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Exam Prep

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.

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.

Very few people really know who a journalist is. Unless you’re one of the famous personalities like Jeremy Clarkson or Piers Morgan nobody really pays the slightest bit of interest.

One of the lower profiles to give evidence at the Leveson Inquiry was Richard Peppiatt. He didn’t have the celebrity to garner front-page news level of attention but he may have been one of the bigger stories to come to light so far. The tabloids barely put wrote about him at all, but that was for a different reason altogether.

Peppiatt was a ‘journalist’ at the Daily Star, he fell in to the role of a tabloid journalist and was asked to do some wildly unethical things to get stories, things he now regrets, and things he now campaigns against.

“I’m certainly very repentant in the way I conducted journalism.”

Peppiatt spoke to a enthralled Coventry Conversation audience on Thursday about the thing’s he’d done, what giving evidence was like, death threats linked to his former employer and that famous letter of resignation.

The famous Press Baron of the early 20th Century, Lord Northcliff once said, “News is what someone, somewhere wants to suppress, everything else is just advertising.” According to the ex-Star “The tabloid culture is; seeking out the truth is not an objective. It’s a matter of how aggressively can we frame this story to make the most impact.”

It is for this reason the Select Committee for Culture, media and sport interviewed and re-interviewed nearly every member of the News of the World management, it is why the PCC is on its last legs, and it is for this reason the Leveson Inquiry is being taken seriously to the majority who aren’t in the tabloid media or the Mail.

The reason Peppiatt left was originally due to the anti-Muslim undertones the majority of the Star’s content, but the racism didn’t just stop at Muslims. “Black on black killing were called BOB-slaying behind closed doors. If a young, attractive, white woman with blonde hair gets murdered, that’ll get more coverage than a young black male. When they do write about them, it’s more of a caricature. That’s tabloid journalism, creating the caricature.”

In his resignation letter he openly stated the reasons for his departure and this may have indeed upset people at the top. “I started getting death threats saying ‘you’re a marked man til the day you die’ or that ‘Richard Desmond will get you’. This isn’t confirmed to be anyone that works for the paper but Peppiatt did say it was a person linked to the tabloid world.

For everything Richard Peppiatt did as a journalist for the Daily Star; from proposing to Susan Boyle, just for the photograph, to writing hurtful content about the death of Matt Lucas’ former husband, and even being ambushed by anti-terror police when he pretended to be a Muslim woman dressed in a full veil, this is certainly no way to treat a former employee.

“Some days we would have three people writing the entire newspaper”, an average reader would never know this. Included in that day’s content would be un-edited press releases, articles written under pseudo-names (look up the name Laura Neil and you’ll see some of Peppiat’s work), reworded news from the Daily mail and fake headlines “Simon Cowell is dead”.

“When I first got there, I thought, it’s a break on to Fleet Street, because everybody wants to work for the Guardian but not everybody can”.

As the Leveson Inquiry rumbles on even Guardian journalists will have to reveal some ‘underhand’ tactics they used to get some of their stories. As David Leigh put it at his evidence hearing “I don’t hack phones normally. I have never done anything like that since. I’d never done anything like that before. On that particularly small occasion, this minor incident did seem to be perfectly ethical.” This level of ethicality seemingly never translated to Peppiatt’s view when inside the Daily Star.

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”.

Hollow State

As this term draws to a close our last Global Media lecture meant we weren’t learning about new theories or concepts and focused on looking at a number of programmes that discussed ones we’d learned in previous weeks.

The programme titled Hollow State produced in December 1996 looked at the information society developing in China at the time.

An interesting thought process is if the hollowness has increased or decreased over the years. Has culture and society caught up with the information society and developed with it? Or has it become more hollow as the information technology of today develops at such a rate that we are constantly behind the trend or latest revelation.

The programme brought to light some of the academic theorists we have seemingly studied over the past few weeks. This shows that the journalist making the programme will use the theorists when discussing certain developments and the latest news. It’s important to develop contacts with the people I study with currently as these may be the people I’m interviewing in a few years time.

