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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.

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I have been doing this course for 8 weeks now. I have done more reading in the past 8 weeks than I did in my entire three years studying Creative Writing. This either says a lot about how seriously I’m taking this course or very little about how seriously I took my previous course.

The truth is I knew what I was capable of as an undergraduate and perhaps I took it a bit lightly and I spent my time at Marjon growing as a person and getting involved in plenty of extra-curricular activities.

This course I haven’t got involved in basketball or many side-projects, I am reading so much and focusing on my work each week. It has definitely led in a slower development of bonding with friends but feel I’m slowly getting there with my course-mates.

My first piece of major coursework is due in pretty soon and I think I am pretty prepared for it, not quite entirely, but nearly. Of course what I have realised in doing so much work is that I was never ready to complete any piece of coursework in my previous course, I didn’t even take the time to learn how to construct my academic essays.

This past Friday’s session allowed us to look at this subject a little bit. We did spend the first hour discussing this past weeks readings, but after this we looked at other journal articles and how they are set up. I’ve never thought about it before but for this academic essay I think I’m going to ‘plan’ it. Bizarre. At least it feels so. I’ll start this week as we don’t have any essential reading to do so I can spend the time I’d usually commit to that looking at how I’m going to put together the essay.

The introduction needs to adhere to these brief points.

  • The title – has to explain what country I’ll be talking about, what media system and the theory I’ll be attaching to it
  • The 1st sentence – should tell the reader something about how the system is affected by political, social or economic structures.
  • The 1st paragraph – will propose the current situation in the country regarding the media system discussed and it’s pros and cons.
  • Before beginning the analysis, the intention of the article should be set out and the system should also be put into context in the global marketplace

So that’s the first paragraph planned. It only took two days…

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This is a short piece I wrote at the start of the NBA lockout during which time I was applying for the course I am currently on – this article supported my application. Due to this some of the relevance and facts are out of date.

 

Boston, San Antonio and Los Angeles have all been swept aside (in some cases literally) from this year’s title chase. Many have begun professing that this is the year we say our final farewell to all the ‘elderly’ teams, and with good merit, but they are forgetting one major principle in how next year’s championship race will play out.

The Lockout.

If the NBA has a repeat of the 1998/1999 lockout season each team will have a regular season of just 50 games. The teams that feature more 30 year old’s than twentysomethings will have benefitted from the extended rest-bite and their bodies and games will be in their peak midseason form by the time the playoffs arrive.

Even if every playoff round goes to a deciding game 7, the final two teams battling it out in June will have played 78 games when a victor is crowned. This is 4 less than they will have had to endure during a regular, regular season.

Of the top 4 teams in each conference 1999; 7 of them featured in the ten oldest teams for that season. 6 of them were in the final 8, 3 of them in the final four and the two left standing were the 3rd (San Antonio) and 6th (New York) oldest teams in the league.

When you compare that to the regular season leaders of this past season from each conference, 6 of the teams are amongst the ten eldest, proving that age an experience still counts for a lot in an 82-game run.

By the time 100 games starts rolling around, that is when the bodies started giving up on the aging teams.

San Antonio are surprisingly young at the moment and only just creep into this year’s ten oldest teams. It’s the starting five, and main receiver of minutes that log in at 33.2 years old. On the other side of the argument, Miami are the oldest team in the league, but their starting unit is an athletic 29.6.

The slightly fresher legs have kept Miami in the heat of the championship run mainly because their slightly fresher legs can still run.

Of course every team needs a mix of wily veterans and youthful energy to throw at competitors. Boston, LA and San Antonio have this mix but the knees of Garnett, Bryant and Duncan hold out for long enough. The main difference will be that in the potentially shorter, partly locked out season of 2011/2012, the wily veterans will still have some youthful energy stored up of their own and will look to take back the crown from the young pups for one more year at least.

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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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Better than North Korean propaganda?

“The North Korean’s couldn’t come up with better propaganda than the Murdoch’s.”

Nicholas Jones, famous for his previous political reporting at the BBC, described one of the Sun’s many iconic front pages. May 5th 2005 sees Tony Blair and Gordon Brown spliced in to two Manchester United football tops featuring the headline “Come on you Reds!”

When looking at how loyal Murdoch’s signature paper was to the Labour party during Blair’s run as Prime Minister, its tough to imagine that this is the same paper David Cameron occasionally wrote for and stands by to this day, despite the incredulous fall from grace the Murdoch family is currently undergoing.

It illustrates the point that Jones made earlier in today’s Coventry Conversation; for years the Prime Minister was so fearful of Rupert Murdoch and his army of media that they would dance to whatever music the fallen media baron played.

This is the effect that Andy Coulson had, or even has on the current Prime Minister. His link with Rupert Murdoch helped secure British public support of the Conservative party leader. The effect the ‘Red Tops’ have had on the country is undeniable; their persistent campaigns have changed laws – the campaign for ridding the country of plastic bags was a success within 3 days; they topple high-level officials – the Baby P debacle cost the jobs of at least five Haringey Council Staff; and they win and lose elections for Prime Ministers – Neil Kinnock never did get a chance to turn out the lights.

The former BBC political correspondent explained that when New Labour was being formed “Blair was desperate to get Murdoch on his side… Cameron was as desperate to get Murdoch on his side as Tony Blair was many years earlier.”

