Archive for the ‘M41MC – Multiplatform Journalism’ Category

For the Multiplatform journalism module, what we’ve been working on in class is what we will actually be handing in. The term has been split between a number of varied points of interest, and making a magazine.

This initial magazine isn’t going to be published or read, unless of course you guys want to as I will be posting it here.

Yesterday after our M42MC exam prep we spent the entire day focused on pulling together our magazine.

We had all written pieces, and we thought it would be enough to fill the 24 pages, but we hadn’t. Part of this was my fault I failed to write a winter piece but we still had some blank pages. At 17.45 we collectively agreed that realistically we had taken as much learning out of this magazine as we could. What is important is how we act on this now. Today I am going to re-write and re-establish roles in the team stating specifically what each person does and when it should be done by etc.

If this is done then we can start working straight away and prioritising certain stories. This should make the whole process a bit smoother. I will upload these job specifications later.



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The magazine is not a marked entity in Multiplatform Journalism, but it is a necessary practice for when we are marked on the magazine product next year, when we will also have it printed.

This week was focused entirely on production. The main focus of the lecture was putting together a flatplan for the magazine. This is the content order spread across the entire publication.

We had previously put together a flat-plan in our collective meeting last Friday which was lucky as we were very low on numbers. What myself and Ben did was productive. I proofread Ben’s article and completed my own whilst Ben hunted down some press releases.

We will be meeting again this Friday to discuss theme and page layouts, it would be a good idea to put our ideas into production as well as the final project needs to be completed by Friday.

We are marked on the process of putting together the magazine. We will have to evaluate where we went wrong, how we could have improved and what we will do next term to improve on this.

We will also be marked on 6 journalistic outputs. I have yet to decide which ones I will be using but we have to review why we produce each piece in a certain way in reference to our audience/publication etc.

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From 5 to 85, even peaking at 90. The 5000 public workers striding through the streets of Birmingham side by side, many arm in arm, brought the city to life.

For such a metropolitan area there was a communal feel to today’s proceedings. People of all ages showed their dismay, dissolution and disgrace at the country’s leaders in a positive way that would prove the country proud.

No violence needed. The impact the united unions projected was one of sheer resistance. Each person had a story to tell and a belief to march for.

Starting on Livery Street and ending at the National Indoor Arena, the chief steward told of how “thrilled” he was to see such a positive response.

“We have 12 unions represented on our official poster but about 22 altogether, including high profile ones like Fire Brigade Union

Photo by Simon

There were giant balloons plastered in union slogans, thousands of people carrying signs. Four men carried a fake, but life-size guillotine, on the woodblock were three mannequins of the men at the top of the food chain that is British Government.

85 year-old Mr Oulaghan “I’m very excited, it’s a really good turn out, everybody can’t be wrong.”

Despite the angry political reasons behind the point of the rally, the event itself was quite a jovial affair. The mixture of parents, pensioners and children all represented themselves in with honour.

There was a disappointing void in proceedings. Amongst the sea of flags, it was tough to spot a single National Union of Students banner. The teenagers and young adults missed out on a vital opportunity to show their support. This may be the reason the Prime Minister labelled the event “a damp squib” the following day.

The Student’s Union at Coventry University explained their absence; “we are only allowed to send one email a year to the students”.

This is likely to be used during the all-important Fresher’s Week. This is the time of year the CUSU need to establish themselves as a point of contact as a support system for students in times of distress. They must also establish themselves as a leader when students don’t which path to follow.

Although the void was apparent, this didn’t distract from the task at hand.

“Its great to see everybody together but I’m angry about the fact that a lot of wealthy people are telling us to tighten our belts” Alan Taylor reminds us. He was in Birmingham representing the Foxhollies Special School, who promote art, performance and sport for special needs teenagers. The school was closed but the Deputy Head teacher Keith Youngson said, “We’re here for them, we’re all here for them”.

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Today was our first assignment. It came in the form of a presentation. I chose to complete mine on the role of the Prime Minister and the Internal affairs of the government.

The day went very well, my seminar seemed quite positive – hopefully this will be reflected in my marks. I took particular interest in the foreign students that based their presentations on their home country. Thailand, China and the United States all have differing political systems to the UK. It was interesting to note the differences and in many cases, similarities between the different systems.


Our afternoon session went ahead as usual and this week we looked at printing layout of the magazine as a whole and the technical aspects behind it.

Printing presses tend to have one giant sheet that the magazine is printed on, sometimes in its entirety. This is called a Web-offset print.

This sheet of paper has every page of the magazine printed out on it and this is why most magazines will be made up of a page count that’s divisible by four.

Once the entire magazine is printed it is then folded, and folded again, then probably folded another two or three times. What you will get is an A4 (or thereabouts) size magazine that has the bottom, side and top chopped off. This will then be your magazine.

