Thursday, 23 May 2013

A day at non-league football

Club memberships. Fancy food. Hospitality. All things you can associate with being a modern day football fan at a top-flight team. These days the pre-match grub has turned into a three-course meal, but what is life like at the lower end of the football spectrum? Whilst the Man United supporters are tucking into their crème brulee, the home fans at non-league Basingstoke Town are queuing at the burger van behind the away goal! The difference between Premier League and non-league football is huge, and I have decided to show my good friend, and Manchester United fan, Tom, exactly what he’s missing!

Picture the scene; I am trying to convince a Manchester United fan that a day watching non-league football is just as good as a day at Old Trafford, and the first thing we see when we turn up to the ground is a hand car-wash in the main car park, literally 50 yards behind the turnstiles, great start. As we get out of the car it becomes abundantly clear that the weather isn’t going to help me out today. Now I’m not saying it doesn’t rain in Manchester, but I could really have done with the sun making an appearance.

You know that feeling you get, just before you enter the ground on match-day, you walk through the turnstiles, find your entrance and walk out to see the magnificence of the hallowed turf, whilst your ears and soul are warmed by the songs of thousands of football fans? Well, in Basingstoke it doesn’t quite go like that, and the look on Tom’s face was one of bemusement. We walked into the ground to be greeted by a handful of fans, chatting amongst themselves, with the pitch mere metres away, with the only thing stopping you entering onto the field being a waist high advertising board. It might not seem great to the naked eye, but being a true fan of football, I could see the anticipation in his eyes.

     If you’re a football addict, then it doesn’t really matter where you are getting your next fix, but that wasn’t the aim of the day. The aim was to show that non-league football could be as entertaining, and special as football at the top of the game. Half an hour into the match and I managed to pluck up the courage to ask Tom how he was finding it. Now Tom is a man of many words, except during a match, and the fact that he could barely string a sentence together was a great sign! “The football is better than I thought! I thought it would have been pretty dive to be honest.” So far, so good! The first half ended 0-0, although it was a better half of football than a 0-0 portrayed, and I think Tom knew that.

Half time! So how are we getting on? If you took a scale and put ‘totally convinced’ at one end and ‘totally unconvinced’ at the other, it would be fair to say we were lingering somewhere around the middle, but not to worry, we were heading in the right direction, and with the half time refreshments in order, it could only get better. Now I know I have already spoken about food, and you might ask ‘why is food so important, this is football?’ Food and drink are the essence of a football match. It’s pie and Bovril, it’s burgers and chips, and it’s hotdogs and tea! What you consume whilst you take in the glory of a top-corner free kick, or a two-footed lunge is hugely important. As we stand waiting to be served at the burger van, Tom turns to me and utters the words which are so true, and stand out as the sole reason non-league football is great: “At least the queues aren’t as manic!” Yes! There is nothing worse than missing the start of the second half, because you are waiting for the bloke in front to remember his chip and pin code, or waiting for the hundreds of fans in front of you who missed the goal at the end of the first half because they wanted to avoid the queues.

The weather wasn’t letting up, and with that we decided to take shelter in the (only) stand. With the wind howling,  and the bitterness of the day settling in, the football began to suffer. Any hopes that the first half gave for goals galore in the second half soon began to die, along with my hopes of convincing Tom that the day could be great. I had hoped for a 5-5 thriller, but it didn’t look like being so. However, mid-way through the half, out of nowhere came a true moment of brilliance which will go down in history as the moment that changed the day from ‘mediocre’ to ‘yeah it was actually okay’; as the ball was whipped in from the left side of the pitch, the Basingstoke target man, with his back to goal, angled his body in a way Wayne Rooney angled his body on that famous day against City. He wasn’t going to try a bicycle-kick? Surely not! But he did, and not only did he try…but it was on target! Not a goal. But on target is good enough for me, and it surely brought a smile to Tom’s face!

   The full time whistle was blown, and with that brought and end to the days proceedings, but not without Tom revealing the all important information that would determine the results of my experiment. So to try and swing the balance in my favour with a last gasp attempt of persuasion, I took him to the managers dugout to hear the verdict, I wonder how many times he has sat in the dugout at Old Trafford! The words slowly left my lips as I asked Tom if I had changed his mind, he took a deep breath and smiled and said, “thoroughly enjoyed it…At least here they turn up and they have to earn their money, there’s a bit more passion and it’s nitty and gritty.”  I could barely contain my happiness and asking if he would come again he replied with a one-word answer that proved the day a success: “Definitely”.

Confessional Interview

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Week at the Croydon Guardian

This week I have been working at the Croydon Guardian. It is a weekly paper, which specialises in local news from around the South-East London borough of Croydon. During my time at university studying journalism, this is the first time I have had some real ‘hands-on’ experience in the field.

