Review Of the X Factor Tour in Cardiff

March 11, 2009

Obsessed fans of the X Factor, the type who cancelled all Saturday night social plans to stay in and watch the show, were rewarded this week when the top eight finalists performed three live shows at Cardiff’s International Arena.

The evening, which was hosted by the former husband of Jade Goody, Jeff Brazier, got off to a sizzling start when runner-up boyband JLS performed Michael Jackson’s hit number The Way you Make me Feel. This performance had young girls and even a few older ones screaming their heads off for the sexy quartet.

As if it was not good enough already, Signature, who were runners-up in Britain’s Got Talent, another show which earned Simon Cowell millions of pounds, made a surprise guest appearance on stage with the boys. It made for an electric atmosphere and if the saying is true that things can only get better, those in the arena were in for a top night.

But sadly, next up was Daniel Evans, the guy who got the sympathy vote in the live shows but everyone knew he was bland and uncharismatic. He had not improved and his lack of aura and presence on stage made for a cringe-worthy performance when the screaming which was there for JLS turned to an awkward silence.

But when female vocalist Laura White, who was controversially voted out of the competition early on, took to the stage, it was business as usual as her take on Alicia Key’s Fallin’ was nothing short of outstanding. She was followed by Rachel Hylton who kept the energy up with up-tempo numbers and by Ruth Lorenzo who arguably had the best performance of the night with her version of Prince’s Purple Rain.

Diana Vickers, the quirky teenager from Blackburn, was next up and she made uite the entrance by appearing on stage on a pink bed before belting out Blondie’s Call me. It is a testament to her performance that she made the song seemed relevant to today and considering she was constantly berated by Louis Walsh for not being able to dance, she was brave enough to try a few dance moves which she definitely pulled off.

The second half kicked off with teenage heart throb Eoghan Quigg. Little girls would have loved him but his weak vocals were highlighted considering he followed four of the strongest vocalists in the competition. His performances were full of fun though and there was a sweet moment when Diana joined him on stage for a touching duet, which sparked rumours once again there was more to their relationship than frienship.

Not surprising, the star of the show was the person millions of people voted as their winner in the live finals, Alexandra Burke. She oozed confidence and she never sang a note off key which considering two of her numbers were up-tempo, is quite an achievement. She definitely possesses star quality and when she was on stage you couldn’t keep your eyes off her and her vocals bring shivers to the spine. She is destined to be a worldwide star and deserved the screams and applause which the audience gave her.

The show ended with all the finalists on stage to perform their charity hit Hero which topped off an absolutely fantastic evening.


Capturing Cardiff’s Sporting Passion

January 15, 2009

Cardiff Blues and Cardiff City signed a deal to share the new 30,000-seater stadium at Leckwith. The stadium will be completed in time for the 2009-10 season and will be one of the largest in Cardiff and Wales, second only to the Millennium Stadium. This begs the question; is Cardiff a rugby or a football city?

I suspect English readers will be thinking, “Wales equals rugby. End of story.”

Rugby is synonymous with Wales, almost to the point of it being a religion. It is ingrained into the fabric of Welsh life and is part of its national identity.

cardiff-10Only 8,500 watched Wales play Bulgaria at football. When the rugby team played a friendly against Fiji, the Millennium Stadium was practically filled. The national sport seems obvious. What about the capital city?

Gwydion Griffiths, Press Officer for the Cardiff Blues, said: “To compare the two is like comparing apples and oranges.” One can still try…

Based on attendances,  football wins hands down.


cardiff-31Considering the Blues play in the top league and get an average of 8,500 and Cardiff City are in the second tier and get an average of 13000, tells a clear story. But South Wales boasts only Cardiff and Swansea for football, whereas there exists an array of rugby teams competing at a top level- Scarlets, Dragons, Blues, Ospreys, and even more in the Welsh Premiership. So rugby tends to be more localised than football.

cardiff-5But Cardiff Blues see more of their matches televised, mainly on S4C. In this roundabout way they actually get a bigger audience than Cardiff City.

