Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Poor students to get two years at university for free

My news report this week:

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Social Darwinism

March of Progress

Social Darwinism was mainly developed by Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher from the nineteenth century. It was based on Darwin’s theory of evolution, according to which living beings evolve through a process of natural selection. Theory of evolution was then applied to political and social issues that people encountered at the time. According to Spencer, natural selection shows that only rich and powerful people have the ability to adapt to their social environment. Therefore, it is only natural and moral to let them grow, while people who struggle should not be helped – only because it is not moral to encourage weak people to reproduce. On a political level, the theory encouraged the idea that strong and advanced populations should rule the world, while weaker countries should not be assisted.

Social Darwinism was used many times as a reason to persecute the weakest. Although this theory was not a cause in itself, it served many questionable actions European governments have undertaken in the 19th and 20th centuries, such as colonialism and imperialism.

It also served eugenics, a popular current in the early 1900s. It is described as a “biosocial movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population". This so-called science promoted the idea of a superior race, and that inferior people should either be slaves or exterminated.

Eugenics led to many atrocities. From 1907, Some American states enforced laws according to which mentally ill people should not marry and that they should undergo sterilisation. Between 1907 and 1963, over 64,000 people were sterilised in the United States. And last but certainly not least, the Nazi government conducted eugenics programs in an attempt to maintain a pure German race. Between 1934 and 1937, an estimated 400,000 people were sterilised by the Nazi regime. The same regime killed thousands of institutionalised disabled through compulsory euthanasia programs. Here is a nazi poster promoting compulsory euthanasia.

This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the community 60,000 Reichsmark during his lifetime. Fellow German, that is your money, too."

Monday, 22 November 2010

London student protest documentary

This is the documentary about the London protest made by Veronica Frydel, Madeleine Klippel, Andrew Giddings and William Cooper. This is a brilliant piece of journalism, and we all hope to produce something as good as this one day! Well done guys.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Innocence project conference - a few notes...

With emotion and anger in his voice, he gave a lengthy speech, plunging the audience in a complete stupor. At the age of fifteen, Paul Blackburn (pictured) was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. Because he was labelled as a sexual offender, he explained in crude words how he suffered daily violence and abuse, was stabbed twice in the throat, and was even ordered by the warders to clean the floor of his own blood. Once transferred to a prison for adults, he became addicted to heroine.

Now forty-seven, Paul has spent half of his life in a cell, fighting inmates and taking drugs. Although Blackburn won his appeal in 2005, the two Cheshire police detectives who forced him to write a confession in 1978 never apologised. They are now retired and enjoy a full police pension. In a statement obtained by the Guardian, Cheshire police said: “This case was investigated 31 years ago, when rules relating to the questioning of suspects and the submission of evidence were very different to standards today."

This story is not unique. Miscarriages of justice do happen, and while most prisoners are factually guilty, the legal system is not perfect. Michael Naugthon, founder and chair of the Innocence Network UK wrote in the Guardian: “The INUK and its member innocence projects exist to give help and, perhaps most crucially, hope to potentially innocent victims of wrongful conviction or imprisonment who have exhausted the appeals system and legal aid services. Offering fresh pairs of eyes, students aim to find new evidence or argument that will assist them in making an application to the CCRC* or to the Scottish CCRC.”

CCRC*: Criminal Case Review Commission

Internet Investigation Techniques and Tracing Witnesses

By Neil Smith, Investigative researcher and trainer

Neil Smith gave us an insight into tracing people on the Internet using legal means.

When searching on Google, try to be specific, and use the advanced research tool. Google is much more powerful than we think.

Open Source is an amazing tool when tracing people. It contains many free UK database websites.

If you are looking for someone who is abroad, try Search Engine This website lists international search engines, from Aaland to Zimbabwe. is a website that helps you tracing people. You just need to enter a name, and it will find social network pages, articles and even Amazon wish lists about the individual you are looking for.

Governing body websites are a gold mine of information. If the person you are looking for was/is a doctor, nurse, dentist or teacher for example, chances are that some information will be available on the web. Here are two governing body websites: Law Society for lawyers or GMC for doctors. lists bankrupt people and gives their details.

Social network like Facebook, Twitter or Myspace are very useful. Even if the person you’re looking for is not on these websites, you can still try to find their relatives on them.

