UniBlog: The Work Ramps Up As Assignments Are Revealed

Hello and welcome to the blog! The end of another week at university has arrived, and in less than a week it'll be one month since I started here...one month...I honestly cannot believe that it's been a month - I feel like I started only last week!


So! Without any further ado.... Sunday 11th October

Sunday 11th October was a very lazy day in which I did very little except laze about all day.


Sunday 11th was also the day that Kabort claimed their second ever victory - a class win for Daniel Weber (GER) and Tim Perry (GBR) stealing the show in their Chevrolet Corvette C8.R GTE. There was plenty of champagne going around that evening.


Unfortunately, this meant missing Top-Gear, but with result like that, I wasn't fussed.


Monday 12th October


Alright! Welcome to a new week at Wolverhampton! Back then I had no idea of the adventures that lay ahead...so let's get into it!


Monday's Lecture (News Writing)


Monday's lecture was on Accuracy and Languages and started off with discussing the subject of what a source is. The conclusion is that we agreed on three main places sources can be found: 1. People - people have information - no matter people in power, or citizen journalism


2. Places - places of interest, fire departments, police stations, in May 2007 - the beach where Madaline McCann went missing was awash with photographers, journalists, news reporters and more.


3. Organisations/Companies - SpaceX launching (almost) weekly rockets up into the sky means huge publicity for the company.


if you look hard enough anywhere an everywhere can be the source of a news story. It may not be world-changing or ground-breaking but it's news no matter.


I have a pen to my left, and if someone traced back the barcode or ID number on it - they could find out that it was the last pen manufactured in that colour by Faber-Castell. (it's not)


Firstly nobody would care, because it's only a pen, and it's not news worthy - but if there was a group of Pen Enthusiasts with a magazine, this would be interesting to them.


/Tangent


We also discussed about who we could talk to to get more information - sources like the emergency services, resturant/business owners as well as "citizens of interest" (citizens with knowledge) are very good places for stories and sources you can keep coming back to.


We then discussed in detailed why having sources (and reliable ones at that) is important for not only journalists but journalism as a whole.


Other topics on good article writing discussed were:

- Identifying Good Practices (Active/Passive sentences*) - Examining And Evaluating Bad Practices

- SPAG (Spelling Punctuation And Grammar) - Avoiding Repitition Of Words - Contradicting Facts (Age/Figures/Facts)

- Using short quotes

- Don't use vague adjectives (eg: using "Eddie Stobart Branded Truck" instead of "multi-coloured truck") - Avoiding "Offical-ese" ("Arrested" not "apprehended" - use language you would in speech - don't try and "polish" an article with big fancy words to make yourself look intellectually smarter or more professional - because words like "apprehend" may confuse your readers. Remember your readers could range from a 15 year old boy trying to read newspapers/news articles for the first time, to those with English as a second language to those who are elderly and may need things put simply to them.


and lastly, an acronym I made up on the spot - (the content was planned, I just turned it into an acronym)

Print it (work) out

Read It Out (aloud?)

Eyes (Rest your eyes for a bit before reading)

Share (the task out - ask for help)

Success


spelling PRESS - quite appropriate for the course really!


*Active And Passive Sentences


I am very much a passive guy, so we will start with the definition of a passive sentence


this is when the noun is mentioned first - for example:


"The lottery was won by a homeless man" would be passive, whereas

"The homeless man won the lottery"


with all this in mind, the task was to re-write the article we had written (about the missing girl) with the knowledge of "Active Sentences" and the other information we had been taught - in the beginning, I had no idea where to begin since I had already written a very good article previously, and I wanted to further improve this time, but somehow I the professor saw an improvement and liked what I had done - although did mention about the use of a 24-hour clock (05:00) once again. Last time I put 05:00hrs - but just avoiding the 24hr clock altogether would probably be a much smarter solution.


The Assignments


In each module, there are two assignments - the first being "The Newsletter" which is a group task which requires us to:


(in group of no fewer than three) write an online newsletter containing the following articles: - Local Affairs - Entertainment And Culture - Sport And Leisure my group, consisting of Glory (mentioned before) N (a student I haven't mentioned before) and myself, agreed to share the article out as follows: Local Affairs: N

Entertainment And Culture: Glory

Sport And Leisure: Robin


Assignment 2 - Task 1 Assignment 2 is much, much larger than Assignment 1, and requires a helluva lot

more work/effort.


The first task has the same premise as the first assignment - however, this time it's individual - and there's a far greater emphasis on it not being published by any other news media outlet.