Can this be taken representative of Cardiff? Probably not. So what I find intriguing is how a country traditionally seen as a rugby nation, has football at the heart of its capital.

Paul Abbandonato, Sports Editor for Media Wales, said: “Cardiff City fans can’t shake the stigma of hooliganism. The rugby team find it easier to attract corporate sponsorship. Big business backing makes rugby a big sport in Cardiff.”

In the last international matches for rugby and football, only two players were born and bred in Cardiff. They were both footballers.

(Location of Welsh Footballers)

(Location of Welsh Rugby Players)

Paul Corkrey, FSF secretary in Wales, said: “ Without a shadow of a doubt, it is very football oriented.

cardiff-6“The popularity of the Blues will decrease further by the new stadium. The Arms Park is in the city centre. To ask them to move a mile and a half away is pointless. It will be a novelty first of all because they have a spanky new stadium, but the location is too problematic. It’s like having a mansion in the middle of nowhere.”

cardiff-7He may have a point. Some Blues fans are outraged by the move. One said: “Whenever they play the video of the new stadium on the screen down the Arms Park, all you can here from Blues fans around you is, ‘it looks s***! It looks like something cheapy from Ikea. In Swansea they call it the lego stadium!”

But the Blues had no choice with the move. To develop the Arms Park was both financially and logistically impractical. Although the Blues play there, Cardiff Athletic Club actually own it. So the Blues do not actually have the right to develop the site.

Mr Griffiths said: “The Blues are a sporting brand for Cardiff so they need to seize upon this opportunity and move forward. It will bring great results.

“Many competitors in the Magners League have had successful ground shares, Ospreys and Munster being the obvious examples. In the Guinness Premiership, seven of the 12 teams have a ground sharing arrangement. We cannot be left behind.”

What do other locals think? Three men passionate for sport give me their view.

A media spokesman for Cardiff City said: “The Blues are more adverse to the move than we are. They are dreaming up reasons as to why it should not happen. Don’t attendances tell you anything? We both have our hard core supporters but Cardiff is a football city.

“It is a fallacy rugby is popular in Wales. The six nations is simply a drinking festival. The idea that it is the national sport is a joke. It’s laughable. The national sport is watching Manchester United play football on Sky. Rugby, both in Wales and Cardiff, is enjoyed by very few people.

“I’m not convinced Cardiff locals would even recognise Neil Jenkins, or any other rugby player.”

sports-manChris Ower (right), Rugby Development Officer for the Cardiff Blues, had a great deal to say about the matter which you can listen to here. Audio Interview

arms-park1Richard Hodges, Blues Community and Coach Development Manager believes football became more popular than rugby after Mark Hughes made the side successful. But the victory of Wales in the Six Nations brought rugby back to its reigning position. He said: “If the Blues and Ospreys played each other at the Millennium Stadium they would fill it. Cardiff will only be able to boast that once it reaches the Premiership.”

When it comes to international rugby, where women don their glittery cowboy hats and young kids crack out their hooters, there is no contest. Rugby is the sport of Wales, elicitng passion and patriotism in a way football could never challenge. But it seems a nation with a rich rugby history has a football focused capital city.

How has journalism changed?

December 10, 2008

I was born in 1987, and even in my short 21 years I can see how much change has taken place in the news industry, both in terms of broadcasts and printed material. Back when I first graced this world, citizen journalism was a freak concept, twitter was yet to be heard of, and the internet was still treated with suspicion. Now all three are embraced (some more than others) by journalists far and wide.

So just how much has the media industry changed in my lifetime?

The rise of citizen journalism is surely the biggest and most publicized development? The increasing involvement of the readers and viewers has fundamentally transformed the media industry. Sorry about that deep language there, but it’s true. Citizen journalism does to media fans what Tom Jones does to the Old Grannies- it excites them, it intrigues them, it turns them on and they just cant get enough of it.

