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.

William Randolph Hearst

William Randolph Hearst was born in 1863 in San Francisco. He came from a very wealthy family and studied in Harvard, before being expelled for giving his professors chambers pots with their names painted on the inside.

Hearst got into publishing business in 1887 with the San Francisco Examiner, the newspaper his father purchased in 1880. Hearst did everything he could to improve the newspaper: he bought the best equipment of the time and hired very talented writers such as Mark Twain and Jack London. He was a populist, he wanted to write for the masses, and went on to expose scandals such as financial corruption. The San Francisco Examiner became one of the best-selling newspapers in town within a few years.

In 1896, Hearst bought the New York Morning Journal - a dying newspaper - and turned it into the best-selling newspaper in New York at the time. He did the same thing he did with the San Francisco Examiner: he hired very good and famous writers. But he tried something new, that nobody had done before: he published as many sensational stories as he could ( crime mostly), he designed loud headlines and he also published lots of cartoons. Finally, the price was set to only one cent. The New York Morning Journal was competing with the New York World, Joseph Pulitzer's newspaper. This type of newspapers became known as "yellow journalism", in reference to the Yellow Kid who was a comic strip character.

After his success with the New York Morning Journal, William Randolph Hearst decided to expand his business. He opened newspapers in Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston. Some of them were created to serve his political views, and by the mid twenties, he was the owner of 28 newspapers across the whole country (the Los Angeles Examiner, the Boston American, the Atlanta Georgian, the Chicago Examiner, the Detroit Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Washington Times, the Washington Herald, and the San Francisco Examiner.)

But this was apparently not enough, as Hearst wanted then to diversify his business. He went into book publishing and magazines (Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Town and Country etc.)

Unfortunately, the Great Depression in 1929 hit really hard the economy, and the newspapers were on the first line. Hearst had a succession of debts and his company had to face reorganisation in the 1930s. The newspapers were liquidated.

William Randolph Hearst died of a heart attack in 1951.

A film was made in 1941, Citizen Kane, which was directed by and starring Orson Welles. The movie relates the life of Charles Foster Kane, a character based upon Hearst's life. The film was nominated for Academy Awards in nine categories; it won an Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) by Herman Mankiewicz and Welles.