Sunday, 6 December 2009

How to...

Write a news story

Main questions before starting: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? If possible, answer these questions in the first line.

The pyramid structure: start the story with the most important facts. The first sentence has to give the most important elements. Then retell the introduction with more information.

Things to remember:
● It's about people, not objects. How can the story be relevant to people?
● Try to name people
● Don't be passive , have an angle
● Don't start a news report with a question
● Be objective - don't describe news as bad, good, tragic etc.

● Quote people
● When writing: one idea per sentence, write short and active sentences, reduce and simplify words.

Do an interview

First things to do:
Understand the subject
Have a list of questions - but use them only as a guide
Decide of a location/time
● Anticipate problems: "What could go wrong? Can the interviewee become aggressive? Can he/she say inappropriate things on air?" Interview Guy Goma

There are two types of interview:
●Informational interview: you gather facts and establish information - experts, eye witnesses, police etc.
●Confrontational interview: you put forward somebody's point of view and you challenge them to balance the argument.

There are different kinds of interview:
●Press conference: plan well - you must get a question in a press conference, otherwise there's no point in going.
● One to one
● Vox pops: interview people in the street - don't do it too often
● Doorstepping: an aggressive and unpleasant way to interview people; don't do it unless you don't have the choice.
● E-mail - not reliable
● Death knock: get information about someone who died from their relatives.
● Profile interview: for features usually.
● Celebrity
● Telephone
● Down the line

Starting an interview:
● Give your name and who you work for
●Dress appropriately
● Get the basic details right - name, age, adress job, family details.
● Check that the technical equipment is working
● Try to put the interviewee at ease
● Listen to the answers and ask supplementary questions
● Body language: nod, tilt your head, lean forward, smile - don't talk while the interviewee is speaking
● Use silence - don't be afraid to say nothing for a few seconds. Silence can be a weapon!

● Ask open questions - thus you'll get more information
● If you don't understand, ask another question to clarify the answer
● Keep questions short
● Use leading questions - "Where you angry ...?"
● Don't use loaded questions - remain objective

Tough questions
● Leave the tough questions until the last minute
● Warn the interviewee that it's going to be a difficult question to answer
● Use a shield - "People say that you..." don't attack him/her directly
● If he/she won't answer a question, suggest an answer
● Point out that a "no comment" statement would sound very bad.

Where to find information

Here are the main sources where we can find information:

Press releases
● Press Officers
● Courts (you can find court listings on the Internet)

● Government
● Opinion polls/National Statistics Office
● Private investigators
● Councils
● Universities
● Employees/Employers
● Ofcom
● Trade Unions
● Religious organisations
● Press associations: pressassociation virtualnewsroom
● Non Governmental Organisations
● Eye witnesses
● Grieving families
● Police
● Charities
● Private contacts

● User Generated Content

Friday, 4 December 2009

Teenager hit by a car in Fareham

A teenager has been seriously injured after he was hit by a car in Fareham.

The 16-year-old boy was hit on Wednesday, December 2, at 11:25pm while crossing Newgate lane.

The young man now suffers life threatening head injuries and is staying at Southampton General Hospital. The 71-year-old driver and his passenger have not been injured in the collision.

Police are looking for witnesses. PC Faye Cappleman from the Cosham Roads Policing unit said: "This incident occurred close to the time when people would be returning home from an evening out.

“We’re looking to speak with anyone who saw the Hyundai Getz, or the pedestrian around this time, or anyone else with information about what happened.”

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Eco action in Winchester

Heatseekers vehicles will soon help Winchester homeowners to reduce their energy consumption by spotting escaping heat from their houses.

Scientists from the Energy Saving Partnership have developed Heatseekers vehicles using thermal imaging technology – a technique that identifies heat in cold temperatures.

Heatseekers vehicles will operate at night in the streets of Winchester this month. Once this operation done, a team of energy advisers will contact local homeowners to tell them how to improve their insulation and in the meantime reduce their energy bills.

The Winchester District Strategy Partnership chairman George Beckett has welcomed the initiative with delight: "This scheme will help our residents see the heat and money leaking out from their homes and we hope it will inspire them to take action. The scheme is supported by Winchester Action on Climate Change and will not only help in the fight against rising CO2 levels, but also help save our residents money in these difficult times. The energy advisors have information about grant discounted insulation which is available to all homeowners and significantly reduces the cost of any insulation improvements."

The Director of the Energy Saving Partnership Keith Hewitson said: "The HeatSeekers thermal imaging vehicle has already created quite a buzz in the sector and we are delighted to see it in action in the Winchester District. The technology has already helped improve energy efficiency in thousands of homes across the country. The HeatSeekers vehicle is one of the key front-line weapons in the battle against climate change and is already playing an integral role in the plans to make UK homes more energy efficient."

If you are a homeowner and would like information about you property’s energy consumption, please call HeatSeekers on free on 0800 111 4968.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Law lecture - Revision

The following definitions are to be known for the law test.

Malice: when somebody writes/broadcasts/publishes something that is untrue and knows it's untrue. If there is malice, the person won't have any defense in court if sued.