When I had my first mobile phone it was a toy. I played games , I text friends (anyone help me as to why phoning people is just not fashionable these days?),  I spent hours choosing a ringtone and so on. It was a gadget that I would play with for a while and want a new one almost straight away.

Now, the mobile phone is used for a purpose which goes far beyond my attempts to beat my high score on Snake (what a great game that was!). The spread of cheap camcorders and photo-enabled mobile phones, have allowed readers and viewers to provide the news. Journalists are no longer competing against other journalists from a different newspaper or TV station, they are competing with their audience. And it is the mobile phone which is making this competition a very real one. If you add blogs to the equation, what we have is a truly revolutionary 21 years.

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. So much else has changed. For starters, online journalism is now fundamental to any print journalist. Whether it is a facebook update, a twitter update or a blog post, the journalist has to distribute news online to be sure of reaching a large audience. A journalist can no longer trust that someone will tune into the 6’o clock news or will walk to the shop to buy a paper. What they can trust is that someone will click a mouse button and get news online.

One only has to look back to the Bridgend suicides to see the role social networking sites can play in providing news. Back in March 2008, the father of one of the young boys who committed suicide only found out about the tragedy when he saw an update on his ex-wife’s social network site.

RSS provides a crucial innovation in journalism. Readers no longer need to check back to dozen’s of websites for news updates. They now have the option of subscribing to one section of a newspaper, such as sport, or even to one writer. Different bits of news can be mashed together and given to the reader in one source.

And there’s more….

Mapping is being embraced more and more these days. The Manchester Evening News provides a great example when it mapped the shootings which happened there. The Grantham Journal also mapped the ‘killer heron`. I do not think mapping has been used to its full potential yet by newsrooms but it is certainly a revolutionary tool in the way journalists are publishing material.

When speaking about how the internet has changed journalism, Sreenath Sreenivasan, associate professor of professional practice at the Columbia University School of Journalism, said: “The question is so basic now it’s like asking how the telephone changed the world. The Internet has changed journalism in every conceivable way. It’s changed the journalists, the audience, the advertisers, the whole ecosystem. It’s had the single biggest impact on journalism since the telephone.”

By watching the two videos below you can get a clear idea of just how much the journalism industry has changed throughout the ages.

Journalists are no longer the gatekeepers they once were. Journalists once had the so-called God given right to report the news but the gate is long gone. Even the term fence keepers would not accurately describe them because viewers and readers are now so prominent in news reporting. In the Eighties no one was being encouraged to call in and say what they thought about a news report or article. People don’t just call in anymore, they publish.

Back then everyone closed themselves off to change. Journalists stuck to their individual roles and that was that. Now, if they do not have the appropriate skills to keep up with convergence, then their career is likely to be a short one.

I’m sure that if I was to ask any journalist who worked both in the 1980s and today how the industry has changed, I would get a reply of “How hasn’t it?” That would be a fair comment. But one thing which hasn’t changed in my opinion is the essential skills to being a good journalist. Yes, people now have to have multi skills which weren’t necessary back then such as video training, but the skills of accuracy, curiosity, law knowledge, an eye for the right story, approachable and so on, are as important today as they ever were. Perhaps more so with the competitive environment we find ourselves in.

So yes, journalism has truly revolutionised throughout my 21 years, but the skills needed to succeed in journalism are hanging around for a little while longer yet.

Blogs and Sport

December 2, 2008

Rick Waghorn said newspapers are facing two challenges: structural and cyclical. In the first case, the web is replacing the newspaper as the provider of news. In the second case, the current economic crisis means newspapers are laying off journalists and it is harder to get a job in the media industry. Annoying but understandable.

But the more newspapers are written off by people, the more I become defensive of them. I’m studying Newspaper Journalism. The last thing I want to be told is my chance of getting a job on one is next to nothing. But I will admit that where blogs blow newspapers out of the water is sports.