The location of each page on this ‘master’ page is key. When it is folded several times over, the location of each page will change. As a magazine printer I would need to know how many pages there are in the magazine and what is on each page to make sure that during the folding process everything lines up correctly. You wouldn’t be able to have pages printed on this master sheet in chronological order because when it is folded up, they will no longer appear chronologically.

You will then end up with 4 pages (or 1 signature) fitting on two sides of one sheet (technical term being ‘folio’), if you fold this sheet in half you have single pages or perhaps one page of a double page spread.

Anyone else confused, or is it just me?


The magazine is then bound and there are three different options to do this:

The first is stitched. Two staples in key places down the centre of the magazine that keeps it in place. This is by far the cheapest option but not always the strongest or aesthetically pleasing.

Alternatively you could saddle stitch the product. This is where the spine is joined all the way down so you can’t see the join. It looks good but if you have a magazine with loads of pages it can struggle to keep them all in place.

Finally you could use a technique called perfect binding. This is popular in paperback books, as the squared off spine can be sized to fit any number of pages comfortably. This is the most expensive option and isn’t always needed for smaller magazines but does look great if you have a mag of over a hundred pages.


Magazines tend to get printed in four prime colours – Cyan, Magenta, yellow and black. These colours combine to make pictures, pictures and should be able to mix to combine the right concentration of colour content to reproduce the original image.


When you are reading a magazine there is something called pace. You know what it means but in the context of reading, you can have a pace to a magazine. Most mags tend to have quite a quick pace in the first third. There will be content pages, news pages, and editor’s notes, short regular features. Then as you get in to the second third and the meat of the magazine that’s when you reach the features and interviews. Often the front cover feature will be somewhere in this section. As you draw toward the final part of the magazine, you will often find ‘in other news’ sorts of features that the editor may think the reader will be interested in. There might also be regular columns, or guest opinion pieces.

You can break down pace within your thirds. During the main features section you may want quite a still feature that is perhaps a sit-down interview with someone. Alternatively if you were covering a sport or event with lots of action you could have actiony type photos, and the written pace of the feature could be quicker and more upbeat.


We completed the day by getting in to our groups and discussing the magazine again. We pinned down ideas and began putting our content into sections. We are planning a group outing (although a divided one) to cover the national union strikes this Wednesday. I will go up to Birmingham with Taksaya and Ben and Sabrina will stay in Coventry. We have a view to meet up again on Friday to compare content and discuss any issues or extra content we may need.


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As a journalist there are a number of different image options you can use to enhance the story. There are also design issues to take into consideration as you have to pick the right image to go with the story, both in terms of how it relates and what kind of tone the picture sets.

Image courtesy of Ecadamy.com


There are 5 main different ways of obtaining an image to connect with a major story.

  • Press Offices

Every company will have its own press office where they will have a range of images that may or may not relate to the subject or story you’re writing. The positives is that they are usually willing to give you one to promote their product but they may not give you the image they want. If you’re writing a story about a Ferrari being set on fire, Ferrari probably don’t have or want that image circulate. They will usually oblige with a photograph but will give you the photograph they want you to use to make the product look good.

  • News Agencies

Associated Press or Reuters are two big companies that have hundreds of people in each country working for them. They attend any story that they think someone might be worth writing about and will usually have a wide range of stylistic photographs from many different perspectives. The drawback to these guys is cost and as they are usually photographs about a certain thing, they can usually only be used for one story. Paying a lot of money for the rights to one image when it’ll be worthless after you post the story is not always worth it. As these agencies are so big they will also supply to many other people. You may see the image you paid a lot of money for splashed over many other news outlets.

  • Archives and Picture Libraries

If you’re working on a budget these can be good because you won’t always have to pay for it, or at least it may not cost you much. However these images aren’t hugely up to date as the main reason they have it is because the rights have expired. If you want a photograph of Rupert Murdoch, they may have one, but one from when he first inherited his newspapers.

  • Indivduals

If you are a local writer, or a national news story has broken about a local issue or tragedy, you can go to the individual the story is about. This is a good way to get an exclusive photograph if you are there before anybody else. It can potentially cost very little. If you give £20 to someone for the official rights to use a photograph that means very little to them personally, but may have exclusive headline image, you could then sell the rights on for £20,000 if the story picks up speed in the national press. This can sometimes be unethical and immoral. If the story is about a personal tragedy, do you really want to go into the home of a story subject, connect with them and exploit them for a poxy image?

  • Commissioned Shots

The good old fashioned way of getting a photograph is getting a camera yourself or pay a highly skilled photographer to get it for you. Once again this is an issue of cost – the better the photographer or photograph, the more you’ll pay. It does take away the personal backache of chasing down a photo and you can usually ask for a very specific photo i.e. someone looking sad, coming out of a courtroom after an unsuccessful trial,


What’s wrong with online images?

