The Last Word: Self Reflection

Over the past few months, I’ve become a bit of a social media nerd; I’ve become a Twitter addict, and I’ve discovered that I actually quite enjoy blogging. I’ve learnt so much just by using social media, and I can now see how it’s such a vital tool for journalists.

Before this module, I always refused to use Twitter; I could never see the point of it, and so embarked on my own little anti-Twitter campaign. Now I just can’t get enough; Twitter was the first medium that informed me about the Christchurch earthquake, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and it’s kept me fully informed about the constant developments in Libya. In short, it’s been absolutely vital in keeping me in the loop with breaking news from around the world. Using Twitter has meant I no longer rely on traditional media such as newspapers and TV, and I can now access live breaking news at the click of a mouse.

I’ve really enjoyed the blogging aspect of social media. As an aspiring writer, I leap at the chance to write anything I can and this blog has given me the opportunity to share my thoughts on a number of stories, as well as sharing some of the work I have produced for University. I never thought of blogging as a tool for sharing news; before I purely used blogging for fashion and photography. Now I regularly use blogs as tools for finding out information and opinions on a variety of topics, from the uprising in Libya to the tragic murder of Sian O’Callaghan in Swindon.

I am now able to successfully use social media as a tool for accessing news as well as providing news, not just for social reasons. I have enjoyed using Twitter and producing blogs for my Journalism module and I fully intend to keep using them to keep up to date with all the latest and breaking news.



Community Patch Report

Here is another example of the work I have completed for my journalism unit. For this piece we had to construct a news story from a local ‘patch’ in my University town. It is worth 30% of the final mark for this module, and was accompanied by a rationale.


Statistics have shown that the Lansdowne area of Bournemouth experiences some of the highest levels of alcohol related crime in the UK.

According to the Home Office website, the area has high anti-social behaviour rates compared to the rest of the country, and Lansdowne residents are becomingly increasingly frustrated by the amount of alcohol-related incidents.

“We’ve experience a lot of anti-social behaviour here,” said Cedric, a night-shift

Residents are frustrated with high crime levels in Lansdowne

worker at Subway on Holdenhurst Road. “Lots of fights break out when the clubs close and we’ve had to resort to having security in the building at night.”

The area houses over 1500 students in four halls of residence. The Old Firestation nightclub is also in Lansdowne, as well as a homeless shelter. Hannah, who works at Lansdowne Florists, said: “I live in Lansdowne and although I haven’t personally been the victim of any crime, I know people who have and the crimes were committed by people who were drunk.

“I don’t mean to stereotype but there are lots of places in the area that attract people who cause trouble, like the job centre, various student halls of residence, and the drop-in centre at the pharmacy.”

Dorset Police is prioritising combating the levels of people using alcohol in the street in Lansdowne, and it is hoped that the launch of alcohol-free nightclubs in the area, such as The Late Night Cafe, will help reduce alcohol-related crime.

Michael French, nightclub chaplain of The Late Night Cafe and co-ordinator of a volunteer group who look after drunk and vulnerable people in Bournemouth, said: “Most night-time crimes we encounter are whilst under the influence. I think what we are doing may affect crime levels by steering people away from one kind of night out to another.

“We are not anti alcohol, but many who are involved with us are abstainers from alcohol and drugs for reasons of addiction, faith, or life experience.  We want to encourage all people to give this kind of night out a go; the experience is the focus and we feel that alcohol should be secondary in any evening out.”

Timed News Report

Here is an example of the work I have submitted for my News and Journalism module. This timed news report is worth 15% of the total mark for this module, and was accompanied by a rationale explaining the choices I made in writing the piece. All the information in the news report is fictional.


Ardingham District Council has announced an expansion of their recycling services, in a bid to recover some of the rubbish that is thrown away in the district.

From this week, EcoBin containers will be placed around Ardingham town centre for the collection of recyclable materials such as newspapers, cans, and plastic bottles. The bins will mainly be sited in busy shopping areas, but they will also be implemented in areas such as railway stations and local parks.