Public interest: when an article/documentary/investigation exposes corruption, danger of public health which is misleading the community.

Innuendo: When a journalist makes an allegation without saying it clearly, just insinuating it, without any evidence.

Juxtaposition: when an article and a picture (for example) are next each other in a newspaper but have no link at all and mislead readers making them think that they're linked in some ways.

Defamation: broadly speaking a statement or opinion that lowers someone's reputation. The statement/opinion either exposes the person to: hatred, ridicule, contempt. The statement/opinion could lead people to avoid/shun the defamed person.

Libel: libel is composed of: defamation, identification and publication to a third part (a letter is enough!)

Slander: defamation in spoken form (very difficult to prove in court!)

The person who has been defamed has one year to undertake an action in court.

Somebody who is sued for defamation has three possible defenses: justification, fair comment or qualified privilege.

Subterfuge: when a journalist doesn't inform people he's interviewing that he's a journalist and that everything they say could be published.
Under what circumstances can you use it? When the information you're trying to get is in the public interest AND if you can't get the information in another way. You also have to get the authorisation from Ofcom if you want to broadcast the interview (radio and TV). You don't need any authorisation to publish the interview in newspapers though.

Do not interview or film children without their parents' consent.

Do not glamorise crime ( you have to be careful if you want to interview criminals)

Do not mention a person's nationality unless it's relevant to the story.

Main stages in a criminal affair: Investigation
Arrest and charges
Procedure at magistrates court

The case is active when the accused have been arrested and when the charges are brought.

The Qualified Privilege defense only applies when a judge is present.

You can't interview: members of the jury or witnesses when the case is active
members of the jury after the case about the case.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

News Agenda presentation - Hampshire Chronicle


The Hampshire Chronicle was created in 1772; hence it is one of the oldest local newspapers in the United Kingdom. In the early years, the Chronicle would deal with national and international news; nowadays it is a weekly local broadsheet newspaper published every Thursday. Two different editions are produced simultaneously: the Winchester district edition and the South edition. However the two editions are very similar; in most cases the only difference is the front page. According to its marketing department, 14830 copies are printed every week and sold in the Winchester and Southampton area.


The Chronicle targets an audience of people over the age of 65 living in the Winchester and Southampton area and is biased towards a female readership. The Hampshire Chronicle claims to target the ABC1 audience categories. People who read the Hampshire Chronicle are very likely to have been living in the area for a very long time, probably since their birth. The Chronicle’s readers know many people in the area; they want to keep track of the local news in case friends, relatives or family members are involved. They also want to be aware of the different events taking place in their area. Let’s not forget that most Hampshire Chronicle readers are retired and therefore have time to spare. These readers are also interested in politics and they’re keen to see what is done for the community on a reduced scale.

Stories/ News Agenda

The Hampshire Chronicle news agenda is essentially about local news. The main headlines are mostly about human interest stories happening in the area. The newspaper also deals with local political news, court reports, charity events, features, sport and broadly speaking people contributing to the community. The Chronicle does not usually cover national news unless it has a link with Winchester, Southampton or anywhere in the area. The rest of the newspaper is filled with announcements, adverts, public notices – for sale, services, jobs, dating etc.


The Hampshire Chronicle covers the local news from a fairly objective point of view – mostly because most stories are simply reported and there is no column for comments and opinions. However, it is possible to define on which political wing the newspaper is if we take a closer look to the articles’ topics. The articles appear to have a conservative bias which seems to be aimed at the wealthier and more educated part of Southampton and Winchester. However, there are a number of articles with a broader interest that might appeal to “new” labour voters – stories about education or health for example.

News Agenda presentation - BBC Radio 1


BBC Radio 1 was first launched on the 30th September 1967 at 7 o’clock. It took no longer than a few years for the new radio station to become the most listened to station in the world with more than 10 million listeners for some of its shows. In the Nineties, BBC Radio 1 clearly stood out of the crowd aiming at gay audiences and even covered the Gay Pride event in 1994 for the first time in radio history.

Target Audience
BBC Radio 1’s target audience is a group of people aged between 16 and 29. There are around 7 million of them in the UK, which represents 11% of the population. This part of the population is now better educated than ever, most of them are single – only one in ten is living with a partner. Most of them don’t read newspapers but will go on the Internet to get news. This group is technologically literate (mobile phones, computers, Internet etc) and is harder to shock with sex and drugs. This is the audience BBC Radio 1 is aiming to reach, though the audience it attracts is a little bit different.

Real Audience
According to Rajar (company which measures audience share), the average age of BBC Radio 1’s listeners is 33. This is apparently because of DJs like Chris Moyles and Scott Mills who would appeal to older listeners. As I haven’t been able to contact BBC Radio 1, I cannot make any statement regarding the nature of its audience. However, I believe that audience categories such as A and E are not very likely to listen to Radio 1. On one hand, people who listen to Chris Moyles or Scott Mills are older than the target audience and some of them are well educated. On the other hand, people who listen to popular music and/or interested in programmes such as X-Factor are more likely to belong to the lower middle class, skilled working class and working class – C1, C2 and D categories. More than eleven million people listen to radio 1 every week. BBC Radio 1 represents 9.9% of the listening share.

