Wolverhampton named fifth worst city in world

How could I not possibly comment on this story!

Wolverhampton (my hometown) has been named as the fifth worst city to live in the world on a travellers' website.

The list compiled by travel website Lonely Planet puts the West Midlands city below Detroit (USA), Accra (Ghana), Seoul (South Korea) and Los Angeles (USA).

Now, don't get me wrong, Wolverhampton isn't one of my favourite places in the world! I openly admit that when I was looking at University courses, I wanted to move as far away as possible and I chose Winchester because it was such a nice place compared to the city where I spent nearly 20 years of my life.

But to say that it is one of the top five worst places to live in the world is completely laughable.

Detroit is statistically the most dangerous place to live in the US and Los Angeles has a huge gang culture and an ever increasing number of deaths per year from gun crime among a host of other social and economic problems.

How on earth can Wolverhampton be mentioned in the same breath as these places?

Channel 4's annual list of the best and worst places to live revealed that Wolverhampton wasn't even named in the bottom 20 of worst places to live in the UK in 2009.

I refuse to accept there is not a more deserving place to be named in the bottom five than a small city in the Midlands. One comment on the website even ludicrously compared Wolverhampton to Ground Zero in New York!

I don't know what the criteria was for voting on the worst places to live so if anyone knows could they please comment on this page.

Leicester Tigers vs Sale Sharks 27/12

Thought I would upload some pictures to show off my new camera!

Ian and Jon in front of the impressive new Caterpillar Stand

Can't afford that ideal Christmas present? Just steal it!

Interesting story on the BBC News site today that is sure to lead to some interesting debates.

A priest from North Yorkshire has advised people to shoplift if they find themselves in hard times.

Speaking at St Lawrence and St Hilda in York, Reverend Tim Jones said people should steal from big chain stores rather than small businesses.

He told the congregation: "When people are released from prison, or find themselves suddenly without work or family support, then to leave them for weeks and weeks with inadequate or clumsy social support is monumental, catastrophic folly.

"We create a situation which leaves some people little option but crime."

Father Jones was blasted by Yorkshire police who said his actions were "highly irresponsible".

Defending his actions, Jones said he was trying to encourage people to give to charity to avoid those in need becoming so desperate, not trying to rally people to shoplift.

I thought I would try and get some reader participation on this story!

Do you think what Rev. Tim Jones said is right, or is he encouraging people to break the law? Is shoplifting ever right?

Vote on my poll and feel free to leave your comments.

Rage Against the Machine are Christmas number 1!

Rage Against the Machine have made it to number 1 in the UK singles chart!!!

I can't quite believe this happened. I know it was close but I never actually expected a song that is over 15 years old to make it to the number one spot over song by X-factor winner Joe McElderry.

RATM's song 'Killing in the Name' sold more than £500,000 copies to keep the 18 year old off the top spot whose single 'The Climb' came in at number 2.

I can honestly say, this has restored a lot of my faith in the music industry and the music buying public.

Rage Against the Machine have achieved this feat off the back of an unofficial facebook group and with a marketing budget of £0.

I know what some people are going to say, Simon Cowell still stands to benefit and Rage are on a major record label yadda yadda. Bottom line, this is a great victory and a good demonstration of social media flexing its muscles and showing how powerful it can be.

The darker side of journalism

Everyone knows the well publicised rewards that come with pursuing a career in journalism. The chance to see your name up in lights, being the first to break a story and making high profile celebrities face the music in interviews are just some of the ones which attracted me to study it at undergraduate level.

But it is not all glitz and glamour as a recent article reminded me.

The Committee to Protect Journalists revealed that 68 journalists were killed in 2009, making it the highest yearly tally since the CPJ started detailing records of journalist deaths.

The previous worst stood at 67 in 2007 when the violence in Iraq was at its peak and media deaths were common.

The record toll this year was driven mainly by the election-related slaughter of more than 30 media workers in the Philippine province of Maguindanao. This is the single deadliest event for the press in CPJ history.

The Philippines, Somalia and Pakistan were identified as amongst some of the most dangerous places, accounting for over 50 media deaths.

The full report can be found here

My Favourite Albums of 2009

The time is finally here!

The selections have been made, the order has been decided, the winners are preparing their speeches; it can only mean one thing...It is time to announce the winner of the highest accolade in music, my top ten favourite albums of 2009!

Mick McCarthy - cop out or wise decision? I feel sorry for the fans...

Most of the newspaper back pages today are focused around one story.

Wolverhampton Wanderers losing to Man Utd at Old Trafford isn't exactly a big story in itself, but last nights result is sure to have any number of bloggers giving their 2 cents worth for a very different reason.

Remixing bands own songs with Creative Commons

I am taking an (extended) break from my law revision to write a blog about something that appeared in my twitter feed this morning.

Thinking about it, this blog concerns Creative Commons and copyright so I guess it is kind of connected to my revision anyway!

Trying new things for 2010


I have decided to get a new digital camera for Christmas to assist me in my new years resolution to take more pictures. The whole resolution thing was admittedly an afterthought as I realised I can loosely justify spending near a £100 on a camera as it is an "essential" purchase.

