Tag Archives: commentator

Is there life after a journalism course? The Coventry Class of 2009 – Greg Keane

At the end of the academic year John Mair, senior lecturer in broadcasting at Coventry University, asked just what would happen to his undergraduate journalism class of 2009. In the face of the biggest media recession for many a generation where do they go? Is there life after a journalism course? A few months on, we are re-visiting the students.

Greg Keane graduated with a  2.1  in journalism and media from Coventry University last June. He has turned a specialist interest into a small niche in journalism, non-league football.

It’s pointless to send away your CV in pursuit of that first job without any kind of meaningful credential except a degree in journalism.

Despite being warned on countless occasions that work will not simply come to you on the back of a university course, I arrogantly – as I am sure is the case for many of my peers – did not take much heed of the advice.

I applied for trainee jobs advertised on sites such as this one, thinking – almost without doubt – that my 2:1 in journalism and media earned in June this year was easily enough to merit me at least an interview.

Thankfully, reality set in soon enough after early knock-backs. I realised that only with proactivity would I make a name for myself.

An article in which I described my home town football club Luton Town as ‘the most exciting club in England’ generated a large amount of debate across many football forums, as fans struggled to work out whether the title was a question, or in fact a statement.

I had sent the article to the presenter of BBC London’s Non-League Football Show and pitched an idea to her about regularly updating fans on the Hatters’ often turbulent existence throughout the upcoming football league (or non-league as is the case) campaign.

She loved the idea and published the article although I was inaccurately described as ‘a Luton Town fan blogger’  (a description which is wrong on two counts: I was/am neither a blogger of Luton Town, nor a fan! Like many sports writers, I too won’t disclose the identity of the club I support. It isn’t one of the big four by the way).

The piece got significant interest and found its way being discussed on a number of football forums and I even received praise from Luton Town chairman and BBC Midlands Today presenter Nick Owen, via email.

I now regularity contribute features for the BBC London pages on a variety of non-league sides, for example. (Examples of my work here).

After this, I was asked to produce features for the site www.nonleaguefootballlive.com on a freelance basis. This has provided a tremendous platform on which to make a name for myself in a community which may be large, but lacking in many alternative avenues of information and reports from their clubs.

I have since become ‘chief reporter’ for the site and my articles stimulate much debate on the site’s own lively forum as well as clubs’ own message boards.

An article I wrote documenting the plight of Wrexham FC and their supporters seemed also to strike a chord with the Guardian’s David Conn who praised my article – recently he wrote a piece highlighting the trouble Wrexham supporters had trying to protect their ground.

Non League Football Live also has plans to launch a magazine in the coming weeks which they have asked me to play a big part in it.

But I haven’t confined myself to reporting: I have taken up a role as press secretary for the famous Corinthian Casuals in South London/Surrey and that position guarantees that my reports get published in around 14 ‘thisislocallondon’ newspapers and their online sites and one national, the Non-League Paper, which comes out every Sunday across the UK. Casuals are a club steeped with history so there is plenty of scope there to carve out a story.

And radio too: after a couple months of one day a week work experience at Mercia Radio in Coventry, my efforts paid off when they signed a deal to commentate on Coventry City matches.

I now do some paid assistant producing on the Tom Ross ‘Goalzone’ show. I control the studio and the commentator throughout a 3-4 hour show.

It is frantic work but it is enjoyable and certainly gets the adrenaline running. I also provide Mercia with a regular Sky Blues blog – another home for my work.

Unexpectedly, I foresee my future in sports reporting now, especially after finding a niche for myself in non-league football. It may not be glamorous or particularly exciting for many, but I enjoy it and hope that in the not too distant future, there will be a permanent job offer.

Why the PCC didn’t appear at Frontline event and Steve Hewlett’s take on UK press regulation

The increasingly heated UK press regulation debate continued this week. Yesterday saw former PCC chair, Sir Christopher Meyer, appear on BBC Two’s Daily Politics Show, to defend the body, with criticisms offered by Roy Greenslade.

And here’s an update from an event a few weeks ago during which the Independent’s editor, Roger Alton – a former PCC member – defended the body at a debate hosted at the Frontline Club (reported at this link by Press Gazette). The event is still well worth a watch if you have the time, with a mixed line-up led by Radio Four Media Show’s Steve Hewlett.

Alton, along with Steven Barnett, special advisor for the Media Standards Trust report  ‘A More Accountable Press, Part One’, and Albert Scardino, the broadcaster and commentator, hotly debated the current state of affairs.

Alton: “I don’t want to be the only person live on the web speaking up for the PCC.”

Debate host Steve Hewlett said that the PCC had been invited to participate but had chosen not to. Following the claim up, Journalism.co.uk asked PCC director Tim Toulmin why not. He said it was for a couple of reasons:

“First, we are focusing on the select committee inquiry at the moment, and think that the time to debate these big issues is within the context of their report, which of course is a more serious enterprise than the Media Standards Trust’s effort. Secondly, our dealings so far with the MST have shown them to be rude and not particularly well informed – which may sound harsh, but is a reason for not wanting to spend a precious evening being further exposed to their nonsense.”

That’s straight from the press regulation horse’s mouth.

Alton had also been particularly candid and, erm, descriptive in his language during the event – especially before he realised it was going out live. For example:

Alton: “The McCanns was a thing of such astonishing ghastliness by the press, you do indeed feel like viscerating your own bladder with it. I mean, it’s absolutely awful. But you can’t say the whole industry is fucked (…) What’s the basis for this conversation? It’s fairly confidential?”