It has been argued that Rupert Murdoch’s support can make or break a Prime Minister, but some believe his media organisations have simply aligned themselves with the right people at the right time to ensure his business ventures are secure. Either way Murdoch and whoever he pledged allegiance to have always been very happy people, that is, until Prince William and Prince Harry discovered their phones had been hacked.

The Guardian persisted with this story, or as some may call it – a campaign, until it was revealed that the young schoolgirl Milly Dowler had her phone hacked while she was reported missing. This information caused public outrage and Murdoch’s Empire now finds itself in the spiralling scandal his papers were once famous for unveiling.

Nicholas Jones speaks in a series discussing Phone Hacking

“The Murdoch’s are finished… if anyone can prove Cameron knew about Hackgate, it will finish him as well.”

Nicholas Jones is no lightweight, he was political correspondent for the BBC for 30 years, examining and picking apart the art of the spin-doctor. He still writes on his website and released a book last year titled Campaign 2010 – The Making of a Prime Minister. This was later followed by a publication in March this year – The Lost Tribe of Fleet Street.

When asked if he has ever used such underhand methods to exploit a story Jones was frank, “At the start of my career I used to peek through people’s back windows for a story… but phone hacking… Even if I though it was in the public interest, I hope… I hope I wouldn’t go fishing.” One thing he was certain about however “Phone hacking has changed journalism forever.”

You can view Nicholas Jones’ current work online at www.nicholasjones.org.uk and catch up on the latest and future Coventry Conversations at http://wwwm.coventry.ac.uk/cuevents/Pages/CoventryConversations.aspx

Nicholas Jones spoke to Huw Hopkins outside Coventry University

Photos by Simon – check out his blog

Image copyright and courtesy of The Sun, News Group Newspapers

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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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We began Friday afternoon by reviewing an event that took place earlier in the week. It was a debate linking to the launch of John Mair‘s new book Mirage in the Desert? Reporting the Arab Springto be released on 26th of October. One that we were offered to attend but unfortunately due to previous work commitments I was unable to.

By reviewing what they talked about at the book launch we were able to touch on a few key issues regarding global media and communication.

Initially we were asked what are the practicalities that journalists face when covering controversial overseas issues?

The answer to this brought up several points.

·      It is necessary to keep sending media out to war torn places when there are already so many on the ground?

·      Should the focus of the stories be on the families and the people rather than how many bombs have dropped?

·      It is imprtant to provide background information rather than opinion.

·      Safety comes at a high price when journalists are following tanks and troops.

·      Thr fiscal price to send these people away is so high when it includes camera crews, satellite mobiles.

We also looked at what theories we can apply to these points.

·      With so many different, often opposing press and broadcast teams reporting the competition may lead to a downfall in the standards of reports i.e. BBC vs Sky vs ITV (John Mair’s notes highlighted these Commercialisation aspects)

John Mair has written a collection of books inspired by Coventry Conversations

·      The idea of embedding a journalist in a troop can lead to problems because no writer will write negatively about a troop they are travelling with. This could lead to the press not being trusted and kicked off the tour.

This work led to a discussion and some in class research about how athe media can seemingly lose a war. When you look at research of the Vietnam war, one point that crops up is how the US press played such a heavy role in reporting every negative detail of what went on. Some theorists believe that despite the US winning the war, it was shown to have been lost through the eyes of the media that the US lost the war.

The second half ot eh lecture was reviewing the tasks set the week previous. I personally looked at McPhail’s Global Comunication (2005) and reviewed this to the class but this week I have elected to look at Media Concentration Options for Policy by Trapper and Meier in McQuail and Siune (1998).

In addition to this I have begun focusing on our homework assignment for this week about who owns the media in my country. A review will be posted later this week.

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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.

………………\  /

Pro’s

It delivers the story efficiently

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

Con’s

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.

AJKA RUMBA!

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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As part of my Global Media and Communciation module I’m looking at Global Communication – Theories, Stakeholders and Trends McPhail (2006).

Global Communication proves and interesting read

McPhail proves to be quite a controversial and potentially obnoxious writer is some respects. Certainly in the opening chapter ‘Global Communication’ the book takes on the viewpoint of the United States and how the media marketplace changed post-9/11. Quite often it is implied that the exact same changes in media systems and reporting practices were executed in the United Kingdom and the rest of mainland Europe.Whilst many practices may run parallel the countries discussed can be quite different.

Throughout chapters 1 and 2 there are some fine points made but the view that NWICO (New World Information and Communication Order) seems to be the only alternative to the free press systems that the US prefers needs further investigation. While NWICO’s values may indeed be outdated, there needs to be other theories explored as the current Westernised free press system may indeed be unfair to the ‘peripheral nations’.

There have been attempts to implement profitable mediums in less developed countries with little success, and a lot of this has been due to more traditional systems in place being unable to support the required change to perform at a high level. There are also such problems as some nations resisting these practices due to the current print press working as it is and there being strict rules against free opinion, particularly in countries that may still be ruled by dictatorship. In these cases Development Journalism is instilled as many of these countries believe they can ‘catch up’ to leading nations by doing so

.This may be a good point to explore. McPhail highlighted a quote by a US economist Walter Rostow “Moderizations occur when necessary conditions for change are established”. If a country doesn’t require or need to catch up to the modern technological advances that pervade Western media then why should they? These countries will slowly build their own media systems up to the point that they will be good and ready to take on a new challenge.

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