Noel Edmonds speaks with passion

Everyone loves a bit of talk show ranting! This is a fantastic bit of TV from earlier this year. This clip comes from Noel Edmonds' Sky One show 'Noel's HQ' about the case of a former soldier who had been denied planing permission to build a bungalow. Enjoy!

WINOL Week 6

This week saw the penultimate live WINOL bulletin and happily, the near-the-end-of-term mindset was nowhere to be seen as we produced undoubtedly our best bulletin to date.

Editorially, the show was top draw. We had several very strong stories to choose from and I personally felt a lot of our second year reporters really came of age.

WINOLWe experimented with some new production features such as a backdrop for the studio which we put in, in the gallery. I didn't really feel like this worked very well and at times it looked very unusual if we changed cameras and it didn't move.

I had my first full run using ENPS for the running order and (minus a small panic involving a lack of printer and with deadline looming!), it all ran pretty smoothly.

I again directed output in the gallery and was happy to see that this bulletin came closest to our 10 minute guideline, running over by a few seconds.

A Step Back in Time Part 6: Incubus

I know it's a cliche, but sometimes it's really strange to think how quickly time goes. The 14th of January next year will bring around the eighth anniversary of this gig. Eight years - that is a long time! In that time I have moved house three times, almost completed an undergraduate degree and had three different jobs...but I can still remember this show vividly.

Newspaper forced to pay £30,000 over printing of false Sophie Anderson story

I got this story in my twitter feed on Thursday and I've finally got round to blogging about it.

I am currently studying for a media law exam which deals with issues of libel, defamation and malice and I found this to be a good example of the law in action.

The Sunday Mirror was forced to pay out £30,000 after it published a story claiming model Sophie Anderton had been the victim of a 'vicious attack' in which she was so badly beaten, there were fears for her career.

Author Jose Rosengurtt . Original uploader was Rosengurtt at en.wikipedia
Sophie Anderton

Property development consultant Ed Buxton

Creative Commons in action

I found an article on copying, sharing and reusing material obtained on the internet. I find this area of media law quite interesting so I decided to re-blog it for you.

Creative Commons: Fair to share?

How to get started with ENPS

Last week, we used ENPS for the first time to create our script and running order and so I wanted to create a 'how to' guide for getting started with the programme.

Step 1 - Open up a new document by clicking on the green button in your user file at the bottom.

"Revolutionary" e-reader to be launched in Jan

An article in the Independent today made me realise I needed to do a follow up to my blog about the debates around the death of the press industry with the introduction of e-readers (see it here).

The Curreny Sony E-reader

What is being billed as the "ultimate" e-reader is set to make its debut in January 2010 after 10 years spent

A Step Back in Time Part 5: Biffy Clyro

Those of you who know me would have known this was coming at some point!

For me, the hardest part about writing about a Biffy Clyro show is choosing one (At the last count my tally of Biffy shows was just entering double figures.)

So, which one have I chosen I can hear you ask? Was it the show in 2007 with the mighty Frank Turner? Was it the show in 2004 when they supported Hundred Reasons and quite frankly blew them off the stage?

After much deliberation, I decided to write about

First run of ENPS and a lot of faulty equipment...

Another week, another live bulletin.

The Wednesday definitely felt a lot more subdued than previous weeks and everyone seemed happy and settled in their roles. Turns out this overconfidence would send us crashing down to earth with a bump!

The production was our weakest yet and was one of those in which everything seemed to go wrong. There were problems with sound, VTs, microphones and auto cues. Admittedly many of these mistakes were out of our hands but at the end, it was hard not to feel like we had taken a giant step backwards.

enps print screen http://www.enps.com/

My role was made more exciting/challenging this week with the introduction of ENPS

An interesting media law debate...

During my time studying Journalism, I have found learning about the aspects of media law to be one of the most interesting. I quickly leaned that it often brings up fierce debates between freedom of speech and the public right to privacy.

Looking on the Press Gazette website, I came across a very recent case that was dealt with by the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

The PCC has censured the Bristol Evening Post for intruding on the funeral of a suicide victim.

Journalism.co.uk :: #WANIndia2009: Friend or foe? How global newsrooms are using social media

Journalism.co.uk :: #WANIndia2009: Friend or foe? How global newsrooms are using social media

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An example of bad journalism and clutching at straws

I came across a BBC article today (OK, in truth it was posted on my facebook wall!) which details that surgeons in Swansea have seen an increase in men getting non-cancerous chest lumps by taking body building supplements.

On the surface it appeared to be a good story and as a user of such supplements, I was intrigued enough to read on.

Sure enough they have a quote from a doctor

A Step Back in Time Part 4: Mogwai


A bit of a change of style for my next 'ASBIT' as this week features post-rock pioneers Mogwai.

I didn't really know much about this band when I saw them live back in March 2006 and if I'm being totally honest, I don't know much about them now.

All I really know is they are a (mostly) instrumental, noisy and interesting band from Scotland and they were formed back in the mid-90s.

In hindsight, I'm not even too sure why

Winchester News Online - week 4 critical reflection

The second proper week of WINOL finished yesterday in the culmination of the live bulletin. We continued the trend of improving with every week and yesterday was a lot tighter and professional and from a production side, it was definitely the strongest broadcast to date.

