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Preview: Confessions of a Journalist

Confessions of a Journalist



A Journalism blog, with added rambling



Updated: 2014-10-01T05:48:48.618+00:00

 



Fans Blog

2007-08-10T15:47:08.177+00:00

I got it! To see my blog on the Daily Mirror website, take a deep breath, compose yourself and click here

Got to write my next post for Monday, with reaction of the first game against Manchester United on Sunday.



Daily Mirror Fans Blog

2007-08-08T20:25:30.664+00:00

So Iv applied to write a Fans Blog for the Daily Mirror. I think it would be a great opportunity to get my name out there, get my writing read by a larger audience and, of course, let the truth be known about my football team, Reading FC. It would also give me the chance to keep my blogging regular, as no amount of all-bran is providing the posts that this site deserves. Although, as sarcastic as I am, Im not sure Il be able to match the work of Royals lover, Oliver Holt. Oh wait...

Anyway, so cross your fingers for me. Heres hoping Im the most interesting applicant they get for Reading FC. And if not the most interesting, then the only applicant. Which lets face it, is one and the same.



Work Placement Reports

2007-07-14T20:48:29.129+00:00

Since I'm getting into the habit of sharing with the world I thought Id let you in on the reports of my work placements from early 2007 at two local newspapers, The Wokingham Times and the Reading Evening Post.

Wokingham Times - Sally Bryant:

"Todd is very highly thought of here - he writes quickly, accurately and stylishly. His interview technique is fine and he is very pleasant to work with.

His time-keeping is excellent, we can't really fault him and wish him every success."

Reading Evening Post - Steve Hughes:

"This is the second time Todd has been on a placement here and he has proved to be a useful asset to the newsroom on both occasions. We get a lot of people here on work experience and often they end up writing nibs and peripheral stories. That has not been the case with Todd and he has shown us twice now that he is capable of taking on lead stories and tuning them round quickly and accurately - exactly the kind of qualities we require of our daily reporters. He also seems confident on the phone, has been forthcoming in asking to take on work and has proven he has a grasp of the writing style needed to become a news journalist. I understand from my colleagues at our sister paper - The Wokingham Times - that Todd has been very productive in their newsroom as well."

Well that all seems very complimentary to me - what do you seasoned experts think?



Second year results

2007-07-14T20:35:08.266+00:00

So I go my results through today...Iv been accepted through to the third and final year that will decide my degree score. My results in the individual modules as followed:

Professional Studies: 70%

Journalism In Context: 62.9%

Issues and Representations: 69.6%

Newspaper and Magazine Design: 52.5%

Editorial Photograpy: 55.1%

Online Journalism: 66.2%

Researching the Media and Communication: 68%

News and Feature Writing: 65.1%

Managing Media Projects and Dissertations: 55.3%

That leaves me with an overall 63% for the second year - which is a 2:1

Bit of work to do in the final year still though!!!!



What do the public want from a newsweek?!

2007-07-05T23:31:38.067+00:00

So Iv just come back from a lads holiday to the sunny drinking hole that is Ayia Napa and one of my mates, having flicked through a copy of The Sun remarked how strange it was that "nothing seemed to have happened back in the UK" while we were away.

Presumably he meant apart from

The Prime Minister of the past ten years stepping down

Floods destroying areas in the middle of June

Bombings in the centre of London and Glasgow airport

Best player in the Premiership goes to Barcelona

As well as countless more...

It just makes you think - How much news do the public want from ten days!



The Stirrer

2007-06-15T14:43:20.861+00:00

An update on my possible Guest Editor role at The Stirrer. Having not heard back from the editor for a time, I recieved a telephone call this morning. It seems that he is still interested in letting me take control, but has been a little busy lately with his wife expecting a baby. Which is fairly understandable!

So, once everything has settled down in The Stirrer's household, we will sit down and discuss the role. Despite my being in Reading over the summer, I believe that we can come to some arrangement, particularly as he claims to have another person willing to cover the local aspect. This would lead me free to edit from afar!

Until next time



End of Term

2007-06-15T14:42:55.694+00:00

So it's been a while since I last posted...I do have an excuse of sorts. I have been tied up with exams, assignments and moving house which leads to the Internet being cut off. Its never the best.

