Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Week at the Croydon Guardian

This week I have been working at the Croydon Guardian. It is a weekly paper, which specialises in local news from around the South-East London borough of Croydon. During my time at university studying journalism, this is the first time I have had some real ‘hands-on’ experience in the field.

Dealing mainly in broadcast journalism on WINOL, working at a local newspaper is somewhat different. For example, instead of actually going out and about to get quotes and interviews with people, it is mainly done over the phone. The Croydon edition of the newspaper is out on a Wednesday, and I started on the Monday, so by the time I had started the majority of the news-gathering by the reporters had been done, and now it was all about organising photographs, and writing the stories in time for the deadline.

My first task helping out and gaining some insight was to ‘turn around’ press releases that the reporters are sent by local organisations. A lot of the releases were sent by press departments of these organisations in an attempt to get some publicity, and were not hard-hitting news stories. Such stories would include local businesses giving free football tickets to schools, or news on upcoming events. Nevertheless, it was quite exciting to be involved in getting some real experience in the industry.

During my first day, the Chief Reporter handed me a story of four Croydon based youngsters who had reached the final of a prestigious London based award. My job was to call the four finalists and get a profile on why they had been nominated and to get quotes from them. It was at this point that I learned that shorthand was definitely a necessity for being a news hack! The first call was very ‘plain-sailing’, but the second a bit harder – a 12-year-old school girl, who was very reluctant to answer questions, she was a lovely young girl, but, as most kids do, she got very shy with speaking to a stranger. In the end we had to settle for a quote from the child’s mother.

With the first two so easy to contact and willing to speak, surely the next two would be the same – No. I was wrong to assume that. The next two have been a nightmare to contact, with not answering phone calls and not responding to e-mails. The reality of the difficulties news reporters face was beginning to settle in.

Day two was fun – Court. I was on my way to court with a reporter to get a bit of an insight into court reporting, when it dawned on me. I wasn’t wearing a tie! As I have learned from Chris in lectures, when visiting court, it is essential to wear a tie. Luckily enough, the reporter I was with was well connected in the court and explained that I was still learning, so all was fine! The difficulties and stresses of court reporting also became apparent, when we travelled all the way to the Crown Court, only for the case to be adjourned for one reason or another! So no doubt we will be back another day! The reporter I was with is still unaware as to the ‘interest factor’ to the story, but it is always worth finding out!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Media Law - Copyright

Most people believe tat copyright law exists as soon as you wright something down. This is partly true, but the law actually requires the subject to actually be published to be protected. There is no copyright in ideas though, so claiming you had the idea for facebook before Mark Zuckerberg, or that you 'thought of it first' wouldn't get you anywhere in a court of law.

Copyright is very important to us as journalists. We are basically selling our words. That's how we make our money. So if we publish something and someone else copies it then they will half your audience and half your money. No copyright, no journalism and no copyright means no profit.

If you work for an institute or a company then you often give up your right to have your work copyrighted in exchange for wages. However, if you are freelance, your work is your own and is protected by copyright law.

The Eiffel Tower:
During last weeks lecture on copyright, our guest lecturer Peter Hodges explained the copyright laws surrounding the Eiffel Tower - a normal photograph of the Eiffel Tower when it is NOT illuminated is fine and free from copyright protection. However, the lighting on the Eiffel Tower is STRICTLY protected by the law, so if you are a broadcaster and you take photos or footage of the illuminated Eiffel Tower, you will not be able to publish without consent. If you are on holiday and take photos, and you upload them to you Facebook account, it is extremely unlikely you will be sued though.

It is very important to journalists as broadcasters to make sure that any material they use is not affected by copyright such as music in the background - the rule is, if it can be recognised then it needs to have consent of use.

How long does copyright law last?
In most cases it is 70 years after the authors death - but in different cases it may last for less, or for more. The best rule for a journalist or anyone looking to broadcast any work which is not there own - get advice if in doubt.

Fair Dealing:
As journalists we like fair dealing. Fair dealing allows us to use snippets of someone else's work without the fear of being sued. We do this for such things as criticism or review, or for research and private study. We must make sure though that the copyright owner is acknowledged.