We had a lighting masterclass with Dave which helped us improve the lighting and dressing of the set. Although it was a blow to lose our regular Director Leanne, Cara stepped in and did a good job leading the production.

How to get more followers to your blog

An interesting little feature on blogger is the 'Next Blog' button. This brings up a totally random blog which can prove to be not only interesting, but useful as well as you can find people with similar interests and hobbies etc.

Following these people on facebook will open up your blog to a whole new audience in different countries across the world and is sure to increase your hit count.

By the way, I realise the above picture is not my blog but I haven't got the task bar in my template so I haven't got the option to use the 'Next Blog' button directly from my page!

A Step Back in Time Part 3: Bad Religion

It's over 4 years on from this gig and I still cant believe how lucky I am to be in the position to say "I saw Bad Religion at the Academy 2." Now This might not mean a lot to most people, but to me it is still difficult to comprehend.

bad religion live

Bad religion are a legendary punk band, there is no other way to describe them. They have been cranking out material since 1980 and boast and impressive back catalogue of classic punk rock albums. They have also toured the world over and inspired a countless number of other bands.

Not tonight dear, im too tired

I read a great story in The Times this week.

A major company in Japan has told its workers to knock off early all this week. So, rather than leaving at 7pm, they left at 5.10pm.

Not too unusual, right?

Wrong! It turns out this story has more to it than your usual story about flexi-time.

The strange part concerns what the workers were supposed to be doing with the extra time off.

DJ Hero

Check out my mates excellent blog review of DJ hero and be sure to watch the video featuring a guest appearance from yours truly!

While your there you might as well check it out his whole blog at http://mark-lovell.blogspot.com its good stuff!

A Step Back in Time Part 2: The Used

My next tale begins (and ends) on a cold night in January back in 2003 when Utah's The Used landed in Birmingham.

One of my all time favourite gigs at one of my all time favourite venues. The Academy 2 in Birmingham is exactly what

Winchester News Online goes live! Critical reflection

Today was the big day! WINOL finally went live and I'm happy to say that it was our strongest bulletin to date.

The two dummy runs proved to be excellent learning curves for everyone and today people finally looked confident in what they were doing.

From the production side of things, the bulletin looked very good and well polished. The black holes that plagued our other two bulletins were practically non-existent and I felt, from my perspective, the show ran very smoothly.

Again, the Wednesday was the busiest day for the production team and I was in charge of writing and editing

A Step Back in Time Part 1: Weezer

Ive decided to start my reflective gigography with a show that I still consider to be one of my favourites of all time.

It was in 2002 and (for those of you that know Weezer) it was the tour for the Green Album.

Weezer setlist Birmingham

Well, it was supposed to be but the original show at the Que Club (don't know if this venue still exists!)was cancelled and eventually moved to a bigger venue. In this transitional period, Weezer suddenly became huge off the success of the Green Album and by the time this tour

Not quite the whole picture..

I was reading a story today in one of the Sunday papers under the headline "English GCSE? It's just 2EZ." The story was about a new English exam that includes a section on the grammar of mobile phone texting.


The article details plans by the Assessment Qualifications Alliance (AQA) to introduce the test that could earn up to ten percent of students overall GCSE mark.

Obviously, the plans have come under attacks from various objectors claiming that the plans reveal a "dumbing down" of the subject. A direct quote from the story reads: "Next year pupils will be tested on text messaging as part of their English GCSEs."

Like many people who read this, I thought the concept of teaching text message lingo in schools was ridiculous so I decided to research a bit more into it.

A Step Back in Time

Today I decided that my blog needed a new element to it. Something a bit different, a bit more personal. Therefore I decided in a moment of retrospective thinking, (while listening to the new album from one of my favourite bands Biffy Clyro ), that I wanted to write about something from my own life because it is my blog after all.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have what can only really be described as an obsession with music. This includes talking (often at length) about music and buying more new music than I can afford. Frequently this obsession often manifests itself in the form of heavily opinionated rants and or stories of my own personal experiences of gigs and bands.

Therefore I decided to delve into my own memory banks and share some of the great gig moments I have experienced in my life. Write about what you know and all that!

Now I warn you, some memories will be hazy, others will most likely be wrong but I wanted this to be my own memories so therefore, I will tell it as I remember it. If you are a stickler for correct details then dont read it!

Part one is coming soon..

How to avoid Flickr copyright issues

Flickr is a brilliant website where anyone can upload their photos which can be viewed by anyone. Obviously there can be issues with copyright if you wish to use other people's photos for your website. Here is a way to make sure you stay safe in regards to copyright by attributing photos back to there original source:

Step 1 - Log on to 'Flickr' website.

Step 2 - Once you have chosen the image you want to use, scroll down to the bottom of the page until you see these options.

25 Great Blogger Widgets

Bloggers! check out this very useful blog post:

25 Great Blogger Widgets

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UK libel law and the 'libel tourists'

This week, several of the mainstream newspapers including the Daily Mail have covered an interesting story that certain individuals are calling for changes in the law in order to stop so-called 'libel tourists'.

These are wealthy individuals from across the world who come to the UK to use our courts' stringent libel laws to silence their critics.

