Monthly Archives: November 2009

Twitter is the word

Global Language Monitor (GLM), has named Twitter the most popular word in the print and digital media around the world this year, followed by Obama in second place.

Twitter has taken over in all aspects of our lives – even if you’ve never looked at it, the social networking site appears in the news every day and is rapidly overtaking sites like facebook.

Stephen Fry, a twitterionaire, believes it’s the twitterers who create a story and celebrities, like him, should not be blamed for endorsing them. Fry said:

“Twitter is about participating – by which I mean you tweet and read other people’s tweets. Then you understand it, and get its rhythm”

In a recent lecture with Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s technology correspondent, I was reminded how important tools like Twitter are to modern journalists. When he started out in the BBC newsroom in 1983  the staff were distinctly separated into journalists and craft workers (camera, audio, etc). The stereotypical view of a Fleet Street journalist was confirmed when he described them as: “Men in their fifties wearing cardigans.”

The television audience of the 1980s was huge with the BBC and ITN the main providers. There was no dialogue with the audience and no real means of communication between the viewer and creator.

This has changed greatly; BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky all compete for our attention whilst digital channels offer a plenitude of varying news from countries around the world. You can text in the programme, chat about it with fellow viewers online, complain about something on the website – the means of communication are endless.

Journalists now have to carry around a Mary Poppins style handbag and be able to  find a story, write it, sub it, create a video, attach some audio and upload it to the net – all in a few hours or risk being replaced.

Fry compared Twitter to the invention of the printing press because of the huge upheaval  it caused and criticises journalists for complaining too much about the twitter world taking away traditional methods of writing.

“There was no class more contemptuous of Twitter than the commentating journalists. Why should we care about what Britney Spears had for breakfast, they said. So may I ask you, why do you write about it in the paper? The journalists said, ‘Who needs this Twitter thing?’ and in the next moment you read: ‘Follow the Daily Mail on Twitter at …’,” he added.

What Cellan-Jones told us is to embrace and nurture these new technologies and they will help you succeed and stand out. He appears regularly on UK TV and is also part of the blogging world with his blog dot.life.

Twitter directs you to the story and connects you with the news. Cellan-Jones’s speciality is technology and he has made himself one of the best in the business. By creating a specialism you stand out amongst fellow journalists and you will be more likely to survive in this cut-throat media world.

And if you were wondering:

GLM’s top 15 words of 2009

1. Twitter

2. Obama

3. H1N1

4. Stimulus

5. Vampire

6. 2.0 (term borrowed from computing, meaning ‘next generation’)

7. Deficit

8. Hadron

9. Healthcare

10. Transparency

11. Outrage

12. Bonus

13. Unemployed

14. Foreclosure

15. Cartel

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Album of the decade: Youth and Young Manhood

Sons of preacher men who have torn up the rule book and rejected their religious roots in favour of sex, drugs and Tennessee style rock and roll. With four albums under their belts, Kings of Leon have well and truly proved their place in the album of the decade charts.

Headlining Coachella in 2006, I watched the hairy rockers perform in front of millions of excited fans – a year later at Reading, with three albums released; they performed BEFORE Razorlight – the biggest kick in the teeth ever?

Despite the fact they have been around almost a decade it sadly seems their latest album and in particular, the commercially polished Sex on Fire, have finally made them noticed (and a lot richer) in the UK.

Their debut album, Youth and Young Manhood was different, edgy and its Dylan-inspired notes got us all singing along in our own southern drawl. The title misleads as although the band were aged between 16-23 when the album was released, they exuded long time greased-up rock etiquette from the start.

Caleb Followill’s raspy, voice varies significantly as he slurs through the mellow, laid back Dusty which oozes jazzy blues, to the shambolic, enthusiasm of California Waiting.

My favourite song on the album, it epitomises the band’s personal lives and the energy and passion of the lyrics never falter to leap into your soul.

A piercing lead guitar in Red Morning Light awakens every hair on your body. Allow yourself to be taken over by the scuffy honest sound and join the country rockers at the very start of their journey to stardom.

The Kerouac-style narrative of the band’s journey into adulthood is irresistible and the fuzzy lyrics pull you in until you are rocking away to the likes of Molly’s Chambers and tumbling down your own Spiral Staircase with the same Rolling Stones-esqu finesse as the southern rebels.

Country sweetness, filthy guitar licks and hard rocked up catastrophes – Youth and Young Manhood IS the album of the decade and KOL have succeeded where other Stokesonian counterparts have failed. They have created lasting legacy but their debut number’s mystery, honesty and passion grinded with rocked up-greatness ensures its place as number one.

