Friday, 1 June 2012

Second Magazine Spread- How Many of You Know Your Limits?

For my second magazine spread I chose to do a feature piece on alcohol awareness. Quite often in women’s magazines, such as ‘Cosmopolitan’ they will include a feature about lifestyle and this is what I have based this article on.

In line with the sort of layout that Cosmopolitan use, I have kept the design simple and used a bright heading with a plain background, unlike my first spread, the images are not particularly important but are in place for the aesthetics. The images I have used are all found on Creative Commons and are copyright free.

It is aimed at women and would be intended to be published in a women’s magazine. The tone I have used is informal and relatively chatty and by speaking directly to the reader it becomes immediately more engaging. Putting a subject like this in a magazine allows the topic to become far more flexible. If this topic were to be printed in a newspaper it would be full of statistics and perhaps look more closely at the strain alcohol abuse puts on public healthcare. By placing it in a magazine it is easier to adopt the angle of this topic being common ground, speaking to the audience as if they can all relate to having one glass of wine too many.

I researched the subject by looking at the National Statistics website and Drink Aware to pick out a few key points to work into the article. I did not want it to be a heavy read but something short and snappy that would not patronise the reader. It is common in these articles to find helpline contact information at the end and in keeping with the style I did the same, I created fictional contact information, as I was not too sure about using real advice line details.

Overall, I feel that this spread would be in keeping with a younger women’s magazine, although perhaps I could have expanded more on health risks and included a few statistics to back up some of the information I provided.

Friday, 25 May 2012

First Magazine Spread- The South American Dream

For my first magazine spread I wanted to write about something I had either personally experienced or was enthusiastic about and I thought writing about travel would be the perfect scenario. I travelled around South America in my gap year and have a lot of fantastic photos from my trip, which I knew would be perfect to use as there would be no issues surrounding copyright.

I wanted to aim my piece at a general audience, rather than making it too gender or age specific. I intended it to be an article that could be seen in a travel magazine, reviewing a variety of different places and experiences in an informal manner. Using a lighter tone makes it easier to read and allows the reader to become more engaged. I did not want to write in first person, as it would have come across as more of a travel journal.  However, I chose to write about places I had visited because the images I had to accompany this are fantastic and really show case some of the highlights of South American culture.

Travel is becoming increasingly popular for people of all ages and so many people are looking for new experiences and many newspapers now publish a travel magazine with their Sunday papers, advertising the top places in the world to visit. My magazine spread was designed to be in line with this style.

I initially thought about the idea of focussing on one place in South America to write about but by choosing to explore a variety of different places, I felt it could appeal to a wider range of people and their interests, looking at places from nature reserves to popular cities.

I felt it was important to choose really striking images to accompany my spread, as more often than not, in travel writing for magazines, it is the pictures that draw people in to read the article. I tried to achieve diversity in the photographs I chose, from shots of historical ruins to more modern city landscapes to show that the piece covers a bit of ‘something for everyone.’

When I first began to edit my layout I chose a background image of a Peruvian mountain range, however I felt that this deflected from the other images on the page. By keeping the background simple, it draws the eye to the pictures on the page more dramatically. I also considered that using a background image is not very often used in articles such as this for the above reason and a plain white background is more effective.

I did have difficulty in making sure that each place I mentioned was not spoken about in too little detail. I did not want to mention an entire catalogue of places as I felt that if the article was too long, the reader could lose interest. By choosing a few carefully selected places to write about, I made sure that it was engaging to people of all ages and interests.

Overall I am pleased with the layout and style of the spread and feel it would be fitting in a travel magazine.

Land Documentary

For the Land documentary project, I was assigned the topic of fox hunting. It is well known that this topic is one of much controversy and I initially thought that this would make it very difficult to film and get people to speak openly about it in an interview.

In the early planning stages myself and Cara Laithwaite were keen to focus on the history of fox hunting as a sort of typically English tradition. We felt that looking at it from this angle would make it easier to contact hunting groups and get them to speak to us on camera, as well as enabling us to seem unbiased. I wanted images of huntsmen in traditional hunting gear, on horses and it would have been fantastic to get the opportunity to go out and film on a drag hunt, as of course hunting foxes has now been made illegal.

Contacting hunt groups proved to be extremely difficult, as a few of the people we spoke to seemed reluctant to speak on camera about hunting. We eventually managed to make progress with the Hursley Hambledon Hunt, who told us we could visit their kennels to film the hounds. The members of the hunt seen in the documentary were keen to talk about the history of their hunt group but did not want to talk about hunting itself. The huntsman was more than happy to be filmed with the hounds but did not want to speak on camera. The woman we interviewed had been a master in the Hursley Hambledon Hunt for 20 years and was happy to talk about the keeping of the hounds. As we were filming they explained that they were assessing some of the younger hounds that had recently been introduced into their pack and how they were trained.

We were not allowed to film inside the pen with the hounds for fear of damage to our camera equipment and we were even told to stand back from the fence but for the sake of getting a good shot we got the camera as far into the pen as we could, to get some close ups.

The sound quality in the interview turned out to be somewhat of an issue. The area we were permitted to film in did not extend particularly far so it was difficult to get away from the sound of the hounds barking. Although this provided some great background noise in places, it did drown out some of our interviewee and we had to salvage what we could from what was said.

We also asked if we would be permitted to film the horses that were in the stables on site, however the huntsman explained to us that the horses belonged to his wife and he was concerned that she would not give permission for them to be used in the footage and they did not want us to film any of the surrounding buildings. This was extremely disappointing as of course horses are a pivotal point in fox hunting and it would have added another interesting sequence to our filming.