The Daily Mail has a quote from an individual who believes English libel law imposes massive restrictions on free speech

How to get more blog hits

As I have all but finished my new blog template, I wanted to name-drop a few useful blogs and blog help sites I came across. These really helped me answer some of the questions I needed to know when setting up my blog and making it look sexy! So, in no particular order:

Blog Skins - I got my template from this site. Has loads of original (and free!) skins for your blog. I chose a notebook theme as I thought it was quite fitting to my subject matter!

Blogger Buster - Loads of helpful blog advice. I found out how to add the 'read more' function from here.

World 4 Masti - A real must read for anyone planning to change their blog template but doesn't want to lose all their items and widgets.

Google Blogger Help
- More info on putting widgets into your blog.

Blog Catalogue
- Massive directory of user submitted blogs. Great place to promote yourself and guarantees you more hits.

Ping My Blog - Notifies all the major blog directories about your recent blog posts. Saves a lot of time and gives you more exposure.

WWW Observer - Some good suggestions for where to promote your blog.

How to avoid image copyright issues

I stumbled across a very simple and quick way to make sure you avoid any copyright issues when it comes to uploading any images to your blog posts.

google screenshot

Step 1 - Once on 'Google Images' click on 'Advanced Image Search'

google screenshot

Step 2 - When the screen has loaded you will need to change the 'Usage Rights' drop down menu to read 'labeled for reuse'

Now when you search for the image you want, Google will only bring up pictures that can be used by anyone.

There are also other options, for example, if you require a picture that you wish to modify in any way.

Please note: You still may have to attribute photos to their original source even if they are labeled for use by anyone. This is important to remember!

My New Blog!

Hope you like the all new Cliffs Blog! Its not 100% finished yet but as they say, Rome wasnt built in a day.

Stay tuned for new updates coming soon!

Winchester News Online - week 2 critically reflected

Winchester News OnlineWell, the second production is over and I feel it is safe to say that it's definitely getting better!

We stayed in the same roles as week 1 so I personally felt

How to embed HTML objects into Joomla

This tutorial will show you how to embed HTML objects into your articles on Joomla hopefully without any error messages!

Step 1 - Log in to the back end of Joomla

Wolves v Arsenal Molineux 7/11/09

Arsenal, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Molineux The prospect of facing Arsenal in their current form is a daunting task for any team and a Wolves side that has racked up just ten points from their opening eleven fixtures would need to cause a huge upset if they were to get anything from this game.

The Molineux faithful were in good voice from the start as

Winchester News Online - week 1 critically reflected

www.winchesterjournalism.co.ukWinchester News Online (WINOL) is a news website set up by Journalism students which aims to cover all the news and sport in Winchester and the surrounding areas.

The second and third years have been assigned jobs

Is True Blood really sucking the innocence out of children?

True Blood'True Blood' is a new smash hit US drama series that has just unleashed itself upon UK shores.

It is set in Louisiana and is loosely based around the idea that scientists have found a way to make

Advancements in UK copyright law

Following on from our lecture on UK copyright law, I found an recent article on The Register which details new

The UK's £1000 train fare, surely there must be a cheaper way?

cross country trainsIt is a rainy and cold Tuesday evening, I am stuck inside reading BBC news online so I decided to undertake a bit of investigation work.

The BBC reported today that the UK officially has its first £1000 train fare. The journey travels from Cornwall (in Newquay) to Kyle of Lochalsh (in the Scottish highlands). As someone who regularly takes the train, I found this particularly interesting as well as being totally outrageous.

Long story short, I decided to research other methods of making this journey and this is what I found..

Where is my organ donor to lend a hand?

Donor cardToday, I finally took a step that I have meaning to take for a long time. It is one of those things that I have always wanted to do but have never got round to doing.

I decided to become an organ donor.

My philosophy has always been that when I'm dead, how will I mind who is using my organs? It is also nice to think that my death could give life to another human being.

Admittedly, my decision wasn't

Carr's Gag still causing offense

jimmy carr liveReading Carole Malone's little rant in the News of the World today, I felt obliged to deliver my own personal response.

I was going to leave this issue, it is no longer a news story, however newspapers are determined to milk the story by continually printing opinion pieces on the matter.

For those of you who don't know, then basically the comedian Jimmy Carr got in trouble for cracking a joke about amputees who have been injured in war.

At a gig in Manchester he said to the crowd

Frank Turner comes home! 28/10/0

The Winchester Guildhall is full to the brim with expectant fans for solo artist Frank Turners biggest ever hometown show.

The atmosphere reached boiling point as Turner hit the stage to rapturous applause, launching

University of Winchester welcomes Ian Anderson

In conjunction with the behemoth of journalism Ian Anderson's' visit to the University of Winchester, I decided to post some pictures of his tour of our brand spanking new television studio.

Television studio

The internet may not be the death of the music industry

Interesting article in the Guardian today about Cheryl Cole's debut album which went on sale today.

Cole's debut single Fight For This Love is currently the fastest-selling single of 2009 and the album 3 Words is expected to be one of the biggest of the year.

cheryl cole

Resurgence in studies into health benefits of LSD and Ecstacy

During the 1950s and 60s research was carried out into the effects of psychedelic drugs. In some places they were even used as cures for anxiety and depression. However as the use of LSD and Ecstasy as a recreational drug began to increase, studies into the possible beneficial effects of the drugs were suspended amid fears that taking them would cause mental illness' such as schizophrenia.

