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.

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Putting old guard into Guardian Student Media

The Guardian Student Media Awards.

The Oscars of university media.

The pièce de résistance of student journalism.

Last week, the 2010 nominations were announced to widespread excitement ahead of the ceremony in November. But, once again, they demonstrated how they are an inherently flawed means of celebrating student media.

Student Media Awards

A large part of the problem with the Guardian Student Media Awards (GSMA) is that they are entirely predictable. It’s possible to guess, before the nominations are announced, that certain names are likely to appear – the likes of Cherwell and the Oxford Student at Oxford, York Vision and Nouse at York and often Gair Rhydd of Cardiff.

And history suggests that not only do certain universities get nominated more but actually they win the awards too – York won 7 in 2007 whilst Oxbridge cleaned up in 2009, winning 6 of 14 awards. This year threatens to be no different, with York and Oxford monopolising the nominations, particularly in the Reporter of the Year category, where two Oxford students (albeit from different publications) and two York students dominate.

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City MA is less competitive and more collaborative

Journalism postgraduate courses, especially in London, have a reputation for being intensely competitive. The few jobs within the industry plus a group of highly driven student journalists who know how tough it is to make a mark in the media often equal a group of wannabe hacks eager to trump each other.

Before starting at City University London this week, I had heard stories about students barely speaking to each other, stealing each other’s leads and battling it out for the same work experience placements. But is that a realistic assessment of dynamics on postgraduate journalism courses?


Certainly not at City (for now at least). Although the first few days seem a bit like speed dating, with frequent polite introductions, people (some are 25 years old, a few even 30 and above) are happy to remind you of their name/where you’re from, no matter how many times you forget. All in all, everyone on the course is friendly, switched-on and keen to learn.

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Wannabe Hacks guest posters

Although we Wannabe Hacks may pertain to being the masked and caped crusaders over this dark Journo City we are – of course – not the only inhabitants. Superheroes and Superhacks need help sometimes: a little outside advice or moment of clarity that beats the bad guy; gets the girl; saves the city.

Guest Writer

That is why this Justice League is opening its doors to outsiders…

We understand more than anything that we are not the living, breathing authority on journalism and its confusing network of tunnels in, but we also understand that we are a resource that budding Hacks and Hackettes turn to.

Ultimately, there are other people out there like us and have certain stories and experiences to share that none of us Hacks could possibly testify to.

Working abroad? Haven’t done it.

Radio journalism? Know nothing about it.

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