Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Getting Started With Storify

December 4, 2011

Check out how to get started with Storify here:

http://storify.com/louisamhannah/new-story

Embrace social media – if you want a job!

October 20, 2011

 

    BE READY TO CAPTURE THE MOMENTS YOU CAN’T PREDICT

 

Make yourself employable by learning the traditional skills of journalism and embracing social media  — NCTJ Digital Seminar

The message is loud and clear – trainee journalists need the traditional skills of the trade but have to master multi-media platforms if they want a job.

Speakers at NCTJ’s Digital Seminar were united in the belief that social media is essential to the survival and growth of the industry and should be embraced.

Stefan Stern, director of strategy at Edelman and former columnist for the Financial Times said journalists could not ignore social media.

“There is a danger of over-sharing information, but you have to engage in social media and join the conversation,” said Stern.

Fergus Bell, senior producer at Associated Press showed delegates how he used social media including twitter and facebook for international news gathering. He talked about monitoring user generated content across the globe, following leads then checking and verifying each source.

“Treat social media sources the same as you would traditional sources. It’s the same approach, with a different tool. You need to look at the context of the source and then verify it. It’s about finding the original source and then getting permission to use it,” said Bell.

One way to check the source, Bell suggested, was to see if the content had been edited. If so it could have been shared or re-tweeted in which case the person who posted the information would not have the right to give permission to use it.

Bell advised setting up lists and using trend maps to monitor tweets to find out what people are talking about.

“Identify people who are useful to you or the ones who break the news, set up alerts on your phone so you know what’s happening when you are out and about,” said Bell.

Bell might be working on a global scale, but reporters and trainees can do the same on a local level.

“The same principles can be used on the patch. Find out who is influential and what people are talking about and follow the trends,” said Bell.

Alan Marshall, group managing editor The Press Association said reporters have to be flexible and be able to tell stories in different ways.

He said reporters needed a broad vision and to be able to write, take pictures and video.

“You have to be ready to catch the moments you can’t predict,” said Marshall.

The need to be able to think and work on a broad base was echoed by Chris Maguire, editor of the Chorley and Leyland Guardian.

With only four reporters working on his newspaper, Maguire said harnessing social media was crucial.

“Social media is two way, we can instantly reach an audience and people can be our eyes and ears,” said Maguire.

But he re-iterated the need to check information gathered from social media, citing a picture in a regional newspaper taken from facebook of a crime suspect.

“They got the same name but the wrong person,” said Maguire.

Maguire went on to give five positive uses for twitter:

  • Cross promote the newspaper
  • Target the audience
  • Instant information
  • Feedback
  • Stories

His final thoughts were on what he was looking for in a new trainee.

“I won’t look at anyone without shorthand, writing skills and law but then I’m looking for reporters who are great a meeting people and can use social media,” said Maguire.

Sound advice.

On Course For A Job

September 30, 2011

 How to make the most of your journalism course                        

A reporter’s notebook and pen is no longer enough to equip you for daily life in the newsroom. You must be able to hit the ground running, whether you’re asked to do a video, online, audio or print story –and editors will sort out the wheat from the chaff in 140 characters these days.

But some basic principles still apply. Take them on board, sit at the front of the class, listen and you’ll be well on the way to getting that prized job.

Be passionate about writing. Sounds obvious but you’d be surprised by the amount of students who fail to convince their tutors they actually want to write. Their job applications will make it only as far as the editor’s waster paper bin.

Don’t keep repeating the same mistakes. Tutors will give you the benefit of the doubt once, possibly twice if you show you’re trying. Editors need NCTJ trained reporters who will swim not sink.

Be a better blogger. You have a free, readily available platform to showcase your abilities – use it. Writing any old blog is not enough to get you noticed. It has to be exceptional, well written and reflect your passion whether it’s news or niche. Find your voice and shout.

Use twitter. Once you’ve started don’t stop otherwise people will lose interest in you.

Keep up with the news:  Read all the newspapers and take down the six o’clock news in shorthand —  you’ll be teacher’s pet.

Shine at work experience. Elbow your way to the news desk and offer to cover evening and weekend events. The reporters will love you.