Friends Reunited is an old website that can be useful as it’s an old version of Facebook.

You can also look at these websites: Police Reunited, Scouts Reunited, Nurses Reconnected, Convicts Reunited. All of them are free. allows you to search birth, marriage and death certificates. is the same type of website, but you will have to pay to access information.

Neil Smith's website.

An investigative journalism approach to overturn alleged wrongful convictions

By Dr Eamonn O’Neil, award-winning investigative journalist

Investigative journalism must be the result of the journalists’ work and effort. It must involve material someone is trying to keep hidden. It also has to be in the public interest.

“Investigative journalism is the search for the best obtainable version of the truth”

Carl Berstein

Investigation techniques: in depth document analysis, move beyond documents and interviews, systematic project management and case review, innovative search techniques for witnesses and new evidence, specialised interview techniques and computer assisted reporting. Undercover reporter and secret filming are to be used only in last resort. You need to work from the facts outwards and not from a thesis inwards. And you must understand the legal system in which you are working.

How to proceed with the case: Evaluate all the case files as soon as possible, and start looking for anomalies in the prosecution & defence. Read as many news clips as possible.

On the field: Trace witnesses; try to find the policemen who were involved in the case.

One piece of advice… when interviewing potentially dangerous people, always meet them in a public place, never go on your own, get someone to follow you. Always tell them if you are recording the conversation. If you take them to the crime scene, rehearse the situation and see their reaction, examine the circumstances.

Try to know about the witnesses and their personalities before meeting them.

Generally, use your common sense and be safe.

The limitation of DNA evidence

By Professor Allan Jamieson, founder of the Forensic Institute in Glasgow

This section will be brief I am afraid, as the session was particularly difficult to understand for me – the man had a strong Scottish accent…

I have learnt that:

- One can move someone else’s DNA from an object to another.

- Although extremely unlikely, nothing proves that two people can’t have the same DNA.

- Interpretation of DNA analysis can be very difficult, and mistakes can happen, mostly when there are different DNA on the same object.

- If for some reason the DNA analysis doesn’t give you the name of the murderer, it can still exclude some of the suspects.

Read carefully the wording of the prosecution. If you find sentences like:

“The evidence is consistent with…”

“This is what I would expect to see if…”

“The findings would support assertions of…”

“…was consistent with DNA from the people being present”

“This could not be excluded”

This kind of sentences proves absolutely nothing, it is just hypothetical.

The failure of the criminal justice system and methodology to prove innocence

By Dr Michael Naughton and Gabe Tan

Naughton said that the system needs to change. Although the British legal system is one of the best in the world, it is flawed.

Many people claim their innocence when there are not, which definitely undermine factually innocent people. Some claim their innocence because they don’t understand what they did, or some believe that what they did was justified and therefore legal.

He also insisted about students’ commitment: “You will never progress in a case if you work an hour a week on it”.

Gabe Tan urged students to retain all the evidence. Never EVER destroy documents. They may seem irrelevant now, but they can be useful later.

Go through all the files: unused witness statements/evidence.

Search the evidence that could prove innocence, look at similar cases in archives that you could relate to the case you work on.

DNA exonarations are rare in the UK.

The absence of evidence doesn’t prove the evidence of absence. If DNA wasn’t found, the criminal could have found way to leave the scene “clean”.

Try to get a full account of the story. And last but not least, every piece of evidence has to be understood in the context.

This is how to conference ended – according to my notes anyway. I hope you will find this article useful for your future researches.

picture: The Guardian

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

News package 5: Winchester University hit hard by spending cuts

This week news report: the University's budget explained in detail.

Friday, 5 November 2010

news package 4 - Graduates face poorest job market in decades

News package 3 - Commuters pay more to get less

News package 2 - Tuition fees to rise up to £9000

News package 1 - No Student Finance hell this year

Apologise for the delay, here are the news packages I have produced in the last four weeks. Feel free to comment and criticise!

My very first news package was a bit of a "puff piece" I admit it. I mostly wanted to focus on the technical aspect of putting a news story together, rather than the content itself.