I am a massive tennis fan, it is my passion. I have played since I was five years old and follow it religiously (yes, I do think Andy Murray will win Wimbledon one day). But anyway…we all know Sky Sports channels are hugely biased to football. The only time Tennis gets a look in is during the Davis Cup, Master Series events or Grand Slams. So most of the time us tennis fans are left on the BBC Sports Site following numbers on a scoreboard. Now that is hardly the same is it?

But what instant blogging does provide is written commentary after every point. We no longer have to wait until the next day’s paper to see a match report. It is there in front of us as the match is happening. This is especially important for a sport like tennis which isn’t seen as popular enough to earn a lot of newspaper space (except of course during Wimbledon where everyone develops a 2-week passion for tennis).


The same goes for my beloved team- Swansea City FC.Only in Welsh newspapers would there be a detailed match report, and even then I’d have to wait until the Monday morning. But the internet allows me to keep track of the game, with updates every two minutes at the latest.


Maybe the conclusion I’m coming to is blogging is great for soft news and sporting news, but not necessarily for hard news? As Angelo Bruscas, Seattle Reporter, said:

Sports fans and more than a few self-professed fanatics are fueling a growing firestorm of electronic rants and raves that is burning up the structure of sports information as it once existed in the mainstream media. Nothing really can compare to the free-form exercise in sports-based freedom of speech propagated by a mushrooming field of Internet blogs.”

Everyone is, or should be, passionate about one sport or another. But journalists have to be neutral. This is where sports blogs prove valuable. Fans can express their views without them being edited. It gives them a place to vent their rages and frustrations.

We demand breaking news, be it sports or hard news, as it happens because the internet has empowered us to expect such things. Newspapers tell us what happens yesterday but the internet tells us what is happening right now. Even Facebook and Twitter updates are a form of news.

Just to divert from sports for a minute, Robert Peston, the name which falls on everybody’s lips when the credit crunch is mentioned, managed to dictate events from his blog. He was not waiting for the news programme later that evening or even the next day to give his view. He was waiting for as long as it took him to write his blog. peston-again

Now, those who accuse him of causing this economic crisis, will think that his blog was a dangerous tool. But I’ll admit this case shows the power of the internet and its usefulness for news. Blogging and the internet means news is 24/7, instant and worldwide. You can get it in the palm of your hand at the click of a button.

When referring to the state of the media industry, Rick Waghorn said: “There is a forest fire out there which is raging like nobody’s business. It wont get better next year either.”

I’m glad to say I don’t share this pessimism. Maybe I am scared of change and just will not admit that newspapers are dying out. How can I when my ambition is to work on one?  I know the web is rising to prominence. I just don’t think it has to mean the end of newspapers. The internet and newspapers can run side by side, enhancing one another, using one another and providing readers with better quality news than ever before.

Yet I will admit that when it comes to sports, newspapers have some real competing to do with the internet and as things stand, the internet is leaving newspapers far behind. Maybe what we have in front of us is a repeat of the hare and the tortoise race where the newspaper might just surprise us yet.

The Dangers of Blogging

November 23, 2008

As trainee journalists we keep being told about how everything is changing, supposedly for the better, and how blogging enjoys massive benefits over printed material. As you can tell from previous blogs, part of me is convinced. But after the lecture by Shane Richmond I decided the time has come to have an argument with myself because I’ve yet to rid of the ‘beware of the blog’ mentality I started this course with.

Maybe I am just a traditionalist. Maybe I’ll always read a newspaper over online content. But maybe my instinct is right. Maybe blogging isn’t what it is cracked up to be.

This is not my attempt at doing a 180 degree turn in where my blogs have been heading but its time to bring the newspaper back to prominence. They have been around for decades. Surely they aren’t going to be knocked off their pedestal just yet? Technology is forever changing and updating, yet newspapers are still around today. Why are they necessarily in danger now?

What better way to start my argument against blogging than with this very blog which, however strange, is a blog against blogging. Seems strange for someone to show their disdain of blogs, through blogging, but nevertheless, it provides a funny read.