So I have completed the Online Journalism module, the reason for setting up this blog though I intend to keep it going. The main reason for this was finally getting access to the net and seeing my hit counter which had doubled despite no new postings. Our interactive went quite well in the end, Neil and I being in charge of the video section. The videos that I produced were...

Speedway explained:

(object) (embed)

Speedway Clips:

(object) (embed)

An interview with Brummies star Ulrich Ostergaard:

(object) (embed)

An interview with father of Brummies racer Aidan Collins, Les:

(object) (embed)

An interview with Brummies boss Graham Drury

(object) (embed)

I also had an interview with the club secretary Brian Buck, but unfortunately the wind was so loud that it could not be heard.

I had several problems creating the videos. Having never completed a television module I had little experience using the cameras and so on the Les Collins interview the sound quality is very poor. With the Ulrich Ostergaard one, it was a little dark although I managed to brighten it up somewhat in Movie Maker.

Ultimately, our flash interactive never made the UCE News website for a number of reasons. The file size was enormous, over 500mb, which meant that it was far too big to upload. We did not know how to make it smaller. This was probably due to the intricacy of the piece, with seven videos, an audio slideshow and around 14 pages to it, all interlinking. As lecturer Paul Bradshaw noted:

I decided to teach 'forms' (e.g. slideshow, video gallery) rather than 'skills' (frame navigation, audio) this year. It was the wrong decision.


This meant that whilst the individual pieces were good, we struggled to put them together and upload them to the website. This was unfortunate as I was particularly proud of our groups effort, as I had to work very hard to complete our groups flash interactive on deadline day.



Media Interactive

2007-05-06T14:30:24.371+00:00

Just a quickie today before I get down to the deep, dark work of deadlines. Feels like I have a million to do, and no time to do it. I like to think my lack of organisation will work well in my future profession - I can't do any work for anything until the pressure is on. I need a tight deadline, so journalism should suit me down to the ground.

Anyway, our groups media interactive topic has changed from the daunting subject of 'gun crime' to 'Speedway'. Personally, Im quite pleased with the change as filming videos for gun crime was never going to be particularly easy - especialy if you enjoy your life as I do. We will be focusing on the Birmingham Brummies who conviently race at the Perry Barr dog track. In my opinion, they could do with a name change though.

We've not really organised roles yet, although we do have some interesting ideas. For the flash background, we were discussing having a view of a motorbike's handlebars, with different backgrounds that the user could 'ride' to, representing 'videos', 'audio' etc... To give you an idea it should look something like this:

(image)

But better...obviously!

For videos, we have a number of possibilties. Neil and I know this lad, who shall remain nameless for the time being, who races Speedway to a high level. He is a bit of an up and coming star, and whilst he doesn't race for the brummies, he is a local lad, Walsall born and bred, and does race for a professional team. We plan to do an interview with him, interjecting his dialogue with footbage of him in action. We also plan to get video footage from inside Perry Barr stadium, although we have not discussed any details.

On the audio front, I am considering taking photo's of the Speedway for my Editorial Photography assignement (deadlines, deadlines!) so these could kill two birds with one stone. We discussed the possibility of a 'beginners guide to Speedway', which could combine my images with audio to produce a high-quality audio slideshow. With all these ideas in tow, I feel that we have the potential to produce a good quality interactive.

Wow, no wonder my girlfriend always looks so happy if this is what I consider a quickie...!



The power of blogging...

2007-05-04T16:12:54.471+00:00

I feel like a corner has been turned on this blogging lark. Despite having so far recieved only 40 odd hits (although the new hit counter has only been up about a week and therefore has missed most of my posting craze), a post of mine has travelled far and wide across the internet, reaching people from across the globe.

A post of mine was picked by one of my lecturers, Paul Bradshaw, who wrote about it on his blog. His take on the hilariously bad video attracted a great deal of attention from fellow bloggers, prompting comment numbers that my humble site can only dream about. For those who wonder why he did not credit me, I asked him not to, as I have a working relationship with the company involved.

