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#FollowJourn @noodlepie/digital editor

September 15th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

#FollowJourn: Graham Holliday

Who? Digital editor and media trainer for Frontline Club.

What? Holliday started his online blogging site www.noodlepie.com, in 2004, while he was living in Saigon, Vietnam. As well as working for The Frontline Club, Holliday also blogs about food for the Observer Food Monthly blog Word of Mouth and for BBC Good Food.

Where? @noodlepie

Contact? graham [at] noodlepie.com

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura [at] journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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New science journalism MA at City University aims to make students ‘critical consumers of scientific information’

July 15th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Journalism, Training

The accuracy and standard of science journalism in the UK is increasingly scrutinised online – just take a look at the Bad Science blog network for evidence of that. How can journalists become better equipped to report science? Would more specialised journalistic training help?

A new MA in science journalism at City University in London is designed in response to a ‘rapidly expanding vein of journalism,’ according to the course outline. During the course, a result of ‘consultation with the UK’s leading science journalists and scientists,’ students will be taught to be ‘critical consumers of scientific information’.

The course will be led by Connie St. Louis, a former BBC science journalist. Potential students are promised ‘a range of opportunities’ to report on science, health, environment, technology and food.

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Frontline Blog: Canadian hostage in Somalia reported to have called CTV

It’s a case about which we know very little information. The Frontline Blog reports on what appears to be the latest communication with the journalists held in Somalia since August 2008: Canadian freelance Amanda Lindhout and Australian freelance Nigel Brennan. It is reported that Lindhout called the CTV national newsroom this week, stating that she is ‘kept in a dark, windowless room in chains without any clean drinking water and little food or no food. I’ve been very sick for months without any medicine.’

Full post at this link…

CTV report at this link.

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Ofcom will not investigate ITV over Britain’s Got Talent

June 2nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting

According to this report on MediaGuardian, industry regulator Ofcom will not investigate ITV, despite receiving a ‘large number of complaints’ about Britain’s Got Talent – in particular the appearance of runner-up, Susan Boyle, in the final.

Speaking to a House of Commons select committee on press standards earlier today, culture minister Barbara Follett argued that Ofcom should hold informal talks with ITV over the incident.

This is a very difficult judgment, said Follett, exacerbated by the new media landscape.

“I first heard of Susan Boyle in the US, through YouTube. YouTube had brought her to the attention of the television networks,” said Follett.

With the advent of the internet, what you do in this room can be around the world in ’24 minutes’, argued Follett.

“Your [the broadcaster's] duty of care is greater (…) She [Boyle] didn’t choose the effects, she wasn’t aware of the effects. She has been a victim of the changes that this committee has discussed,” she said.

“The beast that is the 24-hour news cycle has got much bigger in the last 20 years. The appetite of the beast is insatiable yet (…) they’re [media organisations] having to possibly chase after that food in a slightly more proactive way than they would have had to before.”

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Mad to start freelancing in the recession? I’ve been carrying the foetus of freelancing

May 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Freelance

One really great thing about freelancing through a recession is that you don’t have to worry about being made redundant. Of course, you’re at the mercy of budgets as much as the next journo, but there is something to be said for being your own boss and not having to worry about that steely possibility that you could soon be facing a life-changing moment.

It’s not that life-changing moments are necessarily a bad thing (indeed, it was a spate of redundancies at a previous job that kicked me into my best career move to date) it’s just that they are a usually very stressful – especially when the control of your life is taken out of your own hands.

Which brings me onto my next point – control. I’ve been freelancing now for a good nine months. Indeed – and bear with me on this one – that leads rather splendidly to an analogy: I’ve been carrying the foetus of freelancing, and I’ve now given birth. Because the truth is, I’m loving it. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve been lucky to get enough work to see me through, perhaps it’s that I’m not in a stuffy office with anyone breathing down my back, perhaps it’s because I can cook lunch rather than chow down on a squashed sandwich, or perhaps it’s just the fact that for the most part, I’m in control.

I decide what time I get up, what time I finish and what time I (note the recurring theme here) lunch. Freelancing also releases you, to some extent, from the bureaucracy and politics of the office. I don’t want to give you the wrong impression here – for, as my previous posts will testify, there is a certain amount of being ignored, late payment and managing your own (yawn) tax involved, not to mention the development of RSI from refreshing the inbox obsessively – but on the upside, at least you can blip while you process your expenses.