Running order of stories/ News Agenda
BBC Radio 1 has two news bulletins a day (12:45 and 17:45). The running order of stories is quite simple: first comes the main story, the one likely to catch listeners’ interest and that would usually be relevant to the whole country. News such as swine flu or flooding in Cumbria were the main stories in the last bulletins. In second place usually come stories about politics or the war in Afghanistan. The main stories in the last few weeks were dead soldiers in Afghanistan, MPs’ expenses, European Union etc. Human interest stories – mainly about crimes come in third position, though they are sometimes announced before political stories depending on their importance. For example, the story in which a man strangled his wife whilst sleeping was announced in the main headlines, which shows that there is no definite order. The fourth part of the bulletin deals with random news – celebrities, science, health, technology, law etc. Unsurprisingly, sport comes in last position.


The running order of the stories is very traditional, but the stories are covered from a youth point of view: they interview young people and they have correspondents who are able to bring the news “alive”. They are also looking for sensational news which appeals to a large share of the audience. I believe it is a fairly good quality news bulletin, I expected it to be more “tabloid-style”, with lots of gossip and nothing else. But the BBC has a reputation to preserve – and a contract to respect – and is aiming to entertain and inform listeners. The radio announces relevant and important news, though the stories are often simplified because the audience is young. Given that the bulletin lasts only 15 minutes, I think the coverage of the national news is quite complete. However, the international news is completely forgotten unless it has a link with the United Kingdom.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act allows anybody in the UK to get information from government departments and/ public authorities. The act does not cover: MI5, MI6 and GCHQ (Government Communication Headquarters). To get the information, the process is fairly simple:
first write a letter/ e-mail in which you ask for the information - try to keep it general and do not ask too many specific questions. Thus you're more likely to get what you want.
Then, the department/authority you have contacted should contact you within 20 working days to tell you whether the information is available or not, its cost etc. Then there will be another 20-day deadline to send you the information.
If the cost of the information is too high (mostly because it takes time and staff to get it), the department/authority will probably not get it for you. If the department/ authority does not want to give you the information, they have to explain why.

Also, it is good to know that journalistic material such as sources/ data is protected and can't be requested under the Freedom of Information act.

Here are a few websites about F.O.I: is a website that allows you to see some information requested under the Freedom of Information Act. You can browse any authority/ department and the website will display all the requests made to it. You can also write your own request through the website. This website will probably be useful in the future.

The Information Commisionner's office website is quite interesting as it is updated regularly about the new laws etc. As it's said in their website, they "uphold information right in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals" .

Just to give a few examples, you can send your request to: the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Justice or any other ministry. Their websites are usually easy to find.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Seminar - Voltaire

I am writing an article about Voltaire because I've realised that we haven't talked about him at all, however he was an icon of the French Enlightenment, and also a rival of Rousseau. I think he's of a great importance for us journalism students as he fought for freedom of speech and justice. As I haven't been able to describe in detail his main work and ideas during the seminar, I'm going to make up for it now.

Voltaire was born in 1694 and died in 1778. He came from a noble family and was clearly the opposite of Rousseau: he was a posh, educated man who would only be associated with noble people. He was very wealthy, liked luxury, nice food and was a bit of a materialist. He was also very disdainful towards poor people and thought that happiness cannot exist without luxury. He believed in science and reason and also contributed to the Encyclopedia. Contrary to many of his fellows, Voltaire was a deist, which means that he believed an upper spirit created the Universe, however he didn't believe in any religion.
As far as I'm aware, Voltaire took part in four trials trying to denounce corruption and to prove convicted people innocent. His first commitment was the Calas affair.
Marc-Antoine Calas was born in a protestant family in the South of France in 1732. At the age of 29, he was found hung in his parents' shop. To avoid a shameful funeral, his parents decided to tell the police he was murdered. A rumour in the neighbourhood started to spread saying that Marc Antoine Calas wanted to convert to Catholicism. His father Jean Calas would have disagreed with his decision and killed him. The police officers were convinced by the neighbours' saying. Jean Calas was thrown in jail and tortured to admit his crime. Although he always claimed he was innocent, on the 10th, March 1762, he was executed. A few days after his death, his other son Pierre Calas was forced to go abroad, and went to Geneva where he met Voltaire. Pierre told him his story and asked him to help. Voltaire managed to convince the authorities to retry the Calas family thanks to his book Treatise on Tolerance, published in 1763. This final trial was more successful as Jean Calas was finally proved innocent. The King Louis XV gave the family 36,000 pounds in compensation.

Thus, Voltaire was the first French author who got involved in a miscarriage of justice. He also took part in a similar trial; the Sirven affair where a protestant couple was accused of having killed their disabled daughter who apparently wanted to become catholic. They were condemned to the death penalty, but Voltaire succeeded in proving they were innocent in time.