If you’re going down a low budget route you can go on to websites like newspress.co.uk or search through rights free image websites like morguefile.com, you can of course search through thousands of images on Google.

This brings up it’s own problems of who owns the rights to each image (and quite often you may have to sift through thousands of pornographic photos before you find that image of two women genuinely playing table tennis). If you go to the Google Images homepage however you can adjust the search settings in Advanced Search options. Tick the box to search for Commercial Use.


Image courtesy of Smash&Peas

  • Do you want landscape or portrait?
  • If you are looking for a striking image of a single person you probably want him in the centre of the photograph.
  • You may want to include background business, try cutting in the image in to 3rds. Get the focus of the image on the cross-hairs of two of the 3rds – this can help show situation or circumstance.
  • The depth of the field is important and in particular what’s in focus. Change the F/number to adjust the subject.
  • Movement

    Courtesy of Chris Grosser Photography

Shutter speed can dramatically change the style and feel of an image. It can be used to get the best effect for cars driving, runners… running or perhaps if there’s a lot of action happening like a music performance.

If you are looking for not much blur you want a fast shutter speed like 1/500th of a second.

If you want a lot of blur slow shutter speed (1/15th) is what you’re after.

Panning can also help the effect of your blur. This can be especially brilliant when shooting a racing car.

  • Distortion and Perspective

If you want a promotional shot that looks quite dramatic and exciting you’ll want an extreme perspective but for a simple shot to fully capture the ‘real’ essence of the subject a flat perspective – similar to your personal digital camera will do.

  • Colourfulness

Speaks for itself.


The right image has to suit the story’s slant and angle. For this you need to focus on the colour of the image, the pose of the subject, the angle the photo was taken from. These variants will have different results. What may be good for an labum cover, may not be good for a news story. What may be good for a news story, may not be good for a feature.

Obviously News Value is important, if it’s not topical it might not be worth anything – I’ll refer you to the Rupert Murdoch comparison I made earlier.

Availability is important – you may know of a photo, but can you get to it. Is it sendable? Printable? Has it been exclusively paid for by another company? Rights of the image will link in to this.

What information does the image convey? There used to be a time where to find out the 5 W’s of a photograph, all you had to do was turn it over and read the information written on the back of the image. In a digital age this isn’t all that possible but sometimes there will be telling signs in the photo. Perhaps there’s a road sign, or a name tag around someones neck. Maybe the image has the poster of the titled event you are reviewing. If the image has an unnamed person standing in front of a perfectly plain brick wall – that may say nothing.

Technical Quality




Colour Balance

Original Size, resolution and compression

All the above are hugely important in what you can and cannot use in different media forms.

Online                            Image                                   Print

72 dpi                            Resolution                        288 dpi

JPG, GIF, PNG            File Format                       JPG, TIFF

High                              Compression                    None, Low

Small                             File Size                             Doesn’t Matter


25 pixels                      Small Image                      300 pixels wide

100 pixels                    Big Image                           5000 pixels wide

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Our afternoon session with Noakes saw us discussing feature writing and writing for different audiences.

We were told to look at 1 story across 3 different media outlets and I specifically chose the story this week about the Olympic Torch relay around Britain. The outputs I focused on was the BBC website, the Olympic website and the Western Mail online – the Welsh national daily.

Seb Coe holding the torch at St Pancras station - courtesy of guardian.co.uk

The distinctions were obvious in that the London Olympic site gave as much information as possible, it quoted an interview with Seb Coe and despite it being a national event the promotion was on locality and reaching 95% of the UK. It also described some of the transport used. This site is clearly aimed at providing information for a national audience. The writing also keeps in mind business owners and transport authorities and despite being nationally focused it is probably written for businesses.

BBC always aims to give a rounded view and generally looked at this story as a source of information. The interesting note is that despite the story appealing to an nation interested in headlines and important landmarks the torch will pass, there were links imbedded that focused the story to more local areas, and provided the reader with the option of looking at a map of the country with every stop pinpointed.

Western Mail obviously focuses way more on locality and is appealing to the higher brow, lower-middle class. It notes every stop in Wales without mentioning that it will be anywhere else in Britain. The article also quotes Welsh Secretary rather than Seb Coe. It is clearly defined for Welsh audience and aims to involve many areas and audiences, but the usual readership is more pinpointed.

Almost every one of the stories is for an ABC1 audience.

ABC1 is the higher up members of society who are professional, well-educated, earning members of society.

Arguably the Western Mail online could have drifted partially in to the C2DE category.

C2DE is for slightly lower-class readers. Notable publications popular with this market is the Sun and other tabloids.

