Almost a week since the last entry seems too long. So a few brief sentenes on some of the events making the news:

Snow: I like that the country still struggles with a bit of snow. Something endearing that in this 21st Century of non-stop 24 hour techno jargon we still get a bit hampered by some snow. And passing snow(men/people) on the street always raises a smile.

Football: The demise of the arrogance and hype surronding the England football team since the world cup has been a joy. Watching McClaren try to justify yet another pitiful excuse for a performance as "Yeah I think we learnt some useful lessons from the game," has become something of a farce. Only one man has said what no-one else seemed capable of doing - and he's anonymous. Drop Lampard please...

Rugby: Not much left to be said about Jonny Wilkinson. Simply outstanding. If the over-payed Prima donnas who play football had the same level of desire and heart we might have at least made a good effort at the World Cup.

Bird Flu: Hmmm. Well we were scared by it last year. And then it just went away. So when it came back the attempts at hyping it up again fell a bit flat. Still would be darkly humerous if the docile and beleaguered turkey was to cause a mass outbreak of illness of plague like proportions.

There were plenty of other news stories, obviously, but these were the ones that I found most interesting. On an unrelated note I was ill this week. It was not fun. Not really news but it's my blog so I can break the rules if I want...

Friday, February 02, 2007

On the Other Hand

I (finally) passed my Teeline 100wpm shorthand exam today. Many people on the three options at Cardiff have taken the shorthand course. Some gave up soon, some gave up after serious trying, and some are still going. But even the best, those that passed in November, have been asking: "Is shorthand really worth it?" (see image)

In the media world is there any excuse for not using a nice shiny digital dictaphone which is almost irrefutable evidence in a court of law? Will a series of rushed scrawls on low grade paper really look very impressive in the face of the stern law system where accuracy is vital?

Well I'm still not sure. Part of me wants to think shorthand is necessary, is useful and will provide me with an 'edge' in situations when others there don't have it. But then another part of me knows I will use dictaphones on almost all occasions to ensure perfect clarity on any transcriptions that need to be done.

Perhaps, as one of my course colleagues frequently says: "It's nice having a secret code that most people don't understand." With this I can only agree...
Added 09/02 - Confirmation of pass - with "Credit" - nice...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The All Purpose UGC Blog Entry

Today's talk from Chris Shaw was another trawl through the merits and pitfalls of UGC and, in particular, how Five News now pays upwards of £100 pounds for "Your News" stories.
It was interesting to hear about Five's individual stance on the benefits of UGC but I'm sorry to say it was a case of "heard it all before."
Therefore I present the catch-all guide to what most big-wigs in the industry make of UGC (words in bold are the buzz-words you should use in order to pass yourself off as knowledgeable on this subject).
"The opportunity for community involvement that UGC, or 'citizen journalism', presents is one which media companies must recognise - in all multi-media formats. Although we're not sure why yet."
I shall refer any further UGC relevant talks to this post in future.