I mentioned in my last blog how the names of Baby P parents were named. Bloggers just do not have the same depth of media law knowledge that is needed to publish news content. Professional journalists do. People can say some really unpleasant things on blogs and as long as it is not illegal there is nothing that can be done. Blogging gives people a platform to vent rage and frustration, to be nasty and hurtful…just not illegal. Phew!

Freedom to speak in a pub with your mates is a great thing. Freedom to write content that can be seen by every single person worldwide is not necessarily so great. Why should people have their reputations damaged for the sake of allowing unprofessional people to publish their opinions on the internet? It is true that readers can judge for themselves what is good quality news and what is not. The only problem is that with the internet the bad news flows so fast.

There is the fear that those who do publish content just do so because the technology is available to them. They may have no knowledge of its power. Just its existence.

I do not even feel that the argument about readers expecting blogs and internet content is a viable one. The actual amount of people who embrace UGC is minimal. Looking at a debate on the BBC’s news site, Neil Thurman found that one of the most popular discussions on the Have Your Say section typically attracted contributions from only 0.05% of the site user’s in one day.

Clarence Mitchell said that blogs are nothing but trouble when it comes to the McCanns case. Blogs and forums referred to by Mr Mitchell as “hostile and negative” meant that the backlash towards the McCanns had reached the online world. He said: “The latter day lynch mob has gone digital.” 

Another famous documented examples of Web vandalism occurred on Wikipedia in the biographical article about John Seigenthaler, Sr

Blogs take ages to build up their readership yet newspapers already have that loyalty with their readers. A lot of people have their favourite newspaper; most will go into a newsagent or supermarket knowing that their hand is going to automatically reach for The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, whatever it may be.

Shane Richmond said: “You can remain under the illusion that journalists are on a pedestal handing out their wisdom if you want, but that has gone already.” It might be hanging by a tiny thread but I am not sure that such dominance has completely faded.

So where does my argument stand now? For or against blogging and UGC? Guess you’ll have to tune in next week to find out…

The Internet and Journalism…Two Peas in a Pod

November 17, 2008

Do you really believe professional journalism is under threat from how easy the internet is making it to publish? Is the continuing evolution of the media and the internet damaging my journalism career before it has even begun? I’m not so sure.

Lets take the music industry as an example. Manufacturers of CDs have a good case for stating that they no longer have a safe career. In their eyes, music is in trouble. Wrong.

Looking at music through the eyes of iTunes, one would see music is alive and well, perhaps more so than ever (though the counter culturists of the 1960s would slam me down here and say Woodstock represented music at its most vibrant).itunes

The point I’m trying to make is from the perspective of a listener,  iTunes is making access to music easier than it has ever been before. A song is simply a download away. Doesn’t this story hold true in Journalism as well? The laptop replaced the printing press. Letters to the editor once had a prominent place in newspapers. Not anymore. Forums,  blogs and interactivity are the new kids on the block and they intend to hang around. Journalism is thriving, not going down the pan.

So why is networked journalism so great? Well, all links created by journalists are brought together to establish the most important, interesting and newsworthy ones.  Readers don’t have to trawl through dozens of articles to find the information they want. Journalists are providing a link that will hopefully take the reader right where they want to be.

Need a simple explanation? Every time a reader clicks on a link, it gets one vote. The stories with the most votes rise to the top.

When you are on Google’s result page what you are seeing is links, links and more links. But the best ones.

Convinced? I’m starting to be. The internet is refocusing journalism so that the professionals are putting their readers first.  Michael Rosenblum, often referred to as the `Father of Video Journalism`, said at the Society of Editors Conference that all journalists are “shit scared” of change, even saying that when the internet first came into their offices everyone was desperate for it to get straight back out of there. But now journalists should be eternally thankful for it because it has allowed the journalism industry to re-connect with its audience. Just like iTunes allows music fans to select a song here and there from an artist instead of having to buy the whole album, readers can now pick and choose the stories they want.

