Saturday, 28 November 2009

News Agenda presentation - Hampshire Chronicle

Introduction

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.

Audience

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.

Analysis


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

History

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.

Analysis

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:

Whatdotheyknow.com 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 ( D├ęclaration 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"