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#newscycle – day one, Brighton to Dover

Day one of @journalismnews owner @johncthompson‘s epic 11-day ride from Brighton, UK to Oslo, Norway in aid of @JournoCharity (Journalists’ Charity), @CR_UK (Cancer Research UK) and @GistSupportUK.

Journalists – watch the video and listen to the audio about the great work of the Journalists’ Charity. And learn more about my ride.

I will be braving hills, rain, wind, punctures, sore muscles etc so please make it worth my while by sponsoring me as generously as you can afford.

Today’s ride covered 77 miles with 3374 feet of climbs.

This was one of two legs of my journey I was not looking forward too (the other is day nine in Denmark). On practice runs, I has tried part of the route so already knew what to expect in the way of hills from the Sussex and Kent Downs.

So I planned an early start in order to get an early night ahead of the mad o’clock ferry journey the next day. When I rose at 6am my heart sank when I saw the weather – trees bending in the rain and grey rain clouds in the sky. Like late autumn/early winter.

So it was with little enthusiasm that I finally set off at 7am having procrastinated for an hour.

Luckily the wind was in my favour and I made good early progress for the first 30 miles or so. Apart from some nasty side gusts channelling up some streets nearly knocking me off my bike.

I planned to break for a proper lunch someplace nice but ended up picnicking in an alley next to a corner store in Hamstreet at about the 54 mile mark.

When I finally saw the English channel again my spirits lifted. But still some climbing to be done including one hellish stretch up a barely navigable and steep coastal path where I mostly had to carry my bike luggage and all. Bikeroutetoaster has a somewhat different idea to me at times as to what constitutes a rideable cycle path!

Injuries from that episode include nettle skins, barked ankles on pedals, and skin contusions from thorny bushes.

My bar bag which is stuffed full has an unfortunate effect on the handlebars when dismounted causing the bars to spin widely round. This happened a couple of times badly scratching my cycle frame down to the metal where the brake lever impacted on it.

The wind also nearly blew off my handmade charity and flag stickers on my rear panier. Will need to tape those down tonight.

Finally arrived in Dover around 2:30 and settled in to a very pleasant B&B close to the ferry port.

After much searching finally found a passable seafood restaurant on the coast with sea views and overlooking the ferry port. Seems I had more of an appetite than I thought causing the waiter to comment on how quickly I polished my dinner off.

Food not bad but microwaves should be banned from ALL restaurants. Bread and butter pudding should be crunchy on top! A crime akin to warming scones in a microwave!

Still, better than the McDonalds I almost considered although that probably would have ticked the right boxes for fat, protein and calorie intake.

Enjoyed watching an arctic tern dive fishing on the shore and the ferries entering and leaving the port. As the ships emerged from the harbour mouth they listed alarmingly as they caught the full force of the wind. Think I might leave breakfast until Calais.

Bought a couple of beet root juice booster shots on a colleague’s advice. Sound disgusting but if they get me through a couple of rides then it might be worth it. Will wait until I’m off the ferry though!

Finally a couple of more sponsorships today. Still more than £500 short of target for the Journalists’ Charity though. At the current rate of a fiver a go (which I know to be generous in these cases given how little junior and most freelance journalists earn) I’m going to need another 103 donors!

I was thinking about creating a Klout list of @JournoCharity #newscycle journalists. Lists seem to get journalists very excited and it would be nice to honour those who demonstrably care about their colleagues rather than just their egos!

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Audio: voices of the gentlemen (and ladies) of the press

Next Friday, 8 June 2012, I am going to cycle alone and unsupported 1400km from my home town in Brighton to Oslo Norway to raise money for the Journalists’ Charity. I aim to complete the journey in 11 days.

The Journalists’ Charity used to be called the Newspaper Press Fund. In 2004, the BBC Radio 4 programme The Time of My Life visited one of its care homes and interviewed some of its former Fleet Street residents. The charity kindly lent me a cassette recording of the show and I have converted it to digital for your listening pleasure below.

I think you will agree it’s a delightful piece. And I am hoping it will finally convince you all that this is a worthwhile cause (because frankly raising money so far has been like getting blood out of a stone!)

So, if you haven’t already sponsored me, please do so here. I aim to raise £1,000 and, at the time of writing, I am just under half way with £475 with six days to go before I start.

You can also learn more about the work of the Journalists’ Charity in this video and more about my ride and route here.

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Video: what the Journalists’ Charity does and how you can help

Video by the Press Association. Presenter Anna Botting (@annabotting)

This two year-old video shot by the Press Association helps explain the work of the Journalists’ Charity.

The charity usually raises money at high-profile dinners and speaker events, but now you have the chance to support your fellow journalists (and your future selves) in a much easier way.

Just a fiver (or more) will help speed me, Journalism.co.uk publisher and owner (@johncthompson) on my way on an epic 1400km solo and unsupported cycle from Brighton to Oslo, Norway on 8-19 June 2012 (see earlier blog post for full details).

My sponsorship page is here.

 

 

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If no one likes journalists, then we need to look after our own

Journalists' Charity

Earlier this year, a US study claimed that becoming a journalist is the fifth worst career choice. As well as citing factors such as stress, industry outlook, income levels and general working environment for the ranking, the study quotes a reporter as saying the younger generation “doesn’t care about the news”.