Be professional. If you get harangued by members of the public because the story you wrote doesn’t suit them or the subs butcher your story out of all recognition keep your head up high. Remember, it’s not how hard they hit you it’s how quickly you get up again that counts.

Get published. Students at Brighton Journalist Works are only a floor away from the Argus newsroom so there’s no excuse for failing to get stories in the newspaper. Failing that set up your own publication or magazine and by-pass those gatekeepers of news.

Learn how to use new platforms. Take time to get to know storify,  tumblr, vimeo and audioboo – choose one and learn how to use it to good effect.

Practice shooting video and taking pics. You’ll be given an introduction at Brighton Journalist Works, but it’s down to you to hone your skills.

Get to grips with data journalism. That’s stats based stories to you and me.  Where would Heather Brooke be without them?

Start a contacts list from day one.  Go out and talk to people — the pub counts so there’s no excuse.  Consider making up with those estranged friends and family, you never know when they’ll come in handy.

Have fun. It’s hard work but you’ll be rewarded if you make the effort. Imagine how you’ll feel when you get your first by-line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Work Through A Placement

June 8, 2011

 

 

Simon Irwin, Editor Sussex Life

Get Work Through A Placement

If you want to interview an Earl or a Viscount or two get down to the Sussex Life and bag yourself a work placement.

Make sure you’re equipped with a host of ideas for great features though, otherwise you’ll be loading articles on the website instead of filling your portfolio with cuttings.

Simon Irwin, editor of the up-market glossy magazine, promised students at Brighton Journalist Works plenty of opportunities to get that all important by-line when he visited this week. With a few provisos: that they turn up to the Worthing based magazine with ideas, enthusiasm and the ability to get on with people.

“If you really want to be a journalist, just do it. You need to be keen, nosy and driven. If I had two candidates for a job, one with a degree, or one with a pile of cuttings, I would choose the person with the cuttings,” said Simon.

His top tip on getting the cuttings in the first place was to be persistent and pester news editors until they took notice. Simon said the best grounding for new journalists was still local weekly newspapers where they would get a better breadth of training.

Simon also told students to work hard at their shorthand and media law so they could hit the ground running. Two things — Simon used to be a PCC committee member so will be impressed if trainees know the code inside out — secondly, find out what a D Notice is!

 

 

Data Journalism: News:Rewired

May 28, 2011

Data journalist James Ball speaking at News:Rewired

Data Journalism: A Way To Get Hired

It would’ve been rude NOT to use a phone, laptop and tablet (preferably all at the same time) at the latest News:Rewired conference. Even the speakers sent tweets while fellow panellists presented at the fast paced, energetic event. 

Data Journalism was one of the hot topics discussed, debated and dissected during the day by industry experts. Freedom of information campaigner Heather Brooke, key note speaker, called for a continuing campaign to get more data into the public domain.

Compared to the US, Brooke said the UK had a long way to go, particularly in the field of crime reporting. She argued police control the agenda here about how the public perceive crime and that on many levels bureaucracy should be challenged.

In the digital age of citizen journalism and blogging Brooke said professional journalism still had a place. She said people would always come to professionals because of their unique selling point – their training and expertise to sift through information to uncover what is important and true.

And so to Data Journalism – analysing numbers and making a story out of them. Nothing new in that for the seasoned journalists at the conference – including Greg Hadfield, director of strategic projects, Cogapp, who refused to call it data, preferring the word “stuff”.

There was much talk of “drilling down” numbers and putting them in context but journalists (or “curators” as they seem to be referred to these days) have always known the end result of most investigations is to workout out how much it’s going to cost the reader.

What is new though, is how journalists crunch the numbers: how they “scrape” the web for data with simple and usually free tools such as Google Docs, Google Refine, ArcView and other stats packages, advanced searches and Google fusion tables.

And then there are the tools for presenting those facts to the readers – sophisticated graphics, charts, representations and the incorporation of interactivity for the user. A word of warning though, from James Ball, data journalist with the Guardian investigations team, not to “kill the audience” with incorrect stats. He gave examples of national newspapers getting their numbers spectacularly wrong and Ball appealed to journalists working on numbers always to ask themselves, “does this make sense?”

Chris Taggart, founder of OpenlyLocal said there has been no better time in this country to get data from councils and there are tremendous opportunities out there for the taking to investigate and use freedom of information requests.