My initial plan was to do an idea I had as a submission for Assignment 1, but after hearing/reading the idea, The Professor suggested I think about weather I keep it as a simple news story (Who, What, Where, When How) (the first assignment asking for no less than six, the second asking for no less than eight)


My mind is set - I just now need to think about a new article for the first...

Monaco, Baku, Singapore, Hanoi, Montreal And Melbourne will be joined by the British Grand Prix in Wolverhampton

Perfect!


Assignment 2 - Task 2 - Profile Interview


This part requires the student/me to interview a person - this being published in a magazine means that I don't nessicarily have to do an in-person interview - so should the person live far away - I can either do this online via voice call or type/email them some questions.


Assignment 2 - Task 4


I've missed Assignment 3 in this blog because it's a little confusing and almost a repeat of Task 1, but the Assignment requires me to repeat sections (like an interview) I shall do so


Task 4 is a nice easy one to finish up and it's a reflection log - comparing what I've learnt in lectures/workshops with what I was able to do during the assignment.


The only slightly unnerving thing is that Assignment One, which is rather short and simple is due on 18th December and the second of the two is due on 11th January, meaning a fair bit of overlapping both assignments instead of doing each at a time.



Later this evening I began work on updating the website, as it was incredibly out of date and still incorporated Kabort's Golden livery as a theme.


Monday also saw the beginning of another "situation" involving Kabort, a livery and a fellow competitor/driver - due to this still being on-going, I will not comment any further on details.



Tuesday 13th October, 2020

Tuesday arose, and I was ready for another day.


After getting dressed and having breakfast, I hit the road....

during my "trek" up to the campus, I stopped by The Window In The Wall and asked if anything had been delivered for me - and sure enough, it had. Two parcels - a slightly larger, boxier one, and a thinner more "magazine-like" one. I headed to my lecture before unwrapping the "magazine-like" one - it was the latest edition of IMPACT - which still, to this day, I don't actually understand fully.


Produced by ITAI (Institue Of Accident Investigators) it appears to be a free magazine that comes monthly (?) and it goes into different aspects of analysing and investigating accidents - as a younger boy I must have subscribed to this or something as an alternative to rubber-necking...interesting.


The Lecture - Documentaries


Tuesday's lecture was held in the theatre on campus, and the topic was on Documentaries.


This was split into four sections:


1) Define what a documentary is 2) Examine Modes (types) of documentary

3) Discuss Assignment One 4) Film Screening. Define What A Documentary Is


A few suggestions were: - A (factual) report on a particular subject

- Real Life, Real People, The Real World - Pictures, Interviews, Real Events - A plausible recollection of what happened

- A form of cinema to inform us about situations and events


The Power Of Editing/The Director


Is capturing events without interference possible? Do humans/animals act different on camera?


The director and editor will choose what to film (and what to include in the final take) and what to leave out, possibly to follow a certain narrative or personal opinion


It's worth noting that impossible for a documentary to be 100% true to life - documentaries are edited, trimmed and cut - and what may seem as just a blooper reel, may actually contain a "nugget of truth" which will give context to a particular scene/moment in the documentary.


The Advantage Of Documentaries


- They help release epistemophilia (the love of knowledge/desire to know) - Provides insight/awareness/information

- Entertaining

- Strong narrative/story



Modes Of Documentary

Fly On The Wall


Don't see the film-maker - Drone Shots - Nature and/or Natrual/Human Disaster

- Extreme Environment (Ocean, Artic, with rare animals)

- Voice-Over/Narrator "Voice Of God" - we automatically believe them and this is an Auotmatic Assumpton Of Authority


- Bias is easier hidden


Observational Documentaries

- Film-Maker can be seen

- Attempts to show as it is

- Film-maker "steps off high perch" and is on the same level as the audience


Performative

Personal feelings & experiences felt by the film-maker


Reflexive

Process of making Documentary/film.



Film Screening: Aileen: Life And Death Of A Serial Killer


This was an incredibly interesting movie - as opposed to the normal stance of looking down upon a/the serial killer as evil, horrible and heartless, this documentary looks at Aileen as who she was - a person/human. Throughout the documentary, it goes through Aileen's life - and highlights the problems that may've caused her to do what she did.


And it touched upon some tough issues such as poverty, child abuse and exploitation.



Assignment One


Assignment One is a proposal for a 2,500 word essay (Assignment 2)

and the essay will be an answer to a question that you "ask yourself" this will be like having a debate with yourself.