This is against a background of continuing decline in public trust of communications professionals, no doubt exacerbated by the ongoing findings of the Leveson inquiry as it investigates the underbelly of journalism and politics.

Of course it’s not all bleak. In many ways, this is a time of renaissance for journalism as our ways of gathering and disseminating news proliferate online. And journalism will always offer rewards that outweigh the financial ones for the majority of us.

Nevertheless a life of low salary and high stress can take its toll, if not on you then for some of your colleagues. So why not do something small to help that collectively can amount to something big?

The Journalists’ Charity “started in 1864 when a group of parliamentary journalists met up in a London pub to set up a fund to help their colleagues and dependents who had fallen on hard times. In the days before state benefits, grants were made to meet the costs of providing some of the necessities of life”. The Victorian novelist Charles Dickens was a founder supporter.

These days it has widened its remit to include all journalists and is always ready to help them and their dependents with advice, grants and other forms of financial assistance. The Journalists’ Charity also runs a care home for journalists, Pickering House, in Dorking, Surrey as well as sheltered and extra care housing.

Given that most of our pensions are not going to add up to much, that’s quite a nice safety net isn’t it?

On 8 June I’m going to cycle solo and unsupported from Brighton (home of Journalism.co.uk) to Oslo, Norway to raise money for this under-appreciated charity. I will be cycling approximately 850 miles in 11 days, an average of 77 miles a day, cycling through England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Denmark.

You can do your bit by sponsoring a fiver or more on my sponsorship page and helping to spread the word via Twitter, Facebook etc.

Sponsors who do not wish to remain private will be rewarded with recognition and thanks on our @journalismnews Twitter channel (58k-plus followers) so that’s pretty decent exposure, especially if you sponsor on behalf of your media-related business.

And if you’re still not convinced that the Journalists’ Charity is a worthy cause, I will also be raising money for two cancer charities – alternative sponsor page here.

John Thompson (@johncthompson), cycling to raise money for charity

Journalism.co.uk owner John Thompson (@johncthompson), who will be cycling Brighton to Oslo in 11 days to raise money for the Journalists' Charity

The route I plan to cycle from Calais (once I have cycled to Dover and taken the ferry)

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ProPublica-inspired global news site launches in Australia

A new not-for-profit online journalism start-up launches today in Australia, backed with $15 million of funding from a philanthropist to see the site through its first five years.

The Global Mail is edited by former ABC broadcast journalist Monica Attard and aims to provide “public interest journalism – no ads, no subscription, no celebrity stories, no spin”.

Attard told the Australian: “I had long viewed, with a degree of envy, the ProPublica model in the US. The model was inspired by ProPublica.org, even though we won’t and can’t do investigations alone.”

She adds: “We would like to think we can come up with novel ways to help pay our way in the world. We haven’t thought of any yet. That’s the honest-to-god truth.

“The market is small in Australia, so we figure there’s room for a new player aimed at covering the world, with Australia in it.”

The site launched this morning at www.theglobalmail.org

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mySociety publishes analysis reports on its own sites

June 15th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Non-profit, Politics

MySociety, the organisation behind some of the biggest democracy projects in the UK, has today made public two reports which it commissioned to gain greater understanding of two of its sites – TheyWorkForYou and WriteToThem.

As the site itself says: “We think transparency is a good thing for many reasons, but one of its rarely mentioned virtues is how valuable transparency can be for the people within the organisations which are transparent.”

And there have been some interesting discoveries. According to MySociety one of the reasons that both the sites were set up was to make representatives accessible to newcomers to the democratic process. So it was “heartening” to find, for example, that 60 per cent of visitors to TheyWorkForYou had never previously looked up who represents them, and two in five users of WriteToThem have never before contacted one of their political representatives, was a positive sign.

But, as you would expect with any properly neutral evaluation, it’s not all good news. Our sites aim to reach a wide range of people, but compared to the average British internet user, WriteToThem users are twice as likely to have a higher degree and a higher income. It also seems that users are disproportionately male, white, and over 35.

Find the reports here…

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ProPublica: Susan White on the secret to being a successful editor

June 13th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Non-profit, Online Journalism

ProPublica has published the full transcript of a podcast interview with outgoing senior editor Susan White. White gives some interesting insights into how things work at the US’ best-known non-profit investigative outfit and her own way of going about being an editor.

She spoke to PropPublica’s director of communications Mike Webb and managing editor Steven Engelberg.

Mike: Why don’t we walk through an investigation? How does an idea originate and what do you tell the reporter to do, once you hear that idea?

Susan: I rarely tell reporters to do anything. I don’t think that’s the role of the editor. I guide, I steer, and I encourage and I help shape, but I don’t give reporters marching orders.

Mike: Is that because you think they’re wise enough to know the first steps?

Susan: Right, well… The best ideas come from reporters, not editors. I don’t think since I’ve been at ProPublica I have assigned anyone a story. I rarely have throughout my editing career. Usually a reporter comes to me and we have this idea. We vet it at the top here, at ProPublica, because if we’re going to work on something for a long time, we want to make sure that it’s going to work out.

Read the full transcript or listen to the podcast at this link.

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