Podcast #3: student protests – demo debate

It’s the Wannabe Hacks podcast pounding your ears once again!

This week The Chancer and The Intern get a little heated over the coverage of the Student Demo 2010…

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Debate: were the BBC justified in striking over pensions?

Now that all the furore has died down, The Student and The Chancer assess whether the BBC were right to strike over cuts to their pension.


FOR: The Chancer

A lot of the public attention from these strikes centred around the big names who didn’t cross the picket line and the fact that we were left with some nobody from Hampshire on breakfast and a second string XI to run the other shows. Once the big names started staying at home it was no longer about the action, or it’s cause; it’s the actors in the piece who matter.

And that is one of the problems here. Because now when we hear about BBC staff striking we think of Huw Edwards, Sophie Raworth and George Alagiah and grumble at these well-paid presenters who have temerity to demand more money. But it isn’t just about them. It is about everyone else at the Beeb who feels they are getting a raw deal.

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So you want to be a journalist? In response to Martin King

This isn’t intended as a direct response to Martin’s article in the Independent’s blog section

… but I am using it as a jumping off point.

Photo courtesy of greeblie

Martin’s article ‘So you want to be a journalist?‘ provides pointers on some of the key skills ‘wannabe’ journalists will need to be in a position to get themselves a job. What struck me about his approach was the way he divided up the skills. ‘Writing has got two subsections: ‘Spelling and Grammar’ and ‘Shorthand and Touch Typing’, yet, what Martin referred to as ‘Technical‘ was just one broad paragraph on such a wide range of skills I wonder if people have a true appreciation of what is involved.

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Podcast #2: internships and pay

It’s the Wannabe Hacks podcast pounding your ears once again!

This week The Chancer, Intern and Student investigate internships and chat about pay.

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Specialising is dead; long live specialism

Today I begin my ‘specialism’ module at City University. Now, you would be forgiven for thinking that when given the chance to specialise in something I would choose a subject close to my heart or something I am particularly interested in. Anyone who has read my bio or knows anything about me will be thinking, ‘Ah, he’ll have gone for sport’. Not even close. Sport was an option, as was music journalism, investigative journalism and UK politics but I didn’t go for any off those subjects, all of which interest me. No, today I begin what will be a steep learning curve in specialising in ‘Finance and Business’. Yeah, exactly.

Financial Times

Could my 'specialism' get me a job here?

Now, when I first set out on my travels towards journo land I wanted to be a sports hack and my journalism related work over the past few years has reflected this desire. However, at City I, along with the other students, were advised to pick a specialism a little out of our comfort zone and so – always striving to be a little unusual – I picked three preferences which I knew next to nothing about. And so here I am about to learn how to speak business and money.

But far more revealing and interesting than the fact that I am undertaking a module that the 18-year-old version of myself would have avoided like a plague of drunken cockney wide boys, is that fact that I am really quite positive about it. Rather, I am positive about it because of the pragmatic approach which clearly needs to be taken to getting a job in journalism today.

Long gone are the days when I could put all my eggs in the sport journo basket and hope for the best. I was forever being told at my various work experience placements last summer, ‘just take a job, you won’t get what you want, you might not get sport until you’re 50’ and to be honest, whilst slightly depressing, it seems like sound advice. It is no longer enough to have an in-depth knowledge of one subject area, we have to be the jack-of-all-trades journalists.

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Rupert has no chance until everyone joins the paywall revolution

The man with a stubborn plan

Everyone likes Alan Rusbridger don’t they? (Hi Alan, love your work) The main man at the Guardian is seen by many of us helpless, stumbling foals in this turbulent time in journo land as the shining light, the thoroughbred who will guide us….alright I’ll stop it now he has a lot to say about the future of journalism and a lot of people like what he says. Well, the pantomime villain of journo land, Ol’ Rupert Murdoch, can’t be such a big fan because it is Rusbridger and others in positions of influence that are stopping this paywall business being big business and becoming the future of journalism.

Red tops get pricey

As the News of the World website stopped serving us free exclusives for us to gorge on, and put a big debit card-operated lock on the fridge door I began to ponder, as many other writers have, on all this paywall business and that poor old Rupert just hasn’t got this one quite right has he? (Don’t listen to those haters though Rupert, I think you’re a top bloke.)

