Tag Archives: Cardiff University

How a hyperlocal is calling on the community for crowdfunding with Pitch-in!

The Port Talbot Magnet, a hyperlocal launched by a group of journalists six months ago, has been asking the community to fund stories in an bid to make the site sustainable.

One of those behind the hyperlocal, Rachel Howells, told Journalism.co.uk:

Last month we launched Pitch-In! which was our call to the community, to let them know that we are here and that we want to collaborate with them and we want them to be a part of the news service.

Pitch-in! follows crowdfunding initiatives such as Spot.us, based in the US, in asking readers and interested parties to donate money.

The Port Talbot Magnet is asking the community to meet targets to “sponsor our football results service”, “help us buy public liability insurance”, “sponsor a court reporter for a day” or contribute to the development fund or offer general support.

Howells, one of the directors of the Port Talbot Magnet, explained:

These are just a taste of what we would like to achieve. We have a long list of goals, including reporting council meetings and news, police and emergency services news, increasing our coverage of business news, sport, arts, music, entertainment, charity groups and campaigns – things we don’t have the resources for at the moment. And we are looking for local people to tell us what they would like us to cover, as well as giving journalists the opportunity to pitch in with ideas for investigations or news that they think should be covered.

A month on from launching Pitch-in! as a “call to community” and Howells said it has had “some success”, appearing to have generated around £40 in donations.

It’s a little more than we would have had if we hadn’t asked.

The Port Talbot Magnet is the result of cutbacks in South Wales and the closure of the Trinity Mirror-published Port Talbot Guardian, which shut in 2009.

A group of journalists, the majority of whom were members of the Swansea branch of the National Union of Journalists, started discussing how to “do something proactive to keep ourselves in journalism”.

Howells herself is former editor of Big Issue Cymru, who was made redundant when her job moved to Glasgow.

We could see there were changes in the industry that were particularly affecting Wales and that were affecting journalism generally.

As they were setting themselves up as a cooperative the group toyed with various ideas, settling for a news site for Port Talbot to fill the “natural vacuum” left by the closure of the local paper.

When the Port Talbot Guardian closed we just thought; here is a group of people who need local news, we are a group of journalists who want to provide it, surely there must be a way of filling the gap and creating some employment for ourselves as well.

The journalists’ joint effort developed into a local news site for the town of 35,000. Eight professional journalists are on the board of the Port Talbot Magnet, plus there are 20 “interested parties”, including academics and PRs.

The site launched in April 2011, in the same month as the Passion, a three-day play starring Michael Sheen, was performed in the local area and the hyperlocal became a community partner for the National Theatre Wales. Howells said this provided traffic and a “great test and great showcase” for the site.

Attempts to get public funding had proved unsuccessful, prompting the group to last month turn to community funding and also set up a membership scheme.

We can’t run it just as volunteers for ever, we want it to grow and develop, but we recognise that we can’t do it by ourselves.

Howells is hoping the community will answer the call, to subsidise the money generated through advertising.

Along with her role as journalist and director of the news site, Howells is also studying a funded PhD at Cardiff University, looking at what happens to a town that loses its local paper, the implications for democracy, and looking at possible sustainable business models. For obvious reasons her research is focused on Port Talbot.

Asked about her findings so far she explained it was too early to provide results from her research.

What I can tell you is that there were all these awful predictions that the number of local newspaper titles would drop significantly and that up until 2015 we were going to lose a percentage of them. This hasn’t happened at all and the number of closures has been minimal.

But underneath the surface though, when you look at the number of staff that have gone, if you look at how newspapers have merged with each other, the pagination of newspapers, there is an encroaching poverty in the newsgathering, particularly in this area.

Twitter, journalists and court coverage: where to draw the line?

There was an interesting discussion going on at Cardiff University today, as Darren Waters, a social media producer in the BBC Wales newsroom, joined students for a discussion on community which, according to the hashtag on Twitter (#cjscomm), included a topical discussion on the issue of immediacy in online reporting.

