Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Unit Reflection

Blog Post: Unit Reflection

One of the most memorable things I have learnt throughout this unit is a wide range of skills in News Reporting. From writing basic hard news stories through to council and court reporting, press releases and even feature writing, I feel very confident in producing all types of news stories. The two visits to both a Magistrates court and a Crown court also gave me fantastic experience in live journalism.

My experiences in print and online were also very enjoyable. I was given the opportunity to create a blog, which helped motivate me to continue writing in my own time. Producing a full sized tabloid news spread during our print classes also gave me a great insight into what print would be like in my second semester if I were to choose it as one of my two options, and also valuable experience in using Adobe InDesign.

As for the broadcast units, radio was thoroughly enjoyable in both writing radio news stories to getting to spend time in the radio studio. Unfortunately, though, 10 minutes just didn’t seem enough to get a real taste of radio journalism. The same can be said for my two lessons of T.V. I got no time in the studio what so ever, and we were doing mostly the same practical work as in radio: recording and editing Vox Pops. This makes my decision as to what units I want to do in my second semester more difficult.

If I could go back and do the unit again I would have spent more time on my blog and wrote more regularly than I have done. I would also have liked to widen my content to not just reviews, but profiles and features. I also would have spent more time in the radio and T.V studio’s to help inform my unit choices for next semester.  

Monday, 13 December 2010

TV Voxpop

Today I finally had the time to spend in the editing studio and I finished my first TV package!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights

A review of Frankie Boyle's new comedy: Tramadol Nights. Showing on Channel 4 at 10PM on Tuesdays.

"I don't mean it to sound horrible but.."

When I think of Frankie Boyle, borderline unacceptable and proud of it immediately spring to mind. And that’s exactly what Tramadol Nights is: the darkest of dark comedies created in the most hellish recesses of an unconscionable glaswegian brain.  
Strictly ‘adult only’, this new show is unique in that it blends hilariously distasteful sketches with Frankie’s notoriously harsh stand-up. Think Russell Howards good news but instead of a happy good news story at the end you get told to go fuck your selves until next week.
Back and bearded, Frankie opens the show with very off the cuff banter with the audience, and in true Boyle fashion he gives the front row a heavy grilling. Topics for discussion about funny news stories have become commonplace in other T.V comedies, and Frankie has followed suite. But not in a ‘Have I Got News for You’ way, more like turning human interest into complete filth, a notable example being a child birth story into having sex with pensioners. If you’re not offended in some way after the first five minutes you must be insane.
What one would assume not fit for broadcast is the exact essence of Tramadol Nights’ humour. How many other comedians could get away with references to fingering Susan Boyle on a Scottish field trip and developing a theory on stage that Michael Jackson created the moonwalk so that he could “move towards children while it looked like he was moving away.” Oh yes, celebrities are ripe pickings for this fearless comedian. Moving swiftly onto the death of Jade Goody, he exclaimed that Jack Tweed (her widowed husband) was the luckiest guy in the world because as she had cervical cancer she got “thinner and better looking and her pussy got tighter.” With lines that make the audience look ashamed to laugh it’s no wonder that he’s no longer featured in Mock the Week.
As for the sketches, they are if anything even more funny than the jokes. Hilarity ranging from cartoon mice being slaughtered by traps to a professor who has the ability to time travel by wanking with his students are just some of the clips shown. Mockery of the disabled and the Scottish as well as casual racism and plays on religion are, of course, all included. Frankie even mocks himself, opening with describing the show and his shaggy appearance as “like a children’s T.V channel, looking like a fucking tramp.”
Overall, though, I found the show to be hilarious yet inappropriate… to say the least. If you don’t mind incredibly crude jokes and, frankly, worrying comedy sketches, then this is not one to miss! I warn you though, it’s not for the faint hearted.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Radio News Writing

This week in our most enjoyable radio sessions with Martin Fletcher we were taught how to write news stories suitable for radio broadcast.
In particular, they had to be very brief, simple and to the point. No more than 4 sentences is a suitable length, with each sentence being 2-3 lines long. As with most writing in journalism, the opening line had to attract the reader’s attention and include no unnecessary details.
Martin also stressed the point of each story having to be in a Times New Roman font and at 16pt in size, with the date, title and the writer’s initials at the top of the page. I found the lecture to be very informative, giving us some great feedback, and most importantly, it was fun!
Here are the stories I constructed:
07/12/2010 - SM
Surrey police are urging residents to help locate criminals from their online most wanted list.
By visiting the Rogues Gallery online, people will have access to pictures and CCTV footage of offenders wanted across the county.
The website includes those involved in crimes such as attempted murder, burglary and drug importation.
Members of the public can then submit information anonymously to both Surrey Police and Crimestoppers.
Pigs as Presents
07/12/2010 – SM
Surrey County Council and the RSPCA are warning people of the consequences of buying micro pigs as presents this Christmas.
The miniature animals may be small at birth but they soon grow and can often be too big to keep as house pets.
Animal health inspectors say that there are strict rules about where pigs can be kept and what they can be fed, to prevent diseases such as Foot & Mouth from spreading.
Celebrity purchases such as Paris Hilton’s have fuelled their popularity this year, despite costing around £700 each.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Trip to Parliament

A view from the front of Parliament at night
Ever since studying Government & Politics back at A-level I had always wanted to dabble with a bit of political journalism, so you can imagine my enthusiasm when Steve Miller announced a journo-only trip to our very own houses of parliament.