You must never use a photograph in fair dealing - it is not protected

Moral Rights - The copyright owner has the moral rights of their work. They have to right to say how their work is portrayed. For example, doing a spoof of a movie - the copyright owner must agree to the changes. Or if one music artist does a re-mix of the original artists' song - the original artist must agree.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Media Law - Confidentiality and privacy

The law is always changing, and in a couple of months everything I am writing today, could well be wrong.

 Article 8 of the Human Rights Act
Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
Article 10 of the Human Rights Act
Freedom of expression - You have the right to say and have your own opinions

Privacy is mainly an issue that is found within the lives of celebrities and people in the public eye. So we are not able, as journalists, to go around publishing photographs of people, in their everyday life, without consent; or publishing secrets about anybody, celebrity or not, unless there is a defence for doing so. The main defence of invasion of privacy would be PUBLIC INTEREST. So for example, if Wayne Rooney was photographed taking bribes before England took to the field against San Marino, then it would be well within the public interest to publish these photos without fear of being sued for invasion of privacy. On the other hand, if you were to take photos of Wayne Rooney through his living room window watching 'Brokeback Mountain', it would be deemed an invasion of his privacy, as it is up to him if he wants to watch certain films, and he has the right to do that privately.

So what defines PUBLIC INTEREST?
- Detecting or exposing crime: (Example: David Cameron selling marijuana)
- Protecting public health and safety (Example: discovering that your next door neighbour is plotting a terrorist attack)
- Preventing the public interest from being misled by an action or a statement

 *** Official Secrets Act *** These are put in place to protect National Security - There is no Public Interest defence. This is something that can come into play in the everyday life of a journalist. For example, if a journalist was doing a piece to camera with an army barracks in the background, they could be in breach of breaking the official secrets act, as it could provide necessary secret information to the enemy. So journalists have to be careful of their surroundings.

Newspapers (especially tabloids), often print stories that are against the laws of privacy and confidentiality. The most notorious and recent case of this was Max Mosley and the News of the World. Mosley was accused by the newspaper of taking part in a 'sick Nazi orgy' with prostitutes in his apartment in Chelsea. Mosley believed that he had an expectation of privacy, and he was right. You are in breach of someones confidence if you can identify all four of the following points:
1) Necessary quality of confidence - NOT TITTLE-TATTLE! So you will not be in breach of confidence if you are telling your boss that your colleague picks his nose and eats it.
2) The information is provided in circumstances imposing an obligation to privacy - So if you are in someones home and not in the park or a cafe. ***I WILL COME BACK TO THIS****
3) No permission to pass on the information
4) Detriment to be caused to the person

What News of the World thought, is that there would be no way that Mosley would want to stand up in court going through all the sordid details of his 'orgy' in front of a jury and journalists who would be publishing the findings in the next mornings papers. They were wrong. Mosley did just that and it was found that Mosley had the right to a privacy in this case - winning £60,000.

The case of Princess Caroline: I said I would come back to point 2 - in 2004 Princess Caroline was photographed eating in a public restaurant to which she sued and won, with the outcome from the European Court of Human Rights stating that this was a violation of Article 8, and that just because you are in a public place, it does not mean that you have the right to take photos of them or film them. However, there has been a more recent update to this, in February 2012 the court has now decided that papers should be allowed to publish photos and stories of well-known people. In conclusion, it is clear that the line between Article 8 and 10 is always being moved, and there is never going to be a straight ruling into this. And with the outcome of the Leveson inquiry soon approaching, it is clear that there will be possibly the biggest shift in rules ever, possibly making it even harder for journalists.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The New Journalism - HCJ Semester 2 - Lecture/Seminar 4

American Journalism - historical context

- The Penny Papers - Pamphlets- Produced to influence people by businessmen or politicians to try and influence people and their decisions.
- Creation of 'news wires' - Press Association (PA) - an impartial, or objective news provider, didn't have any political slant or bias, simply there to tell the story. The reason for this was so that it could sell to the mass, as oppose to aiming at a strictly left wing audience or a strictly right wing audience. By having a political bias, or a bias of any sort, you are restricting your selling market, and therefore losing money.
- The Yellow Press [LINK back to previous blog on 'Yellow Journalism:]