In other news, I was asked to go on the Radio Kent breakfast show again to talk about the rise in popularity of ethnically diverse restaurants – another nice little foray into broadcast journalism, and I was impressed by investigative journo-flick State of Play. Aside from discovering that Russel Crowe has definitely grown on me, I liked the way it reflected the conflicted but semi-dependent relationship between print and online journalism – and the fact such a high profile Hollywood thriller was adapted from a BBC series.

Rosie Birkett is a freelance journalist and sub-editor who specialises in food, hospitality and travel. She can be contacted on rosiebirkett1 at hotmail.com. She also blogs at thelondonword.com and at fiftyfourfoodmiles.wordpress.com. You can follow the series ‘Mad to start freelancing in the recession?’ series here here.

Do you freelance? Get in touch with your own experiences: laura or judith@journalism.co.uk.

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Infuze: Training freelancers in cross-platform journalism

May 5th, 2009 | 7 Comments | Posted by in Freelance

On Friday I was lucky enough to sneak inside the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLAN) Sandbox – a space dedicated to ‘digital media R&D’.

I was there as part of the final day of Infuze – a joint training scheme from UCLAN and the BBC to retrain freelancers in multimedia journalism.

It was the first time the six-week course had been run (Journalism.co.uk reported on its launch back in January) and while course leader Paul Egglestone said there were some improvements to be made, he was pleased how far all participants had come in a short time.

Presentations from Ilicco Elia, head of mobile for Reuters, and videojournalist David Dunkley Gyimah gave all of us some food for thought, but mainly it was a great opportunity to chat with a group of freelancers facing the challenges of cross-platform journalism head on and hear about their experiences.

Only fair then to give them (and some of their newly founded websites ) a shout out (in no particular order):

Nazia Mogra – freelance broadcast journalist, now looking at the possibilities of newspaper video too.

Sean Smith – former print freelancer who turned his hand to broadcast journalism during the course. Smith said he’d learned that the ‘new skill is adopting a mindset of not being intimidated by tech that’s meant to be intuitive’.

Rumeana Jahangir – who is looking to develop a specialism on grassroots, community news and investigative work.

Emma Blackburn – freelancer broadcast journalist turned videojournalist during her course placement at Times Online.

Erisa Lluca
– who having now set up her own website is determined to keep it going beyond Infuze.

Christina McDermott – or @misscay as shes known to her followers on Twitter, who discussed how she’s using social media as a freelancer (more from Christina on this later).

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The Media Business: Is the journalism employment ‘crisis’ overblown?

March 20th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Job losses, Journalism

“Most journalists in newspapers do everything BUT covering significant news. They spend their time doing celebrity, food, automobile, and entertainment stories. Look around any newsroom, or just the lists of assignments or beats, and you soon come to realize that 20 per cent or fewer of the journalists in newsrooms actually produce the kind of news that most people are concerned about losing,” writes Robert G. Picard.

Full post at this link…

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Mad to start freelancing in the recession? Don’t panic!

February 25th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Freelance, Journalism

Needless to say, my New Year’s freelance resolutions didn’t last long, especially not the one about not procrastinating (I mean, have you seen the talking cats on YouTube?). Maybe I should get into viral marketing… Anyway, since we last met I have come up with a belated addition to that little list – thou shalt not take on too much at once.

This current climate is one in which budgets and staff are being cut – forcing new freelancers to enter the market place, and as as an existing freelancer out on your own it’s easy to panic about commissions. Will there be enough to get by? Will it look bad if I say no? Will they pay me if I say yes? Are my rates too high or too low?

It’s understandable, in light of this, that you might jump at any work that comes your way – but one thing that I’ve learned over the past, very hectic three weeks – is to know your limits (unless you want to spend a string of weekends burning the proverbial candle). Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining about having work during a recession, in fact, I’m a big fan of it, but I really have realised that it’s important to stop panicking.

The nature of freelancing is sporadic, manic even, in some ways – there will be quiet times when modestly-paid web stories or blog posts will be a godsend – but when you’ve got a few big commissions on the go it’s important to leave time to be thorough, rework things and have contingency time in the case of family crisis (and don’t they always happen at the wrong time?).

