X-Factor? I’m A Celeb? They’re all much better on Twitter

Reality TV is the pop culture people love to hate. Beyond hate.

People revel in performing intellectual snobbery upon its formulaic structure and money-grabbing associations. And yet it’s one of the main reasons behind the readerships of glossy weeklies at this time of the year. More interestingly, the entertainment level of this years’ crop of weekend shows has risen for those who watch with an accompanying laptop: Twitter has made the un-watchable essential viewing.

As a culture, arts or comment journalist, you should already be aware of this networking phenomenon.

Picture courtesy of Shane Chapman

And so much more besides. The secret behind any good comedy quiz show is the banter that surrounds a few irrelevant questions. The same principle applies to Cher Lloyd, Anne Widdecombe, and Stacey Solomon’s antics. What they have in common, beyond the fact they have subjected themselves to the scrutiny of millions of TV viewers is they have also all got hashtags on Twitter (#cher, #widdecombe, #stacey) and are now under the examination of millions of fans, viewers and – essentially – journalists.

The witty tweets about them become more important than what they do on the show.

Because on weekend evenings, these four hours of often underestimated reality TV bring together critics professional and unprofessional alike. With a transatlantic time difference I have been gaining my X Factor experience across the pond by following them since September. Now back in Britain, I spent this past Saturday night in joining the Twittersphere and voicing my opinion, minute by minute, alongside thousands of other 140-character comments.

Read more of this post

Don’t expect to be an expert in a new job

Edited Obama

An edited Obama speech - he certainly wouldn't claim to be an expert at his job

You’re experienced right? You’ve got an internship (or two or three), some work experience under your belt and a little bit of student media (or a lot) so you know what you’re doing. Right?

Or not…

Now, while I might be one to honk my horn from time to time, I like to think such honking is backed up by lots of very hard work, a careful, thoughtful approach to all I do and a tendency to throw myself into things without always checking someone put the safety mat out. (Disclaimer: recommended, but not my fault if you get hurt)

What I have been reminded of during my first full month at the Guardian is that you are always learning. Not a massive revelation I know, but one worth reflecting on so you can make the best of it.

It’s been a while since my copy was properly edited and challenged, since my decision making has come into focus and it has been utterly refreshing and a bit of a shock at the same time.

Let me ask you: How carefully do you consider the wording, meaning and tone of each sentence? How often do you waste words and therefore your reader’s time with your copy?

Read more of this post

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

It’s lovely to meet you… I’m the new Hack

The Maverick

Well hello…

I’m Alice Vincent, a.k.a The Maverick and newbie Wannabe Hack.

More specifically, a Wannabe magazine Hack. Starting at the lowest rung of a publication I intend to gain my trade the old school way: hands on, learning from my mistakes and being in the right place at the right time.

I’ve spent the past three months being the new girl in town, in New York so being the rookie in Wannabe Hacks feels like an excellent next step – except here my Home Counties accent is unlikely to get me into as many parties. On the flipside, I won’t have to talk as much about the Royal Wedding, either.

When I was a 16 year old kitchen monkey in my village pub the chef said, ‘you should be a music journalist’. In hindsight, taking advice to commence a rocky career path from someone who stuck a picture of his Weimaraner above the stove maybe wasn’t the best idea. But here I am – I’ve been writing solidly for three years, working in publications when I wasn’t studying and received less cash than the tips I did as a teenager for it.

Read more of this post

GSMA – Kingston Uni: we won “because we took risks”

Lara O’Reilly is former editor of Kingston University’s River newspaper + now a reporter at Marketing Week…

Winning is sometimes far sweeter when you are not expecting it at all.

Hours before the event two nights ago news was spreading around Twitter that there had been an apparent leak of the Guardian Student Media Awards results.

According to the rumours a press release was sent to current editors of the nominated student publications asking if they would like photos of the event – oh and revealing the winner and runner-up of each category.

