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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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.

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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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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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The reading list: Week 4

So, it’s Sunday and that time of the week where we let you know what journalists, journals and online articles have been the focus of our hack-ttention.

Please let us know of any other interesting blogs/sites/articles by commenting below, emailing us at hacks@wannabehacks.co.uk or tweeting us (@wannabehacks). Here is the run down:

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The reading list: Week 2

So, it’s that time of the week again where we open the door to our world and show you what we have been reading.

Please let us know of any other interesting blogs/sites/articles by commenting below, emailing us at hacks@wannabehacks.co.uk or tweeting us (@wannabehacks). Here is the run down:

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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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