The New Journalism

The New Journalism wanted to come away from the pre-concieved ideas of being 'told a story': 3 men were killed after a bomb explosion in Hampshire. But instead, wanted to give you the idea of seeing the story, and making your mind up for yourself, so you are not TOLD what to think, you SEE what you want. When you are able to see the news, as oppose to being told what it is, it becomes, in my opinion, very ambiguous. You can determine what it means by making up your own mind, you haven't got somebody telling you what to think, it then becomes quite subjective.

The idea of 'Status'

Status and competition is everywhere and anywhere in the World. Whether it be Sky Vs BBC, or Man Utd Vs Man City, or Gardener Vs Garden Tractor Driver; the need to be better, faster, higher than the other is constant.

How to write a Feature according to Tom Wolfe:

4 things you need:

1) A scene by scene construction - So as I have touched on above, you need to let the reader see and feel the scene, not tell them what to think from what you see and feel from the scene. I will use the example that popped into my head during the lecture. The film 'Green Street' is perfect for this. An American Journalist comes to the UK, and becomes involved with a football hooligan, and begins to document his findings. What he does, and what he needs to do, is to tell the reader how he dresses, how he looks and how is he different from a 'normal person' - or is this normal? He lets the reader decide for themselves.

2) Realistic Dialogue involves the reader more completely than any other single device - You would need to spend a lot of time with the person, figure out how he interacts with other people, back to status, how he interacts with people below him, and people above him. Is he hostile? Is he different to his kids, wife, parents? This part needs to be extremely investigative.

3) Third person point of view - You would need to get inside their head; figure out his true emotions, and relay them to the reader as if you were the person, but from you, a third person's point of view. But at the same time being careful as to be subjective.

4) Recording of everyday habits, gestures etc - this helps the reader with 'seeing the person'. Helps them to interact, and lets them decide how they feel about the person, via using body language. You could say it is a way of the person and the reader to communicate.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Existentialism - HCJ - Semester 2 - Lecture/Seminar 2

Existentialism was the theme of the week two’s lecture and seminar. It is a very interesting topic and there are many different views on it. We were asked to read Albert Camus’ ‘The Outsider’ for this weeks reading, which gives us a fascinating insight into the world of existentialism.

The existentialist way of thinking is that the individual is the one who gives meaning to his or her life in spite of any obstacles. They do this through the choices they make, in the face of absurdity, guilt, angst or even boredom. For example if I wanted money because I wanted to eat, then I would need to go out and get a job to get money to pay for food. The existentialist also believes that your ‘facticity’ should not determine your life, and should not have an affect on the future of your existence. They are not interested in the past, what is in the past should stay there – it is all about the future and the decisions you make.

Facticity – is key things about yourself that you cannot choose for yourself, for example, where you come from, who your parents are, if you were born into a wealthy or poor family. To give an example, if you take David Beckham’s children, and then you take the child of somebody born into a slum in South America, an existentialist would believe that both have an equal chance of success within football, of that’s what they both want to do, there is no advantage for David Beckham’s child, as being the son of a famous footballer is merely their facticity.

Good and bad faith – Frantz Fanon believes that if you do not follow your desires and beliefs in life, and you choose to ignore them or are too lazy to follow them up then you are guilty of ‘bad faith’. So to give the example of Fanon himself, he was a doctor in Algeria who came to believe in violent protest. He was constantly treating victims of brutal torture in Algeria from the hands of the French government, and it was this that he couldn’t stand, consequently resulting in him taking a violent stand. He believed that he was doing the right thing with killing the people who were administrating this terror, in an attempt to fight back. Maybe to give a better example, putting it into the context of the present, If you were to watch the news and feel horrified or object to what is happening in Syria, where people are being subject to extreme violence, but decided you didn’t want to do anything about it, then you would be guilty of bad faith.