Kingston Uni Team

Lara O'Reilly and Callum Hornigold

We didn’t know the result for sure; everyone on Twitter was respecting the embargo, but there were plenty of smug-sounding tweets from certain students who seemed to already know the result.

We practiced our gracious losing smiles on the tube to the Guardian offices, still overjoyed that we had been nominated at all.

The ceremony was small, fun and informal – more like a networking event than an awards show, with everyone chatting to students from other publications and introducing themselves to a few of the journos associated with the event.

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.

Read more of this post

News. Now.

Now I’m not going to get all gushy about the state of modern, accessible and immediate-feed journalism, but it is pretty amazing how you can just see something newsworthy and have it live and online within minutes. Now, this isn’t newsworthy by any sense – but goes to show what could happen if it was…

Police #1

On Wednesday 17th November at least 30 police officers were called to the White Hart pub in Tower Hamlets – where I live – to contain and traffic a large group of disruptive and uncontrollable football fans.

The fans sang the usual English football chants and required a heavy police escort away from the premises. There were eight police vans and two further police cars on the scene as traffic on the crossroads at Mile End Road came to a standstill.

Violence #1

This story – although I’ll admit it is terribly small – has not been reported anywhere else that I can possibly search: no papers, no online news sites… not even hyperlocal Tower Hamlets feeds.

What this means is that the all-round on-site journalist is as important as ever. Imagine if what happened outside my window was a scoop?

From the comfort of my own road – armed with just my mobile phone – I was able to snap, shoot, record, edit, upload and report within minutes. Suddenly this story – again tiny– is ready for the masses…

And it seems that if I wasn’t there then who would have known?

Read more of this post

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?

Read more of this post

Guest Post – Sarah Moore: TV journalism

This week – in a Hacks special – we look at a Wanna-‘be’ and a Wanna-‘been’ in the TV journalism industry. Our Wanna-‘been’ is the award-winning TV journalist Sarah Moore who has worked with ITN, ITV, GMTV and now lectures in broadcast journalism at Salford University.

Sarah is a journalist that has traveled and reported all over the world. Basically, she has bags of experience and that means there’s lots of advice… Here it is.

Lesson number 1: you do not break into television expecting it to be glamorous!
Sarah Moore #4

Of course elements of the job can be. It’s pretty glamorous being sent to Paris Fashion Week. It’s not however glamorous when you’ve been given just a few hours to get there and you’re not exactly dressed for the occasion or able to speak the same language as your crew.

I’ve spent the past ten years working in television news. I was very fortunate to get my first job at ITV Central in Birmingham, one of the best regional news stations. It was a big step for someone straight out of a post-grad course in Broadcast Journalism at the Cardiff Journalism School.

So how did I break into the industry known to be one of the most cut-throat and competitive of them all?

Lesson number 2: sleep is for wimps; a life is something you can have another time.

Read more of this post

Guest Post – Charlotte Hawkins: TV journalism

This week – in a Hacks special – we look at a Wanna-‘be’ and a Wanna-‘been’ in the TV journalism industry. Our Wanna-‘be’ is Charlotte Hawkins, who blogs here and currently interns at the Discovery Channel…

Charlotte Hawkins

Just like some of the Wannabe Hacks I too graduated this year and am now trying my hand at breaking into journalism. In my case, however, it’s the TV journo industry that I want to crack.

When I first researched a career in television I came across several horror stories of wannabes being exploited through “work experience” schemes. I have indeed experienced this myself, to an extent. The majority of the professionals I have encountered have been lovely, but there’s nothing more infuriating than working for nothing for a month only to overhear on your last day that it’s me who should be thanking them with the cake.

Also – in spite of the placements I have managed to secure – I am still distinctly lacking in show-reel material. Having decided only recently on this career path I (regretfully) only got involved with my Uni TV station during my final year. Dissertations certainly hindered my participation.

Read more of this post