Hewlett: “It’s being confidentially live broadcast…”

Alton’s face as he looks up to the camera, shown below:

rogeralton

Broadcaster and writer Steve Hewlett offered his take on the debate to Journalism.co.uk at the end of the Frontline event. For Hewlett, the issue is maintaining freedom of expression. “I think the press has always been disliked and it’s always been held in low regard (…) journalists may just be bottom feeders, but democracy is needed. You wouldn’t expect the press to be popular and well-thought of and I’m not surprised by that.”

“Multiplicity of regulation is one of the things that guarantees freedom of expression in a country that is prone to regulating everything out of existence if it can,” he told Journalism.co.uk.

“The last thing you’d want is everyone regulated in the same way,” he added.

Robert Peston is able to have freedom in his BBC blog, but he also has quite a lot of restrictions on what he can say, Hewlett added. “For example, the level of proof the BBC will insist is at a higher level than many of their City [correspondent] counterparts [in newspapers].

“Traditional media that don’t deliver value are going to go out of business,” Hewlett said, adding that there are ‘probably one too many papers’ in the UK.

Hewlett said that the Media Standards Trust had ‘opened the door’ to criticism by the PCC in its review of UK press regulation, for which it consulted an independent peer review group for part one of the ‘A More Accountable Press’ report.

“If you look at the statistics [cited in the report] it’s so easy to question,” Hewlett said, referring to specific examples in the report – for example, that ‘only 0.7 per cent of complaints are adjudicated on’. But, Hewlett said, that omits complaints dealt with by mediation rather than adjudication and complaints that are on the same issue.

While saying that he ‘held no candle’ for the PCC at all, Hewlett said the fact the MST’s authors had been ‘partial’ in the way they presented their data, and that they didn’t raise issues with the PCC prior to publication led to an ‘open goal’ for Sir Christopher Meyer and the PCC, who were able to say the report was partial, misleading and that the PCC hadn’t been appropriately consulted.

Finding the ‘new new journalism’

Last night’s debate at LSE entitled ‘The New New Journalism’ was definitely a head scratcher and rather than try and analyse the back and forth in one post, here are some key points made by the speakers:

Tessa Mayes (campaigning investigative journalist): “We’re in danger within journalism of losing and forgetting what it is that we do and what it is that we need journalism to do in society. Journalists are simply becoming information managers.”

From the audience: “Information must be the master of the technology and not the other way round.”

Bill Thompson (journalist, commentator and contributor to the BBC’s technology section): “There is nothing at all essential, vital or needed about journalism. As technology develops, roles for editor and journalists will still exist, but the relationship will bear no resemblance to what they are now.”

Bill Thompson: said he (optimistically) hopes that the demand for original content will reassert the balance between this type of material and content being ‘shifted’ between media.

Julia Whitney (head of design and user experience for news, sport and weather at the BBC): Design of media sites, news sites, online communities ‘has everything to do with how meaning is generated’.

In my view the two most valid points made during the conversation were:

Bill Thompson’s suggestion that ultimately society doesn’t need journalism and journalists should be wary of the fact that they don’t exist in a protected, god-given role.

Secondly, Suw Charman-Anderson’s view from the audience on management issues, which she eloquently expresses on her blog:

“I made this point at the very end of the evening, that much of the problem in news organisations is down to broken management structures and dysfunctional management techniques. Bad decisions are being made by people unwilling to listen to those with the knowledge, but who are several paygrades down the food chain. Good journalists do not always make good managers and, ironically, are not always the best communicators.”

Your thoughts are welcome.

Online Journalism China: The voices in-between the official press and the western media

Adding to the burgeoning hoard of international bloggers on Journalism.co.uk, China Daily’s Dave Green offers an insight into the world of online journalism in China.

Domestic furore over the Western media’s reporting of the Tibet risings and the Olympic Torch relay was as inevitable as night following day, but the nature of the backlash wasn’t as simple as Chinese patriots toeing the party line.

There was – of course – the usual patter of soft patriotism: MSN has been running a campaign urging users to add ‘love China’ symbols to their usernames – an estimated seven million Chinese MSN users have signed up so far.

And hard patriotism at the involved and overtly politicised level when Anti-CNN.com – a site aiming to ‘expose the lies and distortions in the Western media’ – was set up after CNN commentator Jack Cafferty called the Chinese government ‘goons and thugs’.

There’s an implicit irony – hypocrisy even – of calling Western media biased, it rather suggests there’s little hope of any introspective eyes turning on the output of the domestic media and realising its failings.

But things are rarely as simple as a polarised set of black and white opinions.

If you take the reaction to a recent essay by Chang Ping, deputy editor-in-chief of the Southern Metropolis Daily, as any kind of benchmark then calls to discover the middle ground and advocate the use of the internet to hunt for the truth on all media may be an even more radical idea than Chinese popular public opinion accepting what’s written by the Western press.

Chang wrote: “If netizens genuinely care about news values, they should not only be exposing the fake reports by the Western media, but also challenging the control by the Chinese government over news sources and the Chinese media.”

This comment on Anti-CNN.com, not unlike Chang’s suggestion, is also simply calling for better reporting and scrutiny of both sides.

Chang’s comments led him to being widely labelled a ‘Chinese traitor’ and a ‘running dog’.

The worry is that his suggestion for simple scrutiny will go unheard amongst the clamour to present a united front against perceived foreign oppression. If it does – if the middling voices are not heard – the chances of Chinese looking beyond state-controlled media for news on anything but the most local or trivial of issues seems remarkably slim.