The Outsider

The outsider is a novel written by Albert Camus, which is set in Algeria, revolving around the main Character Mersault. It begins with him finding out that his mother has died, but he is not really phased by the news, but more concerns himself with the day on which she died, and getting the time of work to go to the funeral. He is never shown to be happy, or unhappy, but he is more indifferent to the news. It goes on to explain that Mersault thinks that his mother’s death is not part of a larger structure of human existence.

The novel then goes on to a neighbour of Mersualt’s, Raymond. He suspects his mistress of infidelity, and asks Mersault to help him in luring her to his apartment where he can have sex with her and then abuse her, Mersualt agrees. He chose what he thought was right, so he is therefore adhering to good faith here.

After his mistress goes to the police, the case goes to trial, to which it is dismissed as Raymond explains the betrayal. Later on in the novel, the brother of the assaulted mistress attacks Raymond with a knife, resulting in Raymond grabbing a gun to get his own back. Mersault stops him though, but ends up shooting the man himself.

Mersault is arrested and trialled, and when on trial, they focus on the fact that he showed no emotion at his mothers funeral. Mersualts thoughts though were that he was a free thinker who did not conform to the pressures of society, that force people to cry or show emotion at such events as family members funeral. The book makes the point that free thought cannot come with the pressures of society, and that Mersualt was found guilty, not of murder, but instead of not conforming to social stereotypes.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool

With all the build up revolving around Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra, this afternoon’s early kick-off between Manchester United and Liverpool lived up to the pre-match hype. Arguably the spiciest fixture in the Premier League calendar, it was given even more zest before a ball had even been kicked, when Liverpool’s Luis Suarez refused to shake Patrice Evra’s extended hand.

It was clear from the off that there was unfinished business between the two, with less than 30 seconds played, Evra attempting to get stuck right in to Suarez, but instead taking out his defensive colleague Rio Ferdinand. It did slow down from there, with both sides getting the ball down and playing some nice football, but creating little in the way of chances. Liverpool’s best chance of the first half fell to right-back Glen Johnson, cutting inside and firing just past De Gea’s far post. United probably edged the first half, with Scholes and Carrick seeing a lot of the ball in the middle of the pitch, allowing Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney to get forward. It was Scholes though who had the best chance, heading the ball straight at Liverpool’s Pepe Reina from three yards out.

Suarez was again at the centre of attention, infuriated that he wasn’t awarded a free kick when Rio Ferdinand brought him down as the last man; however, replays showed that Ferdinand clearly got a foot to the ball. This sparked ugly scenes at the half-time whistle with players from both camps having to be calmed down before reaching their dressing rooms.

After the break it was Wayne Rooney and Manchester United who let their football do the talking, scoring two in five minutes. The first, Rooney peeling away from Glen Johnson at the back post to volley home and then Valencia showing strength, feeding in Rooney who slotted through the legs of Pepe Reina. From here United were in cruise control, with the away side becoming more and more frustrated. However, with ten minutes to play it was that man Suarez, who got them back into it, benefiting from some poor United defending to poach his first goal since coming back from his ban.

It wasn’t to be though, United holding out for the three points, but the drama wasn’t over. Patrice Evra showing extreme emotion at the end to celebrate with the United fans, having to be led away by stewards and his teammates. The post match interviews were also extremely controversial with Sir Alex Ferguson stating that he thought Luis Suarez was a ‘disgrace’, and that he ‘shouldn’t be allowed to play for Liverpool again’.

This win now puts United top of the league, one point clear of rivals Manchester City, until they play tomorrow.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Tabloid Nation - HCJ - Semester 2 - Lecture/Seminar 1

This week’s reading was parts 2 and 3 of Chris Horrie's Tabloid Nation, which is primarily about the development of the Daily Mirror newspaper, whilst Cecil Harmsworth King (Rothermere's nephew) was one of the directors at the paper, until his demise some years later.

It begins with Harry Guy Bartholomew taking over from Rothermere in 1934, with 'Bart' wanting to make the paper more appealing by Americanising it to include sensational stories, nude pictures and more like the the New York Daily News or the Daily Graphic.