Hollow State was particularly well made due to the different views it offered. It’s a good visual example of how to construct the essay due to be handed in next week. It presented the views opposing the programmes theory and gave examples of why it may be true, as well as the views the programme believed with examples.

 

Magazining

Assessing

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.

Printing

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?

Binding

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.

Colouring

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.

Pacing

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.

Brainstorming

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.

 

We are getting close to the end of term, or semester, Coventry University can’t decide what they want to legally call it. Either way we’re going to be breaking up for Christmas soon. Before then I have to hand in this essay and start the next one.

Today’s seminar with Fred was perhaps to help us with the current essay we’re writing but to be honest anything we learned now must surely be too late to throw in a new theory.

The main bulk of the class was about the age we’re living in is The Information Age, and we are part of The Information Society.

They sound like covert operations or sci-fi programmes, when really it’s simply about the fact that information is power at the moment.

40-50 years ago, the world was coming to the end of the industrial age. This saw labour intensive work begin to die out, factory work shutting down and mines being boarded up. Northerners and Welshmen didn’t know what to do with themselves. Before that it was the agricultural age, everyone who had a plot of land, grew something. That is how you had wealth, and power.

These days the ability to access information is whats important.

We discussed when the information age began as there is no defined argument apparently. Some say it was the start of the 1900’s when such things like the telegram and telephones were invented. Others believe it was a bit later in the 1960’s when colour TV’s started popping up, these things called satellites started appearing in the sky and communication via radio was popular. The latest date argued is the 1990’s when the internet started appearing as we know it today, we also started buying mobile phones and were contactable at any time of the day wherever we were.

We now know we are right in the middle of the information age because the knowledge that you need communicational technological information accessibility is globalised.

Martin Shaw, a big theorist dude in this area defines globalisation as;

The compression of the world and the intensification of the consciousness of the world as a whole

Take from that what you will but the entire world appears to be networked now, and its all because of this information age theory. The more LinkedIn you are the better.

The current discussion of phone hacking takes many forms. Everyone is talking about it but no one is doing anything. With respect to Lord Leveson and his phone hacking inquiry, nobody has (yet) come up with a serious solution. The Hacked Offcampaign have one ready to be put in place.

Kevin Marsh spoke at John Mair’s Coventry Conversation about this and he came out of his corner swinging. The sizeable public outrage at the News of the World has left some paper’s cowering in the shadows, worried for their lives but the former Editor at the BBC College of Journalism turned the spotlights on them.

“You will hear tabloid editors take leave of the world of human decency – as Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre did at the Leveson inquiry – trying to defend what they do. Claiming it’s in the public interest. Asserting their freedom of expression. Standing on their right to expose corruption and hold power to account.”

Marsh describes this act as “hypocrisy of the most sniveling sort”.

The average journalist at a local or regional newspaper works incredibly hard to doubly source each story they write. The BBC will not budge until they have two confirmed sources. It may be the biggest story of the year, it may be entirely in the public interest, but they will wait for that second source.

This isn’t how it looked to Kevin Marsh when the Mail was reporting the tragic case of Joanna Yates. “Innocent ‘til proven guilty. Except that the picture the Mail and other tabloids gave us was of a weirdo – subtext “he did it”. After all, he had funny hair. And he once dyed it blue. Must have done it.”

In a post-fight exclusive interview Kevin Marsh accused the Mail of not writing real news “I don’t think anybody would argue that newspapers shouldn’t be perfectly free to report news, to have great opinion pages, to run fantastic editorials, to run fantastic campaigns, but that’s not the same as chasing a 61 year-old woman down the street. That’s not a lot to do with having a view or campaigning, it’s just sheer thuggery”.

Marsh’s anger and impatience is understandable. He has previously been at the heart of a similar, but much smaller saga with the Hutton Inquiry. He was the Editor in 2003 when Andrew Gilligan went off script whilst revealing the story of the ‘sexed-up’ dossier. Since then the Mail and other newspapers have directed many jabs and blows at the former BBC employee but no one has yet handed a knock-out blow and now the momentum of the fight is shifting toward the victim.

