All 8 entries tagged Blogging

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November 04, 2006

Mixed Media Messages

As part of the Broadcast Journalism course at Cardiff I have to do something a little bit counter-productive and paradoxical:

Blogging On-Demand

Certain lectures have to be ‘blogged’ for assessment. But as the former editor of the Telegraph website told us yesterday, you should only blog if you’ve got anything interesting to say. And when it comes to many of these lectures, I don’t.

Blogging should be from the heart, which means you have to want to blog on a subject, not be told you have to. I’d be intrigued to know if anyone has successfully “blogged on-demand”, keeping up a regular schedule of entries, or had any success in blogging about topics they’ve been told to write about.

Surely blogging is a little bit like writing a novel, and how often do novelists get told by their publishers what their next book must be about?

I suspect “never” isn’t far from the truth.

So I’m afraid you’ll have to be excused a 200-word entry on the merits of broadcasting regulation, the divide between editorial and advertising or any of the other topics on which I have no great interest in expressing a meaningful opinion on.

October 19, 2006

Iain Dale Lynched By Student Mob (Maybe)

Writing about web page

From Iain Dale’s blog:

I’m on my way to Cardiff to deliver a lecture on new media to media studies post graduate students and have been listening to Today on Radio 4.


What a ruddy cheek. He’s about to get an utter rollocking from the JOURNALISM students he’s about to address!

October 11, 2006

Blog of the Week #1

(c) BBCMartha Kearney was the one that did it. In trying to decide on a ‘blog of the week’, the PM blog was well ahead with its irreverent frippery from Eddie Mair. But Newsnight’s political editor, Martha Kearney, overtook PM in the dying minutes with an entry entitled Deconstructing the two-way.

Martha’s defence of one of journalism’s most controversial tools was honest, amusing and had the added bonus of making Jeremy Paxman look vaguely incompetent (not an easy feat).

The blog is also the home of Paul Mason, who is essentially the Newsnight geek. This illuminating post is a pretty brilliant guide to a story (YouTube + Google = ?) that appears simple on the surface.

July 05, 2006

Why the Right need to calm down about Prescott

Right–wing bloggers (see here and here) are again baying for John Prescott's blood over his trip to the ranch of a US millionaire who wants to build the UK's only super–casino at the Millenium Dome.

They've also dragged the BBC into it, saying they've ignored the story and would have caused a big stink if it had been a Conservative politician.

In both senses, they're wide of the mark. The 'story' is just speculation at the moment. It doesn't look enormously great, because there was a "potential" conflict of interest, although it's 1) only potential at the moment and 2) apparently weaker than first appeared because Prezza didn't have any say over Casino policy. He also claims he was on official business, which if true, puts a different spin on the story.

Nick Robinson has taken some heat for saying the BBC's held back on it because there didn't appear to be a definite story in there – more speculation than anything else – and criticised bloggers for being slightly lazier with the truth than paid journalists.

He's right, but his tone was perhaps a little obnoxious. Bloggers are, by and large, influenced by an agenda which journalists tacitly subordinate when they take up a job (especially a politics–related one), but journalists can learn some things from bloggers. Mainly, the 'blogosphere' helps bring stories to people's attention (see Cherie's signed copy of the Hutton Report for one), but also delivers stories at a faster speed.

Sadly speed often comes at the price of accuracy, and in the case of political blogs, seems to come increasingly ahead of objectivity. So while the number of blogs should be applauded for the likelihood of someone picking up on a story quicker than one guy sat in Whitehall, they should also learn a little from real journalists if they want to be seen to be playing a similar game.

May 24, 2006

Political Blogging starts shaping the agenda

Things are a–changing on t'internet. It all began at the weekend when it was revealed in the Daily Mail that Cherie Blair/Booth had signed a copy of the Hutton Report (you know, that one into the death of Dr David Kelly), for auction – the proceeds of which would go to the Labour Party.

Regardless of your political persuasion, the move was grossly stupid, if not downright tasteless and insensitive. It's a bit like signing the will of a man who people close to you were (unintentionally) responsible for the death of. Pretty sick.

But the story went quiet for a couple of days, except on the 'blogosphere', where it very quickly became a big deal, predominantly on Conservative blogs, but on some non–partisan ones too (if I hadn't been revising I might well have blogged on it!).

And the interest online has made a huge difference. It's now slowly creeped up to the third biggest story on the BBC's Politics website (bear in mind that the Home Office debacle and the Education vote are one and two), and has made headlines in every single newspaper since yesterday.

It's not too much of a stretch to suggest that the blogs turned the story into a big issue and caused great embarrassment to those involved. I suspect it wouldn't have been raised at PMQs today if it wasn't for the online involvement.

Iain Dale, and Guido Fawkes, editors of the book I contributed to, have done much to push the scandal onto a wider audience.

Does this mean we are starting to see a real evolution in the media where people not employed by any media organisation are playing a big role in deciding which stories enter the public consciousness?