Voltaire also got involved in two other affairs; the Chevalier de la Barre affair,and the Lally Tollendal affair where he was unfortunately less successful.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Investigative journalism

Investigative journalism means: "when journalists go off the agenda and decide the agenda for themselves". This doesn't necessarily mean that investigations are going to be very exciting and dangerous, but they usually deal with serious subjects and their target is mainly to unveil secrets.
In my opinion, investigative journalism is one of the most interesting tasks of journalism. We've been told in the lecture that there are two main difficulties when journalists investigate:

The laws: you clearly can't hide bugs and cameras in a private place, you can't take/ borrow/ read documents/ data without the owner's consent - this is called trespass to goods. You can't enter an area by fraud (disguise, deception) where you're not allowed to, this is trespass to land. You can't threat, blackmail or hit anybody to get information, this is trespass to the person (dear, it seems that all the fun in investigative journalism is forbidden). Any of these actions are liable. However, you could justify trespass to goods and trespass to land in court if:

the information you got thanks to these mediums are in the public interest and
there's no other way of getting the information and
you must proved that you've tried to investigate in a legal manner.

The second difficulty can be the topic of your investigation. Trying to uncover illegal businesses/ secrets can be a very dangerous job, mostly if you work in a country where the police are corrupt. We've all heard of Veronica Guerin (above) whose strong interest in drug dealers led her to be murdered in 1996, in Dublin. She was a very brave journalist, and I think we should make the difference between stupidity and courage. Courage is about putting your life in danger and being fully aware of this danger. I believe that stupidity is just being ignorant of the danger. I don't know what motivated her, love of the truth maybe, though I would certainly have given up the investigation after having two bullets fired into my kneecaps.
I have found on the Internet the Fund For Investigative Journalism which gives grants to help reporters for specific investigations. The conditions are listed on the website.
Last summer,The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London has been given a £2 million grant by the Potter foundation. They will use the grant to promote non profit journalism, in the public interest.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

HCJ Lecture - Romanticism and Rousseau

Romanticism is an artistic and intellectual movement that originates from Europe in the late XVIIIth century. This movement can be defined as a response against the Enlightenment, as it is totally focused on the individual, passion, irrational, contrary to the Enlightenment which is all about science and reason. Romanticist artists/ writers often reused some ancient myths in their work, like Mary Shelley in Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus.

To sum up quickly the story - because I'm sure many of you already know about it - a scientist called Victor Frankenstein created a human being using pieces of corpses he somehow stuck together (Shelley didn't give any scientific details, which was convenient in two respects: she was a romantic author, therefore against the rise of science, and then she probably didn't know enough about human anatomy to describe in details the creation of the Monster). The creature was born. When Frankenstein realised that his creation wasn't like he expected him to be, he abandoned him. On his own, the creature learnt how to survive in a world where he would scare everybody or provoke mockery. Because of the reaction of society, the creature became a monster and a murderer. At the end of the novel, the monster kills Frankenstein's wife to be, just before the wedding. In one aspect, Victor Frankenstein is the perfect romantic hero (rather anti-hero): although he was a scientist, he was also passionate, obsessed by the idea of creating a new life using another method than the traditional one. Once he realised what he did, he rejected his creation with hatred. Feelings like passion, love, hatred, fear are very important in the novel.
There is also a reference to the Prometheus myth in the novel. In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to the mortals. Zeus punished him for his crime, he chained him to a rock on a mountain peak while a great eagle ate his liver every day only to have it grow back to be eaten again the next day. In Frankenstein, the scientist took God's role creating a human being, he was then punished by his own creation.At the very end of the novel, Frankenstein was exhausted, unhappy, depressed and he finally died. One of the messages in Shelley's novel is that science is dangerous, people shouldn't try to be God, because it will lead them to despair, unhappiness and death.
Another important topic in romanticism and Rousseau's work is the state of nature. Rousseau believed that people used to live without government, and contrary to Hobbes' beliefs there wasn't any chaos or anarchy. According to Rousseau, the state of nature is nothing more than a state of animal. The society has deprived people from their freedom, and it has built inequalities between them. Hence Rousseau wrote the Social Contract in which he explained his ideal form of government "which defends and protects with all the common force". He wanted a direct democracy, a country lead by the general will, and not only the will of the upper-class. If people obey the laws, they're only obeying themselves as everybody contributes to the general will. This form of government is in Rousseau's opinion the only one that can provide freedom and equality for everybody, and if someone does not obey the law, he will be "forced to be free".

It seems that Rousseau's ideas had a great influence on the French Revolution and on the law text written after it.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen ( Déclaration des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen) seems to have been written by Rousseau himself:
" 1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good.

2. The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.

3. The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.

4. Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.

5. Law can only prohibit such actions as are hurtful to society. Nothing may be prevented which is not forbidden by law, and no one may be forced to do anything not provided for by law.

6. Law is the expression of the general will. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in its foundation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to all dignities and to all public positions and occupations, according to their abilities, and without distinction except that of their virtues and talents. "
Rousseau's work had a great impact upon the ideas of the French revolution. To cut a (very very) long story short, the French Revolution originated from the Enlightenment/ Romanticism ideas about freedom, equality and citizenship. France was still governed by a King of divine right, Louis XVII, and there were great inequalities. More than 90 per cent of the population was poor, suffered from starvation, diseases etc. On the 14th July 1789, Parisiens took the Bastille - which is now the symbol of the French revolution. The revolution brought a new form of government: the King of divine right was beheaded.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Why so many vegetarians in the UK?