Seminar paper: James Joyce’s Ulysses

James Joyce was an Irish writer and poet born in 1822 in Dublin. He came from a modest background since his father was a terrible businessman. Joyce’s parents wanted their son to enter priesthood, but the author rejected religion in his teenage years. Joyce studied French, English and Italian at university. In 1902, he attempted to study medicine in Paris but quickly gave up because he could not understand French. He went back to Dublin, but soon after his mother’s death, he moved to Trieste (Italy). During these years, Joyce taught English, wrote Dubliners – which is a collection of fifteen short stories about the Irish middle class life. He never moved back to Ireland and died in Zurich in 1941.

The American literary magazine The Little Review serialised James Joyce's Ulysses from 1918. The journal published it until 1921, which is when the Post Office censored the magazine because its content was declared obscene.

Ulysses depicts an ordinary day in the life of Leopold Bloom, 16 June 1904. If it was not for Joyce trying to write a full and honest account of human consciousness, this novel would actually be an easy read. But unfortunately (for us) Joyce decided that he would make his work extremely difficult to understand - as he famously said: “I have put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant.”

The novel’s title refers the Odysseus hero, Homer’s most famous work. Many elements in Ulysses have a link with the Odysseus, including characters and chapters’ titles.

The book is divided in eighteen chapters, this is as far as the structure goes. Any kind of structure within the chapters appears to be non existent, as the author often used a stream-of-consciousness technique. This is a particular narrative mode that goes trough a character's thought, whether coherent or not.

Joyce went very far into describing every detail of human life. Maybe too far sometimes – do we need to read a book that describes what we experience every day as human beings?

“He allowed his bowels to ease themselves quietly as he read [...] Ah! Costive one tabloid of cascara sagrada [...] Print anything now. Silly reason. He read on, seated calm above his own rising smell.”

Since not many authors tried to describe life as it is before Joyce did, his book is very interesting from a literate point of view. The way he described the characters' thoughts in short sentences is quite disconcerting at first:

“Mr Bloom glanced from his angry moustache to Mr Power's mild face and Martin Cunningham's eyes and beard, gravely shaking. Noisy selfwilled man. Full of his son. He is right. Something to hand on. If little Rudy had lived. See him grow up.”

This succession of short sentences shows how we inwardly think. There is no structure, no proper sentences, only non elaborated thoughts and feeling.

Chapter 15: Circe

I haven't found anything that explains why chapter fifteen was named Circe. Circe is a goddess of magic in Greek mythology. The myth says that she gave a magical potion to her enemies in order to transform them into animals. Since chapter fifteen relates drunken events and hallucinations, my guess is that the magical potion here in the novel is alcohol, and that Circe is personified by Bella Cohen, the owner of the brothel.

Joyce used different styles of narrative throughout the novel. Surprisingly, this chapter takes the form of a play script.

Stephen, Lynn and Bloom go to a brothel. Bloom is very drunk, and most of the chapter relates his hallucinations. This makes Circe one of the most Freudian part in the whole novel. Everything in his hallucinations could be analysed from a Freudian point of view.

Let's take an example: Bloom's dead child appears. Here Freud would simply say that Bloom has a strong desire to resuscitate his son.

In another hallucination, Bloom has an hallucination where he's facing a trial, being accused of forgery and bigamy. Here, Freud would probably say that even though Bloom is an honest person, his Id confronts him to his worst fears through his hallucinations. In the early twentieth century, anti-Semitism was growing, and Bloom being Jewish, he unconsciously feared that he would be persecuted at some point because of his religion.

The chapter also depicts how stupid drunken men can be. Stephen smashes a chandelier with a walking stick, gets in an argument with a soldier for insulting the King, and finally get knocked down.

The whole chapter seems to be written in a drunken way. Once again there is no structure, but this reflects the story. The style is messy and not coherent, but it is very visual as well. The reader can imagine the scene happening as he reads.

My personal opinion is that Joyce has clearly succeeded in depicting human consciousness, but personally I don't know whether it is enjoyable from an entertainment point of view to read a book that relates ordinary events.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

HCJ lecture 3 - Freud

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was an Austrian neurologist who invented psychoanalysis. He died in London and was a huge celebrity at the time. He believed that men's problems could be solved with psychoanalysis. He was also a cocaine addict, he praised the drug's antidepressant and stimulant effects.