As Bradshaw himself notes, people are now blogging about this video as far away as Hungary and Australia. Meanwhile, comments have been flying around, meaning even more people are being linked to it. Lucas,writing on WordBlog comments: "That was painful to watch. The good news is probably none of their readers did." Unfortunately for the Reading Evening Post he was wrong. I did.

So when I started writing this blog and thought nobody was watching, I was wrong. Whilst my hit count remains dormant, at least my posts are actually proving a success, albeit for other peoples blogs!



How to be an online journalist

2007-05-04T16:15:33.704+00:00

Instead of just writing about how I found my latest article I thought that I would actually show you. In my first attempt at vlogging, observe:

(object) (embed)

And before you ask, yes, the fantastic music is royalty free!

N.B. As Journalism students, we are permitted to use Corbis images provided that we take into consideration the costs of their use in a professional context.



How not to do a vlog!

2007-05-04T16:17:53.211+00:00

Nice idea Dave but I can't see your series winning any sports awards in the foreseeable future.

Its not often I make a link so prominent but this is one that just has to be watched, if only to educate the vloggers out there:

Watch it if you dare

Need I say more?

And that was after thirteen attempts...are you brave enough to watch the first attempt?

Must have been a slow news day.

UPDATE: Paul Bradshaw has used my video on his blog and it's proving pretty popular. Take a look.



Reading Evening Post storms online

2007-05-04T16:19:18.023+00:00

Having worked for the Reading Evening Post for almost an entire week now, I have not failed to notice the vast improvement in it's website since my placement at the company in March 2006. They seem to be waking up to the potential of online journalism, and have placed a much greater emphasis on interactivity. I was particularly impressed with the way in which they have utilised comments into each story, with some articles recieving well over double figures. Not only are the website encouraging healthy debate about the town, and tapping into their crucial market of middle-class workers who read from their desk, but they are incorporating the website's good work into the newspaper itself.

A double page spread has been dedicated to reader views and comments has been set up in the popular newspaper. Comments from the stories are used, as well as letters, debates and images sent in by readers, to form a 'viewpoint' section. This shows the website and publication working closer together, which can only be a good thing with the technological changes that are threatening the industry somewhat. It is about time too, with the site attracting almost 700,000 page impressions a month. And that information is 9 months old, with the figures only likely to have increased since.

However, not all is well with the website. An admirable Community Blogs section has been set up, but embarassingly does not seem to work, at least not on my Internet Explorer window. They could do worse than follow the fine example set by the Birmingham Mail Blog, which despite getting few comments is setting an early standard in newspaper blogs.

Similar inadequacies can be found in the Post's message board. This ugly, plain layout is not winning any fans amongst it's readership, with very few users. In fact, there is only one real discussion amongst it, and even that petered out a long time ago. A solution would be to try and create something similar to the pioneering Birmingham Mail, whose forums attract far greater interactivity. They even became the source for a story that I scooped the newspaper itself for!

The site has no doubt improved since I last worked there, but the webmaster must not stop there. The internet is the future for newspapers, and the Reading Evening Post still has a lot of work to do to maximise its potential.



Work Placement

2007-05-04T16:21:19.608+00:00

Easter is upon us and Im spending my week working for the wonderful Reading Evening Post. Iv only been there for one day so far and it wasn't exactly the most thrilling, as I wasn't really given that much to do and it's kinda hard to find your own stories when you havn't been to the town for months and you don't get given a password to the wonderful world of the web until after lunch. Still, at least I was able to catch up on the nationals - I must have read almost every copy cover to cover this morning!

That said, I did manage to contribute a number of stories today. Quite a few were just nibs and most of them weren't particularly exciting. However, I did manage to get a international scoop on Guinea Pig day at a local vets! Im working on a story about flight paths over Reading, apparently the planes from Heathrow are flying very low these days so hopefully that will amount to something. I don't want to say too much though...you never know who could be watching, especially as it hasn't been published yet.

One thing that disappointed me was that I didn't get out of the office today. When I worked at the Wokingham Times I was out almost every day - at inquests, court cases, vox pops and the like. Today I spent the day inside, working off the phone. I realise that this is the way of the journalism world these days, but I still fancied a trip out in the sunshine!