Vote for your favourite here:

Don’t Agree – check out the other contenders:
At the Drive-In – Relationship of Command by Tom Victor
Bloc Party – Silent Alarm by Joe Curtis
Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am… by Ciaran Jones
The Libertines – Up the Bracket by James Franklin
Brand New – The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me by Hugh Morris
The Killers – Hot Fuss by Nick Moore
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago by Ammeilo
Daft Punk – Discovery by Will Gilgrass
Kings of Leon – Only by the Night by Caroline Cook
Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope by Fiona Roberts
Bright Eyes – Digital Ash in a Digital Urn by Emma Davies
Coldplay – Parachutes by Dan Bloom
The Strokes – Is this it by Alfie Tolhurst
Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around by Mike Brown
Snow Patrol – Eyes Open by Sarah Scott
Arcade Fire – Funeral by Rob Goodman

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How to be a better blogger

Everyone is blogging – from Jon Snow to the local gossip – conversation is online and after you sieve through the wades of angry rants, there is some useful stuff about.

As a student being made to blog I have actually come to quite enjoy it and in a recent lecture with Adam Tinworth, head of Read Business Information (RBI), I realised how a blog can potentially make you a lot of money.  I have compiled 10 tips for successful blogging to ensure you rake in the viewers and possibly the cash…

This video from a London Bloggers Meetup gives some helpful pointers to get you on the right track:

1 – Keep it regular. To have a popular blog people will want to read you should post about four times a week.

Tinworth recommends you are:

  • Inquisitive
  • Communicative
  • Honest
  • Enthusiastic
  • Social
  • Informed

2 – Start talking. You have to put work into your blog if you want to get something back from it. Adam’s blog, One Man and His Blog, has gained a lot of traffic because he is fully involved with the online discussion. Comment on other blogs, especially those of a similar subject to your own, and respond when people comment on yours.

3 – Find a niche and cultivate it. The journalism world is highly competitive and to stick out you need to be different. By finding a specialist subject that you are also interested in you are proving you have something unique to offer to the blogosphere. Whether it is unusual food, dress making, cricket, or independent music – find a topic, nurture it and you will be rewarded.

6 – Post a wide range of content, in different formats.  Big Lorry Blog and Flight Blogger are examples of popular blogs that have made money through providing their readers with a range of stories, videos and audio within their niche specialities. If you are getting a fair amount of hits (around 5,000 a month) then call up local companies and offer them adverts for a small fee.

7 – Adam’s main ingredients for a good blog:

  • links
  • photos
  • video
  • discussion
  • opinion

A blog should be varied and engaging with all these points included to make it visually pleasing and interesting to a reader.

8 – Don’t be too opinionated. The view that blogs are: “rants written in bedrooms by losers” can be seen everywhere. The point of a blog is to talk about something and raise questions on the subject  – not just complain about how much you hate it.

9 – Traffic = money in the blogging world so once you have a well-visited site – look into advertising to make some money.

10 – Tag your posts with searchable topics and try linking to other sites. A group debate is a good way to increase traffic to your sight.

Still looking for inspiration? Check out the Independent Newspaper’s pick of 10 innovative and exciting new blogs here.

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Is the end of print newspapers inevitable?

The print industry is in a rapid decline, online news is more popular than ever, and Rupert Murdoch is proposing making people pay for his online papers from next year.

Are we just waiting around for ink to dry up – or will Murdoch’s plan actually push people who are unwilling to pay for online news back to their newspaper?

Online news is growing rapidly but in a lecture with journalist Rob Andrew, editor of Paid Content.co.uk, it became clear that at the moment people are unwilling to pay for it. A yearly subscription to The Guardian can cost around £350 but in a recent PCUK/Harris Poll, it was found that only 5% of people asked were willing to pay to read news online.

Newspapers rely on advertising but unlike online adverts – there is no guaranteed return – and more and more advertising companies are moving away from print for this reason.

Rob, worringly but accurately, describes newspapers as being in a perilous state and compares this to the music industry.

Music is now accessible free online and the only way to make money from it is through live performances – as the experience of watching live music can’t be replicated online.  The industry tried to introduce copy protection to stop music being shared online but abandoned this after sites like Spotify and We7 have made music instantly available for free.

Newspapers are looking for a short-term answer to this crisis to appease shareholders but what they should be doing is finding a long-term solution.

Specialist papers like the Financial Times and European Wall Street Journal currently charge a subscription. The FT has 128,000 subscribers paying approximately £90 a year. I find it highly unlikely people will pay for The Sun, News of the World or even The Times – but Mighty Murdoch is dead set on introducing these charges and if they are no longer available in print form the only option may be to buy online.

Surely if one paper charges online, people will just go to a free newspaper’s site instead? It would be impossible to implement a pay wall system unless all the papers agreed to do this. People do not want to pay for online news and most public opinion polls go directly against Murdoch’s plans.

The Guardian has a different ownership model to papers in the Murdoch News International empire and this allows it to put more into being innovative and exploring and developing it’s online version.

The future of print is very uncertain – if Murdoch does introduce charges will other paper’s follow? or will this backfire completely and will people just go somewhere else for their news?

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City Style

Noopy’s flatteringly cool outfit mixes faded denim with a funky layered dress.