The town of Ardingham, whose population of 80,000 produces 3,500 tonnes of street litter each year, already has a number of recycling schemes in place, including recycling skips and separate paper and garden bins for residents.

“Over three million tonnes of packaging waste is generated in the UK each  year,” said Stephen Abell, the Recycling Officer for Ardingham District Council. “It is our aim to raise the general profile of recycling and waste awareness to all citizens across the district.”

The durable EcoBin containers, made by Cambrol Ltd, will be collected and baled locally by community recyclers ‘Cash for Trash’, who work in partnership with the council. They are known for raising large amounts of money for good causes, and their current project is to raise £25,000 for Ardingham Hospice.

“We hope that we shall have everyone’s support, especially as the proceeds will be going to such a worthwhile cause,” Abell said. “If the scheme is the success we expect, it will also help reduce street cleaning costs.”

Steven Gills, the organiser of Cash for Trash, said, “It is a brilliant idea to raise the profile of recycling in this way. The containers will be highly visible and will be placed in locations that the man -or woman- in the street can’t miss.”

Councillor Bryan Davies will launch the new bins at 11am on Friday in Ardingham Market Square. He will be supported by other councillors and officers from the Waste Services Department.


Feature Fun

Feature articles are my favourite kind; I enjoy reading them, writing them, and now, dissecting them. After scouring the internet for various feature articles and figuring out what sets the good apart from the bad, I (hopefully) now know enough to aid me in my next assignment- writing a feature article.

The first feature I came across was “The Runaway General” by Michael Hastings, an interview by Rolling Stone magazine. The article focuses on the career of General Stanley McChrystal,commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. Although the feature is long, wordy, and requires a lot of concentration to get through, it’s content and tone sets it apart from the rest. The standfirst immediately makes you want to read on, the description of everything, from his hotel room to his physical appearance, is interesting and gives the feature more depth, and the blunt language used throughout the article make the piece entertaining as well as informative. Sources are used throughout to back up points made by McChrystal and to provide depth to the article, and when it is all combined together it makes for an extremely successful feature article.

The BBC News Special Report section is a vast source of interesting, insightful feature articles, and it is here that I found the second article- “Libya: How the opposing sides are armed“. This background feature describes the weapons used in the uprising in Libya by both sides, giving the reader more information on the weapons that we have seen in images splashed across the media. This particular feature has a layout which makes it easy to read; each weapon has it’s own section, resulting in the text being broken up into manageable chunks. It is informative and factual, with images provided to enhance the text. Although this article was extremely interesting, it didn’t contain any quotes from any sources, which would have given more depth to the feature.

The third feature, a ‘How-to’ feature,  was found on The Guardian website, and contained information on how to make a delicious ravioli dish, and is written by celebrated chef Raymond Blanc. Enhanced by pictures, the recipe adheres to standard features, such as a dedicated ingredients section. However, it also has a bit of background information on the dish and how Blanc came to create his ravioli masterpiece.

This is only the tip of the iceberg- there are so many different types of features, each about totally different subjects and containing totally different information.  After reading through so many I hope to have become expert enough (!) to construct my own feature article for my next assignment- Social Media and it’s relevance to professional journalists.

What I didn’t know about Media law

One part of Journalism that I’ve really been looking forward to getting to grips with is media law: I’ve always been really interested in the rules that journalists have to abide by in the development of their stories.

After heavily researching media law, I came across two recent news stories involving two celebrities who have filed cases for defamation and libel against those who have placed accusations against them. These stories both show how it is of vital importance that a journalist really checks out the facts before they are published.

Mzimba won his libel case against The Independent

The first story involves ex-Newsround presenter, Lizo Mzimba, who has accepted libel damages from The Independent, who ran an untrue story in 2009 claiming he had behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner whilst visiting Cambridge University (for the full story, click here). Libel is when a false or malicious publication is printed for the purpose of defaming a living person, and it can often result in hefty paybacks and drawn-out court cases; in this particular case, Mzimba was fully reimbursed for his legal costs and for damages,and recieved an apology from the Independent.

