Go Photo: If I can do it, anyone can

Following on from the photography competition we launched last week I thought it only fair that I offer some examples of my attempts at photography. I want to prove that it really is easy to get involved in photography (note I didn’t say it was easy to be a good photographer before all you pro snappers get angry) and reiterate again how important it can be as a journalist.

After my references to my sports photographer in this morning’s post I thought I would continue with that theme…. Read more of this post

Journalists should get snap happy – and here’s an incentive

A picture is worth a thousand words…

Don’t worry; we at Hacks haven’t resorted to just spouting clichés and quotes at you we have a point to make and that point is all about the value of the photograph.

Photography is a subject we have neglected on Hacks and this is something we are rather embarrassed about. Having all been section editors or editor-in-chief of our student newspaper we know from first hand experience how important a photo is to a piece of journalism and to a newspaper or magazine in general.

In fact, issues with photos even prompted both myself and The Student to become ‘photographers’ for the paper, covering sport fixtures and providing images for news stories. Are either of us experts? No. Are we going to be pros in the future? No. All we had were cameras, of varying quality, and a recognition of the importance of a photograph.

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It’s all about online journalism. Isn’t it?

City University have recently announced a new Masters degree: An Interactive Journalism MA which offers:

  • Data Journalism | Sourcing, reporting and presenting stories through data-driven journalism
    and visualising and presenting data (databases, mapping and other interactive graphics).
  • Online Communities | Developing and managing online communities including social media – in the changing relationship of journalists with consumers.
  • Content Management | Understanding and using the content management systems that underlie online journalism.

These are all useful skills which will be supplemented by other core modules from City’s offerings, but it left me wondering whether City are ahead of the curve or behind it?

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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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Three ways to use Facebook as a news gathering tool


News reporting is increasingly becoming about getting stories  1) that other media organisations don’t have and 2) faster than everyone else. To this end, many journalists are using Twitter as a tool to gather news stories via the updates of people who may witness a road accident or celebrity spotting.

However, Twitter is becoming commonplace as a news gathering tool and the high frequency with which journalists use the micro-blogging site means that finding a genuine story or at least finding it before anyone else is rare.

Facebook, however, is less known for its potential to gather news. Very few journalists would use it to find leads or sources in the same way that they do with Twitter. The wealth of information that Facebook holds about its users means it can provide an immensely valuable resource for investigating a topic, event or demographic.

But, how do you actually go about using Facebook to find stories?

Here are three ways of digging into the realms of information on Facebook:

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Privacy or press freedom? Journalism needs to juggle both

Last night, at City University London, a distinguished panel of journalists and lawyers debated the extent to which a reporter should go to in order to get a story. The discussion was in light of the continuing investigation into the News of the World’s supposedly routine hacking of phones. Here, The Student gives his tuppence worth.

Andy Coulson

Former NOTW editor Andy Coulson is at the centre of the continuing phone hacking investigation

Phone hacking is, in essence, the eternal discussion of where privacy ends and public interest begins. Those who believe that phone hacking is immoral and has no place in journalism generally believe that privacy should be preserved. Others who feel hacking is legitimate normally say people in the public eye should be accountable for their actions because of the influence they hold.

I come down somewhere in the middle. I don’t believe that reporters should not have to obey the law 100% of the time and feel there are occasions when finding sources for a stories by illegal means is permissible. History has certainly shown that the best journalism is often a product of unethical means. Watergate and the recent expenses scandal, which the Telegraph broke on the back of acquiring a stolen disk, demonstrate that acting unethically has it’s rewards. From a journalist’s point of view,  big stories, the ones that shake society to the core, do not magically appear. And I’d like to think that a large proportion of the public would also want newspapers to use whatever means necessary to get a story which has far reaching implications.

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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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Five ways to avoid being a news room nomad

One thing I have learnt about the newsroom is that you do not necessarily get a spot to call your own. It is not down to a modernist and forward thinking hot desking approach, but rather a ‘fitting you in’ approach.

Rather than getting caught out by this, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that your nomadic existence does not impede your productivity.

Photo courtesy of alancleaver


This is your most important tool; there is a small chance that you will be given an account with an

intern email address, but make sure you have a Google or Hotmail account. Furthermore it is essential you have a professional email address such as johnsmith@gmail.com and not twinkletoes87@gmail.com. You want to be taken seriously by your colleagues and your email address is your first point of call.

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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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