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Lisa Fitzgibbon

Lisa Fitzgibbon is a veteran of folk music; fronting the Power Folk band for many years, but now she wants to focus on making Something Beautifulas the musical director of her new global fusion band Moonshee.

With my band, The Lisa Fitzgibbon Quartet/Quintet/Trio/whatever the line-up, I’ve been working with my fiddle player, Jane Griffiths for 15 years now, so we’re so ingrained. My bass player is her husband, and his brother is the guitarist, and they’ve been playing together their whole lives. They can do what they want on-stage because they are so in tune with each other. We’ve done tours, productions, gigs, we’ve played on the back of trucks, we’ve played on main stage festivals and the little clubs and bars. Was I bored of it? Maybe. If you eat pie all day, you get bored of pie. You want to change the palette a little bit.

I quite like the contrast of the responsibility from Moonshee to my other projects. I like that I’m not the person at the front, I’m in the engine room. I spend my energy on the band and I let the girls, Amy McAllister and Rachel Button, front Moonshee. It’s quite liberating. Mitel Purohit (sitar) and Jonathan Mayer (tabla) are the sound of the band and Joelle Barker (percussion) had a relationship with the record label and we thought it’d be nice to mix her in. It’s been a natural process.

It’s a fusion of the English/ Irish and a bit of Indian folk. The concept is east meets west storytelling that’s been handed down by generation, whether it’s the story, or the music or the style of playing. It definitely comes from an English and Irish folk perspective and its specifically fused with the rhythms and in some respects the harmonies of the Indian sound. Moonshee is still a relatively new project, it’s only a year old but the potential is definitely there. It’s like a cricket team or a football team; you’ve got to play the game to find out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s going to be nice to see that unravel in a more natural way.

Jonathan came up with the name; it has a mystical side to what we do. A Moonshee is a mystical storytelling entity with Hindu and Arabic origins, it has a feminine slant to it and the band is primarily female, which is quite good fun. We don’t have a big enough profile yet to get a call from Amnesty International or play for Oxfam. We’re not really a political sect, more a unite-through-music global band. The point of it is to make something beautiful. To make music as beautiful as possible. That’s what I’d like to achieve.

I still do my own Lisa Fitzgibbon stuff, and I have other writing projects on, I still have my students and run a gardening business with my husband. As creatures, as human beings we need a lot of entertaining. I’m the kind of person who needs to have several things going on or I just get bored. I’m happy with Moonshee and I’ve got a couple of other projects on, so I’m pretty busy really. You have to have your hands in many pies don’t you?

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Monday evening we looked at how to conduct interviews. Mostly the facts were self-evident but there were important tidbits of advice that may come in handy for the future.

 

Interviewing

Question 1 – Why do we do interviews?

We want quotes.

Question 2 – Why do we need quotes?

Provide fact in thenewsmakers own words

To absolve the journalist from an endorsement

Asking questions

– Research before you interview

You’ve never got enough time to do interviews. You’ll only have 10 minutes with them so you will need to know everything about them or what they are promoting.

 – Ask questions with a focus

People will measure you and what you know by the way that you ask a question, if you ask a question that’s very general and simplistic, they will give you a simple answer, because they often have to deal with non-specialists who don’t know what they’re talking about.

 – Think about the answer before you ask the question

You should already know the answer, you can think about what you were expecting to here and what you did here.

Different types of questions

Closed questions/Open questions – usually better for an extended interview

Off the record (OTR) – don’t tell anyone it was me that said this

The interviewee must specifically say that something is off the record before they say it.

Chatham House rules – you may report information but not identify the speaker, like reporting what was said at a meeting but not who was there.

Using quotes

People talk about different things at different times on the same theme, arrange the quotes in such a way that it reads like a story.

As long as you don’t change the meaning of what’s being said you can make minor tweaks

Quote exclusive content, there’s no point quoting stuff that’s everywhere else.