Why are people vegetarians? This is the question I've been asking myself for the last couple of days. I appreciate some of you may think the answer is pretty obvious, but you need to bear in mind that I come from a country where being vegetarian is almost a sin - as Stephen Clarke wrote in his book Talk to the Snail: "In France [...] vegetarians are regarded with extreme suspicion, like a guest at a jacuzzi orgy who stays dry and fully clothed". I've been trying to understand WHY so many people in the UK become vegetarians whereas French people consider this habit as a kind of mental disease.

There are several reasons which motivate people to be vegetarian:

Some people just don't like the taste of the meat, which is fair enough.

Some people are vegetarians because of their religion: for example, Seventh-day Adventists and Buddhists are encouraged to have a vegetarian diet.

Some people give up meat for health reason: they want to lose weight, or have arteries problems etc. I believe this is not a good reason to become a vegetarian, simply because some meats (chicken, turkey) are not very fatty, it's just the way they're cooked that make them unhealthy. Moreover, if people do not compensate the lack of proteins and vitamins with substitution products, they will inevitably get nutritional deficiencies, which can be a very serious problem. Doctors recommend to eat meat twice a week; so if people don't cook it in a pool of oil, eating meat is a healthy habit. It is the same for everything: if you consume any food in big quantity you'll get sick.

Some people are vegetarians for environmental concerns: it has been proved that producing meat necessitates a lot of energy and that the CO2 emissions are very high. I think this can be a good reason to give up meat, though I admit I wouldn't do it myself, I'd rather have an electric car ...

I believe that some teenagers become vegetarians just because it's a kind of fashion. It's a way of belonging to a group, to feel different and also probably because they can't bear the idea of eating cute fluffy animals. The problem is that many teenagers do not fully understand the consequences of such a diet, ending up less healthy than they were before becoming a vegetarian.

The last main reasons for being a vegetarian are ethical and moral concerns. Many people give up meat to protest against cruelty towards animals, and I think this is the difference between France and the United Kingdom. Indeed, the British farming system is completely different from the French system, and this difference has been accentuated by the World War II. Before the war, The United Kingdom was very industrialised, the farming industry was modern. On the other hand, France was a rural country and not modern at all. The war left both countries destroyed, with a disastrous economical situation. In 1947, the U.S government decided to help financially European countries that were affected by the war (Marshall plan, which was worth more than $13 billion in total). The United Kingdom received the biggest percentage of this help (approximately $3 billion) followed by France ($2.5 billion). An important part of this money was used to re-build the farming industry in both countries, but in a different way. Whilst the United Kingdom used it to turn the farming industry into farming factories in order to produce enough food to feed the whole population, the French government decided to modernise the existing agriculture, giving farmers subsidies to allow them to buy new machines. This made the French farming industry faster, more efficient, but it didn't lower the quality of the products, contrary to battery farming, where animals were often ill and badly treated. This difference still exists nowadays: battery farming is a very important industry in the UK, and it has provoked waves of protests since the seventies.

I think this is one of the reasons why there are so many vegetarians in the UK: people do not want to support an industry were animals are ill, fed with antibiotics and hormones to fatten them faster. Moreover, this industry produces poor quality meat, which has been revealed to be a threat to human health because of all the hormones/ antibiotics contained in the meat. In France, the battery farming exists, but it's much less spread: in the past people have been used to eat good quality meat that comes from the closest farm, therefore that generation has past on this habit. So, if the animals have been fed with good food and been able to run happily in the countryside for their whole life, I see no reason why we shouldn't eat them.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Media law - copyright law

Copyright is a fundamental law for journalists because it protects journalists' 'intellectual properties' from being copied or stolen. It also protects any writers, movie directors, photographers or any creator of "a substantial piece of work". If you want to sell or publish your work, you basically have two options:

- when you sell an article, you are giving up your rights upon it. Therefore, you can sell it only once, as the rights upon the article belong to the company you sold it to. If you don't want to give up your rights, you can otherwise

- get a share- royalty on every sold copy of your work. This way, you do not get wage, but you can reuse your work and publish it in another paper/ magazine/ website etc.

if you're a freelance journalist, you can sell your rights for an agreed period of time and they are returned to you once it's over.

Journalists must be very careful when they want to be publish their work in a paper or a magazine: they have to read carefully the contract (mostly what's written in tiny characters at the bottom of it) and make sure they understand what it implies- I know this seems obvious, but I'm sure it happens regularly that people sell their work thinking they could reuse it, and then find out with anger that they actually can't.

The other risk for a journalist is to commit a breach of copyright - reusing somebody else's work without his/ her consent, quoting without giving the name of the author or giving the impression that you've written those words yourself when it's not the case are example of breaches of copyright. If you want to quote something in an article/ book/ interview, you are allowed to quote 30 consecutive words, not more.

