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Greg Bedson Work Experience Portfolio

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Contents Description page number Contents 1. The Realities of the UK Press 3 2. The consequences of the internet and the digital age 3 3. Magazines: The brighter side of journalism 4 4. A flare for design? 4 5. The next chapter 5 6. Keeping up with technology 5 7. Bibliography 6 8. Appendices 7 A. Background information: The Argus 7 B. Background information: NG Kids 8 C. Research into QS 9 D. Press Association course 10

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A reflective blog of a student journalist: Greg Bedson The realities of the UK Press Kim Fletcher, Chairman of the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) described journalism as ‘a job where every day can be different, because the nature of news is so varied [. . .] A job that can so much fun you sometimes – sometimes – can’t believe they are actually paying you to do it (Smith, 2007). This description is a stark contrast to how Nick Davies described newspaper journalism in the twenty-first century. Davies investigated the state of the newspaper industry in the twenty-first century, to find that journalism has been lost to ‘churnalism’ (Davies, 2008). Davies’ study suggested that journalists no longer go and get their own stories, but rely on the stories coming to them instead. In order to validate these claims, Davies conducted research at Cardiff University and found that in some newspapers, up to 80 per cent of news is constructed from press releases or wire copy. After completing work experience at The Argus (Appendix A), it was apparent that Davies’ suggestion was applicable there. Much of the two weeks I spent at The Argus consisted of re-writing press releases or taking copy from national newspapers and making it relevant to the local area. As somebody on work experience, I did not expect to be out of the office every day searching for news stories, however that did not seem to be a major part of the role for the full time reporters at The Argus either. During my two week placement at The Argus, of the five reporters who were working on the same desk as me, just one of them spent time out of the office, gathering news. The others spent their whole working week confined to their desk, making the occasional telephone call to interview people. Davies’ research found that other reporters also spent much of their time confined to their desk, speaking to very few actual people. In Flat Earth News, Davies published a diary of a young graduate journalist who worked on a regional daily tabloid. Davies also included in his book an account of how many stories the journalist had written on a daily basis, people he spoke to, people he saw face to face and the total number of hours out of the office. In total the journalist wrote 48 stories throughout the week, he spoke to 26 people, only four of which were face to face and just three hours of his working week were spent out of the office. Davies did not attempt to repress his opinion that a reporter who is writing that many stories in a week can not be doing their job properly and he described present day newsrooms as ‘life in a news factory’ (Davies, 2008). Using his own knowledge as a journalist, Davies also argued that a reporter cannot be checking for the truth if they are only speaking to 26 people whilst researching 48 stories. Bob Franklin (2005) described the current state of the newspaper industry as ‘McJournalism’, referring to the ‘flavourless mush’ which he believes has now become a standard trait in newspapers. John Lloyd (2004) holds a similar opinion to Franklin and he called for ‘slow journalism’, under the notion that speed should never be put before quality. Arguably one of the main reasons that the role of a newspaper journalist has changed, is due to the emergence of the internet and 24 hour news channels. Before stepping down as Prime Minister, Tony Blair said ‘When I campaigned for election in 1997, we took an issue a day. But in 2005, we had to have one for the morning, another for the afternoon, and by the evening the agenda had already moved on’ (Rosenberg and Feldman, 2008). Rosenberg and Feldman claim that the ‘24 hour news cycle had shrunk to something like 24 minutes by the time he [Blair] delivered his blistering critique of UK media’ (2008). This all suggests that audiences are no longer satisfied with having to wait until the following morning to read about the latest news, instead they want to find out about it as it develops. The consequences of the internet and the digital age In November 2000, the 10 national daily newspapers together sold a total of 12,543,510 copies. In 2009 the same 10 newspapers sold 10,076,045 copies, a decline of 19.7 per cent (Guardian, 2009). During the same time period, the number of internet users in the UK rose from 26.81 per cent of the population in 2000, to 83.36 per cent 3 of 10