Paraphrase what he said in to one sentence/Use direct quotes as full sentences/quote important words like someone thinking its “dangerous”.

News Values

In a side note to Monday’s lecture, we also looked at News values. As I’m sure I’ve written about news values somewhere on this blog before I won’t bore you with that, but here are some noteable criticisms of Galtung & Ruge’s much revered news values.

 

 

Criticisms of News Values

We also looked the news values propagated by Galtung and Ruge and some criticisms that have arisen despite its popularity. One of these criticisms being that the newspapers used in the study were far too narrowly focused as they were all based in Norway. This closed research method meant that news values in other countries may have been different but now these methods may have been lost since Galtung ad Ruge’s work has become so widely published.

At the time their seminal work was published things like rolling 24-hour news was non-existent, there was no internet and it was only the platform of the press that was looked at. Not taken in to consideration was the medium of television or radio and the theory of citizen journalism hadn’t even been conceived, but a citizen journalist may not consider the same news values as trained professionals when writing up what they believe to be newsworthy.

In modern news production there is a lot more planning involved than making the most out of spur of the moment stories. As more information is circulated globally, media corporations can sit down once or twice a year and create half their content for the next 6 months of news. Events like the Olympics, or major anniversaries like 9/11 or Diana’s death can have a team working on packages or reports for several months up until the deadline.

There is also the increase in specialty magazines or newspapers, if these publications or weekly, or monthly then immediate news is less of a priority.

 

Monday’s morning lecture with new lecturer Mercy, may have just added another element to my final research project. The lectures were about various research methods you can use to write papers and articles. The first was discourse.

Discourse

Discourse was described as a particular way of talking and understanding the world, through use of language. For example; legal discourse is the way you speak in the courtroom. There will be no use of slang and everyone will speak with respect and dignity to the judge and jury.

There is also a form of media discourse when writing certain headlines that are likely to sell the paper. Sensationalist stories take on a different light when this media discourse is implicated. There are certain words that will be more shocking or appealing; if there is a story of a mother who killed a baby, they are more likely to use the word ‘mother’ rather than mum as it is a more nurturing description.

There are a number of different approaches to how you view discourse but the three main one are what is known as ‘Formalist’, ‘Functionalist’ and ‘Foucauldian’.

A number of famous academics in the area of Discourse Analysis is Van Dijk, Meyer and Weiss. They study what people do with text and talk and what they mean with regards to certain words or in the way or situation it is written  in.

Wodak and Meyer look at things that are obvious and not so obvious in powerful language.

 

Discourse Analysis

Analysis of what people do with text and talk – Wodak, Meyer, Weiss

Assuming language exists in a disalogue with Society.

Bloors & Bloors say studying texts must be aware of the contextualisation of which the communication took place – like issues in gender across a number of publications like Woman’s Weekly or FHM. Both magazines will talk about women in different way and use completely different language to one another.

Critical discourse analysis roots in critical linguistic analysis and semiotics.

 

Semiotics

Academic analysis of media texts is vastly different from everyday media analysis perhaps in newspapers or speech.

It’s important to look at materials, even in free democratic countries, published either by political campaigns or newspapers who support the government in power they will often say that “the people have spoken” to convince the rest of the country that the elections were won and this is the guy that was voted in, so everyone must support him.

Common approaches of analysis

       Structuralist semiotics

       Concept analysis

       Discourse analysis

       Narrative

       Rhetorical Analysis

       Ideological approach

       Typological approach

Semiotics was founded by a Swiss linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure and it’s to do with the interpretation of signs, not just road signs, but visual everyday signs. For example when I say table you think table. If you see a chair you think that means chair. Everyday signs are made up of signs and images, they are more commonly known as signifiers, or as a concept it is known as signifieds. It is important to note that signs can be used to lie, like if a woman had dark hair but was wearing a blond wig.

