What a harrowing tale
Archive for January, 2008
It’s been about 4 hours since it was announced that Heath Ledger had been found dead. 1.009 people have already joined this facebook group in his honour.
Damn… even Nelson think’s we’re stuffed.
As of today, I am Press Gazette’s student blogger. The Student Journalism Blog will become the best source for student journalism news in the country (…we hope).
Any students/lecturers out there with good things happening around them, do get in touch. As ever, feedback greatly appreciated.
In my post for the blog Carnival the other day, I mentioned I’d already written a post for it but ended up selling it to Press Gazette.
It’s in the mag this week, and you can read it online here.
Louise Tickle has written this lovely article which was in the Guardian on Saturday. Scroll down a bit and you can read some comments from me about my little jolly to New Zealand coming up in May.
I beg you all to go and watch Gnooze. It’s amazing.
From tomorrow jBlog will be a little different. Well, not so much different, but more in two different places, with certain posts going on a new one. Stay tuned!
This post is part of the Carnival of Journalism which, this month, is hosted by Adrian Monck. You can read all the other offerings from the day’s blogging over on his post.
I have to apologise for being a bit late posting today. I’ve been in Dublin since Friday having what can only be described as an utterly fantastic weekend.
I’d actually written a post for this day a few days back, but ended up selling it to Press Gazette, where I’ll be starting a student journalism blog this week. My first regular paid gig, so I’m very excited.
Anyway, today I thought I’d write about how student journalism is adapting to new technologies. If the generation gap with technology applies to journalism, then in theory students should be showing everyone how it’s done.
But how do students cope with teeny-weeny budgets, limited man-power and minimal expertise?
Gair Rhydd, Cardiff’s wonderful student rag, has a thriving web presence. It has triumphed in producing student debate — one recent column has attracted 62 comments. Where Gair Rhydd falls short, however, is in the multimedia. There is none. But it’s a very professional package that really impresses.
York’s Nouse has always been a favourite of mine, but suffers from the same lack of multimedia as Gair Rhydd does. The site is built on Wordpress — and looks to be a very solid platform which looks great. I especially like the quote in the top right corner. Nice touch.
Over to Cambridge, and we see one of their papers, Varsity, has entered into the multimedia world with their podcast offering. Which, they boldly state, the first ever by a student newspaper. Not sure how they came to that statistic, but if it’s true, it’s great to see innovation in the works at Cambridge.
Unfortunately, the website resembles something between a shopping site and a lifestyle magazine, which, I’d argue, devalues their lead stories somewhat.
At Lincoln we tried a little experiment. To cover the SU by-elections, we created a little mini-site, and blogged the night. We included audio clips as well, and, I think, produced some entertaining coverage. Problem is, nobody read it — such is the dire state of politics at our University.
We will shortly be formally launching LincTV, which is being produced by the television journalism students at Lincoln. I’d like our paper to become the leading multimedia student paper.
Which will no doubt be a huge challenge. After all, we quite often find ourselves in the position of knowing more about online journalism than our lecturers do. And there lies the problem: Online journalism is almost unteachable. Sure, you can learn skills on software, but at the end of your degree, it will all have changed, leaving you as a tradesman adept only in pre-historic tools. Useless.
All this week I’ve been working with Andrew Gilligan. I’m going to write a bigger post about it once I’ve let the whole experience settle in, but until then I thought I’d write about just one incident.
On Wednesday, I arrived at the Standard’s newsroom about 12 and got stuck into a task I’d been working on the previous day. Sworn to secrecy I’m afraid.
Anyway, I’d been working on it for a while when Andrew called me and told me to get down to Westminster to meet him in Port Cullis House. Which, I now know, is a whacking great building that you can’t miss. Unless you go the wrong way, of course, which is what I predictably did.
Can’t tell you much else about what happened in Port Cullis House either, but I felt incredibly dwarfed by it all. I’d never felt so out of my comfort zone — but felt it’s a place I could learn to feel comfortable in. Eventually.
We’d been in Port Cullis House for about 45 minutes when the bell went. Which means everyone takes a bit of a sprint to Parliament for a vote on some issue or another. Andrew was off like a rocket — his escalator athletics clearly a well-honed skill — and I was scrambling behind him as best I good.