This is also due on December 16th, whilst the essay is due January 10th. The slightly irritating thing was that originally the plan was to do a movie/film/documentary review (which would have been easier, due to being able to comment on every single individual aspect or scene in this), but it was changed to "A Discussion With One's Self".



Returning To The Accomodation



I would return home after my lecture and open the box. To my total surprise it was a bed sheet!


Sound simple, but when you've shared a bed with a dozen pens (with and without lids) and it already has holes in it - these sorts of surprises are lovely.

The remainder of Tuesday evening got lost in the depth of my mind.


Wednesday 14th October

Wednesday was a pretty relaxed day with not too much action other than going food shopping.


This food shop turned into more than just "food" - myself finding some incredibly high quality (branded!) cars for only £4 each - two of which being in GT Series!



My Achilles Heal


There are two main "issues" which are currently affecting my as of late (and the way I have been feeling)


  1. Sleep

  2. Food

Sleep

The stereotypical young adult parties all night and then spends the rest of the time sleeping - and this is true for me too - except I don't "party", I just stay up on my laptop...

Context: Went to a viaduct a while back, friend said original looked like album cover, so I turned it into an album cover

Exactly that - wasting sweet old time on nothing important - excel spreadsheets, a bit of work, the website - usual stuff.


If I'm not missing out on sleeping, I'm sleeping at totally the wrong time (going to bed at 3am or something) - now, before you call out my stupidity, I tried going to bed at 8pm or so and found myself awake at 3 too energised/not tired enough to go to sleep.


It's just at the appropriate time to go to sleep, I'm always busy or in the middle of something


Food

Once again, I fall into the stereotype of constantly binge eating and stuffing my face with bad food - but when it comes to proper meals - I usually have breakfast, and if the timing is right, tea. I know this is incredibly unhealthy, but as long as I am getting fluid (liquid/water/juice) and some sort of protein/food throughout the day - with the "lazy"/inactive lifestyle (spending all day lazing about/in my room) I feel generally okay, and my body doesn't need the added energy to function since it's not doing hardly anything.



Wednesday also saw me finish the work set for me the previous Thursday (choosing which article would go in The Daily Mirror VS which would go in The Guardian) - however this would unfortunately turn out to be pointless as you will soon find out


Thursday 15th October, 2020


Oh Thursday, Thursday, Thursday what a bloody insane day Thursday was oh my oh my.


Thursday's shenanigans started very early when at 5:14am when myself and my professor were the only two in the lecture. Only after giving the link on my Uni's Whatsapp Group did one other attend.


Thursday's Lecture - Key Concepts In Journalism - Gatekeeping


The overarching theme of the lecture was "Gate-Keeping", however this was broken down into three sub sections:

  1. Gatekeeping (as a whole)

  2. Force

  3. Channels



Gate-Keeping


What Is "Gate-Keeping"

Gate-Keeping is the process of filtering and crafting countless bits of information into a limited number of messages (articles) that reach people Daily - it'd be like me massively cutting down on the blogs from a twenty-page document that takes an hour or so to read, down to a brief summary of each day (e.g: today I had a lecture on gate-keeping then went to bed).


(Bernard) Cohen, in particular, supports this theory by saying "The press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it's stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about"


We were then shown a (different) version of this graph (yeah, I know I'm shit at art)

This shows the power the media and news has over the news we see - it's also worth noting that each of these dots not only resembles an article - but how much air-time each of these articles get - for example news can show daily footage of the conflict in Azerbaijan, but only a small amount of footage - or bring up - homelessness once or even twice a week.

It's between the Public agenda and the policy agenda that the public's mind is formed.


Also in the "Media Agenda" is what the media thinks is important that we should be thinking about - because it's on the news, magazines and TV, the public start talking about it and it becomes a recurring theme in news.


Policy Agenda

The "Policy Agenda" is what Politicians believe are important - they use the power of the media and the on-going conversation about circulating topics to "get the conversation going" within their parties - and using these circulating topics write their manifestos.


Take the migrant/refugee/asylum seeker crisis for example - if conversation flared up due to it being bought up on the news - a politican may write in their manifesto "sort - or improve migrant situation in country" - whereas if the housing crisis was dominating the news/tv headlines - this would be included in their manifesto.



Components That Make Gate-Keeping Possible


News (or Channels) (N1-4 In the Theory diagram) is essentially a conveyor belt or assembly line

This can be loosely applied to the roles in news making too


Reporters > Sub-Editors > Editors > PR (Public Relations > Designer (of the article/page/website)) > Finished Product.




Force

In media, forces determine weather and item (article) passes through a channel or not.


Forces also influences the processing of said article.