Recent events, specifically in relation to court coverage, have demonstrated the issues this can raise for journalists and news outlets working in the online environment, with the pressure and power of immediate publication at their fingertips. Earlier this month several news outlets mistakenly reported that Amanda Knox’s conviction for the murder of Meredith Kercher had been upheld, when the judge was in fact returning a guilty verdict for a charge of slander. The murder conviction was overturned, but once the word “guilty” had been heard several news organisations quickly sent out their stories and the Guardian made the same mistake on its liveblog.

Another specific challenge related to this is the delivery and sharing of breaking news on platforms such as Twitter, where journalists face making important decisions of when to share certain information and when to hold back.

In December last year England and Wales’ most senior judge published new guidelines which gave journalists greater freedom to file live reports and Twitter updates from court. As I write this a number of journalists are covering the Vincent Tabak trial live, with the issue of what a journalist should and shouldn’t report from a court case (and the wider approach to using Twitter) being simultaneously highlighted in the Cardiff University discussion.

http://twitter.com/#!/egrommet/status/126977274489737216

http://twitter.com/#!/trouse11/status/126979679524634624

http://twitter.com/#!/elenacresci/status/126978519996710912

http://twitter.com/#!/EMD1990/status/126980685570392064

http://twitter.com/#!/joeloboUK/status/126976995283320835

Follow the hashtag to read more from the debate and advice offered by Waters. And feel free to tell us what you think. Where should the line be drawn in court reporting, especially during the hearing of detailed evidence, and what considerations should journalists make before pressing the button to submit? Share your thoughts in the comments below or via Twitter @journalismnews.

#tjcardiff: Follow Cardiff University’s Tomorrow’s Journalists conference

The Association of Online Publishers’ summit isn’t the only conference happening today: Cardiff University’s journalism school is hosting Tomorrow’s Journalists.

The line-up includes: Peter Barron, formerly of Newsnight now with Google; Sky News’ Simon Bucks; and Guardian Cardiff’s Hannah Waldram.

There’s some footage of the day’s event via the university’s website, but you can follow tweets from the day in the liveblog at this link.

Cardiff University journalism school to hold alumni conference

Cardiff University’s Centre for Journalism is celebrating its 40th anniversary in October with a conference for its alumni focused on ‘Tomorrow’s Journalists’.

Speakers will include alumni who have gone on to become key figures in journalism, including Ben Brown from BBC News and Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News, who will chair sessions at the conference. More recent graduates including Hattie Brett from Grazia, Sally Rourke from ITV and Hannah Waldram from the Guardian, will also speak on the day.

The conference will be followed by a gala dinner.

Life as an editor – through the eyes of a journalism student

Sophie Ryley is a second year journalism student at Cardiff University. She recently won a radio prize to be ‘editor for the day’ at the South Wales Echo. Here she talks about her experience of a day in the ‘hot seat’ and how it has impacted on her view of journalism and future plans.

When the day finally came for me to take my place in the ‘hot seat’ as editor of the Echo, I really didn’t know what to expect from the day. I walked into the impressive Media Wales offices at 9:00am in a brand new crease-free white shirt. I didn’t feel nervous, just apprehensive. I thought to myself, “what does the editor of the Echo do all day? Will I just be making coffee? Will I be going to important meetings? Will I meet any famous Welsh rugby players..?” No, dream on.

My day began with meeting everyone who worked in the main newsroom. When I was introduced to each department as their ‘editor for the day’ they seemed to be quite pleased at the prospect. I explained to the reporters that I was lucky enough to come in for the day and I’d be keeping a close eye on all of them!

After being introduced to my colleagues in the newsroom, I was taken up to see the real editor of the Echo, Mike Hill, so we could have a chat about what my day in the ‘hot seat’ would entail. He explained the usual running of the day at the newspaper, where he would attend morning and afternoon conferences, as well as meetings with individuals or companies from outside the newspaper.

At 11.00am it was time for the morning conference, I would be shadowing Mike at the head of the table. We discussed which stories would be going into the following day’s paper as well as overseeing the page layout, and I voiced my opinion on which stories should go where. Mike and I approved the potential stories and then went out for lunch, in true editor’s style!