At one point, I was blocked by a badly placed, slowly moving, short bloke. Now, being London, it’s commonplace to just try and hop around someone who’s in your way. So that’s what I tried to do, but once I’d made a little progress around this guy, I realised he had a dog with him. How annoying. But then I saw that it was in fact a guide dog, so I gave the man some space. Then looking up, I realised the man I’d tried to nudge out the way was David Blunkett.
“Oh… sorry…” I muttered.
“Careful on the stairs girl,” he said to either his dog or me.
From that moment on I was peering everywhere in search of famous faces. I spotted a few — and I hope I didn’t look too gawpy.
After Westminster, Andrew and I hopped on a train to Hanger Lane. Andrew presents news programs for ‘Press TV‘, an Iran-based news network that broadcasts across the Middle-East to an audience of, I was told, about 2 million or so.
The show Andrew was doing tonight was called ‘Between the Headlines’ — a review of the day’s papers.
They showed me around the studio. Typical TV studio, really, but one thing that stood out was how diverse the journalists were. So many accents, I could hardly take it in. Clearly a talented group, though.
I’d later meet another member of his team, Yvonne Ridley, who was famously once kidnapped by the Taliban. If you’re a student at the University of Lincoln you’ll also remember Yvonne for being the one that stood up a room full of students on two occasions, cancelling her guest lectures at the last minute in both instances.
I was determined to get this point across, but didn’t want to appear confrontational.
“I believe you know one of my tutors,” I said.
“Yes… Professor Richard Keeble.”
“Oh… give him my regards,” she said, in a most sheepish fashion. For the first and last time this week, I felt an ounce of power.
Anyway. On the show, Andrew was to be joined by two guests. The first was Yossi Mekelberg, from Regents College and Chatham House, and the second was Hamant Verma, the editor of the English-written Pakistani publication, Eastern Eye.
Barely five minutes until the show went out live, and Yossi hadn’t arrived. When Andrew’s producer ran in to let him know, eyes suddenly seemed to shift onto me. I knew what was coming. And I agreed. I was to be the guest if Yossi didn’t turn up.
Then I started to panic. It was a show about the day’s papers, and despite being in newsroom for four hours that day, I hadn’t actually read a single paper, spare the odd bit from the Standard. So there’s problem number one. Problem number two was that this was a high-brow offering, and so the first three stories scripted in were the primaries in the US, Bush’s visit to Israel, and the aftermath of Benazir Bhutto’s killing.
At this point, I had a choice. I could say no, sorry, but I don’t think I’m up to it. Or, I could just try and blag my way through. I opted to blag it, spurred on by encouragement from Andrew along the lines of “You know how to prattle on… you’ll be fine!”.
We went into the studio, and I began to shake. This was pressure like I’d never known.
I had some make-up applied (how camp), and got rigged up with my microphone. Then, perhaps noticing my attack of the shakes, Andrew asked if I was OK. “Yeah,” I said, when really I was thinking: “No I’m not OK… I’m petrified!”
Yossi arrived. My heart sank. But then Andrew insisted on adding an extra chair. Three guests – lets go for it.
“Shall we have a quick rehearsal?” asked Andrew. No time. Oh well. We’re all experienced professionals here.
Opening credits rolled, and all of a sudden I found myself live on Arab TV.
I was still shaking. But I attempted to redistribute the shakes to other areas, which meant I developed a bit of a swing on my chair. But that was a good compromise. Andrew asked me a question about how the primaries affected the Republicans, and, shamefully, I tried to skew his question into one about ‘Celebrity’ politics — for this was something I felt I could talk about.
My mouth was dry. I had a sore throat. I had to swallow constantly for some reason. And m voice went rather deep — probably due to the fact I’d aged about 20 years in the space of five minutes. But I got my answer out. Somehow.
24 minutes flew by at the speed of light. Unbelievably fast. And before I knew it, my TV appearance was complete. And I was exhausted. I didn’t add anything great to the debate, and I came across as a bit of a stuttering, nervous idiot.
But I did it. And if you think I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth and call myself an on-screen media commentator on my CV, you’d be absolutely bloody right. Available for appearances and after-dinner speeches from Monday.
The best bit about all this? It’s all available online: Watch it all unfold here.