After press releases are given to news/media channels (which results in more advertising/PR)


the editors have to look at how accurate/newsworthy the item/article is, and between the different stages things within the article may be tweaked to change the forces that will either put it through or not.


There's very much an on-going battle between PR (Public Relations) and editors in terms of what is worthy of publishing - things such as news values and advertising come at the forefront of these.


This all leads to the media having great power over what comes out in the magazines/newspapers.


Then And Now


Then

Prior to the explosion of the internet, there were two main "National Social Realities" - Gaurdian Readers and Telegraph Readers, both were in the same bubble, but were slightly separated.


Now

Now, everything is much more linked and connected - Social Media connects everything and it's not uncommon to find that if you find a person on one social media, they will have an account on another social media or communications platform such as Discord or Whatsapp.


It was also bought up how people react to news/media - some favourite/like it(on in Facebook's case, react to it) this is endorsing the news, and shows that it had an impact in some form on many people.


Others share it, re-contextualising it by either giving the news no caption, or a caption in addition to the one already on the news For example, on a news story on an indonesian flood one may have as a caption: "They should really put a flood defense system in place :( " - alluding to the fact that the government of the flooded area should have put measures in place in the affected area prior to the disaster as opposed to the fact that it could have been a freak nature event due to raising sea-levels and global warming.



Nearer the end, we briefly touched upon the topic of "software operated gates" - and the fact that algorithms and software do a form of gatekeeping.


Facebook and Twitter in particular restrict certain posts/topics/keywords especially if controversial.


To end - we ended on a subject that truly boggled my mind - Balance and Impartiality.


The whole issue being with "fairness" and morality.


Balance, being the easier to explain, is (as I have written in my notes) "is the way you achieve impartiality" - in some instances, balance and impartiality are good, when an individual is exposing a corrupt individual or organisation, and hasn't yet had the oppertunity, but in other instances it can be absolutely heart-wrenching.


Being impartial means that you would have to treat both parties as equal.


Take a murder case for example.


If you gave the witnesses/families/friends 30 minutes to explain their story/their version of events, you'd have to allow the murderer 30 minutes for them to explain themselves/their choices.


I've been fortunate enough to not know anyone who's been murdered, however, had I been a bereaved man who's just lost my loved one - or even my own sibling for that matter - the fact I'd have to listen to the monster that ended that person's life, who was ever, ever so close to me for 30 minutes - it would feel like an eternity - and truthfully, no matter weather he's offering his deepest condolences and apologising profusely for his actions or explaining why he did what he did, the action is done - nothing - not words nor actions will bring back my Significant Other or Sibling or help the tragic pain I have suffered.


It's because of this that impartiality is so difficult - and as a journalist and the "writer of truth" as some may say, you HAVE to be impartial.



The Assignment


Essay: Choose 1 Topic out of the three:


> Gate-Keeping

> Channels > Forces

and describe the role they play in journalism



following this lecture, I was feeling either hungry or tired (due to either insufficient food or sleep or both) - so due to a small headache and general feeling of mediocreness - I had a long, warm, lucious shower went to sleep at roughly 7-8pm or so.


Alarm.


I was suddenly awoken by an alarm. I did not know what time it was, I just knew that I had been asleep, there was an alarm and I had to get out, I leapt out of my bed, sprinted out of my room, barged past a blurred face (it felt like there was a dozen different people walking out of the corridor), raced outside and fell to the grass (controllably of course) - many thought I had tripped or fallen - but I had just woken up and my mind was racing and the andrenline was rushing - I re-assured these kind souls that I was alright, not hurt, nor had fallen. A kind person (Andrew I believe) offered me his jacket as I had come out in just my pyjamas. The alarm continued to scream and wail. weather it was an hour or half an hour, I wasn't sure, but eventually it stopped and a man emergered from the building - announced the cause was someone smoking in their room, called a room number out, not my own, or my corridor, and I returned to my bed.


Friday 16th October, 2020


Somehow, it's over halfway into the month - it's closer to November than September - I..uh...just...How?!


Friday was a pretty chill day, woke up sort of early, made myself breakfast, felt a bit ehhh - got a good few more hours rest, woke up refreshed and re-jouvinated and ready to hit the day!!


Obviously it was a lazy day, but other than finding out that a situation was 90% solved (out of 100%) nothing happened, I'll save you the details and it was a good old classic lazy day - to be honest, I probably began writing this blog on Friday knowing me!!


Saturday was a pretty darn exciting day, and there's other important things I want to discuss in yesterday's and today's blogs.


See you then


- RT









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