Kevin Marsh is still standing

The comeback started with a group called Hacked off. This campaign for a good public inquiry into phone hacking quickly caught the eye of many people in powerful positions. Three days later the Leveson Inquiry was announced.

“I can’t say that was because of us, but it certainly made us look good.”

Back in the ring, the audience at Coventry University are stunned into silence by this descriptive and brutal account from Kevin Marsh, as he prepares to explain the solution to the phone hacking problem.

“If you ask the question – is self-regulation the way ahead? Or is it statutory regulation? – you’re asking the wrong question. It’s this: what do we want our press to do for us? And what do we want it to stop doing in order to become again a civilised player in a civilised society?”

At this point the speaker is merely toying with the audience as they are on the edge of their seat in the final seconds of this round.

“First we need a new legal framework for the media. Second, we need rapid, low-cost resolution of disputes with newspapers. Newspapers would have to decide whether they were in, or out of this system.”

This suggestion is not to be taken lightly, Marsh and Hacked Off do not intend to simply re-do the PCC.

“Inside, there’d also be a much stricter Editors’ Code, enforced with real sanctions and administered by a totally independent, statutorily established regulator with the powers and people to investigate. Outside would be very, very cold hostile place to be. You would have no public interest defence; costs and damages would be unlimited if you lost an action; juries and judges would be invited to take into account your decision not to sign up to the stricter code; and the balance of proof would be against you”

Kevin Marsh isn’t the man behind this idea. He doesn’t deny that there are better brains at work on this than him. He is the media insider who is working with the lawyers to create a Manifesto.

One thing the journalism industry knows is we are only halfway through the fight. It will continue to be a long drawn out sluggish affair, but when Lord Leveson has completed his findings there is already a manifesto and a framework to work from.

The fight isn’t over, but it seems Kevin Marsh and the Hacked Off team have won this round, and this could swing the momentum toward who will win the whole contest.

Hounslow industrial complex is a collection of s dull, grey buildings on the outskirts of London. Until you step inside.

Beyond the reception area is a giant open plan studio/office. The centre of the room is a gravitational field; all the hard work ends up here at some point. There is a circular desk with multi-dimensional cameras with the ability to pan and orbit around the central subject – Anna Jones. To the left of her desk is a set of couches, polar opposite sits a raised platform where the newsreader can stage interactive video-links on a 20-foot television rig.

The real work of the producers, directors, sound engineers, cameraman, live journalists, silent journalists, researchers, developers, editors, technical advisors and app makers – it all takes place within four walls. The runners pace back and forth between office spaces like comets from planet to planet in a solar system.

To avoid being caught by the 24-hour rolling live cameras there are walkways raised above the studio. These pedestrian zones lead to other filming nooks and editing crannies.  The runner will take one sheet of paper to one writer who will then transfer it on to an editor, forwarded on to the producer and then it will be displayed in front of the newsreader for the world to hear.

Sky News is a smoothly running, efficient operation “if one link in the chain broke the entire thing could fall apart”.

The Head of Foreign News Sarah Whitehead explains to Coventry University students that even the shift changeovers are effortless.

“I haven’t been here long so I’m not best at it yet, but the changeover happens at 6.30. These people have been in since 6.30 this morning and their replacement comes in at 6.20 runs them through the notes and emails and it keeps going.”

For a station that’s online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, creating a seamless transition is essential for the viewers who pay close attention.

“The only complaints we get are at 9 o’clock when some people are going home and there may be background noise, apart from that it’s a fairly quiet work environment. Everyone is aware it’s a live studio.”

Compared to the BBC studios, many of them pokey little buildings that have needed renovating for 20 years, Sky has the edge on style and efficiency – two things that come at a great price.

“It’s definitely a loss-leader, but all news is.”

Despite the ‘effortless’ and smooth exterior of the uninterrupted news network Whitehead acknowledges the level of effort required to complete this job, day-in, day out.

“It’s a big commitment, but this job is the best in the world. You need energy, you need to be passionate about news and you need to know what you want to do.”

Sky is the biggest private news rival to the BBC, and in the world. It is the current epitome of State Vs Private ownership. The Murdoch’s latest scandal has had literally no effect on the BSkyB Company – at least from a 24-hour news perspective. They are still competing.