He was seen as a sexual renegade at the time, he considered sex as a central motivational factor for many of our actions. He was influenced by Locke's idea of the "blank slate" - everything we know comes from our education and society.

He believed that women instinctively feel like they were castrated. They lack of power as they have no penis, therefore they love their father and reject their mother. This opinion is of course debatable since Freud is well known for being misogynist.

According to Freud, self love is a barrier to progress. He thought that to be able to scientifically analyse a case, the scientist should take a step back and observe the patient without trying to influence them in any way.

His main legacy is the notion of Unconscious: the conscious brain is not in charge, everything happens in an underlying part. His theory is that the mind is divided in three parts: the Id is the animal instinct, our most basic desires are gathered in the Id - desire for sex, violence, food etc. The Id is repressed and "censored" by the Super Ego, which contains rules and codes our parents and society taught us. The Ego is the conscious part of our mind, which is a sort of balance between our Id and Super Ego. There is a constant battle between Super Ego, Ego and Id.

Still according to Freud's theories, there are five stages of development during our childhood:

the oral stage: time when the baby is breastfed
the anal stage: time when the child learns to be clean
the phallic stage: time when the child is obsessed with his penis - this is also the time when the Oedipus complex appears: symbolically, the child wants to sleep with his mother and kill his father. The child usually overcomes this phase, realising that his father is stronger and could castrate him.
the latent stage: nothing really happens.
The genital stage: the child is obsessed with his genitals.

Men have found a way to hide their "Id outburst":

In order to burn sexual energy, people turn themselves towards a more "correct" activity - sport, arts, reading etc - this is sublimation.

Displacement is turning shameful thoughts into something/someone else.

Projection is sending feelings onto someone else.

Rationalisation is giving a more socially acceptable explanation for something you did that wasn't socially acceptable. If you hit your kid, you wouldn't say that you did it because it was stress relieving, would you?

The key to psychoanalysis is that you are hiding something from yourself. Freud believed he found the way people deal with the Unconscious part of their mind: hypnosis, pressure method, free associations and dreams. All these methods allow people to evacuate some pressure.

Freud was attacked by various people and he's nowadays mainly considered as a writer. Some scientists had a problem with Freud's theories as there is no way to prove them wrong/right.

However neuroscience later found out that the brain was disposed in a similar way, as there are three different layers:
the reptilian brain, which is in charge of motor movement, and basic needs/feelings. (Id)
The Limbic system, in charge of emotions. (Super Ego)
The neo cortex, in charge of language and communication. (Ego)

Reich disagreed with Freud, and in fact believed the opposite. He thought that people were genuinely good and that society was turning some of them into dangerous and violent people. He thought that repression of sexuality was what made people unhappy.

Friday, 15 October 2010

HCJ lecture 2 - Modernism

Modernism is an early twentieth century movement that reacted against realism. Modernism rejected the values of the Enlightenment and the idea of a Creator. This movement was mainly about changing the norms and rules of Classicism in literature, art and music.

Arthur Shopenhauer was a German philosopher born in 1788. He was a pessimistic who believed that physical, emotional and physical desires can never be fulfilled - desires are useless and illogical. He influenced many philosophers, including Nietzsche.

Friedrich Nietzsche was born in Germany in 1844. He was a very influential philosopher. He treated various matters, such as morality, religion, and will. He was against Christian morale and undertook the task of reevaluating religious values.
He famously wrote in Thus spoke Zarathustra "God is dead". This book mainly deals with the notion of Overman. Zarathustra has the revelation that God is dead, and therefore tries to convince people that they should overcome themselves in order to be better people. His aim is to improve mankind, and create a kind of "Superman". I personally think that this idea that people can overcome themselves is just another doctrine, and that it's not in any way better than any other religions. Christianity is also about being better people, and Jesus was leading people towards their truth. I don't think Zarathustra is different from Jesus. Unsurprisingly, Nieztsche's views were associated with Nazism, as Hitler - among others - tried to create a perfect human race, the Aryan race.

Another influential modernist artist is Richard Wagner (1813-1883). He was a German musician who broke the rules of classical music. He was a very controversial personality given his personal life and views on politics. He had numerous love affairs and wrote antisemitic essays. He wrote Jewishness in Music, in which he accused Jews of being a harmful and alien element in German culture. He also criticised Jewish music, saying that it was artificial and shallow, and that they produced music just to make money.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

No brain, no gain

We've all been told many many many times by Brian and Chris that
being a reporter/journalist is hard work. But the thing is, you never realise how hard it is until you actually do it. Well, I have learnt a lot this week.