Guardian News and Media has recently announced that they are planning to change their copyright policy for freelance photographers: GNM is planning to pay freelance photographers only once for unlimited reuse of images. So far, the company has paid photographers every time they reused their images. Following this, on the 1st September 2009, freelance photographers protested against the decision, unfortunately without any great result.

A few years ago, our lecturer Chris Horrie decided that because he was so great he had to copyright himself. Therefore he conducted an investigation to find out whether it was possible or not. The story is reported on the BBC website, here is the link: "How to copyright yourself"

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Law and ethic - confidentiality

Secret or confidentiality is an obligation for many professionals: lawyers, doctors, journalists etc. They can be sued if they reveal to public any information that has the necessary quality of confidence. However, many people have committed breaches of confidence, like Claude Gubler.

Claude Gubler was Francois Mitterrand's doctor, therefore he was entitled to a total confidentiality concerning his patients.
On the 16th January, 1996, eight days after the former president died, Claude Gubler published a book, Le grand secret, in which he revealed that from 1981 to 1996, false health reports were published in order to hide Mitterrand's cancer to the public. he also denounced the fact that from 1994, F. Mitterrand was no longer able to govern because of his illness.

Two days after the book was published, Mitterrand's family managed to get an injunction preventing further sales of the book. After a court case Gubler was prosecuted for violating medical secrecy and received a suspended 4 month jail sentence. He was ordered to pay damages of 340 000 francs (approximately £34,000) and was also struck off the medical register preventing him from practising medicine.

In May 2004, the European court of human rights condemned the judgment of the French court over this case. They decided that the injunction against the book should have been lifted after a few months in the name of freedom of speech. Following this decision, the book was re-published in February 2005.

Monday, 26 October 2009

1st seminar paper- John Locke

Seminar paper: John Locke, Epistle to the Reader

John Locke was born near Bristol in 1632. He studied in Oxford, but it’s only thanks to Descartes’ essays that Locke became really interested in philosophy. He was also influenced by famous scientists such as Robert Boyle and Sydenham.
Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding was published in 1690. In this book, he explains his view of human understanding and its extent. His aim was to determine the origins of human knowledge, its authenticity and greatness. He analyses human’s abilities in order to understand how we can develop ideas and therefore find out about the limits of human understanding. In the Epistle to the Reader, Locke explains to his audience the target he hopes to reach in writing this Essay. First of all, let’s see more in depth the content of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding.

I. Ideas

1. Innate ideas

Since Locke is considered as one of the first empiricist philosopher, it’s understandable that he strongly disagrees with Descartes’ concept of innate ideas. The British philosopher states that knowledge comes from experience of senses and personal reflection. According to the principle of innate ideas, some ideas, such as the existence of God, are universal. Locke proves that this principle is wrong, basing his argument on the fact that children don’t have such ideas, or that in other civilisations some of the moral ideas existing in Western countries don’t exist at all. Thus Locke refers to the concept of Tabula Rasa, which means in Latin « virgin wax tablet ». He considers that a newborn has an empty mind, a bit like a new computer with an empty hard drive. Experience will, little by little, get absorbed by the mind. Therefore, experience is the only origin of human’s knowledge and understanding. Locke deepens his analysis describing two sorts of ideas: simple and complex ideas.

2. Simple ideas

According to Locke, simple ideas are complete and cannot be divided. We cannot analyse, define or explain them as they are not mixed with other ideas. For example, the idea of numbers: would we be able to analyse and explain clearly the idea of the number one? Probably not.

3. Complex ideas

Complex ideas are just an association of simple ideas. Locke analyses three types of complex ideas:
1) Complex ideas composed of simple ideas. These are just a modification of a simple idea. For example, the idea of the number two is simply the addition of the idea of the number one. Then, there is
2) The way of thinking: perception, memory, awareness, which is also an association of ideas.
3) The free will, which means humans have the power and the freedom to decide to do something or not.

II. Knowledge

Thus, Locke showed that human’s knowledge is always linked with ideas. Knowledge without ideas is just impossible. He also classified human’s knowledge in four degrees of assent: the two first ones are about certainty, the third is about opinion and probability and the fourth is about Faith. I believe that these particular points are very important in our context because as we know, journalists are perpetually seeking after the truth. Here, Locke is giving us a quite pessimistic view of Knowledge in general, as there is very little we can be totally sure of.
The greatest degree of assent is the intuitive knowledge.

1. Intuitive knowledge

We could define intuitive knowledge with Descartes’ cogito « I think therefore I am ». This refers to every idea we have that we are totally sure to be true, like our own existence. Locke says that we perceive our own existence and it doesn’t need to be proved. If it needed to, everything else should be proved, because nothing is more sure than our own existence. This is the greatest point of certainty we can ever reach. Locke carries on his analysis with the demonstrative knowledge, which is a step below the intuitive knowledge on the scale.