The latter parts of his speech were equally engaging.

Technological updates are inevitable. The purpose of technology is not to destroy journalism; it wants to improve it. Journalists must embrace this because without technology a journalist has next to nothing to work with.

We must be cautious however. Sometimes the internet, especially blogs, is dangerous when it comes to providing news, as shown when the identities of the Mother and Stepfather of Baby P were posted on the internet. The thorough checking and editing of a newspaper means that 99.9% of the time, this would never be allowed to happen. But with no sub-editor clocking their every move, bloggers have no restriction on what they can write. Newspapers may be becoming old fashioned, but I remain a traditionalist and trust news which is accounted for.

Journalists have a great opportunity here and should not let it slip by because of fears over what technology is doing to their business. They need to stop pointing fingers at things which could ruin them. Instead they need to embrace technology and get their heads around the possibility that technology could, and in fact has, enhanced the practice of journalism  far beyond what was ever possible in the days of the printing press.  If they don’t come to terms with the changes that have taken place they may end up being their own downfall.

A Blog on Blogging

November 11, 2008

Once again we have been informed of how blogging, a quirky sort of journalism, is the new kid on the media block. As Jody Raynsford said:

They are opinionated, ranting, often incoherent and frequently biased with little regard for accuracy or balance. They are also compellingly addictive and threatening to emerge as a new brand of journalism.”

I am under no illusions that some people would much rather read a personalized and conversational piece of writing than the detailed and structured article produced by a journalist clinging to the fundamental rule of telling the story, rather than worrying about if it is exciting for the reader.

Blogging certainly possesses dynamic quality as a result of the lack of agenda, no editorial stance and no pedantic editor standing between the writer and reader. Blogging provides reportage in a raw and exciting form with its alternative perspectives and first hand experiences providing for greater interaction between reader and writer.

Its importance is shown in the role it played in the downfall of Trent Lott as Senate majority leader. The mainstream media might have missed Lott’s remarks at Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party, but outrage in the ever-growing “blogosphere” fanned the flames until newspapers took up the story.

Yes, a blogger and a reporter are essentially doing the same task…informing the public of what is going on. Yet in some ways they are so fundamentally different. Whereas professional journalists are hindered by normal journalistic standards of objectivity, balance and accuracy, a bloggers work is raw, subjective and honest. A journalist has to be politically impartial. He or she has to remain detached from his subject area and report in a very stiff manner. He has to effectively say to the reader, “Look, I’m not allowed to give you my opinion, but here are the facts, here are the WHOs the WHYs the WHEREs, the WHENs and the HOWs.

In fact, US Journalist Steve Olafson, lost his job for being too personal when he criticised local politicians.

Yet the blogger can become personally involved. They report emotion and opinion and in some circumstances this is what readers crave. A journalist can sit at his desk and type about the “tragedy” of 9/11, whereas a blogger can throw out the rules of objectivity and be honest in saying how disgraceful and inhumane it was.

I mention 9/11 because it is often seen as the birth of the blog. When news of the event was released, people were so desperate for information and instant blogging provided just that. As Dan Gillmor, director of the Center for Citizen Media,said: “The chaos was a galvanizing point for the blogging world. I remembered that old cliche that journalists write the first rough draft of history. Well now bloggers were writing the first draft.”

Over seven years later, the outpouring of emotion and information which occurred through that event set the precedent for what was to become a media revolution.

Social media consultant Matthew Yeomans said: “Back in 2001, blogs were still very much the geek toy of the Slashdot set. This collective tragedy demanded a forum to be shared by people all around the world who wanted to talk about what happened with anyone because it was the only way of making any sense of it. Were it to happen again, blogs and social networks would play an enormously cathartic role.”

Journalists must get used to this power shift. The audience is no longer simply an audience. They possess the ability to become the journalist. Journalists are no longer the bosses and their written word is no longer the law. Bloggers and journalists now exist in the same media space.