The first thing I have learnt is that you have to be organised. You need to know where you're going with your story idea, and you should have thought through every details of your news package. When reporting a news story (okay, I admit that my news story this week wasn't brilliant), I have the feeling that if I don't plan everything in advance, I am not doing my job properly.

My news story this week was about Student Finance.

On Sunday night, I researched some figures and the history background. I looked for the people I could talk to on the University website and prepared my interviews.

On Monday morning, I went to talk to the two people I wanted to interview. They both agreed to do an interview within 24 hours with me. I then started to think about the pictures I would put in the package, so I went to get permission to film from the Student Union president and the Catering Manager.

At 12:00 we had our first news team meeting of the year.

At 12:30 I had an interview with the Welfare and Equality Officer. Stu came along to help me with the filming, which was really helpful. It's really nice to be able to fully concentrate on the interview without having to worry about the camera. Thanks Stu!

In the afternoon, I filmed some pictures on the campus - students in the learning cafe, SU bar and SU shop.

I then carried on with some vox pops, helped by Madeleine with the filming. She gave me some very useful advice about the different angles you should take when doing vox pops. Don't film them all from the same angle. Each vox pop should be visually different and interesting.

On Monday night, I work on the editing. I didn't want to arrive the next day in from of my computer, not knowing how to start the package. Therefore I planned each picture of it, the voice over, where and how they would be etc. I didn't quite stick to this plan, but I thought it was a safer option to work like this.

On Tuesday morning, I arrived early at Uni to get more pictures to illustrate my package. It turned out I didn't use these ones because it just felt like it wouldn't fit well into the package.

At 10:00, I went to interview the Student Finance Officer. I was helped by Maddie once again, which explains the great quality of the picture!

At 10:30, I was ready to edit my footage. Don't worry, I'll spare you the long and painful -but necessary editing part. I left TAB9 at 18:00.

The next morning, I had to "polish" it. Catherine helped me to adjust the sound levels.

At around 11:30, my news package was finally ready.

This is how I produced my first news story. Many thanks to everybody who helped me!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

HCJ Lecture notes - William Randolph Hearst

Historical context

In the 1840s, America considerably changed thanks to three main factors:
. The Gold Rush in California (1840-1850): Thousands of people travelled to California in hopes of finding gold. One in ten people died during the journey.
. Europe was ravaged by poverty and wars, many Europeans fled the Old World to find a better life in America.
. The Irish famine in the 1840s forced thousands of Irish people to emigrate to America.

William Randolph Hearst

William Randolph Hearst's father, George Hearst, was one on the thousands people who went to California during the Gold Rush period. He became very wealthy thanks to his hard work in the gold mines and then went into politics. He allegedly won the San Francisco Examiner in a poker game.

In the early days of american press, there were two types of newspapers: political and commercial. Political newspapers were mostly propaganda and did not publish news stories without them being distorted. The Associated Press was created in 1846 in order to pass on news more easily to various newspapers.

William Randolph Hearst took over the San Francisco Examiner in 1887 and completely transformed it. He was obsessed with the newspaper's front page; he decided to get rid of the text and put pictures instead, as he stated:

"They attract the eye and stimulate the imagination of the lower classes and materially aid comprehension"

Thanks to this process, Hearst managed to gain a broader readership: immigrants and ineducated people. He also improved the writing, making the headlines shorter and more straightforward. Hearst is considered by many the father of tabloid newspapers.

The Yellow Kid

The Yellow Kid was a cartoon published in Joseph Pulitzer's newspaper New York World. The character was a working-class immigrant child who spent his time with his immigrant friends. The cartoon was very popular amongst the working class people. William R. Hearst decided to poach Pulitzer's cartoonist, offering him a much higher salary. Pulitzer hired another cartoonist, and for one year, the stories of the Yellow Kid were published in both newspapers. This type of newspapers were then given the name of Yellow Papers. Yellow journalism is the ancestor of British red tops.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Let's get started.

Welcome back!

