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I’ve just come across this fantastic video presented by Penn and Teller. It’s a funny take on the truth about bottled water.

Take a look…

My challenge over the next few weeks is to keep the website updated regularly over the Easter holidays. All the journalists have most likely gone home for the holidays and after their first deadline, probably feel like they need a break!

One thing which may help to keep ENO alive (suggested by Paul Bradshaw) is to publish quality environmental blogs on the site. This would ensure we had new articles regularly and also introduce a UGC element to ENO. So, if you have anything which you think might be suitable for Environmental News Online, let me know!

Personally, I’m hoping to write more often for the website over Easter and keep researching leads for the journalists. Unfortunately though, not all of the ‘work-in-progress’ that I blogged about previously has materialised into stories yet.

I’m still looking into the BTCV eco-dating event and have had a really interesting response from their York branch. I’m hoping to get in touch with a couple who met on the eco speed-date!

Eco-skepticism?

The lead which was sent into us by an ENO reader however, has not worked out. The potential article was about a comment made on a blog claiming that Scripps climate scientists are never invited onto right-wing San Diego radio-talk shows to express thier views.

I tried to find out if this was true.

A reply from the Scripps Communications Office revealed that Scripps scientists had infact been asked to take part in a debate the issue of climate change but had declined. They said,

“Being asked to debate is not effective – it just feeds in to the “uncertainty” framework, which scientists do not support.”

So is this ‘uncertainty framework’ fed by media outlets, the reason that people, as Joanna Geary from the Birmingham Post has pointed out, distrust environmental journalism?

A comment on Joanna’s blog post suggests that eco-reporting is approached with skepticism because it is based on fear. Scripps scientists don’t want to feed into the news media’s ‘uncertainty framework’ and promote fear, so they just don’t enter into the climate change debate.

But then, is a one-sided arguement being presented on these talk-shows? Are people being told that climate change isn’t real? We can’t just ignore the many, many climate scientists telling us we need to change our lifestyles, and now, just because we don’t trust enviro-journalism, surely?

My investigation…

My little investigation fell flat too! I thought I’d try to find out what kind of company cars were being used by Council employees and how much CO2 emmissions were being pumped out by people working for a Government claiming to rate climate change as high on their agenda.

I started small and applied through Freedom of Information for details of the company cars paid for by Birmingham City Council.

They don’t have any!

Oh well, at least I know how easy the process is now! What is interesting though, is that on Wednesday (19th Mar), the Government were asked about their cars’ green credentials.

This article on downingstreetsays.com reveals that the Government claim to have moved to greener cars over the last two years “resulting in a 30% reduction in average emissions from Government cars.” They also claim to be accelerating the pace of transition to low-emissions vehicles, but have to take into account operational and security requirements.

This may still be worth looking into further.

Keep checking back to ENO for exciting new developments, including video and interactive enviro-stories!

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Firstly, apologies again for the lack of postings on here! I did say to myself that I should keep it up over the summer, and I should! I’m afraid though WordPress has been forced to take a back seat while I try to secure some work experience! The fact that completing something on this snails-pace computer takes an age has also meant that I haven’t updated for a long time. But of course thats no excuse!

 I’ve more or less been working all summer. Not as a journalist, not writing unfortunately, but as a receptionist to get me through a very expensive, festival-filled summer. It’s a great job! I love it BUT I really need to do some work experience!

I’m just not getting anywhere. It seems you need some experience before you can get experience. A lot of the places I’ve applied to need applications on an NTCJ course (see rant below!) or just don’t get back to me at all. I’m just starting to feel a little left behind because a lot of people have already sorted and completed theirs!

Hope is on the horizon though, I’ve subscribed to a site called UK Music Jobs. A lot of the advertisements on the site are for singers, music teachers and musicians but there are a few gems on there too. Companies can advertise specifically for people to take on work experience placements, so I know that when I reply to an ad, there is a placement available. 

I’m dedicating a lot of time to searching anyway so hopefully the next post will be about the perfect placement that I’ve just been accepted for!!

Rach

So I’ve made my first video.

See it here.

I thought I’d find it really difficult but.. I’m surprised to say I actually enjoyed it! I’ve never been good infront of a camera or public speaking and I didn’t really have any experience with camera’s, so it didn’t bode well.