Particularly, with British political bloggers leaning very definately to the right, are the Conservatives going to find themselves given an easier ride by a blogging community which is largely in support of them, and who have no rules about bias to adhere to.

It's a tricky situation for journalists to deal with. Not only are they finding themselves beaten to stories by people who aren't under the same pressure to get exclusive stories, but they're going to have to be careful in ensuring that they don't take blogs necessarily at face value. Even those which claim to be non–partisan (perhaps including my own) are highly likely to have political views which shape their writing. And while hundreds of blogs may be united in their criticism (see above), that doesn't mean that there isn't an inherent bias in the blogosphere as a whole.

It seems clear to everyone that the scandal involving Cherie is a dispicable act which demonstrates a complete lack of political sense, not to mention plain manners.

But as the blogs gain influence, journalists need to be wary of who is doing the talking when anonymity is so freely available to those on the internet. Future stories emanating from the internet may not be so factual.

March 20, 2006

New Blog Name

So my blog has a new name.

This is for three reasons:
1) the old one stank worse than my trainers after a day sat in the radio station
2) cos all the best pieces of design get buggered about with every few months
3) the divine comedy rule

So now you know.

March 07, 2006

Christianity and its Discontents

I've been watching with interest over the past few weeks and notice the amount of debate on Warwick Blogs about Christianity has been increasing quite steadily.

I'm guessing there's a few factors involved in this sudden interest:
– the Christian Focus week on campus this term
– delayed reaction to the Jerry Springer musical and the Danish cartoons
– evangelicalism and its increasing efficacy
– increased interest in the abortion issue

But I'm particularly interested by the number of TV documentaries studying the new role of Christianity in British society.

First there was Richard Dawkins' polemical The Root of All Evil? a couple of months ago – a programme I enjoyed, although it was hurrendously biased and could have been less one-sided. And yesterday evening was Rod Liddle's Dispatches documentary about evangelicalism and its role in the new City Academies.

Rod Liddle's documentary was probably a more accomplished piece, as it had a lot more journalistic rigour, and Liddle came at the subject as a Christian himself, albeit one worried by the rise of evangelical Christianity.

He noted the involvement of the owner of the Reg Vardy car dealership in City Academies in the North of England. There, the school ethos is driven by Vardy's Christian values, but in a slightly cynical fashion and also in a comprehensive school. The key problem here was that people within the school's catchment area that disliked its Christian principles had no alternative but to send their children there.

Exclusions at the school were sixteen times higher than any other local school, and evolution was taught alongside creationism, a practice which is technically illegal. Parents were understandably angry.

It wasn't so much a damning criticism of Christian beliefs as a criticism of the government's blatant scramble for cash that provided the motive for City Academies.

I don't think there's been a particular resurgence in the ability of Christian groups to spread their message, although the slow rise of evangelicalism is a notable long-term trend. So why is there this sudden reaction to a force that has been around for so long, and used to be such an integral part of British life?

I'd suggest that many of Christianity's critics are becoming more vocal now because there's a sense of urgency following the failure of multi-culturalism in the UK. For if cultures are to be successfully sewn together, wouldn't a neutralisation of religious beliefs enable greater cohesion?

Alternatively, is this attempt to neuter Christianity a way of making followers of other religions appear more radical to the casual observer?

I hope that if it is deliberate, then the neutralisation of religion in British society is because of the first reason, not the latter. But in attempting to soften the impact of Christianity, its critics need to remember that such a tactic may provide greater impetus for the more radical sections of that religion, notably evangelicals.

February 07, 2006

Why I Blog

From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.

George Orwell

I think George Orwell and I have a lot in common.

Almost certainly not in terms of talent, and not always in terms of beliefs. But when it comes to working out what the hell to do with my life, Orwell's words make a lot of sense.

I'm still torn between going into broadcast and print journalism. Orwell did both, and while I'm definately going to train in broadcast, I can still see writing looming over me. My only consolation is that broadcast journalism still involves writing, albeit you then have to read those words out.

I definately agree with at least half of Orwell's reasons for writing. "Sheer egoism" is probably something that I can relate to – I wouldn't bother writing this blog entry if I didn't think someone was going to read it. I'm not sure about "aesthetic enthusiasm" – it's probably something I would like to be interested in, but I can't bring myself to 'flaff about' with the order of words, I prefer to just let them flow, which is why I rarely proof-read anything I write.

Again, I wouldn't be blogging if there wasn't an element of "historical impulse" inside me. Someone reading this tomorrow will still be reading something slightly historical, and I have to admit I like the idea of reading this again once I retire, looking back at the (probably) naive and idealistic views I held as a 21-year old.

And finally, I'm virtually obsessed with writing for a "political purpose". As Orwell said, everything containing a viewpoint is political in some way, and I would say that attempting to write without a political viewpoint, no matter how subtle, is both futile and worthless.

I don't expect to emulate Orwell himself, but I'll be happy if the majority of my writing isn't "lifeless…betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally."

All I need to do now is go and live rough in Paris for a bit.

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