I can honestly say I have never been on the News of the World website (don’t scoff, I’m telling the truth) and sadly I will never know what treats I have been missing out on now the paywall has gone up. On this occasion my missing out on something isn’t because I’m a tight git, I am just not going to pay for something when I can get it for free elsewhere. Common sense really isn’t it? Any of the hot gossip or salacious celebrity titbits can be found on other paper websites; Rupert’s other red top, The Sun, for example. Bizarrely the free site had a link to its expensive sibling the other day…something not quite right in the PR department there.

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Debate: blogging – is it actually worthwhile?

Paul Bradshaw, who runs the Online Journalism Blog, has suggested that not writing a regular blog could have an adverse affect on your chances of securing a job in the media. With that in mind, The Student and The Chancer go head-to-head about whether blogging is as worthwhile as everybody makes out.

The Student

FOR: The Student

When it comes to keeping a regularly-updated blog, it’s more a case of ‘why wouldn’t you?’.

Let’s start with the financial implications (or indeed the lack of). Blogging is free through popular Content Manager Systems (CMS) WordPress and Blogger, which allow web users to produce a blog without having to shell out. It’s possible to buy hosting and custom-made themes to expand but this is by no means essential – the content is the key.

Next up is the misconception that having a blog is a time-consuming process. In fact, the beauty of blogging is that it’s a wholly flexible medium, which you can dip into whenever you want. You can do a post every day if you have time but equally there’s no problem with leaving it a week or two between posts if you’re busy with work or studies. And a post doesn’t have to take hours to write either – it can be a ten minute ‘this is what I discovered/found interesting today’ or even a video clip that made you laugh.

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Oh no. I will have to become one of THEM

Chancer and Intern

The Chancer (left) and The Intern (right)

On Monday morning myself, The Student and The Detective were sat in a lecture about the much-debated, much-loved and much-mocked field of online journalism. Paul Bradshaw gave the lecture and began by telling everyone that they could tweet him with the hashtag for the lecture. Out came the iPhones, Blackberrys, Androids, Samsungs and more. And there I sat with my Sony Ericsson T280 (I found out its exact name by googling ‘Sony Ericsson old’) which is incapable of tweeting, accessing the internet or doing anything remotely social media-ish.

Not to be deterred I began texting updates to The Intern and was pleased to see the tweets from the Wannabe Hacks appearing on the big screen. By the way, before you all start shouting and hollering that you can text tweets to Twitter, I know, my phone doesn’t do that either. But the more I hurriedly text, desperately hoping for some shameless publicity, the more I realised something which disturbed me greatly.

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Where does investigation end and entrapment begin?

One of my worries in undertaking an investigation has been the fear of getting it wrong – during my brief experience as a journalist I have learned that accuracy and evidence are paramount to every story.

It is simply too costly to get it wrong.

Another worry is the method through which evidence is gathered. Can questionable means of obtaining vital information be justified if the public has a right to know? Where does investigation end and entrapment begin? How does one define the public interest? I don’t expect to ever have answers to these questions though I hope to have a better idea about where I stand once I have finished my Masters in Investigative Journalism, which starts today.

News of the World

A NOTW exclusive that - it could be argued - ignores journalism's strict code of conduct. Are stories like this ethical?

The phone-hacking scandal involving the News of the World has shown that not all journalists abide by a strict code of conduct but rather go all out by any means necessary to get their story. Currently, I’m confused as to whether such unethical practices are confined to some parts of the tabloid press, widespread throughout the industry, or whether there are only a few who decide to operate in such ways.

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Debate: social media – friend or foe?

This week, The Student and The Intern went to a digital technology workshop run by Crossover Labs in London, where an interesting discussion was had about the impact of digital technology on society. In Wannabe Hacks’ first debate post, the two go head-to-head about the pros and cons of social media:

Ben Whitelaw

AGAINST: The Student

The problem of social media, from my point of view, has been neatly summed up in the past hour. A whole 60 minutes ago I sat down to write this blog post, only to satisfy my technological nervous tick by checking Twitter. This led to me read several articles linked by people on my feed, visit numerous websites and to generally tweet a bit myself. All the while, said blog post remains unwritten.

Social media (I can only claim to properly use Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, WordPress and occasionally StumbleUpon on a regular basis) is the most productive way of being unproductive. Even when you think you’re doing something useful, chances are you are, in fact, not doing something else more pressing. I do it myself all the time.

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