There are three different orders to signs:

First order – actual objects: man/woman

Second order – associations; maternal, boobs

Third order – social consensus: legitimising a stereotype – woman moaning

Academics will use a wide range of words to signs and their signifiers

Signs                                    Signifier

Denotation                        Connotation

Literal                                Figurative

Signifier                             Signified

Evident                               Inferred

Describes                           Suggests meaning

Examples

Denotation – Big Mac is a sandwich by macdonalds – its something real, often physical.

Connotation – is what the real thing represents, in the Big Mac case, it largely is representative of American culture: fast food, things that are big.

Related concepts

Metaphor

Simile

Metonymy – communication by associateion – Rolex is expensive.

Synedoche – White House might be used for US President “White house has released this statement”. The house doesn’t talk but it speaks on behalf of the President.

Intertextuality – Shows how texts borrow from each other

Codes – Culture is a code, to decode it you must understand the behaviour of the people.

Criticisms of semiotics

By checking the technicalities of the language used you ignore how good the article is.

Content analysis is objective whereas semiotics is subjective.

You can code the length of articles, subject matter, read-ability, internal structure, listen-ability, favourability, quotes vs paraphrasing, vigour, balance, location on the page.

 

Part of our journalism practice training is focusing on how to further a story to offer a complete picture. Last week with John Lister we discussed how to frame and complete a story. One of the initial discussion points was whether you are writing a full story, and emphasising the missing facts. Journalists can dig for more information constantly, nothing runs out of evidence and this is what none should forget. If a bridge is being pulled down every reason has to be researched, it is only then you can choose what reasons are the most important to communicate.

When you do reach the point of communication you have to say why it’s being pulled down but also why it should stay standing. You must also take look at every aspect and pick a voice to appeal to. Will the lack of bridge have an effect on wildlife or perhaps insects that live in the soil underneath the rocks that hold the bridge together? How are travellers expected to cross the stream or road? Do you go for human interest or financial, or council viewpoint? Does it cost money to maintain the bridge? Is it a culturally important bridge and will it have a local impact?

The news value is important. The reason why global news isn’t always the most read or heard news items is because it’s not always something people can relate to. The butterfly effect means that everything can be related. If a national survey of happiness is released what does that mean for people in the local area? If one in ten people are miserable and you live in a constituency of 10,000 people, then 1,000 public members are potentially depressed. Perhaps you can interview someone who claims they aren’t happy and understand why? What are people doing about this situation, is there going to be a drive to get people in to therapy or see a doctor? Perhaps it’s a local charity that is supporting depression? Perhaps a local politician or celebrity is diagnosed with depression or is raising money to help those who are?

Extra information that may not necessarily be findable doesn’t mean that its not public information. Something to think about is just staying on top of industry news. If you are a music journalist, ring around your contacts to find out if they are releasing any new music or recording new music videos. If it’s a public body, they will have to have a Freedom of Information section usually in the contact or about section of the website. Some companies have whistleblowers keep an eye out for them, if someone is known to be grumbling in your chosen field perhaps contact that person?

2 final pieces of advice were, keep a hard copy of a contact book and don’t give up. Many people will expect you to back off if you don’t get the info you’re after first time but stay with it; most of them will give in.

 

Ok. So the second term has been slow to start off with the blogging, sorry to… well… me I imagine I’m the only one reading this, apart from of course my dedicated followers – the bots, big shout out to all those who send spam, it doesn’t go unnoticed.

We’ll start off with the first week because it seems logical. The lecture outlined what we’re going to be doing this term, our assignment will be looking at two different media artefacts covering the same story. An early idea I’ve had of interest is the phone hacking scandal being propagated in the Guardian and perhaps the Daily Mail or the Sun.

As practice for this exercise the class looked at how Nick Davies’ Flat Earth News was reviewed across a number of different platforms. One outlet we looked at was a post on the Guardian Online ‘The fourth estate failures’ and Journalism.co.uk’s discussion on the unwritten 11th chapter.