The hard work really started during the afternoon, when I sat in on meetings with Mike. We met with Roy Payne, marketing manager behind WBC Night of Champions, a prestigious boxing event to be held in Cardiff during August. The WBC were working alongside the South Wales Echo to promote the boxing event. I asked Roy if any of the competitors be available for interviews with the Echo to attract publicity, and felt I really got the most out of taking part in the meeting, as well as displaying my passion for the newspaper and journalism.

The day was drawing to a close so Mike and I made our way to the final conference at 4:30pm with the sub-editors and heads of departments. It can’t deny it was quite intimidating sitting there with such knowledgeable and successful journalists, but I kept my cool! During the conference there were some problems with an advertising space so I said: ‘Why not move this story there instead?’ I think they were quite surprised that this young journalism ‘hot shot’ actually came up with a solution to their problem!

The day had come to an end, but I have been fortunate enough to be asked to come back during August to take part in a full week’s work experience. I am really looking forward to experiencing the ‘typical’ week of a newspaper journalist.

Spending the day as editor of the South Wales Echo really did have an impact on my future plans. After being shown around the departments within the newspaper, I feel my passion lies in news and feature writing. The journalists really gave me an insight into what they’re job entails, highlighting how there really is no comparison between what you learn in the newsroom and the classroom. I am not discrediting the Cardiff School of Journalism in any way, but what I learnt in that one day has been invaluable compared to my weekly lectures.

Journalism is a very difficult profession to get into, but I don’t have a negative outlook on the industry. It is competitive because the journalists and editors I met really love what they do. It became clear to me over the course of that day how exciting journalism is. The world around us is constantly changing, and it is our job to report on these changes; taking you to different places and talking to different people each day.

I am a year away from graduating and I feel that journalism is the industry in which I want to build a career. Spending the day with the South Wales Echo made me confident that I can become a successful journalist. I am now full of anticipation for my week’s work experience at the newspaper, and building up my portfolio and enhancing my journalistic skills. Watch this space!

‘There is a future for journalism, but it is a very expansive future,’ says conference organiser

Glyn Mottershead teaches newspaper journalism at the University of Cardiff. He blogs at http://egrommet.net/ and is @egrommet on Twitter.

Journalism will survive – but there’s no simple solution for how it gets there, or who is going to pay for it. That was the key message that underpinned the Future of Journalism conference at the Cardiff University School of Journalism, Media and Cultural studies last week.

Delegates from 42 countries gathered in the city to hear over 100 papers looking at the industry from a range of aspects:

  • New media technologies, blogs and UGC;
  • Sources; Ethics; Regulation; and Journalism practice;
  • Global journalism;
  • Education, training and employment of journalists; History
  • Business; Citizen/activist journalism

James Curran (professor of communications at Goldsmith’s College) and Bettina Peters (director of the Global Forum for Media Development) kicked off proceedings with their plenary address.

Curran’s plenary focused on different views of the future: the survivalists, the new media romantics and those who believe there is a crisis of democracy afoot.

Being passive is not an option for the industry or academics, he argued. It is futile to try and predict the future: the focus should be on moulding and shaping the future where the two can work together to keep journalism alive.

Bettina Peters of the Global Forum for Media Development questioned whether it was appropriate to try and export business models from the developed world to the developing world. She discussed the need for collaboration between the northern and southern hemispheres. Journalism needs to be looking at mixed funding models, she said.

She too was concerned that journalists and educators needed to engage in a global discussion to share ideas and solutions and that the conversations shouldn’t just be about money or tools – two key strands of current industry discussion both on- and off-line.

Jon Bramley from Thomson Reuters, John Horgan the Irish press ombudsman, and Kevin Z. Smith, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, were among the participants presenting papers. A full timetable can be found at this link [PDF].

Conference organiser Professor Bob Franklin, of the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, was keen to stress that this wasn’t an academic talking shop – but a key place where journalists and those studying journalism can get together to share research and ideas from around the globe, something crucial given the massive changes taking place in the industry.