The day began with a cold... very cold, 6AM wake up before meeting the group at Farnham station to catch one of the 'commuter trains'. Naturally, it was still pitch black and each carriage was completely packed with London business-types, and as it happened only two of us managed to saddle a seat (me being one of them). Now it was always assumed that one of us students would sleep through their alarm and miss the train, but it sure was funny to watch Ben run onto the platform as the train slowly rolled past his windswept face.

Due to some clever train switching at Aldershot on Ben's behalf, however, we only had to wait at Waterloo for about 15 minutes. After an overpriced coffee at Costa and with our full team, we set off walking (thanks to ANOTHER tube strike) across Westminster Rd Bridge, marvelling at a few photo opportunities of the famous Big Ben in all its glory.

Upon arriving outside Parliament and surviving their vigorous security checks, our all access tour began. Unlike most others I had already visited both the Commons and the Lords, but I absolutely love the political and historic significance of it all, so it was no skin off my nose... unlike the bleak walk across the Themes.
I think the most noteworthy parts of that tour were being able to stand on the front benches of the Commons and take stance upon the debating table as if I were Cameron or Miliband myself, and being told that Michael Jackson once requested to purchase the queen's ornate gold canopy and throne... only an American aye.

After a disappointing no-show from deputy political editor of the BBC, James Landale, and instead listening to Steve Usher's rather interesting tails of his past journalistic career, we decided to call it lunch. As tempting as my memories of the caramel apple and white chocolate muffins are, £3.50 is just a bit dear, so half of us headed back over the frozen bridge to reap the benefits of our student cards in McDonald's.

We were then given the privilege of sitting in the public gallery of the Commons and watching Farnham's own Right Honourable Jeremy Hunt answer questions from members of the house on the subjects of Media, Culture and Sport. They were mostly uninteresting and difficult to follow, examples being broadband Internet and the tourism industry in Wells, but it was indeed something special just being there. We also got to witness the 700 year-old tradition of the Speaker entering the chamber, who was followed by clerks carrying swords and the queen's symbolic two-foot mace.

Following on we then had a Q & A session, which was mostly just A, with Lib Dem MP for Colchester Bob Russell. Surprisingly, he told us about his original career path in journalism within various newspapers, and announced he was the fastest typing MP, encouraging us all to learn our Shorthand to keep up with the 220 words-a-minute Hansard reporters (lol). But he knew we were all dying to ask him the burning question of university tuition fees, so he came right out with his statement before we could even badger him! In true political fashion, he didn't answer the question with complete clarity, and made his statement "I will stick to the pledge" (meaning the original, reduced fee's), being careful not to respond with a forthcoming yes or no. Still, though, many a man in his position wouldn't even give us the time of day, so I am grateful for his appearance.

We rounded the day off with a nice cold ale at St. Stephens Tavern, which was literally a minutes’ walk from Parliament, courtesy of a very generous Steve Usher. All in all, it was a great day.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Tuition Fees Voxpop

What do you think of the government’s decision to raise university tuition fees for students?

Today we were tasked with scripting, recording and editing vox pops on a subject of our choice. My group chose to ask the people of Farnham for their opinions on the rise in tuition fees. Most people in the town centre didn't want to talk to us… but I managed to get a few goodns’.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, some sort of technical error has broken my finished mp3, and without time to create a new one I am forced to upload a member of my groups instead. All will be explained in my unit evaluation.

Tuition Fee's Vox by musicconsumer

Thursday, 21 October 2010

A Day In Court

Court Reporting
The front of Woking Magistrates Court

Today we were given the opportunity to visit Woking Magistrates Court for some live action in court reporting. Ready and eager to flex our shorthand muscles and after turning up an hour early (thanks Joe!) we saw three different cases, ranging from drink driving charges to a more serious case on possession of indecent photos of children. As soon as we had a story we were given permission to leave, and after about an hour we did just that.
Here are my two stories of the day:

Vandals’ vengeance
Vandals have pleaded guilty to three charges of harassment and damage after seeking vengeance on a school caretaker, a court has heard.
Leon Garman, 26, of Bonsey Lane, Addlestone, and another defendant who cannot be named due to their age were charged with harassment and two counts of vandalism at Woking Magistrates Court on Thursday the 21st of October. Mr Garman pleaded guilty to all charges.
The two defendants tried to lure caretaker Dillan Dirani out of his home by saying that the school he worked at was on fire. When Mr Dirani refused to open his door he was threatened and harassed, said Julien Hunt of the prosecution. Garman shouted: “My names not Andy its f***ing Leon, I’ll f***ing kill you,” “I would have set you on fire (if you came outside),” said Mr Hunt.
The defendants later returned to the house drunk and begun vandalising Mr Dirani’s BMW car with sandbags before damaging his front door, said Mr Hunt. Police identified Garman’s fingerprints on the car following investigation.
Garman’s defence attorney David Castle said that Mr Dirani had been sexually harassing Garman’s partner who worked as a teaching assistant at the school. He added that Mr Dirani attempted to engage in “sexual liaison,” and made “remarks about her figure.” She later resigned her position as a result of the harassment, said Mr Castle.
Garman was fined a total of £180, with a further £70 in fees to the court and a £15 surcharge, to be paid by the 4th of November 2010.
Caught out: Possession of indecent photos of children
A defendant has been committed to Crown Court after denying 11 charges of possession of indecent photos of children, a court has heard.
Ian Henderson, 60, of Teazlewood Park, Leatherhead, has been charged with 11 offences relating to the possession of indecent photos of children at Woking Magistrates Court on Thursday, October 21.
Henderson pleaded not guilty to all charges and has been granted unconditional bail awaiting trial. The court session is set for November 19, 2010, at Guildford Crown Court, Surrey.