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More media graduates than jobs in entire industry, warns BBC radio presenter

February 24th, 2010 | 7 Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Events, Training

Leeds Trinity University College Journalism Week is running from Monday 22 until Friday 26 February. Speakers from across the industry will be at Leeds Trinity to talk about the latest trends in the news media, including Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger; BBC news director Helen Boaden, Sky News reporter Mike McCarthy and ITN political correspondent Chris Ship.

BBC Radio Leeds presenter Andrew Edwards believes that enthusiasm and passion are the key ingredients needed to break into the media.

Speaking to students at Leeds Trinity University College Journalism Week, he said that studying for a degree was of great importance but people also needed a desire to work if they were to make it in one of Britain’s most competitive industries.

“When you hear somebody talk about what they do for a living and they can’t actually give you a reason why they are passionate about it, there’s probably something wrong,” he declared.

“I have never met anyone yet who has that burning passion in their heart to do this job, who hasn’t made onto the radio in some way.”

Edwards reminded students that no matter how passionate, they will be up against stiff competition: “There are more people graduating from media related courses this year than there are jobs in the whole of the British media. That’s a sobering figure.”

However, he was quick to point out that the rewards for a student who can get a foothold on the radio careers’ ladder are exceptional.

It’s a fantastic job. To be able to talk on the radio in the way that I can about any range of issues to anybody, opening their hearts, opening their eyes and opening their minds is fantastic.

Like most mainstream forms of media production, radio’s longevity is being questioned because of the threat imposed by new technology.

But Edwards sees there being a healthy future for the broadcasting format that has both enthralled and intrigued him since childhood.

I think a lot of people like to listen to real people talking in the real world about real snow, falling out of the real sky, in real time. I don’t think in my heart there will ever be a substitute, because of the intimacy of radio and the times you listen to it.

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BBC faces attack from both sides

September 17th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Comment

“At a time when the government’s Digital Britain report has argued that the licence fee should be ‘top-sliced’ and shared with the BBC’s competitors, the corporation finds itself unusually short of friends and increasingly vulnerable,” George Eaton wrote on NewStatesman.com at the beginning of September, following James Murdoch’s attack on the BBC in Edinburgh.

Furthermore, ‘with a Tory party increasingly sceptical of the BBC’s size and scale on the brink of power, the corporation faces the threat of a powerful alliance between Cameron’s Conservatives and Murdoch’s News Corporation,’ he suggested.

But it’s not just the Conservatives it needs to worry about: yesterday the corporation found itself attacked again – this time by the culture secretary (and former BBC reporter) Ben Bradshaw (speech in full at this list) who said the BBC has probably reached its size limit, the licence fee could be reduced, and that the trust model might not be ‘sustainable’.

The chairman of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons is defensive of the BBC (a position criticised by Bradshaw last night: ‘I know of no other area of public life where (…) the same body is both regulator and cheerleader’) and wants to speak directly to the licence fee payers.

Last week, for example, the chairman chose to issue an ‘open letter’ (or as MediaGuardian accurately pointed out, a press release) on the BBC website with evidence of licence fee payer support for the corporation.

Asked on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning why he bypassed the government with this statement, he said:

“Well how else do I communicate with the people that I am charged by the charter with representing? I am not charged with obeying ministers, I am charged with protecting the independence of the BBC and representing the licence fee payer.”

The chairman issued this statement this morning, defending the Trust:

“The next Charter Review [of the Trust] is many years down the line [2017] and we should be judged on our performance then. In the meantime, we have been set up to be, as the then secretary of state put it in 2006, ‘the voice, eyes and ears of licence fee payers’.

“That means reshaping the BBC; defending its strength and independence; and also protecting the investment licence fee payers have made, and if that means upsetting a minister along the way, it is unfortunate but so be it.”

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Goldacre and Drayson live debate at 7pm: Science reporting – is it good for you?

September 16th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Events, Journalism

Cast your minds back a couple of months: Lord Drayson, the UK’s science minister, proclaimed that British science journalism was in a pretty good state.

Drayson said the days when science was blighted by a press interested only in ‘scare stories’ are over,’ Times Higher Education (THE) reported in July 2009.

Most coverage of science by the media is now balanced, accurate and engaging, Lord Drayson argued, in a debate at the World Conference of Science Journalists.