When I thought about it though, this is actually a practice that I tend to do myself when writing for UCE News site. If you were to watch me writing stories for the site, chances are you would see me lying in my bed at stupid o'clock in the morning researching things from websites and wondering whether 3am is too late to call somebody for a quote (unless they live in Australia it is). I like to think Im catering for our "foreign market".

I tried to adapt some of my Online Journalism skills to finding stories (when I finally got internet access!) but so far Im hitting blanks with my Technorati blog searches. Il keep trying tomorow.

Anyways, as I'll have Journalism on the brain this week, chances are you'll be reading more about my life this week. Hopefully some of my stories will be posted on their website so that I can show you all links and you can smile politely.

Bon Soir



New Website Procedure

2007-05-04T16:22:42.766+00:00

So the ballgame has changed a little bit. New editor Azeem is in charge of our stories now and, as such, they don't go straight onto the site when you submit them. Now they have to be approved first, and this means that the site is only updates when Az goes on. I can understand this in the terms that the top story is now the most important one, and not the latest one which could be boring as the hills, but surely now, no new stories will appear for hours and then a few at once. This will surely mean that some get overlooked by our audience. I think that new stories need to go straight onto the site, and be edited later. They could be put in the slots underneath the top story and surely this would improve the site?

UPDATE: The procedure has been changed slightly. Now only the top story is chosen by the editor, with the three slots below it available for latest stories. Much better, in my opinion.



Hold the front page

2007-05-04T16:24:44.690+00:00

My faithful audience, Iv neglected you of late. I would like to be able to say that it is because Iv been horribly ill, or on holiday to some distant part of the world for the last ten days, but I wont lie to you. Iv had deadlines coming out of my ears, and to be honest, havnt really been in the uni spirit lately. But Im coming back with a vengence, for I have news to tell. I can tell that you've been missing your updates into my sordid life.

My stories have been reaching large audiences. You may recall me pipping the Birmingham Mail to a story found on their own forum? Well that story made it onto Journalism news website Hold the Front Page. I thought that was pretty damn cool!

Also in the news update stakes, Azeem and I will be guest editors of local news website, The Stirrer, which will be an exciting challenge as it currently gets around 400,000 hits every month. Not exactly a small operation to be running!

In the news leads stakes, Im currently working on one good one. I was playing football last night for my team, Perry Barcelona, and got talking to one of their players who told me that they had been the victims of a racist attack at the brand new goals centre. So I'm following that one up with him, and it sounds like it could be quite a good, fresh, story as none of the other local media have covered it. Will get on the blower to Goals themselves and get myself a juicy little story!

Until next time



Do I? Don't I?

2007-05-04T16:25:08.814+00:00

I have been deliberating over whether to post this video that Neil Timms and I made during our lesson on Thursday. My reasons for are that:

  • We are supposed to

  • We've been told that it is very funny

  • It shows that I can, at least, work a video camera basically

  • It forms the beginning of my video work for the module

  • It adds some personality to the blog, and puts a face to a name



My reasons against are:

  • It's very silly

  • It will waste the time of anyone professional who reads this blog

  • It's very silly



Well here it is, I may regret this, but I am posting it. Keep in mind that it is not a serious piece of work, more a satire of our actual roles for the website. Enjoy:
(object) (embed)



UCE News - the website that never sleeps

2007-05-04T16:25:30.342+00:00

It seems that UCE News never stops in its quest to bring you the news from the region. Whether it ever started is another question entirely. My point being anyway, that on this fine evening when I cannot sleep, four stories have been posted to the website between the hours of 1am and 3am. Only one of these stories is mine (I have a penchant for evening work - I concentrate better but its nigh on impossible to contact anyone for quotes!) Are we super hard workaholics that shoot up caffeine like Pete Doherty does with 'other' substances. Allegedly. Anyways, I just found that quite amusing so thought I would share it with the world. My deadline is Thursday anyway, so technically Im right on time!

My caffeine high is over, I need some sleep.



Birmingham goes green

2007-03-08T02:52:46.393+00:00

Another day, another story and this time its one about that jolly old piss up, St. Patrick's Day. I found that Selfridges had set up lots of lights that turns its exterior green in the evenings. I also found on the Birmingham Mail forums that there were a few people that weren't too happy because of the lack of attention St. George's Day gets in comparison. Obviously, the normal angle of Wow! isn't this great, was pretty much out the window as I never see the point of doing the same story as a rival only much later. So I searched the Birmingham Mail's archive for stories about banning England flags from Taxi's etc...I found this.