Philip John, director of Lichfield Blog showed how he made the most of the data produced by his local council Lichfield and sites such as Data.gov.uk, WhatDoTheyKnow? and ScraperWiki.

Building open-data cities was the focus for Greg Hadfield who said councils, organisations and local groups should work together to share data to help improve communities and “give the voiceless a voice.”

Powerful stuff and food for thought for trainee journalists, particularly as one speaker admitted, many established journalists are scared of data and so trainees should get into data journalism as a way to get hired.

Book Review – The Snowman, Jo Nesbo

April 13, 2011
Book Review — written for The Surrey Mirror

Jo Nesbo — The Snowman, Vintage Books (2010)

The sticker on the front of the book says ‘The next Stieg Larsson’ — it should say — ‘Ten times better than Stieg Larsson’. For pace, thrills and plot twists you can’t beat Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo — and it’s no surprise he’s won awards for his crime novels featuring the uber cool Harry Hole. The Snowman, the seventh of the series, is set against the backdrop of Oslo, cold, moody, and as tense as the alcoholic Inspector.

When a mother goes missing, her son finds her scarf wrapped around the neck of a snowman in the garden. As Hole delves into unsolved case files, he discovers an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years. When a second woman disappears Hole becomes a pawn in a deadly game, finding himself confronted with a serial killer on his turf, a killer who threatens to drive him to the brink of insanity.

The Snowman is an effortless, gripping read, with great characters and thought provoking moments. When you’ve finished, you’ll want to the rest. The assistant in the news agents said so too — so much so her Richard and Judy Book Club selection is collecting dust. She showed me a novel with a sticker on the front saying ’If you like Jo Nesbo, you’ll love this’ (Camilla Lackberg, The Stone Cutter) — a lot to live up to — will keep you posted.

 

A Convert To World Book Night

March 11, 2011

A World Book Night Convert

Having debated long and hard with my teenage sons about the merits of books vs film (guess which side they are on) I was compelled to get involved in World Book Night.

A million books to be given out nationwide on March 5, what fun! And it was. Thrilled to be selected to be a giver, I thought my arguments for choosing my book (chosen from a list of 25) must have been persuasive (libraries closing, teenagers plugged into ipods etc), or it might have been that nobody else wanted to give it out.  Either way, I picked up my 48 copies of Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters (of  Tipping The Velvet tv series  fame) and proceeded to write a unique number in each which makes them forever trackable. Then as darkness fell, I lugged them (and a couple of helpers, willing or not) down to the station to accost unsuspecting strangers and ask them about their reading habits. I had a pre-conceived notion that people would think I was trying to scam them — oh me of little faith.

Apart from two people who politely declined to take the book, everybody was friendly and happy to take part. I even managed to persuade a group of teenage boys (ok, there were two girls with them) to take a book each and promise faithfully not to bin it as  soon as  I was out of sight.

 Then to the pub — my good deed done for the year … and hopefully a book convert or two to boot.

Forgot to mention — got a storyof my adventure published in the local paper, the Surrey Mirror, as one of our recent Brighton Journalist Works graduates just landed a job as a reporter there — luckily she sent a photographer so the picture was good (not the one with this blog) — no disrespect helpers!

http://journalistworks.wordpress.com/

Cultivate Your Specialist Subject

March 31, 2010

After more than 30 years in journalism Greg Hadfield  (pictured above) left as head of digital development at the Telegraph Media Group earlier this year to joinCogapp, a leading digital agency. He said he believed it was smaller companies such as Cogapp that were shaping the future, rather than repeating the mistakes of the past. He said the most exciting innovations would continue to emergy from remarkable individuals working alone or in small groups, not from ‘monolithic media’. Greg visited Brighton training centre Journalist Works to share his experiences with students.

By Louisa Hannah

There has never been a better time to be a journalist according to Greg Hadfield even though the traditional route into the profession is becoming increasingly difficult.

Talking to students at Brighton’s Journalist Works Greg said they might find it hard to see a structured route into journalism – but they could be successful by looking beyond the norm.