After sixteen weeks of holiday (yes, sixteen!) we journo students are all back at Uni, finally ready to go out there and get news stories.

This year, I will be a finance and consumer reporter for Winchester News Online, a news bulletin will be broadcast live every Wednesday at three o' clock.

I shall keep this blog updated with my latest news stories, news packages and also with my history and philosophy lectures.


Saturday, 22 May 2010

HCJ revision notes: everything you need to know!

Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft was a feminist born in the eighteen century. She was a romantic, which implies that she was obsessed with the idea of human nature like her fellows Rousseau and Hobbes. She believed that women were considered inferior because of their physical nature (physically weaker than men).

She strongly rejected the system of education of the time which was based on Aristotle’s doctrine: he considered than women were a different/inferior specie to men, and that they had no role in reproduction. He also believed that some people are naturally slaves and it would be cruel to make slaves free as it’s in their nature to be slaves. Therefore it’s in women’s nature to be directed by men. Romantics have reacted against this misogynist conception.

Mary W. believed in the potential of education – she believed that education could free women from their status of slave.

Mary W. had a relation of love/hatred with Rousseau: she found his ideas inspirational but she disagreed with his views on women. Indeed, he believed that women’s duty was to please men.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is her most popular work. In this book, she was very critical towards women, she blamed then for letting themselves fall in their current status. With this work she wanted to show that women are human beings and that there should be no difference between men and women in the public sphere – they should have the same rights and the same ambitions. Gender isn’t relevant, it only limits women’s potential. The role of education is to change women’s view on the role society gave them.

Epistemology – Kant and Keats

Epistemology means philosophy of knowledge: how can we be certain about what we know.

Noumenal: parallel worlds that could exist outside our own perception. It also mean things in themselves, they don’t need people’s perception to exist. World beyond ordinary perception.

Phenomenal: An object becomes a phenomena when it is observed by somebody. This implies that objects have a dual nature, they are different depending on the possibility that somebody observes them or not.

John Keats was a poet from the romantic period. He was interested in noumenal. In the Ode on a Grecian Urn, he stated that beauty is truth. To understand this statement, we need to understand what he believed. The aesthetic response someone gets when he/she sees something really beautiful (subjectively) is a feeling that proves the existence of a noumenal world – this emotional feeling is a kind of communication with the noumenal world. Hence: beauty is truth.

Kant believed that the Universe was divided in two parts – noumenal and phenomenal.


Axiom: true fact by definition, beyond any doubt. It comes from Euclidian geometry.

Aristotle had a deductive logic: he invented the syllogism. The starting point of a syllogism is an axiom > All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore Socrates is mortal. A syllogism derives the conclusion from the original premise.

A priori: knowledge known without experience: “I think therefore I am.” from Descartes. You cannot check this fact. Hume says that any a priori knowledge is impossible; Locke believed that men are born with a “blank slate”.

A posteriori: it is the opposite of a priori; it means that knowledge comes from experience. Empiricist and materialist philosophers approach philosophy on knowledge that comes from experience.

Induction or synthetic logic: the conclusion is not contained in the axiom: it is necessary to add external knowledge to come to a conclusion. Scientists use this kind of logic. Before there was any scientific evidence about the Sun, Hume believed that we could never be sure than the Sun would rise/set because there was no evidence that it would happen again. He was a sceptical towards truth.

Materialism and idealism

Materialism: the theory holds that the world is made of sensitive matter.

Idealism: the theory holds that everything you see is only happening in your mind, it is a phenomena. The question of the tree falling in a forest: is it making a noise or not? Idealist philosophers would say not, because nobody is around to hear it.

Hegel was an idealist, he believed that everything was spirit – idea of Geist. He was a teleological philosopher, which means that he believed that everything has a purpose. The world is evolving towards a perfect society, and all the events that happened during History were necessary to achieve it.

Marx was a materialist, he believed that ideas have a material effects.

Development of newspapers and periodicals

Newspapers have developed between 1815 (roughly the end of Napoleonic wars) and 1915 (beginning of the First World War). This is the century where the world has become as we know it today.

Economy: the economy was evolving with liberalism and free trade. It was the golden age of capitalism.