Maintaining the definition between work-time and home-time is crucial, otherwise you’ll find yourself living in a constant state of guilt – fretting about looming deadlines when you’re eating bread and jam, and taking your copy to read on the loo. That’s no way to live my friends, no way at all.

On another note, I issued my first threat to a rogue payer. After dozens of phonecalls, subsequent rebuffs, ignored emails and left voicemails (for some work I’d done in November), it was time to get heavy. Finally, after stating my case and assuring them that I would be getting my solicitor involved if they failed to pay me in due course, I got put through to the accountant.

“There’s no need to threaten us with court action Miss Birkett,” said the accountant. Oh, but there is – especially when you’re freelancing in a recession.

Rosie Birkett is a freelance journalist and sub-editor who specialises in food, hospitality and travel. She can be contacted on rosiebirkett1 at hotmail.com. She also blogs at thelondonword.com and at fiftyfourfoodmiles.wordpress.com. You can follow the series ‘Mad to start freelancing in the recession?’ series here here.

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@Twitchhiker ‘Twinterviewed’ by @journalism_live

This afternoon @journalism_live ‘twinterviewed’ the Twitchhiker, aka Paul Smith, a freelance journalist from Newcastle. The background here is that on March 1, 2009, Smith will set off on a 30 day mission – to see how far he will get with the Twitter community as his only aid. Yup, he’s truly in the hands of Twitter altruism. And it’s all for charity: the same charity supported by Twestival, Charity:Water. Full details on his site, Twitchhiker.com. You can follow him, and his conversation with this search tag ‘#twitchhiker’.

So here’s how it went. When @twitchhiker ‘met’ @journalism_live

twitchhiker: Yes, hello. Good afternoon from a rather snowy North East of England.

Journalism_Live: So. No. 1. In 140 chs. what is @Twitchhiker all about?

twitchhiker: Twitchhiker is an attempt by me @paul_a_smith to travel the world in 30 days relying only on Twitter users

Journalism_Live: aha. so you have a real name,@paul_a_smith. And was this @dave_gorman style mission dreamed up in the pub?

twitchhiker: No, the slightly disappointing answer is the bread aisle of Gateshead Tesco about a fortnight ago.

Journalism_Live: Only a fortnight? You’ve acted fast. Has it been hard to organise?

twitchhiker: In terms of travelling, nothing’s organised. One of the rules is I can’t plan my route more than 3 days ahead.

twitchhiker: In terms of everything else, Twitter users are currently helping me to compile a list!

journalism_live:  blimey. so let’s hear the other rules…

twitchhiker:  I can only accept offers of travel and accommodation on Twitter, from Twitter users. No third party offers.

twitchhiker:  I only spend money on food and what I can carry. If there’s more than one offer, I choose. If not, I don’t.

twitchhiker:  Finally, If I’m unable move on from a location within 48 hours, the challenge is over and I go home.

journalism_live:  do you reckon people might join Twitter in order to help you out?

twitchhiker: I’ve had messages from people who’ve seen the press coverage and joined up, so here’s hoping they’ll help!

journalism_live: and we hear you’re a journalist by trade…?

twitchhiker:  No formal qualifications, but I freelance for the Guardian, write and edit for other sites and iPhone apps too.

journalism_live: ever worked as a travel writer before?

journalism_live:  (impatient! – ed) it ain’t over yet. Can your thumbs keep up?

twitchhiker:  A feature for the Guardian site, the iPhone app, some unpaid stuff, that’s it. More radio, tv and consumer.

journalism_live:  aha! now we see the Tweet! So could this be a venture into pastures new for you?

twitchhiker: Possibly, but it’ll be an aside. Anybody who writes can lend themselves to writing about their experiences.

journalism_live: so money: you want to get sponsored? For water? Pray tell us more…

twitchhiker: Charity: water is a brilliant charity supported by today’s equally brilliant #twestival. Hope to do my bit too

journalism_live: nice. And how will you be reporting back from the field?

twitchhiker: Hopefully a mix of blogs, video, images and tweets. Not sure of the detail yet – mobile tariff’s [sic] aren’t cheap!