“It may be difficult to get a reporter’s job on a local weekly, so think about other ways of getting your journalism funded. A great example is to work for non-governmental organisations – Greenpeace, Christian Aid or charities which have communication channels. Look at organisations that send people to disaster areas to report the stories of real people. It might be print, video, audio or first person accounts via websites, often these organsiations do it better than other news providers.”

Greg advised students to cultivate a specialist subject to write about to create a niche in the market.

“The future of journalism resides in the creation of premium content. Get your foot in the door with a passion for a subject, either as a team or alone. Young people these days are interested in journalism, they don’t want to be told by editors what the news is, they want to engage in news and help to shape it. People now want to be partners in news, have conversations about it, before, during and after events happen.”

Students should understand the different forms of the digital era, it’s potency and what it offers. Referring to the impact of online journalism on print, as debated in a recent intelligence squared discussion called “The Future Of News”, Greg said journalists have always been citizen journalists.

“We have never pretended to write beyond ordinary people. We have no more right than anybody else to write news or have special access. Online news means we are now closer to our consumers and if that means getting more comments and feedback, good or bad, I would rather hear it.’

He pointed out that the boundaries between people’s personal and professional personas were blurring because of networking sites such as facebook and twitter.

“This might result in dual personalities, but you have to embrace the tecnology. Don’t undersell yourself, know what you want and don’t blame the world for not accomodating you. Cultivate an outlet for your journalism while you are looking for a job.”

Greg’s final piece of advise for students was to get out there and just do it.

“Don’t be scared of failure and error. Accept that you will make mistakes — it’s better to make them now than later when you are a shining star.”

* Log onto http://www.intelligencesquared.com to hear the debate on “The Future of News” as discussed by Andrew Neil, Turi Munthe, AA Gill, Claire Enders, David Elstein, Matthew Parris and Jacob Weisberg. The debate was held on March 24, 2010.

 

What’s The Value Of News?

March 23, 2010
 
                                            Is this news?
 
 News sense is a vital skill for trainee journalists – but not always as easy to pin down as contempt of court or the structure of local government.

Deciding whether a story is news worthy becomes second nature after a while on the news desk, but doesn’t always come naturally for trainees.

Editor of the Argus, Michael Beard, told students at Brighton’s Journalist Works stories for his newspaper should be selected primarily for their human interest value.

Mr Beard said students should think about news selection in terms of what impact issues have on readers: how much it will hurt, cost or affect them.

Journalists often select stories and angles intuitively. They know news is a commodity to be sold but may be unaware they are adhering to a common set of news values followed by journalists for decades.

One of the best known set of news values was first recorded more than forty years ago by media researchers John Galtung and Marie Ruge.

They made their list in 1965 and it is still the subject of debate by journalists and academics alike.

Gultang and Ruge analysed international news stories to find out what factors they had in common, and what factors placed them at the top of the news agenda worldwide.

A story which scores highly on each value is likely to make the front page of a newspaper or tv news bulletin.

Many of these values are relevant to trainees once they are sourcing stories, for example; negativity (bad news is more newsworthy than good news), unexpectedness (if an event is out of the ordinary it will have a greater effect than something that is an every day occurrence and conflict (opposition of people or forces resulting in a dramatic effect, stories with conflict are often newsworthy).

Some of Gultang and Ruge’s other news values worth looking up are: frequency, threshold, un-ambiguity, meaningfulness, consonance, continuity, reference to unique nations, reference to elite people, composition and personalisation.
A more recent set of news values were published by Harcup and O’Neill in 2001 after they studied the UK National Press

They found the following values to be important for the British Press (in no particular order):

The power elite: stories concerning powerful individuals, organisations or institutions.

Celebrity: stories concerning people who are already famous.

Entertainment: stories concerning sex, show-business, human interest, animals and unfolding drama, or offering opportunities for humourous treatment, entertaining photographs or witty headlines.

Surprise: stories with an element or surprise and/ or contrast.

Bad news: stories with negative overtones such as conflict or tragedy.

Good news: stories with positive overtones such as rescues and cures.

Magnitude: stories perceived as sufficiently significant either in the numbers of people involved or in potential impact.

Relevance: stories about issues, groups and nations perceived to be relevant to the audience.

Follow-ups: stories about subjects already in the news.

Media agenda: stories that set or fit the news organisation’s own agenda.