But not everyone agreed. After Ben Goldacre – Guardian columnist, BadScience blogger/author and medical doctor – aired his conflicting opinion on Twitter, a public discussion was arranged by the Royal Institution. And tonight’s the night. If you haven’t got a ticket, it’s too late (it sold out in 90 minutes, Press Gazette noted) but you can watch the live video here on the THE website:

And follow THE on Twitter here:

You can also listen to the pair on this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme at this link:

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Stephen Farrell’s kidnap raises the ‘media blackout’ question: it’s time for a debate in the UK

September 10th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Comment, Newspapers, Press freedom and ethics

This week’s operation in Afghanistan to rescue New York Times journalist Stephen Farrell, during which a British soldier, Farrell’s Afghan translator (Sultan Munadi) and two civilians were killed, has provoked national debate in the UK:

“One senior Army source told the Daily Telegraph “When you look at the number of warnings this person had it makes you really wonder whether he was worth rescuing, whether it was worth the cost of a soldier’s life.” (Telegraph.co.uk)

Many of the commenters on news stories feel very strongly that it was wrong for a journalist’s actions to lead to such tragic consequences, as Jon Slattery noted on his blog yesterday. Further still: “Members of the Armed Forces have expressed anger that he [Farrell] ignored warnings not to visit the site of an air strike on two hijacked fuel tankers that killed scores of Taliban and innocent villagers,” the Telegraph reported. Others defend the role of journalists in Afghanistan: for example, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists.

This tragic incident also raised another issue, that of media silence. Today a special report by Joe Strupp on Editor&Publisher questions whether media blackouts are appropriate when reporters are kidnapped in war zones. It’s an excellent overview of recent events, that looks back at the case of another New York Times journalist, David Rohde – the paper managed to keep news of his kidnap off Wikipedia until his escape seven months later.

The question of media blackout is one Journalism.co.uk has raised in the past. In January, we reported on the silence surrounding the kidnap of the Telegraph’s Colin Freeman and José Cendon in Somalia. We had been asked not to report on the case by the Telegraph and the UK Foreign Office when the pair went missing at the end of 2008. The ban was lifted when they were released.

However, as we reported, some information was published before the blackout request was made clear: the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released information relating to the journalists’ kidnap on November 26 2008 and Roy Greenslade subsequently blogged about it at Guardian.co.uk – the post was removed but it was still captured in the RSS feed.

It’s a complex issue that Strupp raises in his E&P article:

“With Rohde’s escape, a major debate ignited in and out of the journalism community about how responsible the coordinated secret had been. Was this a breach of journalistic ethics, sitting on a story for so long mainly because a colleague was involved?”

Strupp quotes Edward Wasserman, a journalism professor at Washington & Lee University in Virginia, who echoed claims of other critics, that the Times and similar news outlets would not do the same for a non-journalist: “Some people are in a position to implore the press for restraint better than others”.

It is a debate we need to have in the UK too: the London-based Frontline Club would be an ideal venue in which to hold a discussion with representatives from the UK foreign office, press freedom and safety organisations and news organisations raising the reasons for and against media blackouts. The practicalities of enforcement also need to be discussed. We understand that such an idea is in the pipeline, so we’ll keep you posted.

Please do share links to existing debate online.

In the meantime, here is a link to an item on this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme, featuring Frontline Club founder and cameraman (and former soldier) Vaughan Smith and the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen discussing the Stephen Farrell case.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8247000/8247681.stm

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Globe and Mail: ‘The model, the blogger and the web giant’

The Globe and Mail looks at the blogger anonymity case in the US sparking debate across the world.

The blogger unmasked by Google – as the result of a New York court order last week – is now threatening legal action against the company. The Globe and Mail’s Josh Wingrove writes:

“Is calling someone a ‘ho’ on a blog worthy of the anonymity afforded to the writings of the American Founding Fathers 200 years ago?

“That’s the basis of a landmark internet privacy debate sparked this week in connection with a looming civil suit against web giant Google Inc. The company is facing a potential $15-million (U.S.) lawsuit by a once-anonymous blogger, Rosemary Port, after it complied with a New York court order last week and released her name.”

Full story at this link…

  • Related: BBC Radio 4 Today programme featured a discussion this morning with Paul Staines, aka Guido Fawkes, and Dr Vince Miller, a lecturer in sociology at Kent University. Listen again at this link.
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Another council freesheet bites the dust

August 6th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Via FleetStreetBlues and HoldtheFrontPage we learn that another council newspaper has had it.

On July 30, the Doncaster Free Press (paid-for title owned by Johnston Press) reported that getting rid of the council-run free monthly newspaper ‘has saved Doncaster Council £67,000 without cutting jobs’:

“The new mayor [Peter Davies] ditched Doncaster News, the monthly newspaper that had been delivered to every home in the borough since 2002, on his first day in the job.