His view was that the conference showed there is no single future for journalism. This was echoed in roundtable talks with journalism educators who were finding it difficult to determine what media organisations need, while journalists in the room stated that the media didn’t know what it wants.

Professor Franklin, like many others at the conference, believes the key to the future of journalism depends on the platform and location: while newspapers are in decline in Europe and America they are thriving in India, and there is a rise in daily tabloids in urban South Africa – with a thriving market in used copies of newspapers.

“The conference was about the future of journalism, and that future looks very different from where you are standing,” said Franklin. “We were talking about possibilities, not about sowing gems of wisdom. There is a future for journalism, but it is a very expansive future.”

Video: Professor Alfred Hermida on the Future of Journalism

Too old to become a journalist: UK journalism courses uncovered

This blog has, so far, concentrated on the Lambeth College, National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) course. There are a multitude of other courses out there, many of which offer online teaching and IT skills, which, in the current climate especially, are essential.

Below are the experiences of three other journalists who recently undertook training courses at Sportsbeat/News Associates, Cardiff University and noSWeat.

Sportsbeat/News Associates
Vivienne Raper, 29, is a freelance writer and journalist and has just finished her
NCTJ course at Sportsbeat/News Associates.

Prior to this she worked full-time as a writer for a healthcare and life science PR agency. Other highlights of her career so far include an internship at a think tank, a PhD in climate change monitoring, serving on the national executive of the Liberal Democrats’ youth wing, and a spell as a receptionist in a prison.

Yet surprisingly, she maintains that journalism is the most interesting thing she’s ever done. She particularly enjoys breaking off-diary news stories.

“The NCTJ accredited Sportsbeat/News Associates course is run by a sports news agency in Wimbledon, London. I did the course part-time over 10 months but they also offer a full-time, fast track option. It cost £3,500.

“Unlike most NCTJ courses, students don’t need to have a degree to be accepted onto the Sportsbeat course. You must sit an entrance examination and interview, conducted by the course director or one of the heads of journalism training and a senior editor.

“Most of the students on my course were career changers in their late 20s or recent school leavers who had jobs and didn’t plan to go to university.

“The part-time course was brilliant for getting through the NCTJ exams without giving up the day job. I have no complaints – it did exactly what it said on the tin. I’d heartily recommend it even though I’m not remotely interested in sports reporting.

“If you are, you can take a module in sports reporting and help out in the newsroom after class on Saturday evenings.

“That being said the course suffers from the inherent problems with taking the NCTJ part-time i.e. everything is geared to passing the exams and leaves little time for anything else. If you have more money and want to learn about feature writing, podcasting or the history of journalism, I’d recommend a one-year diploma.

“The tutors are very professional, extremely supportive, know exactly what the NCTJ requires and will help after the course has finished by checking CVs, offering additional shorthand classes and forwarding on job or story (usually sports) opportunities.

“Time pressure meant we couldn’t do much outside preparing for the NCTJ. However, we did a couple of projects to teach journalism, learn QuarkXPress and collect clips for our NCTJ portfolio. We were split into groups and given an area of London to cover. Each group had to find stories and design a fake front page with headlines.

“Like all NCTJ courses, it’s hard work. It’s a real challenge to combine NCTJ study with a full-time job and it’s particularly difficult to get through shorthand studying part-time. You need to be committed to journalism to get through a part-time NCTJ – amazingly, no one dropped out. Media law and public affairs are tedious and it was hard to stay awake at 9:30pm on a Monday evening or on a Saturday afternoon. This is a problem with the NCTJ exams and not the tuition.”

Cardiff University
Amy Davies, 22, is currently studying for her postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism at Cardiff’s Journalism School. She also did a journalism undergraduate degree at Cardiff – she must love it there – but is originally from the Midlands. She sees herself working for a variety of different magazines, even freelancing so as not to feel tied to one style. Eventually she wants to be an editor, but thinks this may be a long way off.

“The course at Cardiff is accredited by the PTC (Periodicals Training Council) and has quite a high reputation. It runs for one academic year, from September to June, and costs around £5,500.