However, for a first attempt, I don’t think it’s that bad. Apart from the accent and the giggling at the end which I couldn’t get rid of!!!

 OK, so it is quite embarrassing actually! Please bear in mind when you watch it that it’s my first ever video! I’m not really much of a presenter!!!

So there it is, for all to see. Have a look and let me know what you think!

The Nick Love article has just gone on the website.

Apologies for the stretched out, terrible picture, it’s a temporary measure! I’ll be getting one sent to me by a student photographer very soon and that will be going up there instead.

I’ve really enjoyed writing this story. Whether it was my love of film (although not particularly Nick Love’s films!) or the fact that I got loads of juicy quotes from my brother – I don’t know. The quotes haven’t appeared in the story because I’m not sure how I would stand legally, if I published some of the things he said! A Controversial man, it sounds, that Mr Love. The joys of using family as a source.

I emailed the lecturer at the college who was more than happy to help which was lovely. She was brilliant, she gave me loads of stuff to put in the article and arranged for one of her students to send me the photograph. She’s obviously a massive fan of Nick Love and seemed REALLY excited to have him there.

I’m really quite surprised that a man with such a reputation for arrogance, took time out to travel from London to humble Stourbridge and spend a whole day with a group of college students.
I’m also surprised that after hearing some of the lecture from my brother, Paul, I quite like him now. It sounds like he was quick to justify himself and respond to criticism of his work – this blog in particular, which describes Outlaw as possibly the worst film of 2007. (This blog even promted an online response from the one of Outlaw’s producers, Allan Niblo. (take a look, I didn’t know ‘film’ had a capital ‘F’!)

It really would have been great to record some soundbites from the day, but never mind. I haven’t seen this story appear in any of the local newspapers yet which is odd.

I’m hopefully going to be filming some video tomorrow. Again tackling that prickly issue of permission to film. It’s a story about a new Primark store opening in the Merry Hill Centre. There’s vouchers on offer for the first people through the door so I’m hoping they’ll be a bit of a stampede, and I’ll get a good story!

I’ve been in contact with the marketing people from Merry Hill for the last few days about whether I have permission to film or not and was promised an answer by tonight. As of yet I’ve heard nothing and I’ve rang them too many times to count!!

As I’ve only got the camera until tomorrow afternoon, all I can do is turn up and hope for the best!

Wish me luck

PS. Thanks very much to James Dixon from Staffs Uni for the advice about the NTCJ course. Wish you well with your Broadcast Journalism studies!

Right now, I’m in the middle of writing a story about film director Nick Love visiting King Edwards College in Stourbridge today.

My brother is a film studies student at the college and that’s how I came to learn about the story. As Crime Correspondent, it’s quite far off from my specialist area, but a good story,  so hopefully it should be on the website by tonight!

My original idea was to present it as an audio story. I thought the article was best suited to audio. I was going to try and get little audio clips of his lecture and organise them into topics: ‘Nick Love on on-screen violence’, ‘Nick Love on Danny Dyer’ for example. I was really excited by the concept and I thought it would probably turn out really well.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed access to the lecture, and the college policy on letting non-students in to the ground is very very strict. This meant I wouldn’t have even been able to catch a short interview with him after he’d taken the lecture. So disappointment on that front.

I’m still going to write a text story about it however. I’m just waiting for the teacher who organised the visit to get back to me with a quote and the story should be up in no time.

When I embarked upon this task as Crime Correspondent, I assumed it would be fairly easy. There’s always crime in the news. The emergency services are always busy. Surely, there would be plenty of things happening that I could write about. And it is true, there are always things going on, but it’s not easy to find stories that aren’t from official sources. There are loads of potential articles, but not so many that haven’t already been covered by local newspapers and local TV news.

A good of finding new and original stories is to look at blogs. I’ve managed to produce two interesting and original articles in this way.

The first, my story about Sandwell Labour Councillor, Bob Piper, was a bit of luck. I had written a story about him before, when he put an offensive picture of David Cameron on his website. The notorious blogger had done it again! This time a spoof photo of Tony Blair! It was lucky that I already knew of him, so I was able to identify this as an interesting story.

His reputation seems to be that of a controversial, rebel Councillor and while its good to have a representative who is passionate and open about his views, I think maybe it was a bit silly of him to do this again after facing criticism the first time!