2. Demonstrative knowledge

According to Locke, demonstrative knowledge consists in comparing ideas. With this process, we can then link them to other ideas to discover the truth. There are four steps in demonstrative knowledge:
-Discover proofs
-Organize the ideas so that we can clearly
- Deduce the result, and then
- Reach a conclusion.
In the demonstrative area, mathematics is the greatest point of certainty ever reached, because they include these four steps. Locke also believes that we can prove God’s existence with this process. Indeed, as the non-being cannot produce anything, therefore it means that an eternal being has created the world at some point. The rest of our knowledge is perceived by our senses.

To conclude, in his Epistle to the Reader, Locke says that understanding « is the most elevated faculty of the soul.». Although it is really difficult to gain knowledge, it is very rewarding to seek after the facts and the truth. As future journalists, I think this is the most important point we should all remember about John Locke’s philosophy.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Question time

When I first heard of the BNP, I was wondering why the Brits were talking about a French bank, Banque Nationale de Paris. Then I felt quite ignorant when I learnt that it actually was the British National Party. I admit that I am not very aware about English politics, not because I'm not interested in it, I just haven't paid enough attention to the political matters in the last few months. My political culture is mostly about France I'm afraid, but I'll try to correct this "weakness" in the next three years.

I found a very interesting article in The Independent yesterday: "10 things you should know about the BNP". Before reading it, I was really hoping that I would find differences between the BNP and the Front National (BNP's French equivalent). Basically, the leader of the French party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, wants all the immigrants to go back to their country. He also wants to reestablish the death penalty and the franc, and basically feels the same as Griffin concerning homosexuality.

In The Independent's article, I learnt that there was absolutely no difference between Le Pen and Griffin. They're both racist, they both denied the Holocaust. Griffin said about the Holocaust: "I am well aware that the orthodox opinion is that six million Jews were gassed and cremated and turned into lampshades. Orthodox opinion also once held that the world is flat." He also wants to restore white supremacy in Britain. The constitution of the BNP says: "The British National Party [...] is wholly opposed to any form of racial integration between British and non European peoples." That is not quite what was said on Question time yesterday night. Griffin appeared less radical than I had expected, it even seemed that his ideas were almost justified. Was that just to convince people that he's not a fool? Probably. The Independent gives another idea of the BNP's leader. He appears as a Hitler fanatic, as he read Mein Kampf when he was 13.
He was convicted of inciting racial hatred in 1998 and was given a suspended nine month prison term. He met the leader of the Ku Klux Klan in 2000. I could carry on! Anyway, I think these facts mean more than Griffin's speech.

Nick Griffin must know about Locke's philosophy

We all know that Locke based his theory of knowledge on empiricism. So did Griffin, Hitler and Staline. The BNP created a mascot, " Billy Brit", which is aimed to sensitize children from the age of 8 about BNP's politics. Children are encouraged to download the picture of the mascot and to listen to the songs it sings. I think this is total propaganda and they're simply trying to manipulate children. They probably realised that it is difficult to convert adults, but it's much easier to convert children if they're raised in a racist and nationalist environment. If the children have only learnt about this particular political angle, they're very likely to support the party once they're grown up.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Outreau affair

This morning's lecture focused on miscarriage of justice and qualified privilege. The first part of the lecture reminded me of a very serious case that happened a few years ago in France.

On the 25th February 2000, Thierry and Myriam Delay's children were put into a foster home after Myriam Delay denounced her husband to the police for abusing their kids. The children accused their parents' neighbours, friends' parents, people in the neighbourhood for organising "pedophile orgies". They raped the children, filmed them and then sold the movies. At least 15 kids would have been abused. Thierry Delay would have "rented" his kids to pay his debts. In 2001, the investigation started, while all the suspects were held in jail until they were tried.

The trial, which started in May 2004, was presided over the judge Burgaud. On the 10th May, Thierry Delay confessed he raped his children but exonerated all the other suspects apart from his wife. Myriam Delay also exonerated 13 of the 17 defendants. The theory of the pedophile network fell apart.* It appeared that only Thierry and Myriam Delay's four kids were abused. On the 2nd July, seven suspects were acquitted. Thierry Delay was convicted to a 20 year jail sentence, whereas his wife was given a 15 year jail sentence. The seven people who were acquitted demanded the State to admit their huge mistake. Each of them received 100 000 euros. Six defendants out of ten appealed against the conviction. They were all acquitted on the 1st of December 2005.*

I think this case is considered as one of the the worst miscarriages of justice in France, Jacques Chirac himself called the affair "a judicial disaster". One of the defendants committed suicide awaiting for the trial. Even if the defendants have been acquitted, most of them have been held in jail for several years. They've been defamed, the moral prejudices have been terrible. At the very beginning, 70 people were accused, seventeen were tried, and only four people were finally convicted to a jail sentence.

The judge Burgaud (above), who is held partly responsible for this miscarriage of justice, has been recently tried by his fellows. He received a blame (warning) for negligence and lack of impartiality during the trial. This sentence is considered as very weak by the ex defendants.