“A degree in any discipline is needed to get onto the course. After applying candidates are called for a day-long interview and will sit a news knowledge and writing test. They will also have a formal interview with one of the tutors and must submit two feature ideas. Previous publishing experience is useful, but not essential.

“The course is fairly well run in most areas and certainly provides many interesting lectures and modules. However, sometimes marking can be slow and so I do feel that progress can be hard to judge.

“The diploma offers a choice of newspaper, broadcast or magazine options. All paths share some modules including media law (taught separately), public administration, reporters and the reported (a series of ethics lectures), online and mobile media and shorthand (although this is optional for the magazine and broadcast path).

“Before we started the course in September, our shorthand teacher sent us worksheets and tapes instructing us to get up to 30WPM.

“Shorthand classes were then Monday-Friday mornings from 9-11am and by December, a number of students (about half the class) were able to take and pass the 100wpm NCTJ paper.

“In addition to the core subjects, students on the magazine course are taught news writing, magazine craft (how to use programmes including InDesign and Photoshop) and feature writing.

“We also have the opportunity to create and publish our own complete magazine and website.

“The course benefits from a high number of guest lecturers, hailing from various newspapers, magazines, broadcasters and online publications, who come and talk on various changes in the media.

“Magazine students must also complete a minimum of two weeks of work experience at a magazine(s) of their choice.”

noSWeat
Tara Kelly, 27, is a freelance journalist and has just finished her
NCTJ-accredited course at noSWeat Journalism Training in Clerkenwell, London.  Originally from New York, Tara has worked in corporate responsibility and the IT industry in Brussels and London. She holds an MA in International Conflict Analysis with a specialty in Conflict Diamonds. The fulfilment that comes with pitching and chasing up a story led Tara to journalism.

“NoSWeat Journalism was founded by a former journalist who noticed there were no part-time, London-based NCTJ courses on offer. The success rate of its graduates and its central London location are what attracted me to apply and enrol in the course. You don’t need a university degree to get in, but you do have to sit a written exam and have an interview with the school director. The tuition is £3,500, but you get a slight discount if you pay early.

“Media Law and shorthand were the most useful classes I took. We had the luxury of being taught by a practicing solicitor who is a renowned media law guru. The tutors held extra study sessions prior to exams, but have little patience for those who don’t attend class and make a sincere effort.

“Journalism classes entailed learning QuarkXPress, practicing sub-editing, attending mock press conferences and going out into town in search of a local story. Much of what they teach you is centred on passing the exams, so the outlook is rather local and regional given the nature of the NCTJ.

“The advantage of being a part-timer is that the course lasts 12 months allowing you more time to plan for work experience and complete your portfolio. On the other hand, part-timers working full-time may find it difficult to take advantage of the guest speaker lectures at lunch or the specially arranged day trips to the Old Bailey or House of Commons.

“Like the field of journalism, don’t expect to be spoonfed at noSWeat. Students must approach editors and secure work experience themselves. NCTJ is definitely the magic word for gaining work experience opportunities though. Some of the national newspapers that our class completed placements on included the Financial Times, the Guardian, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Times and The Sunday Times.

“Studying part-time, freelancing and managing to do a full-time job was extremely challenging in the final few months of the course, especially with exams and the portfolio hanging over your head. But if your devotion to journalism is unquestionable, it is well worth your Saturdays and Wednesday evenings.”

Wires in a twist – why you should always check your news agency feeds

As we’ve blogged before, Nick Davies’ recent book, Flat Earth News, uses findings from a specially-commissioned team of researchers at Cardiff University to show national newspapers’ dependency on press agencies.

After an investigation of 2,207 domestic news articles and their sources over two random weeks, the research team reported that 60 per cent of ‘quality print-stories’ (carried by the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the Independent, the Daily Mail and the Times) came wholly or largely from a combination of PR releases and news agency copy.

The dangers of dependency on wire copy were illustrated on journalist Jo Wadsworth’s blog this morning: she describes how yesterday her site’s biggest hits and highest comments were on ‘several month-old stories about Premiership teams,’ which can be viewed here.

It looks like it was a technical error (she blames gremlins for playing havoc with the paper’s PA national football feeds), but it shows how manual checking on automatic feeds can never be replaced.

