Archive for the ‘M42MC – Law, Ethics and Public Administration’ Category

Our deadlines are drawing closer, not just for assignments but for exams as well. We have just one written test in Law, Ethics and Public Admin. Yesterday we went through revision and past exam papers.

The exam will be on a number of different subjects.

1) The European Court of Justice in Luxemburg, and what takes place there.

2) The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and its role.

3) A Question on Libel/Defamation

4) A Question on Contempt of Court

5) A Question on reporting a serious sexual offence

  • If you name the person, you can’t name things like incest etc

6) A Question on Data protection

  • Personal Data
  • Non-personal data
  • Sensitive personal data


We also briefly covered the journalistic product which I aim to discuss with Marcos today, to look for advice and direction on how to record it.

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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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Today we spent some time pursuing the idea of Contempt of Court. We discussed the previous week’s exam and finished off going through the answers and shortly after this we listened to a special programme, put together to put to bed the problems the BBC faced when they released a not for broadcast recording.

In 2006 there was a series of women murdered all seemingly connected to one gentleman. a BBC journalist recorded an interview with this gentleman just for background research and assured the interviewee that it would not be broadcast on live radio.

A day later the same gentleman did an interview with a national newspaper that seemed to essentially release all the information that the note-purpose recording held. The BBC then decided to release the interview claiming it to be an ‘Exclusive’.

Not only did this gentleman not murder any of the women, but this interview had arguably caused his arrest. Understandably he was not happy.

The BBC made the same mistakes the rest of the media did. Every major newspaper latched on to this story and this same gentleman supposedly being the murderer. The only difference the BBC had was that they had released the interview which they had promised wouldn’t be. Also due to the fact that the BBC is a publicly funded body it obviously causes more outrage to the general public when something goes wrong.

This could be a potential danger to the similarities with the Joanna Yeates trial with regards to her landlord. He was put in a similar position where most of the country started believing he caused the death of Yeates. Obviously more recent findings prove that he had nothing to do with it.

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It’s true. Britain has no official constitution. Not one in the same way as the USA. My personal belief is that the whole constitution thing in the US is a bit bizarre anyway. Just because some old bearded men wrote down a few opinions on what people should be allowed to do over 400 years ago, doesn’t mean that it should still be allowed to happen now.

This is the potential problem with the Human Rights Act (1998) put in by the previous government, although a decent idea, it’ll be dated in 20 years. But before this was introduced the British countries were ruled by something called the unwritten constitution, which is upheld by the House or Lords. The unwritten constitution is loosely based on a medieval English Charter called Magna Carter. This combined with Habeas Corpus – the idea that a misdeed can be tried before a court, is ultimately how this country has been ruled since the dawn of civilised civilisation.

This is what we spoke about in Monday’s lecture with Marcos.

The House of Lords have powers to delay laws, as any law the Prime Minister is willing to pass has to be agreed by both Houses of Parliament. In the 80’s Thatcher tried to pass several laws through that may have been put through House of Commons but the House of Lords believed it wasn’t best for the country and this began the downfall of Thatcher from a political standpoint.

There are four different types of Lords that make up the House;

Hereditary Lords – Not around so much anymore. There was over a 1000 several year back who didn’t do anything but simply had privileges to enter and claim expenses on the country’s dime. There are under 100 now but most of them like to contribute to the House in some way.

Life Peers – Officially appointed by the Queen but a lot of recommendations will come from the Prime Minister, these can occasionally include knighted celebrities but of course the famous ones won’t contribute to the House, a lot of the time the Lord will be politically minded and is there to assist the government.

Anglican Clergy – They say Anglican because saying protestant upsets them. They are usually Bishops of the Church of England who say they represent all religious sects.

Law Lords – The place would be pretty pointless without people who know something about law. They will be high ranking lawyers, judges or counsel.

We discussed a few other points like the age of voting and the age to stand for election, when the polls open and close. We also discussed briefly the work we have to hand in – which is closing in now, and a reminder to look in McNae to prepare for the up and coming presentation.

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This week’s work made last week’s extra curricular visit to the courts with Simon obselete.

