Sunday, 25 March 2007

New Website Procedure

So the ballgame has changed a little bit. New editor Azeem is in charge of our stories now and, as such, they don't go straight onto the site when you submit them. Now they have to be approved first, and this means that the site is only updates when Az goes on. I can understand this in the terms that the top story is now the most important one, and not the latest one which could be boring as the hills, but surely now, no new stories will appear for hours and then a few at once. This will surely mean that some get overlooked by our audience. I think that new stories need to go straight onto the site, and be edited later. They could be put in the slots underneath the top story and surely this would improve the site?

UPDATE: The procedure has been changed slightly. Now only the top story is chosen by the editor, with the three slots below it available for latest stories. Much better, in my opinion.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Hold the front page

My faithful audience, Iv neglected you of late. I would like to be able to say that it is because Iv been horribly ill, or on holiday to some distant part of the world for the last ten days, but I wont lie to you. Iv had deadlines coming out of my ears, and to be honest, havnt really been in the uni spirit lately. But Im coming back with a vengence, for I have news to tell. I can tell that you've been missing your updates into my sordid life.

My stories have been reaching large audiences. You may recall me pipping the Birmingham Mail to a story found on their own forum? Well that story made it onto Journalism news website Hold the Front Page. I thought that was pretty damn cool!

Also in the news update stakes, Azeem and I will be guest editors of local news website, The Stirrer, which will be an exciting challenge as it currently gets around 400,000 hits every month. Not exactly a small operation to be running!

In the news leads stakes, Im currently working on one good one. I was playing football last night for my team, Perry Barcelona, and got talking to one of their players who told me that they had been the victims of a racist attack at the brand new goals centre. So I'm following that one up with him, and it sounds like it could be quite a good, fresh, story as none of the other local media have covered it. Will get on the blower to Goals themselves and get myself a juicy little story!

Until next time

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Do I? Don't I?

I have been deliberating over whether to post this video that Neil Timms and I made during our lesson on Thursday. My reasons for are that:

  • We are supposed to

  • We've been told that it is very funny

  • It shows that I can, at least, work a video camera basically

  • It forms the beginning of my video work for the module

  • It adds some personality to the blog, and puts a face to a name

My reasons against are:

  • It's very silly

  • It will waste the time of anyone professional who reads this blog

  • It's very silly

Well here it is, I may regret this, but I am posting it. Keep in mind that it is not a serious piece of work, more a satire of our actual roles for the website. Enjoy:

Thursday, 8 March 2007

UCE News - the website that never sleeps

It seems that UCE News never stops in its quest to bring you the news from the region. Whether it ever started is another question entirely. My point being anyway, that on this fine evening when I cannot sleep, four stories have been posted to the website between the hours of 1am and 3am. Only one of these stories is mine (I have a penchant for evening work - I concentrate better but its nigh on impossible to contact anyone for quotes!) Are we super hard workaholics that shoot up caffeine like Pete Doherty does with 'other' substances. Allegedly. Anyways, I just found that quite amusing so thought I would share it with the world. My deadline is Thursday anyway, so technically Im right on time!

My caffeine high is over, I need some sleep.

Birmingham goes green

Another day, another story and this time its one about that jolly old piss up, St. Patrick's Day. I found that Selfridges had set up lots of lights that turns its exterior green in the evenings. I also found on the Birmingham Mail forums that there were a few people that weren't too happy because of the lack of attention St. George's Day gets in comparison. Obviously, the normal angle of Wow! isn't this great, was pretty much out the window as I never see the point of doing the same story as a rival only much later. So I searched the Birmingham Mail's archive for stories about banning England flags from Taxi's etc...I found this.

Strirring up some opinion I interviewed a couple of students on my favourite new toy, a big fancy interviewing recorder thing (I was never good with technology - if the phone rings I answer the TV remote). I was hoping to set up something much better for my interview this week, but a lack of ideas, interviewees and motivation meant that it got pushed to the bottom of my extensive list of things to think about doing.

Also, I was intending to write a story about the stabbing outside Matthew Boulton college but I refer you back to my post about repeating the news. I couldn't find anything 'new' about the incident and my report would have been the same as BBC News and the Birmingham Mail.

P.S. If anybody fancies leaving me a comment and proving to me that I'm not just writing to my tutor, Paul Bradshaw then that would be lovely.

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

My latest story

Forgetfulness comes in many forms, some people lose their keys, others walk into a room and forget completely why they went there. I forget to post blogs about my stories. You would think it should come naturally, write a story, and then follow it up with a blog about how I found it. Ahh well C'est la vie.

This story was a good one too. As Paul Bradshaw says on his highly regarded blog "Todd may also have scooped the Birmingham Mail". You should definately click that second link, Im pretty impressed to have been mentioned so many times! As if that wasn't exciting enough, another highly respected journalist Martin Stabe linked to Paul's blog post on his, meaning thousands of people may have seen my scoop. Im becoming famous!

Anyways, back to the story itself, I found it on the Birmingham Mail forum. This was quite funny, because upon searcing their archives, it suggested that they had failed to pick up on the story themselves. I quoted a few fellows off the forum, and did a bit of research to find previous convictions in Birmingham of the same vein. Finally, I gave West-Midlands Police a ring on their press number for a quote. I was told that it was not Police business, but it was still worthy of a quote.

So there you have it, I now have one more story to write for this week (as well as an audio piece that will struggle to get done). I had a fantastic idea for the story, but unfortunately you'll have to bear with me on that one as Iv completely forgotten it...

Friday, 2 March 2007

Is it worth re-writing stories?!

Well butts got well and truly kicked in Online Journalism this week with the appointment of 'hard-man' editor Azeem. A meeting was held, and no ideas were flowing from his direction so I threw mine forward. I suggested having a moodle forum for helping each other out with ideas, and having staggered deadlines so that not all stories came in on the same day. They were pretty well-recieved but my main talking point came from the notion of what UCE News is supposed to be. What does it represent? Who is it targeting?

These were all things that had not really been discussed before. People were unsure as to what was expected of them, were we meant to be putting opinion in or cold hard facts? One student even asked if we were supposed to be just copying stories from other websites. Hmm, that was a tough one.

I tried to give the site some sort of edge with my suggestions. Original stories are the way to go, nobody is going to choose our website over BBC News for their local news. That is ridiculous, because nine times out of ten the BBC will get the news before we do. So we have to focus on original stories, from different sources or from different angles. For example, my shopkeeper story that I previously blogged about came about from a story on the BBC website. I took a new angle though and decided to interview a local shopkeeper. With his quotes, which are exclusive to UCE News, the story is completely different from the original offering. This is what we need to do.

So, onwards and upwards to the notion of re-writing stories. I am not necessarily talking about from other news websites, but also from the Press Association website and so on. As anyone who reads this regularly will know, I am not a fan of churning out stories from press releases and whilst I appreciate that it is sometimes necessary, I try to avoid it wherever possible. Focusing on our UCE News website, what is the point of copying mundane stories from PA? Our competitors will no doubt already have them, using the same angles but with a bigger audience. If audiences are to come to UCE News, it will be because they want something different from what they are offered.

Having said that, there is the obvious position where a story is just so big that it has to feature on the website, in whatever form possible. But, if we cannot find a new angle on a story, is it worth just posting it as is? Is a re-written story better than no story at all? I would be tempted to say yes, but there is always the danger that a poor story will replace one with potential. There is always the temptation to post said story and say "right, Iv achieved my story quota this week now." This shouldn't be the case.

This post has gone a little swings and roundabouts, but I wanted to convey a few of my opinions. Hopefully it made a little sense.