* I have simplified the story because this case is much more complicated. If you want more information about it, please visit these websites:

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Zeno's paradox

Zeno's paradox can be quite difficult to understand, because, as its title says; it's a paradox. Zeno imagined this paradox (among others) to support Parmenides' doctrine that motion is impossible, it is just an illusion. Let's take the most well known paradox, which is the race between Achilles and a tortoise.
Achilles and a tortoise are about to start a race. As Achilles is very fast, and the tortoise very slow, the athlete decides to start running when the tortoise is 100 yards ahead of him, to make the race fairer. But Achilles will never be able to catch up with the tortoise. Why? Common sense makes us think that if Achilles is faster than the tortoise, he's going to win the race. When Achilles has reached the point where the tortoise started, it's no longer there, the tortoise is a short distance ahead of him. But when Achilles run to the second point where the tortoise was, the tortoise is still ahead of him, and so on.

Why doesn't it work in real life then? Well, the answer is actually quite simple. Zeno considers that the distance between the tortoise and Achilles is infinite, and that we can divide it endlessly. However, in real life, we can measure the distance between the tortoise and Achilles, it is limited, that's why the athlete would win the race against the tortoise.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Law restrictions for journalists

Today's lecture basically consisted in determine the different types of crimes (indictable only offences, either way offences or summary offences). We've also been through the restrictions journalists face when it comes to report a fact in a newspaper. I'm not going to repeat what's written in McNae's essential law for journalists, all of us have read it, haven't we?

The fact I found particularly interesting is that some journalists try really hard to get round the laws and the court restrictions: here is a link where a journalist explains how to challenge a court reporting restriction. Even though we are not at this stage yet, it's still quite interesting to read.

The following story perfectly fits in the context. A judge has allowed the identification of a sex case school after an application from the Daily mail. She probably decided it was in the public interest to release that information. To know more about this case, click here.
Last week, we've been told that famous people almost never sue newspapers. I have found the exception! Liam Gallagher (Oasis' singer) sued The Guardian for libel. Here is the full story:

I hope these links are going to be helpful, since today's law lecture was only the second one, I thought that posting some examples could give a clearer understanding of McNae's book.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Francis Bacon and his Idols

This week has been really busy for me, so I apologise if this blog looks a bit empty at the minute, I will try to work more on it in the next few weeks.
Today, I have read the chapter about Francis Bacon in History of
Western Philosophy (yes, I'm part of the 50% of the class who read the wrong chapters last week, though it was pretty interesting to learn that in Pythagoras' religion it was not allowed to eat beans ... )
I have studied Bacon's philosophy when I was at the lycée (or high school) and I think that some aspects of his philosophy are worth a more detailed explanation than the one you can find in Russell's book.

You probably (don't) remember that at some point Russell refers to Bacon's Idols, he explains quickly their meaning, but from my point of view the explanation is not totally clear. I think this is an important concept to understand, because it's one of the unavoidable philosophical topic.

The first Idol is the Idol of the Tribe. This refers to the prejudices shared by the whole mankind, for example, men tend to trust their first impression and their senses.

The second Idol is the Idol of the Cave. This concept certainly refers to Plato's cave myth. All of us are brought up in a certain historical context, education which will influence our temperament. Then, our temperament makes us think in a particular way and not in another. Therefore, all of these element prevent us from being objective. For Bacon, the cave is designed by all of these elements. Although Plato's version sounds a bit more complex, I think the two concepts are very similar. It's easy to link this concept to the journalism world: even if a journalist is supposed to report the truth and only the truth, is he totally objective?

The third Idol is the Idol of the Market Place: In Bacon's opinion, no thought is possible without language to express it. Therefore, when men communicate, misunderstandings and bad interpretations occur regularly because men use the same words to express different ideas. I believe this particular idol is also important because as future journalists (hopefully), it is recommended to choose our words carefully!

The fourth Idol is the Idol of the Theater: Basically, this refers to beliefs and religions accepted without a single question by people because they are supported and spread by well educated minorities.

That is what I've been taught in France. However, interpretations can vary and I hope I made it clear enough, it is already hard work to be clear in philosophy when I can speak French, but in English, it's almost Mission: Impossible !

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

God bless England!

Last year, when I was still in France, I started a course in international trade. The title of that course may sound interesting, but after a few weeks I found it really boring, that was just not for me. However, it has not been a total waste of time, since I have learnt quite a bit about French law. I thought that I could re-use it for the journalism course. I didn't realise at that time how wrong I was. It is unbelievable how England wants to be different from other countries, and especially from France!

Good for me, because it makes life much easier. Yes, French people enjoy having complicated administration, and, being a French citizen, I had never realised that everything could actually be simpler. Some of you may not completely understand what I really mean, so let's take an example: in England, there are four different kinds of court (Magistrates courts, Crown court, County Courts and High Court) whereas in France, there are eight courts, all specialised in different areas (crime, offences, administration, work issues, family issues, commerce, money matters etc.) Needless to say I have simplified the scheme to make it shorter. Now you can imagine how pleased I was when I found out that the English system was actually not that complex! Let's hope that the rest is going to be as simple as that. Honestly, I doubt it.


Hello and welcome

I am Julie, and I live in Southampton. I am a student at Winchester university, studying journalism. I hope you will enjoy the reading and I will do my best to make the articles interesting !