We were told to become court reporters. When you attend a court with ten other people the courts get suspicious so unfortunately we were unable to take notes.

To overcome this I managed to remember little bits of one story and run out of the court at the end of that bail hearing to note down what I remembered.

Upon my return we were told to write a voicer for a radio news bulletin.

I have changed some details to avoid getting in trouble with libel or contempt of court but here is the story.


… a woman from Coventry who crashed a car while being chased by the police has admitted stealing the vehicle.

Huw Hopkins reports…


Judy Crebb, twenty, of thirty seven Ballsgrove Avenue has admitted aggravated car theft.

She was denied bail at Coventry Crown Court. Her step father was present to give support but did not speak.

Judy Crebb also denied a charge of burglary and will have to be tried at a later date.



Once we came back and reviewed our work we needed to look at contempt of court. More can be found in McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists but some important notes I made were;

Once someone is arrested the case is active and you can be in substantial risk of harming proceedings once the case is active.

Strict Liability is important. If you didn’t know the case is active, that doesn’t matter it is your responsibility as a journalist to have found this out.

When you’re in court you’re allowed to report anything spoken. If the jury is sent out you are not. You are also not allowed to talk to the jury about the case at all.

In court reporting there are 10 points (or commandments) you must follow.

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It wasn’t to Oxford.

After an initial confusion over what was happening for this particular lecture it turned out we were going to be in uni all day doing pop quizes and writing news stories, not going to BBC Oxford.

The pop quiz opened up the day with some of us having absolute no clue what we have meant to have learned in the past few weeks, much studying to do before exam day. In the second half of the lecture we listened to Barry give his presentation on Council housing and the government, quite interesting, hopefully all these lectures will go up on moodle sometime soon to review.

In-between courses Simon was very kind in taking me to the court house to learn how to get in, get stories and where to go etc. Quite fun.

I will be doing my own presentation on Transport and the Environment next week, wish me luck.

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One of the positives about putting journalistic theories or examples in to context is that there is almost always news that it can be related to. Today we discussed Libel and Defamation, two subject areas that are very complex. It seems almost impossible to pin down any one subject that may or may not be libel as almost everyone can be (or not) proven otherwise.

A few definitions did arise and a draconian description of its meaning is that if one person were to make permanent words that may cause third parties to shun and avoid another especially in their line of business then this may be seen as libel.

What this means is if I were to put in print that a goalkeeper was particularly poor at saving goals because someone never taught him to catch that is particular libel as it’s causing defamation of his character and his professional skill. This goalkeeper doesn’t even have to prove that he can or cannot catch a ball, the point would be that I have damaged his reputation.

The claimant has to prove certain things:

1) That my particular statement might refer to him or her

2) That the statement in question has a defamatory meaning

3) That the statement has been communicated to a third-party (in print, publication or broadcast)

How might I defend such an action I hear you ask…

1) I should be able to justify that what I’ve said is true or that I can prove it. This is where keeping notes on everything can be advantageous.

2) I am expressing my free comment. I am entitled to an honestly held opinion as long as I don’t show malice. If I was accusing the goalkeeper of not catching the ball because his parents didn’t bring him up correctly and teach him simple catching skills and that he clearly should have been wearing glasses, the four eyed freak! That particular quote may seem as if I don’t like the man.

3) Journalists are entitled to certain privileges. This has to be looked at in great detail. If ever you are unsure McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists will undoubtedly have the answer (from this point forward it shall be known as the Bible).

Next week’s lecture I will be providing a presentation to the class on transport and environmental issues in local government. I’ll be following on from Lois who performed well in her presentation this week about how local government is financed.

How local governments are financed is partly to do with Formula Grants that are renewed every three years and slightly less provided by public charges (car parking, speeding, council tax).

I will email Marcos to put the powerpoint slides on moodle for later review as it does get quite complicated. Better get started on that!

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The second half of M42MC was more focused on what the expectations are of us this year when it comes to assignments and presentations so it was less of learning discussion.