Readerships are defined by a number of other categories however;

Education                                       Age

Engagement with news               Proximity

Consumation of news                   Sex

Social status (ABC1 C2DE)          Specialists


We defined the definitions of Readership and Circulation;

Circulation – How many copies are actually printed

This information is held at abc.org.uk

Readership – How many people read the printed copies altogether

This infortmation is estimated at nrs.co.uk


We ended the class by getting into the group in which we were to begin preparing our magazine. The magazine will be completed this term so we can write up an analysis about how it went. Then we will do the same next term in a similar module but print it and write up again an academic analysis of the production.

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With the second half of Monday dedicated to discovering InDesign there wasn’t a lot to write about from that particular class apart from that we re-constructed a magazine DPS (Double Page Spread) from AutoCar.

Hence I didn’t really offer a full write up.

Friday’s seminar session with Fred and the Global Media and Communication gang was a discussion roundtable of work we had been reading up until that point. We discussed theories and different media concepts and conversed as to how we will be using them to relate to our essay this term. That’s the part I worry over is the academic writing. I’ve always struggled with academia, if you ask me to write a story about anything I can, if you want me to critically analyse the media systems present in the Czech Republic since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the drop of the Iron curtain – I’ll struggle.

But I’m reading all I can and so far have been impressed with how I have approached this course in comparison to my BA. Of course the reasons are justified but I’m happy the work is going in to it.

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Trevor's attempt at a banana carving

We had a three hour lecture.

The first fifteen minutes we were told “go find a news story”, we had two and a half hours and they had to be uploaded in the final 15 minutes.

I was scanning over my email when they were telling us the point of today’s lecture and noticed this and decided to follow up the story with a local spin.

I went over to the Coventry Market and introduced myself to one of the fruit stall owners. I decided to write the piece in the style of the Sun. Here is my finished story.

British public “too busy” to carve bananas

Fruit stall owners were ‘monkeying’ around yesterday, trying the latest internet sensation – banana carving, but some don’t believe the trend will take off.

The carvings, made famous by Japanese artist Keisuke Yamada, won’t continue its rise in popularity because “the people here are too stressed, too busy” says Hussain, a Coventry fruit salesman.

He was too busy to try carving one himself, but he kindly donated one for a customer to try.

Trevor, 36 attempted to re-create Yamada’s famous ‘beach-bum banana’ and noted that “it’s very creative”.

 “I’m not very artistic. If I could sit at home trying, it might be better”.

 If only he had time.

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To report news there is a very simple structure that can pretty much guarantee the news story is readable should you follow it. Its an inverted pyramid.


\         OVERVIEW          / Important facts come first reader understanding.

..\                                  /

……\                            /  Expansion puts it into perspective.

……….\                   /

…………..\ detail/  Specifics and data back up the facts.

………………\  /


It delivers the story efficiently

It allows cutting from the bottom (used less now with modern printing)


Doesn’t allow people to get to interested in the story

It gives the story away straight away.

The inverted pyramid doesn’t allow for drama and is less used in feature writing, but it allows the readers to get a feel for the story and know the news. immediately.

The Language of news is key to inform people of the latest events and depends on the readership.

They should be short, active sentences

Short, simple paragraphs

Tell the reader what the story is about. “If you told a friend about an important story, how would you say it?” Noakes (2008)

As a task we had to write a hundred word news story about a press statement in our chosen field (available on moodle). I have written mine for a tabloid newspaper like The Sun.


8 people have died and 120 have been left injured in Hungary near a town called Ajka. The local aluminium plant – MAL, may have overloaded a storage facility full of toxic waste. The World Wildlife Fund had taken pictures three months ago showing red sludge seeping out of the plant and Zoltan Bakonyi – the head of MAL has now been arrested for what the Hungarian Prime Minister calls ”human negligence”. The charges are said to be on suspicion of public endangerment and environmental damage the company could pay a fine for up to £64 million.

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The task of reading a chapter from The Universal Journalist by David Randall (2000) proved a harder job as originally anticipated. The stated publication has been re-produced and re-printed several times over. Of course I picked up the wrong one. I had located the 1996 publication in which the chapter I needed is titled ‘News Values’.

The 1996 version

I read through this chapter and found it very interesting, I have also found that my lecturer must find it very interesting as well as he quotes it verbatim – not that there is  anything wrong with this, as previously stated I personally found it very interesting.

There were one or two references that Randall makes that I didn’t understand or connect with immediately but I am beginning to find that I am of general understanding when it comes to certain things on this course. I think McNae’s Essential Law for Journalist’s/2007 is also helping this but more on that later.

The 2000 version as recommended by my course tutor

Of course I later found out that I shouldn’t be reading the 1996 edition of The Universal Journalist, instead I should have picked up the 200 print. Luckily I located the publication on Amazon.co.uk and an amazing feature that my fellow journalists in training should make proper use of, is if you have an amazon account, you can in fact look inside many books even if you’re not buying them.

Fortunately I did this and despite very few differences between the ’96 and the ’00 edition I did find more updated references that helped my previous understanding.

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