Multimedia reporting 2, assignment 3

Writing and reporting for live news websites

As time goes on I have started to view working in journalism as comprising of three distinct phases the first the ‘roving reporter’ stage which is probably what the vast majority of people conjure up in their minds when someone says they are a journalist. This part takes the longest and involves chasing interviewees and getting your hands on press releases. It is worth note that since the introduction of the internet it has become much easier to replace roving with browsing however. The second is the ‘production line’ stage which is when all the work the reporter has done comes together to become part of a product processed and finally produced by the churning machine that is the office workplace.. The last part is the ‘relax and feel proud’ stage. This final stage lasts about 5 minutes and is mostly taken up by exhaling and the relaxing of the reporters’ shoulders which have been hovering just below their ears.
All joking aside however after producing work for and working as part of a team on the live rolling news days, that are part of the multimedia reporting 2 course, my original idea of what it would be like to work as a reporter for a news website has become much clearer to me as we have used the class to develop our journalistic working skills, such as good writing and interview practice, and the three step process idea that I have developed has shown me what would be expected of me. Developing stories from an initial idea seems to be ruled principally by luck which can please and infuriate you in equal measure. When we first told we had to have a few stories ready for each week I set about and managed to have quite a good measure of success with an initial story and then a follow up. Things fell nicely into place almost by themselves. I was to become aware how initially lucky I had been in the weeks that followed when attempting to produce my next stories. With a list of four or five ideas I set about working the same way as I had on my previous stories and after phoning and e-mailing around for a whole afternoon I was left sitting with absolutely nothing other than the basic information I had originally drawn my ideas from. I ended up phoning around friends and came into class with what I felt was quite a very weak piece. What can I draw from this? Well, without getting to deeply into aphorisms, I have come to the conclusion that things either go your way or they do not and that is something, that as a journalist, comes with the territory. It is up to you to decide when to stop hunting one story and when to proceed to the next. Also a well stocked contacts book can be a life saver.
Doing the job of a reporter it is also noteworthy that as time passes the number people involved in your job increases. We write and work in expanding pyramids of information and people. A journalist begins solitarily gathering ideas and as time passes so the number of people expands to first including interviewees and any other contacts in the gathering stage until you are brought to the office where you are in a room filled with other journalists and the editor all working cumulatively to release the end product whether that is a website or a newspaper. The office stage is interesting as it is not unlike a factory where everyone works, talks and jokes while under constant the scrutiny of the boss; the editor, whose main job seems to be marching round treading the thin line between being helpful and autocratic, a problem I never had to experience as I did not play this role. There is a healthy sense of competition in the office environment that I found useful and enjoyable. No one wants to present the weakest material and no one wants to be the last to finish writing up their story. However working in such a rapid way can have consequences to the product as I found out when the editor, the course leader and I all failed to notice the title of my article was misspelt and it was posted on the site. Although having an article about an ‘airpot’ is amusing in class this could result in a great deal of trouble in a real workplace. I have thought to myself that this office environment must be missed by writers of any other kind as it brings you into close and friendly contact with a group of people doing the same job as you and experiencing and dealing with the same problems which results in a sort of ‘production line’ humour and friendliness. It also usually leads to the obligatory after-work pint.


The function of blogging to journalists

Blogging has changed the way news is received. It is used by news corporations all over the world and by thousands of journalists. It allows complete freedom from the editor, a chance to be opinionated without censorship and a chance to communicate on a more personal level with an audience. However blogging has become more than this; it can function as a form of regularly updated CV, it can show people who you know and where you’ve been and, for journalists, it can convey the personality that has to be left behind in the news papers. But is this a good thing in a business such as journalism where some of the fundamentals are supposed to be objectivity, impartiality and considering legal and ethical awareness?

I used the website www.cyberjounalist.net, which has separate lists of blogs published by news sites and blogs published independently to see clearly the difference in the edited blogs and the autonomous blogs. The main difference I’ve found while scrolling through the two lists is, predictably, the presence of a personality. The autonomous blogs have scattered bits of humour, which show opinion on certain matters, the interests of the blogger, through links and photographs and also less straightforward writing than that found on the news blogs. On the other side of the list we have news sites which are run much like a constantly updated and more animated, via video, front page to a newspapers.

Perhaps the best use of blogs is the happy medium found by columnists whose writing is more opinionated than the reporters but is still monitored by the editors so therefore can still be associated with the large news sites as, if you take even a short look into the subject, there are so many blogs on the internet it’s hard to find the ones that would be of use to you.

Scott Karp, author of this blog believes blogging is a necessary tool for new journalists to show what they are capable of as blogs can show video and therefore presenting skills, whilst also showing the writing skills of the journalist on the same page. This brings me back to the suggestion of a blog as a form of CV which, in my opinion, is a strong idea as it would be fully capable of showing all of the different types of journalistic work as well as making available information about your personal life. But then again should your personal life be under scrutiny anyway? On one hand perhaps it is important for a person to be free of any biases caused by being, say, extremely religious or simply having a very strong view on a certain subject. Things that would come in the way of having an objective view on things. However if someone were to use their blog as a form of CV it’s unlikely that they would include such negative information anyway so perhaps this reasoning cancels itself out.

Blogger ‘Paulbradshaw’ believes that although the two have become closely linked there are some firm differences that need to be kept in mind when journalism and blogging become intertwined.The rules he points out are that blogs are typically opinionated and therein lies the attraction whereas journalist practice aspires to preside above opinion in order to avoid bias. He also points out that blogs have the ability to treat the reader as a form of contributing co-creator while journalism, in the provision of the news, treats the reader as a recipient. He also goes on to show the results of a survey in which journalists around the world sent information about how they use blogging in their field of work. I’d recommend it as further reading (see the extra parts in the links at the bottom of the page).
One thing I feel should be noted is the fact that RSS feeds and mini-blogging sites, such as http://www.twitter.com, have come to such prominence lately and in my opinion are more useful in the provision of news than blogging sites. The RSS feeds and mini-blogging sites can quickly fire headlines to their audiences who can then simply Google the subject, engaging the reader in a way in which they gather their own sources after being alerted to the event. Potentially they could gather as much information from anywhere for as long as their interest holds. All they need is the headline.
Perhaps the two should be kept separate but there is no doubt that blogging is having an effect on the rapidly changing face of journalism.

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