Dealing mainly in broadcast journalism on WINOL, working at a local newspaper is somewhat different. For example, instead of actually going out and about to get quotes and interviews with people, it is mainly done over the phone. The Croydon edition of the newspaper is out on a Wednesday, and I started on the Monday, so by the time I had started the majority of the news-gathering by the reporters had been done, and now it was all about organising photographs, and writing the stories in time for the deadline.

My first task helping out and gaining some insight was to ‘turn around’ press releases that the reporters are sent by local organisations. A lot of the releases were sent by press departments of these organisations in an attempt to get some publicity, and were not hard-hitting news stories. Such stories would include local businesses giving free football tickets to schools, or news on upcoming events. Nevertheless, it was quite exciting to be involved in getting some real experience in the industry.

During my first day, the Chief Reporter handed me a story of four Croydon based youngsters who had reached the final of a prestigious London based award. My job was to call the four finalists and get a profile on why they had been nominated and to get quotes from them. It was at this point that I learned that shorthand was definitely a necessity for being a news hack! The first call was very ‘plain-sailing’, but the second a bit harder – a 12-year-old school girl, who was very reluctant to answer questions, she was a lovely young girl, but, as most kids do, she got very shy with speaking to a stranger. In the end we had to settle for a quote from the child’s mother.

With the first two so easy to contact and willing to speak, surely the next two would be the same – No. I was wrong to assume that. The next two have been a nightmare to contact, with not answering phone calls and not responding to e-mails. The reality of the difficulties news reporters face was beginning to settle in.

Day two was fun – Court. I was on my way to court with a reporter to get a bit of an insight into court reporting, when it dawned on me. I wasn’t wearing a tie! As I have learned from Chris in lectures, when visiting court, it is essential to wear a tie. Luckily enough, the reporter I was with was well connected in the court and explained that I was still learning, so all was fine! The difficulties and stresses of court reporting also became apparent, when we travelled all the way to the Crown Court, only for the case to be adjourned for one reason or another! So no doubt we will be back another day! The reporter I was with is still unaware as to the ‘interest factor’ to the story, but it is always worth finding out!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Media Law - Copyright

Most people believe tat copyright law exists as soon as you wright something down. This is partly true, but the law actually requires the subject to actually be published to be protected. There is no copyright in ideas though, so claiming you had the idea for facebook before Mark Zuckerberg, or that you 'thought of it first' wouldn't get you anywhere in a court of law.

Copyright is very important to us as journalists. We are basically selling our words. That's how we make our money. So if we publish something and someone else copies it then they will half your audience and half your money. No copyright, no journalism and no copyright means no profit.

If you work for an institute or a company then you often give up your right to have your work copyrighted in exchange for wages. However, if you are freelance, your work is your own and is protected by copyright law.

The Eiffel Tower:
During last weeks lecture on copyright, our guest lecturer Peter Hodges explained the copyright laws surrounding the Eiffel Tower - a normal photograph of the Eiffel Tower when it is NOT illuminated is fine and free from copyright protection. However, the lighting on the Eiffel Tower is STRICTLY protected by the law, so if you are a broadcaster and you take photos or footage of the illuminated Eiffel Tower, you will not be able to publish without consent. If you are on holiday and take photos, and you upload them to you Facebook account, it is extremely unlikely you will be sued though.

It is very important to journalists as broadcasters to make sure that any material they use is not affected by copyright such as music in the background - the rule is, if it can be recognised then it needs to have consent of use.

How long does copyright law last?
In most cases it is 70 years after the authors death - but in different cases it may last for less, or for more. The best rule for a journalist or anyone looking to broadcast any work which is not there own - get advice if in doubt.

Fair Dealing:
As journalists we like fair dealing. Fair dealing allows us to use snippets of someone else's work without the fear of being sued. We do this for such things as criticism or review, or for research and private study. We must make sure though that the copyright owner is acknowledged.

You must never use a photograph in fair dealing - it is not protected

Moral Rights - The copyright owner has the moral rights of their work. They have to right to say how their work is portrayed. For example, doing a spoof of a movie - the copyright owner must agree to the changes. Or if one music artist does a re-mix of the original artists' song - the original artist must agree.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Media Law - Confidentiality and privacy

The law is always changing, and in a couple of months everything I am writing today, could well be wrong.

 Article 8 of the Human Rights Act
Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
Article 10 of the Human Rights Act
Freedom of expression - You have the right to say and have your own opinions

Privacy is mainly an issue that is found within the lives of celebrities and people in the public eye. So we are not able, as journalists, to go around publishing photographs of people, in their everyday life, without consent; or publishing secrets about anybody, celebrity or not, unless there is a defence for doing so. The main defence of invasion of privacy would be PUBLIC INTEREST. So for example, if Wayne Rooney was photographed taking bribes before England took to the field against San Marino, then it would be well within the public interest to publish these photos without fear of being sued for invasion of privacy. On the other hand, if you were to take photos of Wayne Rooney through his living room window watching 'Brokeback Mountain', it would be deemed an invasion of his privacy, as it is up to him if he wants to watch certain films, and he has the right to do that privately.