When asked about the competition that drives the new Head of Foreign News “If it comes down to if we’ve got the story first, or if we’ve got to wait to get it right, we have to wait to get it right”. Unlike the publicly funded broadcaster, they are not afraid to spend money to make it right. “I’ve gone a bit over budget for this week, I’ve probably spent around £60,000” Whitehead said on a Wednesday.

From a personal and individual standpoint no journalist may harbour strong feelings about who gets to reveal a news story first “I’ve worked with Jon Williams (Head of BBC World Service) in the past, and he said how hard it is telling employees family’s that their dead, I’ve been there with him for a lot of it. When Alex Crawford broke the news of the fall of Tripoli she was with a huge convoy and probably safer than if a BBC employee left 20 minutes later.”

Despite ensuring safety above anything else, there’s no doubting the company’s competitive edge. Sky News chose to release an unconfirmed video of Saif Gaddafi being captured simply by noticing the plaster on his hand. It was a bold move but one that paid off.

“There were perhaps 5 stories of Gaddafi being caught before the real one leaked. We had seen a feed from Reuters that Reuters hadn’t even seen, we could only tell it was him because we zoomed in on his hand, he’s got that thing on his hand”

Sky News is the current media giant will the style and grace to rival of the BBC. Will it last as long though?

The BBC is a national institution, one that has the benefit of public funding, whether the public want to or not. It may not always look pretty but it has substance, standards and heart. Sky has the backing of advertisers and investors, just like many other private companies have before. Financial backing can disappear all too quickly with AOL/Time-Warner is an obvious example. Can the swanky smooth attraction of Sky survive? It all depends on whether you think looks can last.

The MA Journalism Project provides you with an opportunity to create an original and intellectually critical extended writing. You are expected to produce a dissertation of 12-15,000 words or an appropriate project in print/broadcast/online format or other acceptable platforms together with a shorter dissertation, on a topic relevant to your specialist interest and mutually agreed with course staff. The topic should be worthy of sustained in-depth inquiry. Both types of dissertation should take the form of a properly academically written and referenced piece of work following accepted conventions.

 

This description is intended to engage and excite an MA Journalist student into the final project of the year. We discussed this at great length with Fred and Andrew today and it opened and closed many avenues not previously thought of.

The idea that had been floating around my brain for a few weeks was looking at journalistic training over three very different countries with the aim to discover the best journalistic practice and who teaches their journalists best.

I began explaining my idea and shortly was interrupted by my lecturers explaining that this task would be tough and I would have to simplify the whole thing. Each country’s definition of journalism is different. Journalists perform different roles in different places around the world; some inform, others direct or manage, it can even protest and demonstrate. So ultimately good journalism would be determined on how well each country adheres to its law and purpose.

I would have to essentially look at what journalism actually is in each country, but I imagine this idea has been done to death.

I then thought of my secondary idea that came up during the preparation of my M40MC essay. Here is my written proposal:

How does a dramatic, culture-changing event affect media policy and the role of journalists?

My intention is to view three countries with differing cultural heritage and examine how the aftermath of each event causes change in national policy. I will also investigate the changes in journalistic practice.

To do this I intend to analyse a national newspaper with the highest rate of circulation from three countries; The United States of America, The Czech Republic and [arab league country after arab spring]. This analysis will include measuring the volume of news stories – both local and national, international content, cultural reporting and framing of political news stories.

I also intend to interview a reporter from each of the national newspapers who has worked both before and after the traumatic event. This will provide a level of first-hand qualitative research that will have not been featured in previous texts.

By combining both the qualitative and quantitative research, I will then be able to answer how an event with a global impact changes views and policy in the media. This will ultimately become the definition of ‘Post-Traumatic Journalism’.

 

I think this is ultimately what the Final Research Project will be so I have opened up a new Category under ‘My Course’ titled Final Project Journal.

When I research anything, or contact anyone regarding my Final Research Project I will update it in this. It may not be that often quite yet, but hopefully a little bit every once in a while over the next few months will mean I’m on top of things when next summer arrives.