in 2009 (World Bank, 2011). The significance of this in relation to journalism, is that it suggests there has been a shift from print to online. Although the decline in newspaper sales might suggest that there may be limited opportunities for new journalists, the internet has opened up more opportunities that never existed before. Bob Franklin (2010) used evidence from the Pew Research Centre, which found “New job demands are drawing a generation of young, versatile, tech-savvy, high-energy staff as financial pressures drive out higher-salaried veteran reporters and editors.” Franklin also noted that the growth of the internet has led to changes in journalism, with the most notable being “a loosening of standards, more outside voices and an increased emphasis on speed” (State of the News Media, 2009 cited in Franklin, 2010). This suggestion is similar to that of Davies, who noted that journalists are now producing more copy than before. One potential consequence of journalists having to produce stories quicker than in the past, is that accuracy and fact checking may be compromised. In Davies’ study, his researchers found that 70 per cent of stories which relied on a specific statement of fact, passed into print without any corroboration (Davies, 2008). Davies also drew on reseach conducted by Philip Meyer, who in his 2004 book, The Vanishing Newspaper, investigated how many newspaper articles were published with errors. 5,136 stories were used from 22 different newspapers, over two year period, in total 59 per cent of the stories contained at least one error (Davies, 2008). During my work experience at The Argus, I noticed that there was some form of error in many of their articles. At a personal level, the most significant error I noticed, was the failure to spell my name correctly in my first ever by-line (Grteg Bedson). Although, only a small typing error, this signified to me that if newspapers fail to check the name of the reporter is spelt correctly, (which is written in bold text, underneath the headline) larger errors, which may change the scope of the article, may also go unnoticed. Magazines: The brighter side of journalism As my knowledge of the newspaper industry increased, through research and from personal experiences, I began to realise that a newspaper journalist was no longer a career that appealed to me. Still keen to be involved in journalism, I explored other options, and for the first time, working with magazines seemed like an exciting career. As with newspapers, the internet and other forms of technology have significantly changed the magazine industry, with most magazines now having an accompanying website. In 2012 the ABC figures found that digital content now accounts for 37 per cent of the magazine industry, an increase of 22 per cent since 2007 and 35 per cent 2005. The report also found that on the basis of these trends, digital is expected to overtake print as a share of the total by 2013 (APA, 2012). The same report also noted that, although there has been a decline in the circulation of consumer magazines recently, the number of customer magazines is increasing and in 2011 there was a 9.5% increase in the circulation of customer magazines compared with the previous period. In my opinion this suggests that the magazine industry is more stable than newspapers are, and the shift from print to online content just shows that magazines are responding to audiences’ demands. Magazines are generally published less frequently than newspapers, I think that this allows more time to check for errors and therefore produce higher quality publications. Although newspapers do contain features, I believe that magazine journalists are generally given more freedom in the topic they write about. There are specialist magazines for virtually every topic, newspapers have to appeal to a mass audience, and therefore there are more constraints as to what they can report. A flare for design? Towards the end of the second year of my degree, I started to show a strong interest, not just in writing for magazines, but designing magazines. I had never before paid much attention to design, however after analysing different magazine pages to help me with a project, I came to realise the importance of a strong page layout. Through practice and much experimentation, I became very confident using Adobe InDesign and more importantly, gained much satisfaction from producing compelling and original page layouts. It is for this reason that I chose to apply for work experience at NG Kids magazine. It is a magazine that I had been familiar with for quite some time, my girlfriend’s sister is a subscriber and I thought it was a fantastic magazine for children. I thought their 4 of 10


pages were extremely eye catching and a strong interest in science and geography, made NG Kids a very appealing magazine to apply for (Appendix B). I spent a week working at NG Kids and during this time I was given the opportunity to research and write content for the magazine and accompanying website. I also spent time producing page layouts, which were then used in the magazine. The most challenging aspect of writing for NG Kids was writing to a young audience. Predominantly all of the work I have produced since starting university has been aimed at adults, therefore writing content to be read by children, proved to be surprisingly challenging. I did however, thoroughly enjoy my experience at NG Kids and it confirmed that a career in the magazine industry was something that I wanted to pursue. The next chapter I began applying for graduate jobs in February 2012 and in order to stand a better chance of getting employed, I redesigned my CV and created an online portfolio to showcase some of the work I have produced at Solent University. With a passion for writing and design, I applied for roles that would allow me to do either or both. Most of the jobs I applied for were based in London and I found that the starting salary seemed to range from £15,000 to £25,000 per anum. Most of the positions I applied for, I received no response from the employer. This I thought was expected, as it is a very competitive industry and I am sure that many other applicants would have more experience than myself. I was however, offered an interview for the role of sub-editor and publishing assistant at Quacquarelli Simmons (QS), a company which specialises in providing higher education and careers information (Appendix C). Following two interviews, I was offered the job and I am due to start on 28th May 2012. According to my contract, my job role will be as follows: Spending time between our in-house, editorially focussed websites, print publications, primary research, and global media syndication interests, the sub-editor and publishing assistant will work with the editorial team and external freelance contributors to ensure quality, reader-focussed, appealing editorial content fills the pages of our magazines, websites, and primary research, as well as our media partner’s publications. Keeping up with technology This job seems like an ideal starting point for my career, as it involves designing pages, as well as occasionally writing the content for the pages. As mentioned previously, magazine content is gradually shifting from print to online, I was informed at the interview that QS are keen to develop digital magazines for their publications in the near future and they would provide training, so that I will be capable of doing that. I think this will make me more employable when I apply for future positions, as it appears that many other magazines are also creating digital versions of their product. In January 2012, six per cent of the UK population owned a tablet computer (Guardian, 2012). A study in March 2012, predicted that the UK tablet market is set to experience a yearly growth of 31. 88 per cent until 2016 (Velositor, 2012). In addition to this, it was reported in January 2012 that 45 per cent of the UK population own smart phones (Mori, 2012), making it clear to see why magazines are increasing their digital content. I believe in order to improve their employability; journalists must become familiar with producing digital content. Based on the statistical evidence used in this report, I also hold the opinion that in the near future, the success of newspapers and magazines will be determined by the quality of their digital content. On a personal level, I will endeavour to keep up with the changes in technology. As already discussed, it is likely that I will receive training in producing content for digital publications from my employer. With an ambition to become editor of a magazine, I believe that it is important that I stay ahead of the game; therefore I am considering the possibility of enrolling on a relevant course. One course that I have found is through the Press 5 of 10