One thing that was clear from the ‘fourth estate’ write-up was respect, but as much of the book criticised the media including the Guardian, which Davies had once written for, there were many paragraphs defending the newspaper. The book also made noted criticisms of the Daily Mail and Paul Dacre. The reviewer had previously worked for Dacre and although she did speak for him in defence, it was limited to a few lines. The allegiance for the reviewer had to lie with her current employer.

This idea generated interesting discussion that led in to next week’s seminar.

 

The front cover

Huw L. Hopkins attended the launch debate, marking the release of the first ever book published on the hacking scandal.

 

Tuesday 7th of February saw the official release and launch debate of The Phone Hacking Scandal: Journalism on Trial (Arima 2012).

The book marks a turning point in journalism that will affect all journalists and the future of their profession. The debate panel featured a mixture of editors, journalists and academics, all highly respected in their trade. Chaired by Raymond Snoddy with live heated discussion from Kevin Marsh, Richard Peppiatt, Glenda Cooper, Bob Satchwell and Paul Connew, all of who recalled anecdotes of both a serious and a comical nature.

One of the editors of the book, John Mair strutted proudly around the lecture hall, relaxing on his walking stick like a Monopoly man with every property in hand. He and Richard L. Keeble have released The Phone Hacking Scandal at the peak of the Leveson Inquiry, that features many professionals who have sat, and many who will in due course, in front of Lord Justice Leveson.

The panel played the role of Crown, prosecution and defence as Snoddy allowed everyone equal time to let their opinions be heard.

Kevin Marsh and Richard Peppiatt spoke in favour of the prosecution. Marsh stated “I found it easy to contribute to this book” as he recalled some of the evidence he had heard at the Inquiry. Peppiatt told stories of his time as a tabloid journalist and how he asked himself “is this what I signed up to?”, when chasing Jack Tweed through the streets of London without any reason.

Paul Connew took on the brave role of defendant, as a former deputy editor at the News of the World. Despite not being present during the period of phone hacking, he admitted that “there was a period of four years where the lunatics were allowed to take over the asylum”, a statement that everyone on the panel agreed with. Backing him up with caution was Bob Satchwell who, as a younger journalist, also worked at the NoW prior to any illegal activities. He stood up for the red tops at one point saying, “tabloid journalists should be drinking in the last chance saloon”; as it is only then other hacks know where that line is.

In a central, ethical advisory role sat academic Glenda Cooper, who offered her own knowledgeable insight on the rise of social media, “it is easier to treat people like collateral damage if you’re not knocking on someone’s door”.

Despite the typically awful taste of the wine, it still flowed like a French Merlot between journalists meeting for a common cause, as well as a good gossip.

The panel sharing a few laughs

Raymond Snoddy did invite lighter moments in to the debate when Phil Harding, who was sitting in the audience, claimed David Blunkett’s affair with Kimberly Fortier was the first moment where ethical considerations went out the window. Snoddy said “What annoyed me was that I had lunch with Kimberly Fortier at least four times and nothing ever happened between us”.

Aside from the occasional japes, the book launch celebration exposed more ethically questionable practices than Lord Leveson could dream of hearing inside his courtroom. This included a snippet of information from another audience member, the erudite Nicholas Jones. “We mustn’t lose sight of the relationship between the proprietors and the government of the day. We knew how deep this was and we as journalists should have conspired together to go against proprietors.”

Many of the panellists, and several members of the audience contributed to the newly released textbook, a seminal work that John Mair doesn’t want anybody forgetting about. “Let’s not mince words here, we’re not just here to listen to a debate, we’re here to buy books” but the co-editor may be happy to give a free copy to Lord Justice Leveson himself.

Read Huw L. Hopkins’ contributory chapterNobody likes a rotten apple, but someone picks them’ in The Phone Hacking Scandal: Journalism on Trial now, or on his website http://www.huwlhopkins.com.