Getting footage of foxes turned out to be a lot easier than we first imagined. We were not overly keen on the idea of setting up camp in the New Forest in the hope that a fox might appear and stick around long enough to be filmed. Although it would have been brilliant to film wild foxes we did not want to leave it to chance. We instead contacted Hart Wildlife Rescue who had a number of young fox cubs on site that had been rescued. We were not expecting to be able to get so close but the footage we were able to shoot turned out to be more than we had hoped for. There were a number of cubs being prepared for release into the wild and we were able to get into a pen with two of the older cubs to film. They were incredibly playful and inquisitive and this enabled us to get a series of close ups, which we were not confident we could have achieved if we had tried to film them in their natural habitat.

Once we had filmed everything we could, we planned on how to sequence our footage. We were disappointed not to have been able to go out on a drag hunt, or get anyone to talk to us about hunting on camera, so we felt it best to keep our focus on the history of fox hunting and the hounds and remain unbiased. During the editing process, we became concerned that our combined shots of the foxes and hounds would implicate that the Hursley Hambledon Hunt still practiced hunting foxes, so we feel that it is important to emphasise that this is not the case and we have ensured that we have put a disclaimer on our YouTube video stating this.

Choosing the music was also a main focus as we did not use a lot of speech from the interview. We were concerned that using something upbeat may have made the film look pro fox hunting and using something melancholy could have made it seem anti fox hunting so we tried to find something that was more middle ground, unbiased and fitting with our images.

Overall, the topic was relatively difficult due to the controversy surrounding the matter, however we hope the footage can be viewed as a small insight to what some people still hold onto as an old English tradition.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Media Law Week Three. Defamation and Libel.

What is defamation?
If what you write or broadcast about someone or a company tends to...
* Lower them in the estimation of right thinking people.
* Cause them to be shunned or avoided.
* Disparge them in their business, trade or profession.
* Expose them to hatred ridicule or contempt.

Defamation via picturesd is a common problem in television. It is imperitive to be careful with background shots and the voice overs which accompany them.

Reputation and Meaning
A person's repuatation is precious, especially if they are in the public eye, have a lot of money or both!
Be very careful of inference and innuendo, this can both be major hazards. Assess the whole context before printing or broadcasting.


Libel Defences
If, as a journalist, you do find yourself being charged with libel there are defences in place.
* Justification- if what has been printed/ broadcast is true and can be proved in court.
* Fair Comment- honestly held opinion based upon facts or privileged material, in public interest.
* Absolute Privilege- this covers court reporting.
* Qualified Privilege- this covers police quotes, press conferences etc.
* Bane and Antidote- this is defamation removed by context, giving a lot of balance.
* Apologies and clarification- although it is a bit of a late defence and papers will not always be happy to print an apology, it can avoid further legal problems.
* Reynolds Defence- this states that material must be in the public interest and a product of responsible journalism. For a more in depth look at the Reynolds Defence, take a look at

Generally, using balance in any piece will give a lot of protection.

No Defence
You will have no defence against libel if...
* You have not checked your facts
* You have not 'referred up,' talked to your editor, a lawyer etc.
* You have not put yourself in the shoes of the person or company you write about.
* You got carried away with a particularly 'spicy' story.
* You have not waited for a lawyers opinion.

It is vital to RECOGNISE RISK!
Think who you are writing about, could they sue?
Is what you are writing about potentially defamatory?
Do you have a defence?

Here are a few recent stories and articles concerning libel which are worth a read.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Media Law, Week One

Following on from our media law course in the first year of University, we are revisiting this topic to ensure we are fully aware of how to protect ourselves as journalists.

Over the next eight weeks, we will be covering the following topics:
* Outline of the legal system in England and Wales
* Crime reporting and the courts
* Libel and defamation
* Investigative journalism and privilege
* Confidentiality and privacy
* Freedom of Information
* Copyright and codes of conduct
* Reporting Elections

It is important to have knowledge of some of the key figures within the law system. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is currently Keir Starmer. He is responsible for the criminal justice policy, legal issues and prosecutions.

Kenneth Clarke is the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.

Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales is Lord Judge.

We covered the court system, for a simple diagram follow this link:

Another great site to visit to gain more knowledge on law and court systems is:

Thursday, 12 May 2011

WINOL Semester Two, Week Ten

The tenth week of the semester I presented sport. Despite the fact I know next to nothing about sport, I was extremely keen to present again.

I asked the sports editor Gareth Messenger to help me with the scripting and talk me through the sports stories for the week.

The guest editor for the week was Geoff Hill, the news editor from CNN, so I was keen to do well.

Everything went fairly smoothly. There were unfortunately some technical difficulties during the news as one of the VTs would not play, but Kieran Brannigan, the news presenter for the week, recovered well and the bulletin was successful. Geoff Hill praised the production team for recovering from the technical difficulty and explained that it is not something to be criticised but something we must all experience as it a difficulty anyone in the profession could encounter.

I managed to present sport confidently and again avoided stuttering or adding words to the script as I seemed to do in rehearsals. I was pleased to have had another chance to present.

WINOL Semester Two, Weeks Eight and Nine

After a four week Easter break I had now moved onto production. There was no bulletin to be recorded this on week eight due to the bank holiday, so it was mostly meetings in preparation for the next week.

For week nine, I was eased into production. I had never contributed to any of the production during the bulletin so I was shown how to use the sound board and briefly shown vision mixing. I was more of a runner as I did not feel confident enough to be put in charge of something which was key to the bulletin, as I did not want the responsibility of ruining something vital. Instead I chased up timings, collated the order of the bulletin and then sat in the gallery whilst the bulletin was recorded so I could see how everything worked and what roles each member of production team was in charge of.

Although a lot of work and precision goes into filming the bulletin it was not as over complex as I had expected.