Galliano is no longer the Creative Director for Dior

Another extremely high-profile case is that of British fashion designer John Galliano, who allegedly made anti-semitic comments to a couple in a cafe in Paris last week. Despite the fact that video evidence has emerged of Galliano’s outburst, he has commenced proceedings for defamation against the couple who have made the allegations against him. According to Tony Harcup, author of Journalisn: Principles and Practice, a statement is defamatory if:

  • It exposes someone to hatred, ridicule or contempt.
  • If it causes someone to be shunned or avoided
  • It it causes someone to be lowered in their estimation of other people
  • If it disparages someone in their business or profession

It is unfortunate for Galliano that this video footage has emerged, proving right the case of the couple making allegations against him. Defamation cases tend to be very expensive and Galliano, who has since lost his job with fashion house Dior, would almost certainly be facing some very hefty pay outs (as well as a prison sentence for his offensive outbursts), if he was to continue with his allegations of defamation.

So, what have I learnt about Media law? I’ve learnt that libel and defamation are only the tip of the iceberg of laws that journalists have to abide by when writing a story; there’s so much more to the legislation that constrains journalists, from the Communication Act 2003, to the Official Secrets Act 1911 and the Terrorism Act 2006- I’ve got a lot more reading to do! One thing that has emerged is that it is clearly the journalist’s prerogative to make sure every story they report on is factual and backed up with evidence, otherwise they could be facing serious charges, and even a stint in prison.

The Christchurch Earthquake and the Power of Social Media

Where were you when you heard about the deadly earthquake that struck Christchurch in New Zealand on the 22nd of February? Me? I was in bed, checking my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

This just about says it all about the impact of social media on journalism and broadcasting; we no longer rely on traditional news outlets to provide us with our daily news. That day, my Twitter feed was full of Tweets about the tragedy that had befallen Christchurch, and I was provided with live information about the unfolding events in New Zealand.

It’s not just Twitter that provides us with breaking news; Goodle, Facebook, Wikipedia, and personal blogs allow us to share information and updates. These web 2.0 sites allow us to potentially connect with people around the world. This isn’t the first time that life-changing events have been so extensively covered by social media outlets; live information from the Mumbai Terrorist attacks in 2008 was broadcast around the world via Twitter, even before events were reported on by journalists. Recent events in Egypt and Tunisia, and the current uprising in Libya have also been broadcast around the world by social media websites. We are now provided with breaking news and information from those who are directly involved in the action.

Social media is of vital importance in the 21st century; it has the power to bring events closer to home and we can become directly involved with events around the world. Click here to donate to the Red Cross New Zealand Earthquake appeal.

Searching for survivors in Christchurch

Buildings across the city have been extensively damaged

Gone but not forgotten: Alexander McQueen

It was announced today that the work of the late Alexander McQueen is to be the subject of an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

A preview of the exhibition took place at The Ritz, and was unveiled by Anna

McQueen's untimely death shocked the world

Wintour and Samantha Cameron. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty will run from the 4th May to 31st July, and is expected to draw attention from all over the world as fashionistas try to get close to the masterpieces created by such an innovative designer.

Highlights  will include the McQueen Tartan from his Highland Rape Collection, as well as a mini projection of the iconic Kate Moss dancing hologram. The exhibit will feature more than 100 pieces from McQueen’s 19 year career, which started with an apprenticeship with Savil Row tailors, Anderson & Sheppard.

Lee Alexander McQueen, who tragically committed suicide in 2010, is known for his striking, unique designs and the emotional power and raw energy of his shows. The long-overdue celebration of such a talented designer fully cements McQueen’s place as one of the leading fashion designers of his generation, and his legacy will live on in the fashion world for years to come.

Plato's Atlantis from the Spring/Summer 2010 Collection- one of the pieces to feature in the exhibition

Another exhibit piece; from the Voss Collection, Spring/Summer 2001