journalism_live:  indeed! and making it to NZ – a realistic goal?

twitchhiker:  I think it’s possible -it’s more important we’re all in this together and prove Twitter can make a difference

journalism_live: ‘we’re’ – you’re on your own! @journalism_news will be in the warm eating toast when you’re rummaging in dustbins

twitchhiker: If I’m on my own, I’m going nowhere. That’s the point really. There are 3,175 followers who are here too

journalism_live: ok! let’s wrap this up if not Qs from the crowd? Your biggest fear… and your biggest wish?

twitchhiker: Biggest fear – not enjoying the experience. Biggest wish; make this work, raise the money, meet great people.

journalism_live: @twitchhiker lovely! That’s us done. And woo-hoo – a Q from @DannyDougherty: @twitchhiker?

DannyDougherty: OK, how ambitious are you. I’m over in Wash, DC — any chance you’re going to make your way out here? Do you have travel goals?

twitchhiker: @DannyDougherty Twitterers offer to get me places, I have to go to one of them. So I might come the States

DannyDougherty: So, you’re free as the wind, no personal goals you want to hit, eh?

twitchhiker: @DannyDougherty I am, but as a freelance, I still have to work. I’ve got my full time workload to fit in too

twitchhiker: @journalism_live There you go! Thanks everyone! That’s why this will work. It’s a brilliant community. Global but together #twitchhiker

journalism_live: Send any new Qs to @twitchhiker; have to get back to work. We’ll post link/s later via @journalismnews. Cheers @twitchhiker!

and then the party continued without us…

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Mad to start freelancing in the recession? Thou shalt make overly-ambitious new year resolutions

January 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Freelance, Journalism

Phew. I’m back, after a Christmas break in which my immune system saw fit to relax and welcome in a stinking cold, thwarting any grand plans I might have had about coming up with irresistible feature ideas, sorting out my contacts book and getting my accounts in order.

It was almost like the cumulative mental stresses and strains of 2008 congested in my head only to be blown out with gusto as 2009 arrived. Which brings me onto my next point – Happy New Year.

Ah, New Year, a time for reflection, reinvention, and of course, New Year’s resolutions. This time last year I was resenting being back at work – now (like many people in this country) I’m thankful to have any work at all.

So, as I dust off the last of the mince pie crumbs and attempt to wean my body off regular doses of red wine, cold turkey, Quality Street and every other kind of oral fixation I seem to have developed whist watching re-runs of Home Alone and the Antiques Roadshow, here are my top five, ever-so-slightly over-ambitious but necessary New Year’s, New Freelancer’s Resolutions / Commandments:

1. Thou shalt stop procrastinating. Any time I feel inexplicably compelled to tune into 80s videos (read: Foreigner, Toto and Chris De Burgh) on YouTube, or sneak into the kitchen to prepare a strangely frugal yet hybrid snack made from the collective ingredients of my  kitchen cupboards, I will resist. I will use spare time wisely: chasing invoices, brainstorming ideas, reading other features and researching. Twittering however, and other genuine modes of online networking, will be self-permitted and encouraged.

2. Thou shalt aim high. I must remember that my experience, expertise and capability are precious – and will not be tempted to sell myself  short or write for free. Because thou is worth it, right?

3. Thou shalt be more persistent. I will make sure I’m being proactive about pitching and will not be afraid to bang on doors – everyone else is doing it, after all.

4. Thou shalt diversify and leave thy comfort zone. Surely there is money to be made writing about all sorts of esoteric subjects I haven’t thought of yet?

5 Thou shalt blog, like there’s no bloggin’ tomorrow. Because it’s quick, effective, a great way of joining the debate and networking. I’ll be one of those bloggers with a book deal before I know it…

So, I’ll keep you updated as to how I get on with those – and why don’t you share any you might have with me? Right, I’m off to Dubai for ten days in an attempt to mix pleasure with work. Tune in next time to find out how I got on…

Rosie Birkett is a freelance journalist and sub-editor who specialises in food, hospitality and travel. She can be contacted on rosiebirkett1 at hotmail.com. She also blogs at thelondonword.com and at fiftyfourfoodmiles.wordpress.com. You can follow the series ‘Mad to start freelancing in the recession?’ series here here.

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