King was the only person on the board who agreed with Bart's views on Americanising the paper, and because of the family ties to Rothermere, he was a good person to have on side. So the paper began to change the way it worked, making it appeal to a younger and wider audience. In order to help him do this, Bart hired Basil D Nicholson, as features editor. He originally went to sell Nicholson some advertising space but Nicholson began to grill him asking why his papers did not include cartoon strips like the American papers did. Bart subsequently hired him on the spot, but Nicholson’s time at the paper did not last long. Bart liked the idea of sensationalism, and he also did not want to aim at anyone over the age of 30, but when it was discovered that Nicholson did not feature a story about an old woman who had committed suicide because she had lost her best hat for church, Bart was infuriated - the next day advertising for his replacement.

Hugh Cudlipp:

Cudlipp came in as Nicholson's deputy, but was soon given his post as features editor. Cudlipp had lived in Blackpool, which is key due to the way in which the seaside resort was portrayed. It was Britain’s answer to a freak-show, it had fun, sex and was hugely Americanised. With Cudlipp living around this, he had reflected his experiences into the way he wanted the Mirror to be seen. Cudlipp was doing very well, with stories such as 'can a woman incubate a chicken's egg' and the lynching of the man who made his son hold hot coals.

The pictorial was the Mirror's sister paper, but on a Sunday. It was in poor state, and was ailing behind the Mirror. Cecil King in the mean time was running this paper, and wanted it to be as good, if not better than the Mirror, so he asked Bart if he could take one of his team to become editor to try and turn the paper's fortunes around. Bart came across happy to help, but warned anyone who was asked to take the post that he would ruin their career if they chose King over him. The job offers kept on being turned down until Cudlipp was asked to take charge - and he accepted. This infuriated Bart, but Cudlipp did what he was asked, he turned the Pictorial's fortunes around. The Pictorial was even the first paper to have a picture of a topless woman in it.

World War 2:

'The price of petrol has been increased by one penny - official' This was the caption accompanied by a cartoon of a Navy soldier hanging on to some driftwood in the Sea - It was seen by the paper and government as pessimistic and anti-propaganda, even accusing the paper of being an undercover German paper, trying to defeat morale of the British public. The paper was in danger of being shut down. It got away with a warning though, as King protested that it was quite the opposite and was there to try and build morale.

During the war the Mirror became the 'soldier's paper' - It supported the idea that the army was full of 'Lions led by Donkeys' and that the people at the top were nothing more than the 'toffs' whereas the soldiers (the lower classes) were the real heroes. Philip Zec was the cartoonist who designed the campaigns to show that the Mirror was the peoples paper and one of the more famous cartoons was of a soldier emerging from the war, with a crown saying 'victory and peace in Europe' - captioned 'here you go, don't lose it again'.

This was huge in the battle for the working class vote, in the upcoming elections, especially with the Mirror being a Labour supporting paper; it was thought that Churchill (Conservative) would remain, as the women that were left at home only had a small amount of political knowledge, so they would vote for the only name they recognised, which was his. Instead the Mirror told the predominant women population (as the men were away at war) to vote for the people their husbands would vote for, Labour. Cast their vote for 'the men who won the victory for you' - This worked and at the same time showed the Mirror's popularity, as Labour won in a landslide victory.

Bart and Cudlipp relations:

Bart still held a grudge over Cudlipp since he went to the Pictorial - and he sought to get his revenge: during the paper's Christmas party Bart plied everyone with drinks, Cudlipp especially, whilst remaining reasonably sober himself. He then set about winding up Cudlipp and provoking him into a reaction making it just a formality for Bart to sack him. He asked why Cudlipp never ran a story about a riot in Nigeria, which had led to several deaths - and Bart continued to goad Cudlipp until he erupted. This though was the beginning of the end for Bart, as King went about his business to out him, at the same time gaining the support of the other board members, which Bart thought would never betray him: Bolam (editor), Zec (graphich artist) and King himself. Bart was sacked, sparking the return to the paper of Cudlipp.