Griffin on Question Time - more harm than good?

Well, despite all the protests and complaints, it went ahead. Nick Griffin, leader of controversial right wing party the BNP, appeared for the first time on Question Time.

Predictably, the party's exposure to a Nationwide audience provoked outrage as Griffin, although unsurprisingly more subdued than usual (check out this speech made to a group of right-wing extremists in the US: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04QolIvfQEw ) still managed to make a few ludicrous claims such as that if Churchill had been alive today he would be a member of the BNP, which is the focus of the story in The Times today.

Bick GriffinWhile the debates about whether Griffin should have been allowed on Question Time in the first place or whether he will be allowed on again will continue to rage, a new debate will now surely take centre stage, how effective was his performance on the show?

Inevitably the focus of the show was centered on Griffin and his controversial beliefs on issues of race, immigration and multiculturalism. There are two ways to objectively view his performance when it came down to answering questions on these topics.

Number one, Griffin showed a lot of bottle when it came to facing 300 hostile people and was always going to struggle when it came down to answering these questions. He did his best at trying to debate but every time he opened his mouth he was instantly shouted down or had to deal with choruses of boos and jeers from the audience.

Number two, Griffin couldn't hold his own when it came down to intense scrutiny by the panel and audience, choosing to hide himself behind a child-like-veil of 'I didn't do it' when it came down to accounting for his own words, even when he was confronted with video evidence.

Which ever you believe, there is no denying that Griffin can have a case for believing he was treated 'unfairly' as only about 10% of the show was spent discussing his parties policies. The other 90% was (rightly) focused on Griffin attempting to fend off attacks about his personal beliefs and his highly controversial quotes.

The star of the show was undoubtedly David Dimbleby who controlled the show brilliantly. Dimbleby consistently highlighted Griffins shortcomings by pressing him every time he tactically avoided answering questions and he constantly levelled Griffins' own quotes at him and got nothing but consistently nervous and unconvincing responses.

By the end, the audience were essentially ridiculing Griffin. Things were being shouted from all areas of the crowd and people seemed to just get tired of what he had to say. Griffin showed himself to be a nervous and rambly public speaker who tirelessly contradicted himself. However, it is difficult to know how he may have performed when faced with a different audience and a more political line of questioning.

The BNP claim that last night gave them the biggest recruitment drive in their history, with over 3,000 people joining the party. In a poll on the Daily Mail website, 55% of people believe the appearance was a success for Griffin and the BNP.

In this authors opinion, successful or not, Griffin should become a regular guest on Question Time. Maybe then he will get to truly show how much of a politician he ain't and people will soon start to see the real side of him, rather than a slimy yet very clever PR man.

BNP question time

It has been brewing since the announcement that the BNP leader Nick Griffin was set to appear on BBC Question Time and today the anti-BNP protesters turned nasty.

Over 500 people were involved in demonstrations outside the BBC studios in White City.

BNP protests3 police officers were injured as 25 protesters beat BBC security to gain entry to the reception area of the building.

Meanwhile Griffin entered via a side entrance, licking his lips and rubbing his hands.

This whole over the top media coverage coupled with the-now-violent demonstrations has played right into the hands of the BNP. It has made them look like victims and has given them credibility.

Griffin even had the audacity to call the protesters "yobs". Although he then went on to reveal his real right-wing paranoia by denouncing that all the protesters "have been bussed in from around the country by groups funded by Labour councils".

Griffin has done what any self respecting racist party leader would do and hidden behind the banner of free speech and since the protesters are denying him this 'right' he can now play the innocent victim.

There is a danger that Griffin can successfully play this role well and turn himself into the textbook pantomime bad guy.

Lets see if he can keep up this facade on Question Time tonight at 10.35pm on BBC 1. It promises to be pretty explosive.

How to write news features

In our lecture on Monday we discussed features and feature writing. These are the main feature format used in the news outside the designated 'feature' section. They shouldn't be confused with hard news stories and they are usually longer. Often they are usually located near or on the news pages of a newspaper.

Quite often they can be classed as 'wrap up' articles and a good example I found in one of today's tabloid papers was 'Ten Interesting Facts About Buttons' which was an article that used a news 'peg' of Jensen Button winning the world Formula One title.

News feature I also managed to find 'Top Ten Tips for Writing Effective News Features from News USA which provides some interesting advice:

1. Write for your audience.

Your feature should appeal to a broad, general newspaper readership. All through the course we have been taught to avoid technical jargon and overly complicated sentences, news features are no exception.

2. Follow The Associated Press Stylebook, the universally accepted journalism standard.

Use this style and editors will be inclined to give your feature serious consideration. Break the rules and your feature may not place.

3. Make a keen statement in your first paragraph.

Features are all about grabbing the readers attention so a good idea is to lead with a question or a statistic that highlights the most important point of the feature.

4. Think in terms of “news you can use.”

Readers enjoy nothing more than to read information and tips that can help them and/or that they can apply to their daily lives. Articles along these lines could be very successful.

5. Avoid commercialism. If your feature reads like an ad or press release, editors won’t run it.

Product promotions don’t work well except around the holidays — and even then, they should be accompanied by consumer tips.