Journalism industry reaction to ‘churnalism’ claims

The publication of journalist Nick Davies’s book, Flat Earth News, in which he makes the accusation that a significant proportion of the news served by UK institutions is simply regurgitated PR or wire copy by time pressured hacks with too much work on their plates, has caused a wave of strong reaction through press watching circles.

Davies claims that journalists are failing at the essential job of telling the truth by ever greater commercial drives in the industry:

“Where once we were active gatherers of news, we have become passive processors of second-hand material generated by the booming PR industry and a handful of wire agencies, most of which flows into our stories without being properly checked. The relentless impact of commercialisation has seen our journalism reduced to mere churnalism,” he wrote in the Press Gazette.

Taking a donation from the Rowntree Foundation, Davies asked the journalism department at Cardiff University to research home news coverage (download report here: quality_independence_british_journalism.pdf ) in the UK’s leading national newspapers over a two week period, he claims that the research found that only 12 per cent of the stories were wholly composed of material researched by reporters. For eight per cent of the stories, researchers couldn’t be sure. Yet for the remaining 80 per cent they found were wholly, mainly or partially constructed from second-hand material, provided by news agencies and by the public relations industry.

Media commentator for The Independent, Stephen Glover, claimed the book presents ‘a damning picture of a dysfunctional national press which is spoon fed by government and PR agencies’. Glover added ‘Many journalists will recognise his portrait of editorial resources being stretched ever thinner’.

But he sees the more damning element of the book to be its attack on the relationship between the Observer newspaper and the Blair Government:

“It is amazing stuff. Mr Davies suggests the editor and the political editor of a great liberal newspaper were suborned by Number 10, and so manipulated that The Observer became a government mouthpiece. Not even The Times’s endorsement of Chamberlain’s appeasement policy in the 1930s involved the degree of editorial submission to governmental power that Mr Davies alleges in Flat Earth News.”

Although broadly in agreement with Davies, Peter Wilby wrote in the Guardian that his methodology and conclusions of increased workloads hadn’t quite made allowances for some of the positives changes in the newsroom:

“Davies overstates his case. For example, the internet, email and mobile phones have all made information and contacts more easily accessible. It isn’t, therefore, unreasonable to expect journalists to fill more space. Time spent “cultivating contacts” was, in any case, often time spent on overlong, overliquid lunches. But experience also tells me his argument is fundamentally sound”

There was a little more scepticism about the research from Adrian Monck, he wrote that study ‘links full-time employees to pagination’:

“But what about: freelance employees? Bought-in copy? The amount of agency material used? Changes in technology? The reduction in the number of editions?

“Could any of these things have a bearing on the analysis? And shouldn’t journalists be more productive? What about these innovations: Electronic databases, computers, mobile telephones, the Internet?”

He also takes issue with Davies line about PR being used to fill news pages, suggesting that it’s not a new argument.

Simon Bucks, Sky News associate editor, also draws out the point that new technology can negate some of the issues brought up.

“There’s a wider point in this debate. Web 2.0 allows the public to play a much bigger role in journalism. If we get a fact wrong or miss out something important, it won’t take long before someone lets us know. Big mistakes generate an avalanche of comment.

“So there’s no reason for any news organisation to keep reporting a flat earth story, if it isn’t accurate.”

More predictably, the editor of the Independent on Sunday, John Mullin, and the managing editor of the News of the World, Stuart Kuttner, argued the defence against Davies on Radio 4’s Today programme, choosing the more well-worn line of British journalism being the best in the world.

Roy Greenslade wrote that it was ‘heartening’ that Davies work was being taken seriously. Dismissing the Mullin/Kuttner rejection line as ‘not being good enough’, he added that the Davies work was ‘an indictment of journalistic practices that deserves wider debate’.

Kevin Marsh, editor of the BBC College of Journalism, sounds a warning on this last point:

“The trouble is, though, the British newspaper journalist has no history of taking criticism well… or working out what it is that needs to be done to turn a dysfunctional, distrusted press into something that performs a useful public purpose.”