Demography: people migrated towards the cities (urbanisation), the cities became crowded. This was a new market for newspapers: people were closer; it was then easier to sell them. Everybody was affected by the same problems and they also talked the same language.

Technology: 1830s: steam-driven press: it allowed a massive production of newspapers is a small amount of time.

Railway train: it allowed faster distribution

1860s: telegraph wire: allowed news to be transmitted on the same day.

Sociological: in America, liberalism was reformed and free trade was put in place.

Political: the fact that there were no taxes and no censorship was great for newspapers, they could print what they wanted and they didn’t have to pay money for it.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Innocence project & Forensic science

The Innocence Network UK is a British association that investigates court cases where it is believed that miscarriages of justice might have been committed. Nowadays many universities are part of this association, such as the University of Winchester. Our journalism course, unlike many others, takes part in the investigations, and the project has even become the topic of our final year project. Despite the fact that only the third years can really investigate and take decisions, anybody can get involved from year one.

To help us getting a better understanding of our case, we met Nigel Hodge, a freelance forensic scientist, expert in DNA profiling, bloodstain pattern analysis and crime scene investigation. He investigated more than a hundred murder cases, and we definitely needed his experience and expertise to understand the scientific side of our case.

His job

Hodge first explained us what his job is like: he has to collect forensic evidence to serve the case and to help juries take their decision. His duty is to remain impartial, he does not work for the defendant or the victim. He said that his duty was to the truth. This is one of the reasons why he doesn't want to meet the defendant, or even to see a picture of the person. According to him, it is too easy to be biased once you have seen the face of the defendant. He then explained the emotional side of his profession and the need to remain emotionally detached: "Violence does hit you, but you need to get on with it, or you won't do the job!". According to Hodge, the saddest thing on a murder scene is to see how people used to live before they died. He also confessed that he usually forgets the case once it is over, to be able to be fully concentrated on the next one.

What we've learnt
Hodge got then into more detail and gave us the information we needed to scientifically understand the forensic evidence given in our case:

DNA: there has been a great improvement in the methods used to detect DNA. The downside of this is that the devices to detect DNA are so sensitive that the results are sometimes unusable as evidence. DNA can stay several years on items, but it can degrade overtime, depending on external conditions (temperature, humidity, light). Forensic experts cannot date DNA.

Footprint: they can be very useful because they are unique and they do not disappear. However the shoes get worn and therefore they won't leave the same footprint, which makes the original footprint unusable if the shoe that made it is not found quickly.

: using blood as an evidence can be tricky because if it's not frozen it is not possible to use it for anything. However if it has been frozen, you can re-use it fifteen years later without any problems.

How the re-open a case
Nigel Hodge also told us about the legal procedures to follow to be able to re-open a case.

- Getting a lawyer involved is the most important thing to do before starting anything else.
- Have your case reviewed by the Criminal Case Review Commission.
- Prove that the jury was mislead by the evidence used in the last trial.
- Show that some evidence should have been used in the trial.
- Have a good relationship with the police. They are the "enemy", but it is important to be nice and friendly to get what you want.

It can be really difficult to get evidence reviewed a second time as they might be unusable/destroyed.

Miscarriages of justice can happen because the legal team is sometimes poorly educated on forensic science. They do not always understand the forensic evidence, which in the end can lead to a poor defence.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Election - Feature

Hythe, New Forest, Thursday 6 April, 9:30 p.m

Outside the leisure centre, the car park is filling up with cars. The air is slowly cooling down as the sky gradually becomes darker. People hurry towards the entrance. Most men are smartly dressed, but it seems that some women have preferred to remain casual.

A BBC van is parked in front of the entrance; a very tall antenna sticks out of it. One journalist, who must be in his mid-forties, stands beside the van, chatting on the phone.

An odour of chlorine lingers at the reception indicating the swimming facilities inside. A woman and a man stand behind the counter, checking that everybody who gets in is on the list.

The count is being held in the main sports hall. Sports equipment has been pushed against the brick walls – gym mattresses, basketball hoops between others. Several big posters are displayed on the walls, showing people stretching, cycling and swimming.

Four rows of tables have been lined up – two assigned for the New Forest West constituency and two for the New Forest East constituency. A stage has been set up at the back of the hall; a microphone and two speakers stand on it. Some people who are here to count are already sat down, waiting for the first ballot papers to arrive. Most people in the room are over fifty; however there are a few exceptions.