“”It is simply council propaganda and an exercise in distorting unpalatable truths,” he said.

“Instead, he plans to keep residents informed through local news organisations including the Free Press.”

Earlier in the month it was reported by HTFP that Cornwall Council had scrapped ‘Your Cornwall’ magazine after it ran £250,000 over budget.

Listen to yesterday’s BBC Radio 4 Media Show for views from both sides of the free council news debate:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00lv5h9/The_Media_Show_05_08_2009

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Liz Jones on confessional journalism: “I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone”

Liz Jones, a confessional journalist who needs little introduction, got to plug her book and share the most recent of her woes and pets in an Observer Woman feature yesterday.

Rachel Cooke, who once worked with her, took a shrewd and not exactly flattering look at Jones and the ‘Faustian pact’ the former Marie Claire editor seems to have with her personal columns (eg. an account of her single life in the Sunday Times, the ‘Wedding Planner’ series in the Guardian, and currently in the Sunday Mail.)

Confessional journalism as a trade has generated some criticism lately (Hadley Freeman here, for example; Jill Parkin here, for example); here was our latest chance to find out just why columnists do it. Cooke wrote:

“(…)The trouble is that the kind of writing she does leaves her marooned on a sad little island of self from which there is, apparently, no way back to shore. “I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone,” she [Jones] says. Well, why not stop, then? No one is forcing her to skin herself in public. “I could stop now, but I’ve destroyed lots of things already, so what would be the point? But if I was given the choice again, I probably wouldn’t have written about myself. It’s so difficult!” Difficult? “You have to be very brutal: you have to talk about your failings.”(…)”

In a related aside, that other doyenne of confess all to all, Tanya Gold, took part in BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions last week. Her final comment:  “I despise Twitter – I would like to talk to a real person.” Funny that. Maybe the bride berated by Gold for compiling a wedding list might have liked to receive criticism in person too, rather than via Guardian.co.uk.

What do you think of female-orientated journalism in the UK? Are sections like Observer Woman and Femail necessary or relevant in 2009? Where are the best places to find representative portrayals of female subject matter? The best blogs? Or is there even such a thing as ‘female subject matter’? Journalism.co.uk is pulling together some thoughts for a forthcoming feature. Please do get in touch with yours.

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Journalism Daily: Reed divestment update and Chris Anderson on the media

July 30th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Journalism Daily

Journalism.co.uk is trialling a new service via the Editors’ Blog: a daily round-up of all the content published on the Journalism.co.uk site.

We hope you’ll find it useful as a quick digest of what’s gone on during the day (similar to our e-newsletter) and to check that you haven’t missed a posting.

We’ll be testing it out for a couple of weeks, so you can subscribe to the feed for the Journalism Daily here.

Let us know what you think – all feedback much appreciated.

News and features

Ed’s picks

Tip of the day

#FollowJourn

On the Editors’ Blog

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BBC Radio 4: Why do foreign correspondents capture the imagination?

July 30th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

A nice segment from the Radio 4 Today programme this morning:

“A novel about a group of journalists in Africa has made the nominations for this year’s Booker prize. Not Untrue and Not Unkind tells the story of their friendship, rivalry and betrayal. The book’s author and former foreign correspondent, Ed O’Loughlin, and foreign correspondent Martin Bell, discuss why foreign correspondents attract so much interest.”

Listen here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8176000/8176198.stm

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How Demotix’s contributors have covered Iran election protests

A quick update on the work of pro-am photo agency and news site, Demotix, during this week’s election protests in Iran.

  • On Wednesday Demotix reported that one of its contributors had been arrested. Andy Heath, the site’s commissioning editor, told Journalism.co.uk it is believed the contributor will appear in front of a judge tomorrow [Saturday] and that Demotix is currently seeking more information.

Turi Munthe, its CEO and founder, has made numerous media appearances in which he talked about the use of citizen media during these protests, including the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, BBC News,  and the World Service. Reuters are also featuring Demotix content.

Munthe said: “In terms of sales, we have also hit a milestone. Reuters is syndicating our content all over the world. Yesterday [Wednesday] we were the lead image on the front page of the Wall Street Journal’s website (see below).”

“Iran is experiencing events not seen since the 1979 Revolution. Demotix was set up precisely to cover and report this kind of event, and we have been at the very centre of the storm.”

wsj

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