In 2003, Mike Smartt, editor of BBC News Online, said: ” They are an interesting phenomenon, but I don’t think they will be as talked about in a year’s time.2

This blog, posted five years later, proves just how very wrong he was…

Social Media: Release The Genie or Put it Back in the Bottle?

November 3, 2008

Journalism was once a career open only to the privileged few. Only those with the relevant qualifications and appropriate training could report and publish news. It was a sexy, powerful and exclusive career.

That is crumbling around us. The genie has escaped from the bottle and the public finally have the powers to publish news.

All the rules journalists used to be governed by have changed and something fundamentally transformative has happened to the communications world. Even the update of a facebook status is seen as the power to publish.

We can all publish news. Anytime. Anywhere. Anything.

Blogging turned ten this year. Time to reach for the birthday cake and celebrate, or get your scrooge head on, bury your head in the sand, and try desperately to pretend that such a transformative period in the media is just a load of hype which has gone on longer than it should?

To critics of social media, blogging is simply an amateur trying, yet failing, to outsmart a professional. But whose opinions do we really listen to? Is it the `Opinion` section of the Times, which shows the view of an educated and trained person, or opinion sites produced by the public and posted on the web?

Take this website here for example. I have been on holiday three years running and on each occasion I changed my mind on where I should go purely because of what these so-called amateurs had written about it. I didn’t realise the meaning of it at the time, but my action of basing my holiday decision on their review is a clear sign of the power amateurs have when they publish news on the internet.

This article here sums up the situation nicely.You can be forgiven for thinking that with sites such as Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, and with the millions of blogs out there, professional journalists have a bleak future. Wrong. There will always be a healthy career for a good journalist, who will get their story read despite the flood of alternatives offered on the internet.

But what social journalism provides is something more personal than what the professional going through the motions offers. Whereas a trained journalist gathers his facts, asks questions, and writes it up for a deadline, a citizen journalist is speaking from personal experience, giving a new and appealing dimension to news which was lacking before the internet came along.

I particularly like the last line of the article-The journalist’s “news nose” is still as important as ever – it just has a broader range of fragrances to sniff.

Pulitzer Prize winner Buzz Bissinger angrily said in a televised discussion of blogging on HBO.

“I think that blogs are dedicated to cruelty, dedicated to journalistic dishonesty. It is the complete dumbing down of our society.”

Yet with such a vast amount of social networking and blogging sites, the public have the power to publish in the palms of their hands.

Yes, blogging is sometimes simply a universal soapbox in that it is just someone ranting about a topic most people feel nothing for. But journalists’ understanding of blogging and their view of it is restricted by their fear that it will lead to a hasty end to their career.

This is dangerous. Blogging and other forms of social journalism are no longer bound by the chains that journalists once placed on them when they said, “Only we shall report the news.” Like I said, the genie has been released and is not going back to a life confined in a small space for some time yet. So journalists need to accept this, respond to it, and embrace it soon. Or else they may find that their intolerance of change is their own downfall.

Read a story or watch it? You decide…

October 28, 2008

A multimedia story is “some combination of text, still photographs, video clips, audio, graphics and interactivity presented on a Web site in a nonlinear format in which the information in each medium is complementary, not redundant”. Scary isn’t it?

Hopefully this explanation will be better; it’s the same story that could be told in print being told through a picture or video or both. Feel calmer now? Right…

When you think of telling a story, you think of telling it through words, correct? What if I said stories could be told through pictures or video? That is blasphemy to a print journalist but we must get our heads around it because a new digital age has arrived and is here to stay.

Is it replacing print media? Will print journalism soon be a redundant occupation? The same old worries are constantly creeping up aren’t they?

Yet not even professional journalists could deny the existence of a digital media. Not only is it possibly more engaging than learning about a story through the reading of words, but it is allowing imaginations to run wild. Human beings are naturally creative, and the best thing of all, you don’t need to have the talent of Steven Spielberg to be a part of this new media. It is open to everyone.