Groups of party supporters are spread around the hall, chatting and laughing. Any group is easily identifiable thanks to the rosettes people wear. The majority of supporters in the hall wear a blue rosette.

10:00 p.m

Black boxes full of ballot papers arrive from various places. The ballots papers are slowly distributed on the tables, and the count commences. People who count – mostly women – seem pleased that it has finally started and put lots of energy into counting as fast as possible.

Upstairs a café has been set up for the occasion. On a table lie cheap sandwiches, muffins, tea and coffee. A few people are sitting around the tables, drinking tea and chatting with their neighbours. A television has been brought into the confined room, and a small crowd of people has gathered around to watch BBC 1. Many of them are waiting for estimations to be announced, as it is still too early to already get some results.

11:00 p.m

Back in the main sports hall, people are still counting at the New Forest East table. However, it seems that the ballot papers from the New Forest West are slower to arrive. People at the new Forest West table are waiting, some looking bored, and others are chatting, yawning, or drinking coffee.

Now there are a few journalists walking around the hall. The BBC journalist’s microphone reads “BBC Solent”. He is talking to many people, interviewing some supporters, asking candidates for their feeling about the election or if they know when the results will be announced. Several other people wear the badge “General election 2010: PRESS”, but it looks like they are waiting for more solid information before interviewing people. Another journalist is holding a heavy-looking camera; he takes pictures of the two Conservative candidates.

12:30 p.m

The returning officer climbs onto the stage and announces when the results are estimated to come through. The New Forest East constituency should have its newly elected Member of Parliament by 2:30 a.m. The New Forest West constituency should have the result by 3:00 a.m. Some people sigh, there is still a long time to wait before going home.

It is getting warm in the main hall; many people have dropped jackets and scarves, and some are seeking fresh air outside – but most of them are quickly back inside as the outdoor temperature is not welcoming. The rare people who stay longer outside are the smokers, or those who are on the phone.

2:00 a.m.

At the back of the room, tens of empty ballot paper boxes have been piled up against the wall. The sports hall is no longer crowded now, many people have already left. People are still counting ballot papers, and some party supporters are looking over their shoulders to try to get an idea of what the result is going to be like.

Upstairs a diabetic lady has passed out. A few minutes later, an ambulance arrives. The medical team quickly examines her before taking her into the ambulance. The incident went unnoticed for most people in the main hall.

3:00 a.m

The room is getting much quieter now. The results have not been announced yet, and people are getting a little bit impatient. A blonde lady – who wears a blue rosette – walks up and down alongside the tables, looking annoyed and stressed. Many tables have been cleared with only piles of ballot papers waiting to be picked up. However, on the New Forest West table, people are still counting.

3:30 a.m

The five candidates for the New Forest East constituency – Julian Lewis (Conservative), Peter Sopowski (Labour), Terry Scriven (Liberal Democrat), Beverley Golden (Green) and Peter Day (UK Independence Party) and the returning officer climb onto the stage. Everybody is now looking towards the candidates, and all the journalists are walking towards the stage. The returning officer announces that he has the results. Looks of apprehension can be read on people’s face. The returning officer says:

“UKIP party, Peter Day: 2518 votes” A few people applaud, but the noise quickly fades as the returning officer carries on speaking.

“Green party, Beverley Golden: 1024 votes,

“Labour Party, Peter Sopowski: 4915 votes” Two people start to applaud but they are not followed by anybody.

“Liberal Democrat, Terry Scriven: 15136 votes” A cheer of applause immediately breaks the silence. It however vanishes in a few seconds.

“Conservative, Julian Lewis: 26 443 votes” Everybody wearing a blue rosette applaud laugh and hug each other. They have the power for another five years.

People for the West constituency are still waiting for the results. Despite the several signs “no food/ no drink” in the hall, many people are now eating a muffin or a cereal bar and drinking tea or coffee.

4:15 a.m

The results are going to be announced for the New Forest West constituency. The five candidates stand on the stage. The conservative candidate Desmond Swayne is re-elected with 27 980 votes. The few remaining people applaud, but it is not as cheerful as it was 45 minutes ago.

People who were counting earlier are now tidying up the hall, looking forward to being home.