Jacket: Topshop

Dress: Topshop

Bag: Vintage leather

Necklace: Antique market

Noopy is inspired by Anne Hathaway, Alexa Chung and Leighton Meester and if she could steal anyone’s wardrobe it would be Claudia Winkleman’s…

A big fan of Vogue, Vanity Fair, The Sartorialist and Garance Dore online, Noopy successfully experiments matching different pieces together to create her fabulous and unique style.

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Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels

Kate Moss is no stranger to controversy –  24 hour coke binges, crack-head rock star boyfriends, interrupting interviews…but is she really to blame for the rise in eating disorders in the UK?

Moss is a bit of a diva, storming out of the GQ awards being the most recent example of this:

In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily Moss made the statement, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”.  It has since completely spiraled out of context and everyone with an opinion about models/fashion/eating disorders has jumped on the ‘we hate Moss’ bandwagon.

The Sun – a great beacon of righteousness –  called her a “shocker” and Denise Van Outen said: “Kate Moss is talking out of her size-zero backside.”

However the tabloid pages are full of skinny women and even though they actively promote this unobtainable body shape, The Sun has the audacity to try and blame Moss for anorexic women, everywhere.

The media loves talking about skinny women. Celebrities are condemned for being too thin, and on the next page scrutinised for their orange peel legs – and the public love it.

I am not a huge fan of the Mosster myself but this backlash is ridiculous. Yes the statement was very un-pc but what else do we really expect. Moss is successful because of her waif like figure and beautiful looks. Is she really going to tell us her motto is, “I love Carbs” or something?

The Sun said Moss’s statement was “everything that is wrong with the fashion world.” However we know models are skinny and most starve themselves to stay that way – this is not news.

The Sun’s hate campaign against Moss has even moved to Westminster.

Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik has ‘declared war‘ on Moss, according to The Sun, and intends to make her a case example in fighting against eating disorders in the country.

“It is madness to have an industry that promotes being dangerously underweight as a positive and eating disorders as a good fashion statement,” Opik told the paper.

Critics from all angles have condemned Moss’s comments. She’s been around for ages and knows the fashion industry inside out – as a role model she is therefore potentially influencing millions of young women across the world. Alice May’s blog, General Decay, details the reaction to this statement and the possible effect it will have on vulnerable women.

But is Moss really a role model? and are young women so naive that they would take something she says as fact?

Katie Green, a former Ultimo model, who launched the Say No To Size Zero campaign with Opik, said, “There are 1.1 million eating disorders in the UK alone.”

Eating disorders are a serious problem and more needs to be done.

Moss doesn’t do interviews for a reason – because she might say something as idiotic as this. It’s clear why she is famous for her looks and not her intellect but blasting her for this comment is pointless and clearly just a self-promotion tactic for certain tabloid papers.

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24 Hours with the Royal Marines..

I hate to be cold, wet, tired and forced to do hard physical exercise. I also have a fear of life in the military and being caught up in a fight between two opposing enemies…

My thoughts have changed slightly after spending 24 hours with the Royal Marines at a military base in Caerwent, in South Wales. This experience was challenging, exciting, at times terrifying and in general fun.

On arrival a very stern Major lectured us about the role of the media in warfare today. Much of this we already knew and after donning a camouflage hat and bullet proof vest we clambered into the back of a van and became embedded with a group of 36 soldiers.

Surviving on sleep for one hour a day sounds like hell to someone like me who needs at least eight.  I don’t expect anyone this sleep deprived to be able to hold a conversation or be welcoming or polite – yet every marine I spoke to was friendly, helpful and couldn’t do more to make us feel at ease with the situation.

Despite several blatant digs at the ‘scum of the earth’ freelance journalists currently out in Iraq, everyone seemed professional and accepting of us, clearly preferring embedded journalists who can be looked after, and kept an eye on at all times.

The marines we were with were all aged over 30 and being tested to become officers – so in a state of heightened stress and anxiety. They have all served in conflicts like Afghanistan and Iraq and will be sent out again.

Throughout the exercise we were very close to the action,  leaping through ditches and over barbed wire fences and we were treated as one of the marines – at one point we even had to attempt to help carry the dead and injured men away to safety.

As an embedded journalist you gain the trust and respect of the soldiers you are working with and therefore if you uncover a hugely scandalous story – you have the choice of breaking it and getting a good headline but at the same time losing the trust of the military and putting your career as a war journalist at risk.

The whole 24 hours was exhausting but rewarding. It hasn’t convinced me to become a war correspondent but has reconfirmed my view that soldiers are not just superhuman machines but real people. Even after 24 hours it’s impossible not to build a relationship with these men who are pushed to such extremes every day. Whether you agree with the military or not, these individual soldiers should not be attacked or blamed for their part in any conflict. They are merely pawns in a political game.

The experience was eye-opening for me, I realised how much each of these men must go through everyday and how impossibly hard it would be for an embedded journalist to break a story that would destroy that trust.

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