So what defines PUBLIC INTEREST?
- Detecting or exposing crime: (Example: David Cameron selling marijuana)
- Protecting public health and safety (Example: discovering that your next door neighbour is plotting a terrorist attack)
- Preventing the public interest from being misled by an action or a statement

 *** Official Secrets Act *** These are put in place to protect National Security - There is no Public Interest defence. This is something that can come into play in the everyday life of a journalist. For example, if a journalist was doing a piece to camera with an army barracks in the background, they could be in breach of breaking the official secrets act, as it could provide necessary secret information to the enemy. So journalists have to be careful of their surroundings.

Newspapers (especially tabloids), often print stories that are against the laws of privacy and confidentiality. The most notorious and recent case of this was Max Mosley and the News of the World. Mosley was accused by the newspaper of taking part in a 'sick Nazi orgy' with prostitutes in his apartment in Chelsea. Mosley believed that he had an expectation of privacy, and he was right. You are in breach of someones confidence if you can identify all four of the following points:
1) Necessary quality of confidence - NOT TITTLE-TATTLE! So you will not be in breach of confidence if you are telling your boss that your colleague picks his nose and eats it.
2) The information is provided in circumstances imposing an obligation to privacy - So if you are in someones home and not in the park or a cafe. ***I WILL COME BACK TO THIS****
3) No permission to pass on the information
4) Detriment to be caused to the person

What News of the World thought, is that there would be no way that Mosley would want to stand up in court going through all the sordid details of his 'orgy' in front of a jury and journalists who would be publishing the findings in the next mornings papers. They were wrong. Mosley did just that and it was found that Mosley had the right to a privacy in this case - winning £60,000.

The case of Princess Caroline: I said I would come back to point 2 - in 2004 Princess Caroline was photographed eating in a public restaurant to which she sued and won, with the outcome from the European Court of Human Rights stating that this was a violation of Article 8, and that just because you are in a public place, it does not mean that you have the right to take photos of them or film them. However, there has been a more recent update to this, in February 2012 the court has now decided that papers should be allowed to publish photos and stories of well-known people. In conclusion, it is clear that the line between Article 8 and 10 is always being moved, and there is never going to be a straight ruling into this. And with the outcome of the Leveson inquiry soon approaching, it is clear that there will be possibly the biggest shift in rules ever, possibly making it even harder for journalists.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The New Journalism - HCJ Semester 2 - Lecture/Seminar 4

American Journalism - historical context

- The Penny Papers - Pamphlets- Produced to influence people by businessmen or politicians to try and influence people and their decisions.
- Creation of 'news wires' - Press Association (PA) - an impartial, or objective news provider, didn't have any political slant or bias, simply there to tell the story. The reason for this was so that it could sell to the mass, as oppose to aiming at a strictly left wing audience or a strictly right wing audience. By having a political bias, or a bias of any sort, you are restricting your selling market, and therefore losing money.
- The Yellow Press [LINK back to previous blog on 'Yellow Journalism:]

The New Journalism

The New Journalism wanted to come away from the pre-concieved ideas of being 'told a story': 3 men were killed after a bomb explosion in Hampshire. But instead, wanted to give you the idea of seeing the story, and making your mind up for yourself, so you are not TOLD what to think, you SEE what you want. When you are able to see the news, as oppose to being told what it is, it becomes, in my opinion, very ambiguous. You can determine what it means by making up your own mind, you haven't got somebody telling you what to think, it then becomes quite subjective.

The idea of 'Status'

Status and competition is everywhere and anywhere in the World. Whether it be Sky Vs BBC, or Man Utd Vs Man City, or Gardener Vs Garden Tractor Driver; the need to be better, faster, higher than the other is constant.

How to write a Feature according to Tom Wolfe:

4 things you need:

1) A scene by scene construction - So as I have touched on above, you need to let the reader see and feel the scene, not tell them what to think from what you see and feel from the scene. I will use the example that popped into my head during the lecture. The film 'Green Street' is perfect for this. An American Journalist comes to the UK, and becomes involved with a football hooligan, and begins to document his findings. What he does, and what he needs to do, is to tell the reader how he dresses, how he looks and how is he different from a 'normal person' - or is this normal? He lets the reader decide for themselves.

2) Realistic Dialogue involves the reader more completely than any other single device - You would need to spend a lot of time with the person, figure out how he interacts with other people, back to status, how he interacts with people below him, and people above him. Is he hostile? Is he different to his kids, wife, parents? This part needs to be extremely investigative.

3) Third person point of view - You would need to get inside their head; figure out his true emotions, and relay them to the reader as if you were the person, but from you, a third person's point of view. But at the same time being careful as to be subjective.

4) Recording of everyday habits, gestures etc - this helps the reader with 'seeing the person'. Helps them to interact, and lets them decide how they feel about the person, via using body language. You could say it is a way of the person and the reader to communicate.