6. Remember, the shorter the better.

Editors at all publications have limited space to fill so he chances are your article will have to be trimmed down to fit the space you have been allocated.

7. Use quality photos or graphics.

We learnt that because of the lighter tone of the feature, they are often heavily reliant on photos and graphics. Include these in a feature to make it more appealing and pleasing on the eye.

8. Keep headlines and captions short and to the point.

News organisations often use standard typesetting guidelines, so headlines will need to be kept short but it is important to remember to include all the relevant information needed to lure the reader to the story.

9. End your feature with a Web site, e-mail address or phone number.

Readers need to know where they can get more information.

You can see the original top tips here: http://about.newsusa.com/corporate/Getting_Started/pdfs/top_10.pdf

Ramsay's foul mouth to blame

Dame Joan Bakewell (don't worry, I had no idea who she is either!) was reported in the Daily Express today as saying Gordon Ramsay is to blame for the increase in swearing among schoolchildren.

The journalist and broadcaster argues that children are picking up and copying obscene language used by by the popular TV chef on his shows the F-word and Kitchen Nightmares.

Even writing this now, it seems really absurd that an individual, famous or not, can be blamed for an increase in "a culture of yob-speak" by children.

gordon ramsayChannel 4 broadcasts Ramsay's shows after the watershed and so surely the responsibility lies with the parents?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not implying that its the parents fault that children might be watching TV shows with obscenities in them. Trying to stop children from being exposed to swear words is as ridiculous as blaming a TV chef for all the swearing in the playground.

My second point is only a minor one but still relevant. How does this woman know there has been an increase in swearing among schoolchildren?! How is this possible to prove? It seems to me as this is nothing more than a sweeping generalised statement in an attempt to prove her silly attempt to pass blame.

However, the funniest part of the article lies further down as Bakewell then moves to defend the use of bad language in "certain circumstances". These are loosely categorised as "tense, gritty dramas".

What a ludicrous double standard! Whether swearing in a seemingly 'appropriate' scenario or casual swearing to blow off steam in a kitchen, the words are the same and children can still mimic them.

I'm not too sure this woman really knows what she is trying to say in this article. Maybe its time people stopped trying to push the blame and faced up to the fact that children are always going to be exposed to swear words and the focus needs to be on getting them to stop repeating them, rather than blaming individuals who use them.

New robotic hand can 'restore sense of touch'

The BBC reported a story on the development of what is thought to be the first robotic hand that has feeling.

It work by connecting nerve endings to electronic sensors.

I thought it was pretty amazing so I decided to post the link for your enjoyment:


The midst of an apocalyptic end?

Reading the news, it appears Amazon will unleash its Kindle upon the UK market next week and in good time for Christmas. Now, for those of you who don't know, the Kindle is a wireless book reader device on to which you can download books and get them delivered to you in under 60 seconds. Check it out here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0015T963C/ref=ms_sbrspot_0?pf_rd_p=494263771&pf_rd_s=center-1&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_i=507846&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1VGQ09T29YA80KJVWHK4

kindleThe e-book market is potentially hugely lucrative and it is currently dominated by Amazon. However sensing the huge potential in this and not want miss out on a piece, Google is set to launch its Google Editions in early 2010. Now rather than simply provide competition to Amazon, Sony and Plastic Logic for the way e-books are read, the eggheads at Google have been very clever indeed.

Google Editions will be a full online library meaning that Google can get a say in not only how e-books are read, but also how they are bought and sold. What is sure to have Amazon quaking in its boots is that Google Editions will support a variety of e-reading formats, something that its online Kindle e-book store cannot do.

I know what you're thinking. Why should I care?

The blogging world is currently buzzing with the topic of e-books and the impending doom of the written form. While it is far too early to tell the extent of damage e-books could have on the publishing industry, the fact is e-readers have proved to be increasingly popular over recent months. If Google Editions really takes off and it fulfills its claims of being able to make available 500,000 titles from day one, it will certainly have a huge impact instantly.

This will not just effect the publishing trade but also the Journalism industry. If a huge number of e-readers are sold then people could ultimately decide that 80p a day spent on a newspaper is an unneccessary expenditure as the proper "paper" version of the newspaper is available on their fancy new toy anyway. Print Journalism has certainly taken a huge hit with the unprecendented expansion of the Internet and this could change the way the whole industry operates.

Could this prove to be the final nail in the coffin for the print Journalist?

If it is, remember that you read it here first!

World Wide Mistake

The two forward slashes at the start of Internet addresses have been the bane of many Internet users' life. Typing them in has wasted hours of precious time and if you mistakenly miss one out you are faced with the error message that we all dread which means you have to type it in again. It really is a huge deal...apparently!

This week Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web has come out and apologised for the inclusion of the two // at the start of addresses and admitted they were 'unnecessary'.

He even admitted if he had know they would have caused so much 'hassle' he wouldnt have devised them.

I found this news story one of the most entertaining I have read in a while. Mostly, because I thought it was hilarious and totally bizarre to think that some people could really have felt inconvinienced by having to type in two forward slashes, but also because it made me think of the amount of unneccesary and pointless things that are now all over the web thanks to Berners-Lee's invention. I decided to pick some of my favourites for your enjoyment.