Yes, the key word is about to crop up again…democracy. Not everyone can get their story in a newspaper but everyone can put up their video online. Everybody has some story to tell and each story will be as individual as the person who produces it. People love having a voice and multimedia storytelling is giving people the chance to have it.

Andy Cowles, editorial director of IPC media, back in 2007 said: “To be able to produce images and create video, will be just as important as good writing. Design, in its widest sense, is going to be at the heart of the new journalism.”  The Guardian has proved that his statement was true. The Guardian is now training its print journalists to acquire broadcast skills.  In her blog Jemima Kiss discussed how she was in a Guardian digital training awareness workshop, learning the skills essential to an online world. Journalists can no longer get by with just a notebook in hand and a pen in pocket.

The video below shows how print journalists are now having no choice but to develop the broadcast skills which are so essential now. It is showing a journalist in America but the same rule applies to journalists here, there and everywhere.

In the 19th Century, Charles Darwin said: ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the cleverest, but the most responsive to change’.

If journalists want to remain successful in these early years of the 21st century then they must accept the unstoppable changes that are happening. Video didn’t kill the radio star so why should it necessarily kill journalism as we understand it? A talented journalist producing gripping articles will still get his material read so what is the worry?

Let’s sum up… Why do I think digital media will capture the public? It gives a voice to the creator’s experience which evokes more feelings, be it sympathy or happiness, simply because of increased identification. The power of voice means that the story reaches out to people more. Take this story about David who passed away. As sad as the story is, if we were told it through words on a paper it wouldn’t make us feel quite as strongly about it as we do when we watch it. It is a personal story told through that person’s words and visions, which makes it much more memorable.

So grab your popcorn and let’s keep watching….

How Is The Internet Affecting Journalism?

October 22, 2008

Is the internet shaping journalism? Yes I believe it is.

The internet is unique, extraordinarily powerful, and, lets be honest, a great form of distraction too! Seriously though, it provides journalists with the ability to contact people anytime, anyplace and anywhere. They can interact immediately with fellow journalists and readers all over the world. It is allowing for `networked journalism`, where the professionals and amateurs are coming together to report a story.

Excuse me if I sound too political here, but the internet is a hugely positive resource for our democratic society because it is allowing people to interact and engage with one another on an unprecedented scale.

I can almost hear the rip-roaring sound of the professionals screaming at me that it is not such a great thing after all and I agree. There are indeed some downsides. A startling feeling is etched inside me, continually making me ask myself the question- What if mainstream journalism continues to decline and all we have left is UGC?

How can the mass of amateurs online ever hope to mirror the ability of those with years experience in the news industry? Will they be as willing as professionals to do the hard work of investigative journalism? How can we ensure that the information we read is credible and accurate? These are the questions which must be answered before we even confront the horrifying possibility that it will not be democratic at all. What if the news is simply produced by those with the confidence and articulacy to report it, leaving behind a mass of unheard voices?

In a certain sense, journalists should not be worried. The fundamental need to report the news will remain a constant. It will not change. People everywhere are still going to want their daily fix of news. What the internet is allowing however, is for that news to be produced by those people other than the qualified, and so the media unfortunately has no choice but to adapt to what is happening and must realize as soon as possible that the relationship between themselves and their readers is undergoing a permanent transformation. The internet is doubtlessly posing a major challenge to the monopoly which journalists once held as conveyors of news.

To reiterate, a world with no professional journalists is an alarming thought but the trend is clearly moving journalism into becoming a more participatory media. Sites like Wikipedia prove that access to information and the ability to publish is no longer confined to the privilege of the few journalists out there. Journalism is now a job open to the masses, as proved by YouTube which shows just how many people can produce and publish content. This is a popular alternative to the confined world of text which print journalists offer.

The internet is making journalism a two-way conversation and skeptical journalists (myself included) have to join in with this conversation because the public are going to be talking for a long time yet….