Stockpiling - key term - Papers hired good journalists even if they did not need them just so rivals could not have them instead. Something Cudlipp was subject to at the Express.

1952 - Cudlipp went back to the Mirror, and had gained some important information about their closest rivals the Express. He believed that the Express sold advertising space to the man with a car and a garage, whereas the Mirror directed theirs to the man who built the car and the garage. Cudlipp had taken the place of Bart who had been fired from the paper, and went about getting some fresh faces in. The broken man of Bolam, who had been in prison was soon to be replaced by Jack Nener as editor - and this fitted in with Cudlipp's idea to re-model the Mirror to be a younger version of the Express. Cudlipp sometimes over-ruled Nener, and in my opinion kept him on a tight leash, constantly taking over on the editorial floor when it came to the big stores such as an international crisis or political stories.

Shock Issues - these were Cudlipps own invention and were stories that were stories that would dominate that day's edition of the paper. (For example the suffering of horses shipped from Britain to butchers in France and Belgium).

Alcohol in journalism:

Something that made me laugh in the book was the way in which every single journalist drunk alcohol at a staggering rate. The way Nener was hired was finding out if he could handle his drink, with the interviewers forcing copious amounts of alcohol down his throat to see if he could cope. The way in which every paper had its own pub was also interesting, it reminded me of football hooliganism, in that if you were part of the other team's supporters you wasn't allowed in the other teams pub.

Expenses at the Mirror:

When Mike Randall was hired as the new Features Editor at the Mirror it also became apparent that the system of expenses was being abused. A lot of journalists lived on their expenses and plugged away their wages. This was a reflection on how well the paper was doing though, in that it was never questioned. Randall in his first week felt so guilty about putting in a claim for £12 (double his record at his previous post) - but when he was pulled up on it, he was told to double it or else he would be letting the team down. David English was a famous journalist who did not get away with it though - after a story he had covered about a shipwreck, he claimed for the cost of hiring a lifeboat, and only after the complaints from the lifeboat crew about the story did it emerge that English got the hire for free!

1956 and the ITV:

The introduction of the ITV brought in a rival to the Mirror for advertising. Their wartime readers were ageing; an they needed younger readers (the baby-boomers). This being said the paper's rival the Express was even older, and Beaverbrook (the owner) had died. This inevitably meant that the Mirror had no competition despite it's poor efforts at aiming at a younger audience, and in 1964 under the new editorial leadership of Lee Howard in 61 from Nener, it was selling around 5 million copies a day.

Cudlipp/King relations:

They worked generally well together, although they had their showdowns at times, one of the biggest ones coming whilst Cudlipp was away on holiday. King authorised the printing of a story that a peer and one of the Kray twins were having a gay affair, but did not print the name of the peer due to libel reasons. This being said King released the name at the dinner party, Lord Boothby, who it eventually got back to.

When Cudlipp came back to the mess he settled out of court for £40,000, a large sum then, and it was more of a statement to say 'DO NOT GET INVOLVED WITH MY PAPER AGAIN'.

The International Publishing Corporation (IPC)

King bought his uncles Rothermeres old magazines the amalgamated press, consisting of consumer magazines. They were in a bad state so wanted to turn the fortunes around like he had done so many times before. In order to do this he bought the rival magazines too 'the Oldham Press' - King was developing a monopoly. He had over 200 consumer magazines in the UK, USA and France, and also had shares in ITV, owned paper mills, various publishing companies and a record company.

Enough is Enough

This was a campaign that King put his name to pushing for current Labour Prime-minister, Harold Wilson, to leave office. Britain was in an economic crisis and was making cuts, notably in the armed forces. King never really likes Wilson, stemming back from when he was trying to get into power; this because he had promised King that Britain would enter into Europe, which he later backed out from when he got to power. It was even accused of Wilson that he was a soviet spy that had poisoned previous Labour leader, Gaitskell, as he was part of the KGB, and at the same time he was trying to weaken Britain from the inside. Three weeks later the board members of the IPC chose to dismiss King, the eventual end of his reign at the Mirror.