Another story that I came across on a blog was about the possible risk from people posing as ambulance workers. The blog was that of John Robertson, an ambulance worker from the West Midlands. In his blog he writes about his experiences in the ambulance service and is a really good insight into the work that they do.

In this particular blog entry, he highlights the fact that he very rarely gets asked to show his ID and yet easily gains access to people’s homes. I picked up on this statement as a good original story about the possible safety risks.

A comment left in response to the post mentioned the fact that St John Ambulance uniforms posed a similar risk and were much easier to get hold of. I feel that this story is particularly important at the time, when the fear of terrorist attacks is high. It is quite shocking how easy it is to get these uniforms, you just order them from the website in the same way you would anything else. When you think about the sorts of places an impostor could gain access to with no questions asked, it could potentially be quite dangerous.

Firstly, apologies for not blogging for a long time, this week I’ll be getting back on track!I’ve contributed a few stories for the news site so far as crime correspondent. My audio and video pieces will be on the way soon! I just want to write a little about how I’ve come across my stories and the processes involved in finding online news.Do you ever think about how much news is out there, that never gets reported in newspapers and on television news? Obviously I realise that news organisations have only a certain amount of space to fill, time on television but so much is missed out. Online, is the perfect home for these sorts of stories, the ones that don’t make it on TV. There is loads of space and they’ll be read by people who go looking for them – people who are interested. One thing I didn’t know was, how easy these stories are to find on the Internet, UCE News Online has proved this. OK, so it’s run by journalism specialists and we know what to look for, but we don’t have money at our disposal and no PR agencies wanting us to promote them, but we’ve still produced good, original news.

To help me find new and original stories for the web, I’ve been using Wikio and Technorati, free internet services which let you easily search news sites and blogs.

Technorati, for me has been particularly useful. It’s so easy, especially for finding the ‘shocking statement’ story. I’m still a novice and probably not using it to it’s full potential but still, it’s helped me to produce some original articles. Pretty impressive for a search engine. You simply search for a keyword in the blog directory and you get a list of all the blogs about your search. Click the link and you’ve got a description of the blog, little snippets of the posts and you’re away!

Wikio should have proved to be even more helpful but I experienced some minor problems with it. Techcrunch.com sings its praises. In his article ‘Will Wikio challenge Google news and Technorati?’, Ouriel Ohayon describes it as a ‘smart combination of Digg+Technorati+Google news’ He says:

Wikio is a user managed news search engine. It watches, real time, thousands of news sources, gathers hundreds of thousands of stories every day and classifies them by their topics in a multi millions documents database. information classification is based both on its relevancy and on its members popularity who vote, discuss or even write new stories.

This it does, but I don’t agree that it will overtake Technorati. You add tag words and RSS feeds from a number of different sites. Wikio then gives you an updated list of all the latest news or entries from those sites which you’ve searched. It should be so easy, but I struggled with it. The problem I found was that I could only add feeds from official news sources such as the Express and Star. Feeds from blogs and other unofficial sites would just not add, despite me adding them in the exact same way as the official ones. This meant that most of the news I found on Wikio was second hand. Another, slightly trivial problem I had with Wikio was that when I entered Birmingham as a tag word, everything was about Birmingham USA, even if I changed it to Birmingham UK! A minor irritation, but still one which led me to feel that Technorati was a much better method of finding original stories on the web!

So I’ve written my first news story as Crime Correspondent for the UCE News Website. It’s not strictly about crime, however it feels like the closest thing to professional journalism I’ve done so far. I’ve written articles before for assessments at university, we’ve produced professional looking newspapers but nothing that can be accessed by anyone in the world! This is quite an exciting concept for me, as is this blog. My work, this story, can be read by anyone who happens to stumble across it! I’ll be making more contributions to the site over the next 7 or 8 weeks.

In search of a work experience placement this year, I’ve sent out numerous letters to various news publications in Birmingham. I have a good CV and my letters are convincing but I’m not having any luck. However, there is a similar theme running through the reply letters I am receiving.

‘I’m sorry, due to the ever growing number of applicants, we can only accept candidates from a course run by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.’

As a student who is not on such a course, this is slightly worrying!

What does this mean for my future job prospects? Where will it leave me when I’m searching for a job, if a degree may not be enough?

It seems we’ll need an NCTJ qualification as well, despite any work experience, just to get a news agency to consider us as potential employees.