Strirring up some opinion I interviewed a couple of students on my favourite new toy, a big fancy interviewing recorder thing (I was never good with technology - if the phone rings I answer the TV remote). I was hoping to set up something much better for my interview this week, but a lack of ideas, interviewees and motivation meant that it got pushed to the bottom of my extensive list of things to think about doing.

Also, I was intending to write a story about the stabbing outside Matthew Boulton college but I refer you back to my post about repeating the news. I couldn't find anything 'new' about the incident and my report would have been the same as BBC News and the Birmingham Mail.

P.S. If anybody fancies leaving me a comment and proving to me that I'm not just writing to my tutor, Paul Bradshaw then that would be lovely.



My latest story

2007-03-08T02:43:38.792+00:00

Forgetfulness comes in many forms, some people lose their keys, others walk into a room and forget completely why they went there. I forget to post blogs about my stories. You would think it should come naturally, write a story, and then follow it up with a blog about how I found it. Ahh well C'est la vie.

This story was a good one too. As Paul Bradshaw says on his highly regarded blog "Todd may also have scooped the Birmingham Mail". You should definately click that second link, Im pretty impressed to have been mentioned so many times! As if that wasn't exciting enough, another highly respected journalist Martin Stabe linked to Paul's blog post on his, meaning thousands of people may have seen my scoop. Im becoming famous!

Anyways, back to the story itself, I found it on the Birmingham Mail forum. This was quite funny, because upon searcing their archives, it suggested that they had failed to pick up on the story themselves. I quoted a few fellows off the forum, and did a bit of research to find previous convictions in Birmingham of the same vein. Finally, I gave West-Midlands Police a ring on their press number for a quote. I was told that it was not Police business, but it was still worthy of a quote.

So there you have it, I now have one more story to write for this week (as well as an audio piece that will struggle to get done). I had a fantastic idea for the story, but unfortunately you'll have to bear with me on that one as Iv completely forgotten it...



Is it worth re-writing stories?!

2007-03-02T15:27:46.540+00:00

Well butts got well and truly kicked in Online Journalism this week with the appointment of 'hard-man' editor Azeem. A meeting was held, and no ideas were flowing from his direction so I threw mine forward. I suggested having a moodle forum for helping each other out with ideas, and having staggered deadlines so that not all stories came in on the same day. They were pretty well-recieved but my main talking point came from the notion of what UCE News is supposed to be. What does it represent? Who is it targeting?

These were all things that had not really been discussed before. People were unsure as to what was expected of them, were we meant to be putting opinion in or cold hard facts? One student even asked if we were supposed to be just copying stories from other websites. Hmm, that was a tough one.

I tried to give the site some sort of edge with my suggestions. Original stories are the way to go, nobody is going to choose our website over BBC News for their local news. That is ridiculous, because nine times out of ten the BBC will get the news before we do. So we have to focus on original stories, from different sources or from different angles. For example, my shopkeeper story that I previously blogged about came about from a story on the BBC website. I took a new angle though and decided to interview a local shopkeeper. With his quotes, which are exclusive to UCE News, the story is completely different from the original offering. This is what we need to do.

So, onwards and upwards to the notion of re-writing stories. I am not necessarily talking about from other news websites, but also from the Press Association website and so on. As anyone who reads this regularly will know, I am not a fan of churning out stories from press releases and whilst I appreciate that it is sometimes necessary, I try to avoid it wherever possible. Focusing on our UCE News website, what is the point of copying mundane stories from PA? Our competitors will no doubt already have them, using the same angles but with a bigger audience. If audiences are to come to UCE News, it will be because they want something different from what they are offered.

Having said that, there is the obvious position where a story is just so big that it has to feature on the website, in whatever form possible. But, if we cannot find a new angle on a story, is it worth just posting it as is? Is a re-written story better than no story at all? I would be tempted to say yes, but there is always the danger that a poor story will replace one with potential. There is always the temptation to post said story and say "right, Iv achieved my story quota this week now." This shouldn't be the case.