Association, and is called e-publishing for interactive publications (Appendix D). This is a three day course and it provides â&#x20AC;&#x153;step-by-step training to layout engaging interactive experiences to captivate your readersâ&#x20AC;? (Press Association, 2012). I strongly believe that having this knowledge would make me more employable for when I start to apply for more senior roles. Bibliography Arthur, C., 2012. Smartphones users 50% more likely to own tablet, Google Study finds, Guardian Online [Online] Available at: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/jan/25/smartphone-tablet-users-google-study> [Accessed 05 May, 2012] Davies, N., 2008. Flat Earth News. London: Vintage Franklin, B., 2005. Pulling Newspapers Apart: Analysing Print Journalism. Abingdon: Routledge Franklin, B., 2010. The Future of Newspaper. Abingdon: Routledge Johnson, K., 2012. The UK Tablet Market is Forecasted to see 31.88% Yearly Growth Until 2016 [online] Available at: <http://velositor.com/2012/03/21/the-uk-tablet-market-is-forecasted-to-see-31-88-yearly-growth-until-2016/> [Accessed 05 May, 2012]. Lloyd, J., 2004. What the Media are Doing to Our Politics. London: Constable Rosenberg, H. Feldman, C., 2008. No Time To Think: The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle. London: Continuum. Smith,J., 2007 Essential Reporting: The NCTJ Guide for Trainee Journalists. London: Sage

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Appendix A: Background Research: The Argus Here is the first page taken from The Argus Media Pack. This page tells the reader when The Argus was formed, the area it covers and the newspaperâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s circulation/ readership.

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Appendix B: Background Research: NG Kids Here is the background information for NG Kids, taken from BRAD Insight. This page shows the circulation figures, target audience and overview of content.

Further information can be found at www,bradinsght.com or www.ngkids.co.uk

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Appendix C: Background Research: QS On 28th May 2012, I will begin working as a sub-editor/ production assistant for QS. Here is some background information about the company, taken from their website.

further information about the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s values and mission statement, can be found at http://content.qs.com/qs/QS_2011.pdf

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Appendix D: Press Association Course Here is the course description for the three day e-publishing for interactive publications course, which is through the Press Association

Course Description This course will show you how to take standard documents and magazines beyond print to digital publishing and distribute on the web and mobile devices like the iPad. This two day step-by-step training course outlines how to layout engaging interactive experiences to captivate your readers by adding embedded video, interactive images, slide shows, audio, flash animation features and links to online Example: Asos Magazine Who Should Attend? Anybody who has the responsibility for creating, developing and publishing digital content You will need to already have an understanding of InDesign and traditional magazine design. Aims/ Objectives By the end of this course you will be able to: Understand digital publishing trends Expand document production capabilities beyond print design Create a rich media publications using InDesign and export as a PDF, SWF (Flash file) and ePUB (iPAD) Course Outline Day 1 - Producing Interactive Applications Authoring an interactive presentation using InDesign CS5 Creating interactive elements, rollover buttons, page transitions adding URLs and hyperlinks Exporting to interactive PDF and interactive SWF Page Curls Introduction to ePUB format for iPad and other mobile devices Day 2 - Creating a digital magazine prototype application Rich media production tips Preparing an InDesign CS5 magazing layout and exporting to Flash CS5 Adding interactivity and testing Flash CS5 movies Creating animations using Motion Presets importing video and sound Testimonial â&#x20AC;&#x153;I learnt so much both about the software and the production of a high quality interactive magazine.â&#x20AC;? (Young designer) Course Length 3 days

Further information about this course can be found at: http://www.pressassociation.com/training/courses/production/how-to-produce-an-interactive-magazine.html

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