There is no doubt that news values are evolving. The popularity of reality shows, the blurring of news and celebrity news, the phenomenal rise of citizen journalism – all impact on traditional news values and news processes.

Some people question whether traditional news values are still relevant today. But as future gatekeepers of the news, trainee journalists would do well to at least consider them, if not actively join the debate.

Dominic Ponsford Visits Journalist Works

February 18, 2010

Dominic Ponsford Visits Journalist Works

“Print is not dead” — was the rallying cry of Press Gazette Editor Dominic Ponsford when he visited Brighton’s Journalist Works Training Centre on Thursday.

Despite last year being the worst in history for the British media, Dominic told students there were signs of hope for the coming months and pockets of buoyancy within the industry.

He gave examples of new ventures that are making profits in the face of falling circulation and advertsing —  the Cleethropes Chronicle newspaper and TheBusinessDesk.com, an online business news service.

 “There have been massive redundancies across all sectors but people are still needed to produce publications. Many senior and higher paid people have been sacked which leaves the way open for younger journalists with new media skills. Trainees entering the job market today will be well placed if they are willing to be flexible and work across all platforms including print, subbing, writing online and blogging,” said Dominic.

 He told students blogging had played a major role in changing the way the media works.

 “It is important get into blogging, not just because it is fashionable, but because blogs link to so many other things. It is a way of networking, getting yourself known and receiving feedback on your writing. If you find a subject you are interested and write insightfully, blogs will get you noticed by the journalists you want to work for,” said Dom.

 Another area of success has been the rapid rise in ultra-local news said Dominic, where people have set up websites covering areas as small as their own postcode.

“More and more people are making money from local news websites, doing well by advertising hotels and places to eat out. Ultra news is there for the taking,” said Dominic.

 But he said print will always be part of the media mix.

 “I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds, in particular what The Times and Sun will do regarding charging for content online, but print will always be part of the future,” he said.

 Dominic went on to give students his top practical journalism tips which included: being keen by starting work early but not staying too late, looking smart, keeping a contacts book, being prepared to hunt people down for interviews, keeping on top of breaking news with RSS feeds, being confident, respecting off the record conversations and protecting sources.

 “Above all, enjoy yourself. Journalism is a job where you can do something worthwhile for society and dispel ignorance. After all, you are probably not in it for the money so enjoy every day.”

“Print is not dead” — was the rallying cry of Press Gazette Editor Dominic Ponsford when he visited Brighton’s Journalist Works Training Centre on Thursday.

Despite last year being the worst in history for the British media, Dominic told students there were signs of hope for the coming months and pockets of buoyancy within the industry.

He gave examples of new ventures that are making profits in the face of falling circulation and advertsing —  the Cleethropes Chronicle newspaper and TheBusinessDesk.com, an online business news service.

“There have been massive redundancies across all sectors but people are still needed to produce publications. Many senior and higher paid people have been sacked which leaves the way open for younger journalists with new media skills. Trainees entering the job market today will be well placed if they are willing to be flexible and work across all platforms including print, subbing, writing online and blogging,” said Dominic.

He told students blogging had played a major role in changing the way the media works.

“It is important get into blogging, not just because it is fashionable, but because blogs link to so many other things. It is a way of networking, getting yourself known and receiving feedback on your writing. If you find a subject you are interested and write insightfully, blogs will get you noticed by the journalists you want to work for,” said Dom.

Another area of success has been the rapid rise in ultra-local news said Dominic, where people have set up websites covering areas as small as their own postcode.

“More and more people are making money from local news websites, doing well by advertising hotels and places to eat out. Ultra news is there for the taking,” said Dominic.

But he said print will always be part of the media mix.

“I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds, in particular what The Times and Sun will do regarding charging for content online, but print will always be part of the future,” he said.

Dominic went on to give students his top practical journalism tips which included: being keen by starting work early but not staying too late, looking smart, keeping a contacts book, being prepared to hunt people down for interviews, keeping on top of breaking news with RSS feeds, being confident, respecting off the record conversations and protecting sources.

“Above all, enjoy yourself. Journalism is a job where you can do something worthwhile for society and dispel ignorance. After all, you are probably not in it for the money so enjoy every day.”