1. http://www.Faceinhole.com

I never really understood the appeal of this website but it seems to have become really popular for some reason. The website offers a selection of photographs of famous people without faces and the idea is that you place your own or someone elses face in that hole. Hense, face in hole. In case you were wondering, yes they do look really stupid.

2. http://www.pointlesscalendar.com/

A pointless website where you can buy a pointless product. This "calender" has four rows of ten numbers and no days of the week designed with the idea in mind that it can be used again and again!

3. http://cloudappreciationsociety.org/

Yes, this is a real website. The funniest thing about stumbling upon this site was finding out that it had 19,000 members! If you can find a point to this website please comment and let me know.

4. http://www.piratequiz.com/

Ever wanted to find out your pirate name? If so then give it a go. Mine was Dirty Sam Bonney!

5. http://www.dramabutton.com/

My personal favourite and totally unneccesary, guaranteed to bring laughs though!

Please feel free to comment on my choices and add your own favourites.

Wine expert wins defamation case

Following on from today's university lecture on defamation and libel, I stumbled across an interesting article from yesterdays guardian online news page.

The case involves one of the worlds top wine dealers, a Paris wine cellar, Thomas Jefferson, and the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold.

Apart from sounding like a synopsis from the latest Dan Brown novel, the case has had significant impact on defamation cases as a whole.

The story begins 24 years ago, a bottle of 1787 Lafite was sold in London for a staggering £105,000. It remains the biggest sum ever paid for a single bottle of wine and much of the value is down to the initials 'TH.J' printed on the side of the bottle which, it was claimed, meant it belonged to the third president of the US Thomas Jefferson.

Michael Broadbent, the man who authenticated the wine and presided over the auctions for the bottles won and apology and substantial damages from the publisher Random House over a bestselling book, which, he argued, had suggested he had sold the wine knowing its provenance to be suspect.

The book brilliantly entitled 'The Billionaire's Vinegar' by Benjamin Wallace outlines the case of the so called 'Jefferson Bottles' and because of the ruling in the case must now be removed from British bookshelves.

Now in relation to what we studied in lecture today, it is clear that this defamation case was successful because the book can be seen as discrediting Broadbent in his profession.

While Michael Broadbent has retired as the senior director of Christie's wine department he remains, according to Adam Lechmere, editor of decanter.com, "among the top three most respected wine critics in the world".

Broadbent's lawyer Sarah Webb said he had been forced to take action because the book suggested he had acted "at best unprofessionally, at worst dishonestly".

This case is interesting because it still has as yet to be proven whether the Jefferson bottles are actually genuine.

In response to the ruling Benjamin Wallace told the Guardian: "I have never felt that Mr Broadbent acted in bad faith, and contrary to his claims, I maintain that The Billionaire's Vinegar does not suggest that he did."

High Court reinstates nurse whistleblower

The papers today are reporting the story of the reinstatement of Margaret Haywood, a nurse with over 20 years of experience who was struck off the register for bringing to light cases of unacceptably low standards of care for elderly patients.

Haywood secretly filmed patients at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton to show they were being neglected. Her findings were broadcast on the TV documentary series Panorama .

The cases exposed included a patient who was left to die alone and another who was forced to wait hours before being allowed to go to the toilet.

There was a public outcry when the nurse was struck off in April for breaching confidentiality, however the penalty imposed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) was overturned yesterday by the High Court in London.

Not good enough I'm afraid.

Those individuals who have the courage, honesty and bravery to expose genuine cases of neglect and wrongdoings should be rewarded rather than cast off as troublemakers.

Whistleblowers risk being condemned by friends and co-workers and also face disciplinary action and in some extreme cases, dismissal. Dismissal is exactly what happened in the case of Margaret Haywood and while the decision may have been overturned, the accusations by the NMC of what she was doing was wrong still stands.

The fact that the case has been overturned because of public outcry will have little effect on people in the future who are considering exposing unacceptable practices as they could be (understandably) discouraged because of fear for their careers.

I am certainly more inclined to trust a whistleblower who saved suffering and even lives over someone who goes to work every day, saw this happening and does nothing about it.

The dreaded interviews

One of the most nerve wracking and seemingly unconquerable fears I faced as a first year Journalism student was the prospect of face-to-face interviews.

Not being an overly confident person the prospect of sitting down with a seemingly unwilling interviewee to ask them questions that they have probably been asked dozens of times was about as appealing as sticking a needle in my eye.

As this was one of my biggest fears about undertaking a undergraduate degree, I have put a lot of time and effort into attempting to improve my interview skills and I have managed to pick up some useful tips along the way.

1. Do your homework!

As a reporter you will usually have time to prepare for an interview as the News Editor will tell you about it beforehand. It is essential to use this time well to read up on your interviewee and ready any past articles/stories about them. There is nothing worse than the dreaded realisation you have to attempt to ask questions to someone you know nothing about. You don’t want to stumble through the interview making the source think you don’t understand the topic.

2. When setting up the interview don't leave the interviewee in the dark about what you want to ask

Providing them with some details before the interview will give the interviewee a chance to think about some of the questions you might ask and gather relevant information they think you might need for your story.