This post has gone a little swings and roundabouts, but I wanted to convey a few of my opinions. Hopefully it made a little sense.



Good blog posts come in threes

2007-02-28T23:46:05.778+00:00

This is unlikely to be a good blog post though, hence why it is only the second of the day. Just an update on how I found my latest two stories, this notion of 'two' might be a regular theme in this post. The first of my stories, which I actually wrote after the second one (I also like to make my posts slightly cryptic) was the typical story that I hate to write but I feel had a place on the website. As McDonaldization suggests, quantity is more important that quality and it would appear that I am pandering to the slave that is. I found the appeal in the West Midlands Police Press Area which makes it about as establishment as Tony Blair dressed up as a speed camera but hey, PR news is better than no news right? (I feel another blog rant coming on)

Moving swiftly on, as I tend not to do, the second of my stories was remarkably similar and being as anti-PR as I am, I just had to find my own angle on this one. Ashamedly I found the story on my WikioRSS feed for BBC news in the West Midlands. However, I found a new angle by going out and asking a shopkeeper about the incident and how it had effected his viewpoint on things. I got some interesting quotes from him and it made the story very different to the BBC offering. Personally, I think it's more interesting. What do you think?

On a parting shot, I pray that I have done all these links correctly. They can be a right pain!



Frustration

2007-02-28T23:47:00.089+00:00

Leaving it a little late again to be posting my stories, but Wednesday evening/Thursday morning seems so much more appealing than the weekend, and Im getting more than a little frustrated. Im frustrated about many things, not least the pathetic amount of stories that have been posted on UCE News . Personally I have contributed two, which is the required amount, but two in two weeks still seems a measly amount. However, it is more than most appear to have done.

Anyways, moving on from that rant and on to the new one that I originally began writing this blog for (I wasn't joking about the 20% more rambling). I have a story that I have been writing, Iv adapted it for the local angle and interviewed a shopkeeper. He wouldn't give me his name but there are ways around that. It's more the aspect of a picture that irritates me. Now I dont wish to steal one, even though there is one on BBC News that I really want to steal. I can't find one on any of the image banks, unsuprisingly, and even mediapoint is coming up with nothing. I should have taken one of the shopkeeper or something but I didn't think of that and I doubt he would have gone for that anyway. So what do I do? I can't put it up without a picture. Thats rubbish. Unless I just use a stock police photograph. I might do that until a better idea comes to me.

The trials and tribulations of an online journalist eh?!



First News Story

2007-02-22T13:34:18.469+00:00

Now then, now then, as Jimmy Saville would say, I have just posted my first real story on the UCE News . As much as Im sure you wish to rush off and spread the good word to your friends and family but wait, I wish to tell you about how I wrote this

I found a blog written by a West Midlands Police Officer, which I wrote about in the last post. I used this as a basis for my story, backed up by searches made on the Birmingham Mail's website website And thats about it. Take a look!



Speed Cameras

2007-02-18T20:26:28.337+00:00

As Crime and Emergency Services correspondent, I found a blog by a West Midlands Police Officer, who makes some very interesting points about speed cameras and possible replacements.

His blog can be found here: http://yornicked.blogspot.com/2007/02/red-light-means-danger.html

I think he makes some very interesting points, and I think that this could serve for an insightful first feature article. I'll get on to the proper authorities tomorow, and see if I can speak to this chap about it.



This blog is changing

2007-02-22T14:18:40.795+00:00

So...this blog, despite being just over a week old is already moving on. It has packed its bags, called a taxi and is on it's way to the airport to start a new life. There will be little more rambling about online journalism, but fear not, where there is Todd Nash, there will be rambling.

The blog now concerns itself with my new job title, Correspondent for Crime and Emergency Services for our news website, UCE News. The site can be found here:

UCE News

I think that is it anyway, we are still ironing out the details. So from now on, instead of rambling about the virtues of Online Journalism, I will be an Online Journalist. I will report to this blog with my tales of journalistic woe and rant about people that do not tell me what I want to know. So mostly press officers then.

Anyways, thats about all I have to say for this particular blog, except that I am also creating a fanzine for five-a-side football heroes Perry Barcelona. Ask for more detail!