We did discover a few things thought that in local governments there will be recommendations given which will appear in a leaflet or newsletter. This can end up on the local paper’s editor’s desk, and from here it is not a bad idea to report this news as ‘recommendations’ are likely followed through. This then brought up a discussion about whether this was true or not and ultimately it is probably worth checking and investigating further.

We also got told of a few books that are essential reading.We found McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists but couldn’t find Morrison’s Essential Public Affairs. Although after looking in the library I think it might be under a different name.


Even later in the afternoon we attended our first M42MC lecture with Andrew Noakes. We too discussed what was expected of us this year but also discussed the structure of magazines and newspapers. I’ll try and break it down here.

Chief Exec


Publisher __________

/                                            \

_____           Editor     ______                           Ad Manager

/                            |                              \

Art Editor                         Deputy Editor                 Production Manager

/                                                     |

Designers                                         Section Editor

/          :        |                   \

Sports writer         :       News                    Features writer etc.


Freelance Contributors


A word of helpful advice from Andrew is that if I am a regular writer and I want to be a Section Editor, I have to do their job meaning either take on some of their responsibilities when they’re on holiday or ill or anything else, and take on responsibilities outside of my job description.

In the second half of the lecture we discussed people like Galtung and Ruge and about News Values. I looked at a breaking story from the conservative party conference about George Osbourne’s announcement about the council tax price freeze. A bit more about this will be put up on moodle which I will hopefully link to here once found.

We have been given a bit of homework by next week which is to read a chapter from two different books; Universal Journalist by Randall (2000) and Information Age Journalism by Campbell (2004).

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M42MC – In other words ‘Law Ethics and Public Administration’

The first week is always just a haze of various information thrust in your hands, and important information displayed and said that you will expect to keep in the back of your mind until the day you graduate, but it is, in essence, simple. You turn up they give you information, you go home. Even with the Induction week project it was mainly a demonstration in what they expect from us over the next year.

Fresh out of the first lecture, the students are running, and from the moment Marcos Young began talking that’s exactly what they have been doing.

We. We have been doing, because of course I am here too. Running like crazy. I wish I was a bit fitter.

There was some really interesting live discussion though as Marcos introduced this particular class. He asked us what the top story of the day is, and ultimately, no one answered. This is another learning for us to take away. We are journalists now, we must conduct our lives as such. That involves listening to the radio – Radio4, local radio, 5live – anything that contains news we must know whats going on, where its going on why its going on, who its… you get the picture.

With the class being so brief the learning’s were simple and straight forward.

When reporting news that affects local environment make sure you are going to the right person/place/office to ensure you get the right information. If I were reporting about bin collection in Coventry, would I ring up the Warwickshire Council or the West Midlands, or the city council, or the district council? Even if you know the answer to the question, check it.

I will also (if I want to pass this module it seems), set an allowance each Monday to buy the Guardian. Every job I’ll ever want will be posted in the job section each week and I must also of course grasp an element of news before I attend this class or I’ll end up looking very silly indeed. I don’t think journalists get much in the way of a break – now I understand why even when Jeremy Vine isn’t on the radio, his twitter feed is still constantly updating about news outbreaks.

We also spoke about creating radio news packages and how it seems we’ll have to be making one pretty soon. I have already begun thinking up of ideas regarding the Olympics coming to town for football and how the road outside our building has gone through a revamp. They seem to have a sort of diamond shaped roundabout built up, with no road signs, markings or lights to help direct the several hundred auto drivers that will go over it in the next hour. (UPDATE)

The red square of suicide


Radio News Packages are pre-recorded and can last between 3.30 and 5 minutes, it generally has to contain 3 contributors and you have to think about background sound to create the illusion of time space and atmosphere. I must also think about target audience (as with everything I’m going to be doing for the next year). If I’m recording a piece for Radio1 it’ll be full of atmosphere, jingles, short clips (not soundbytes) of the contributors but if I was recording for Radio4 it would be straight talking and information longer clips and no effects in any way.

I’m not sure if we will be doing this task in the afternoon session of this class but one thing I know is I’ll be running through that one as well.

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