3. Prepare a few questions beforehand

Interviews (especially ones with people who like nothing more than to talk about themselves) have a tendency to drift away from the topic you want to talk about. This is why it is important to have some questions pre-prepared and while it is important to keep your interviewee talking, having a question you can ask to get the interview back on track is important.

From my experience I realise that you don't have to rigorously stick to your original questions and asking follow up questions will relax your interviewee and show you are actually listening to what they have to say.

4. Think of your readership

It is essential to consider what you want to get from the interview and what will the reader/listener/viewer want to know about the topic. It is equally important to remember what would be of particular interest to your audience.

Understanding these tips greatly helped me when it came to heading out and talking to people in order to get the information I needed. Hopefully I can keep on furthering my learning and before long I could be interviewing interesting characters such as this lady.



New mums shun NHS

The Independent on Sunday today covered a story that an increasing number of new mums are choosing to ignore motherhood advice given by the NHS in favour of turning to the Internet.

A survey found that "information overload and conflicting guidance" mean that only a shocking 3% of new mothers put any faith in anything the Government or the Department of Health has to tell them.

It is easy to see why.

The NHS is constantly in the news for the wrong reasons. An institution that is criticised for its lack of funding, staff shortages and long waiting lists is never going to have the public confidence. Plus the rapid growth and ease of access of the Internet means useful information is never more than a click away and sites such as Netmums and Newmothers means advice and guidance can be sought from individuals battling with the same problems.

More than a third of the women surveyed admitted that "confusing" advice on certain issues such as feeding and sleeping routines has marred their experience of being a parent.

Former Midwife Vicky Scott says that now "midwives don't have the time to understand problems before dispensing advice" and so the scepticism of the state will continue to grow as the problems with the NHS mount up. Whomever is in power after the next election will have to plug this trust gap between the Government and the public in order to regain their confidence.

Just checking up on you..


I found this hilarious clip on one of the (dis)advantages of parents using social networking!

Check it out at: http://www.theonion.com/content/video/facebook_twitter_revolutionizing

Students Living the Life of Luxury?

Leafing through the Daily Mail during my lunch break, I stumbled across a rather interesting headline that read: Hard Up? Students are living a life of luxury, says Professor. Now, being a student myself this certainly got my attention.

Delving a bit deeper into the story and I was startled to find that it wasn't in fact a clever misleading headline but a genuine quote from an article published in the Times Higher Education magazine and The Professor in question was a man named Kelvin Sharpe.

Professor Sharpe certainly doesn't pull any punches and is quoted as saying students these days enjoy the spendthrift life enjoyed in Friends by regularly splashing out on £2 cappuccinos and eating at restaurants a lot. We can then go back to our student homes that are "equipped with large LCD TVs, Sky Boxes and several high end laptops.".

Reading on I wasn't too sure which, if any, University managed accommodation Professor Sharpe was actually talking about. I have friends at University all over the country and I couldn't name one that could even be jokingly described as a (quote) "posh pad with two bathrooms".

In this current economic climate, eating out has become far less of an expenditure as it used to be and choose the right day and you can get three courses for £10, I wouldn't eactly say lavish spending.

However, (and trying my best not to turn this into a bitter rant) the one final point that really surprised me was that at no point in this unnecessary swipe at students was there any consideration taken to the fact that maybe some of these 'big' spending students actually work an awful minimum wage job to afford there (quote) "Ipods and LCD TVs". I happen to know several people who work a bar job that often sees them home at 2am or later who then struggle to get up for a 9am start.

With the news that some students still haven't received there student loans and the rest of us still coming to the realisation that we have to work 20 hours a week because they barely cover rent, I guess we should be grateful that we have a middle class, Oxford Educated Professor to tell us we got it easy.

Tories Hopeless Battle against Binge Drinking Britain

So election time is fast approaching and with it comes more ambitious promises from the Tories to fix the seemingly unfixable broken Britain.

My favourite one this week was the pledge to crackdown on binge drinking. The Tories are proposing to increase the tax on alcopops and super-strength lager in effort to crackdown on "drink fuelled louts" as The Sun so delicately puts it. Therefore, under the new proposals a four-pack of strong lager would rise by £1.33.

Now maybe I'm just being facetious, but can you really see four semi-pissed individuals getting ready to hit the town, walking in to an off license and picking up a 4 pack of 9% Tennants Super Lager and then suddenly having a moment of clarity and deciding maybe they shouldn't buy this product. Maybe they should call it a day and go and get an early night as tomorrow will bring a busy day of being a good citizen and helping the local community. All because of the extra £1.33 extra they didn't spent the night before?

Basically, my incoherent and somewhat rambling point here is that people will always drink irresponsibly, there is no point punishing the millions of individuals who like to go out, have a few drinks of whatever they chose and have a good time. All this will mean is people who drink ten cans of lager before a night out will now only be able to drink eight.

Over the years binge drinking has become embedded into the British culture and a relatively minor tax hike on a few products certainly isn't going to change that any time soon. Let be honest, even if it did, people will just drink something else.

About Me

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I am currently in my final year at Winchester University studying Journalism. I hope to become a music journalist although I now realise how difficult it would be to make a living from. Im currently assessing my career options so any suggestions would be welcomed!


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