Sunday, 27 November 2011

Week 9 at uni

On Wednesday we had a Twitter workshop with Neal Mann, a graduate of the Department of Journalism at Sheffield University. On Twitter he's better known as @fieldproducer, and he was one of the innovators in using Twitter to break news stories.  He gave us some great tips and ideas for using Twitter, and he gave us a big list of people to follow so that our homepages are constantly buzzing with tweets from the best journalists in the UK.

On Thursday we had our first 'news day'. Our class of about 14 people had to function as a newsroom and put out radio news bulletins every half hour from 11am-5pm.  We also put out online content throughout the day.  Each of us was given a responsibility and I was sports editor for the day.  It was my job to cover all the sports stories of the day, submit them for the regular bulletins and then read a more in-depth sports bulletin at 1pm and 5pm.  I really enjoyed it and I sent one of our reporters to Hillsborough to cover Sheffield Wednesday's press conference which takes place every Thursday.  I also arranged a phone interview with a local boxer by Twitter, so the usefulness of having a Twitter account is already becoming apparent.  Next week I'll be online editor, working on the website rather than gathering audio and writing stories for the radio.

After our news day finished BJ F.C. had our second derby of the season against Printer Milan.  There were a couple of injuries during the match but we won 4-1.

Yesterday I recorded another Gamewave and I feel I'm getting better at presenting a show.  I'm putting more emotion into my voice and the show seems to be flowing really well and sounding professional.  I'm also getting some good listener interaction. I want to get back to broadcasting live ASAP though.

This week also saw Sheffield University win the Times Higher Education award of 'University of the Year'.  I think Shef Uni is a very good uni on the whole.

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Friday, 18 November 2011

Another very busy week

On Monday I went to film my TV news piece which will be assessed and make up a large part of my mark for the semester.  There was something called the Celebration of Sport service at the Cathedral and I'd decided to film this for the assessment.  I went along and set up the camera, and while it was tough shooting in the darkness of the cathedral I think I got some good footage.  I also got an interview with Howard Webb and Alan Smith.

On Tuesday we heard about how the system for getting a placement next semester works.  We'll all be working in media organisations for 3 weeks, so we're to start thinking about where we might want to go.  I think I'm gonna go for local BBC radio.

Then in the evening, as my friend from Pizza Hut was in it, I went to see a production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at the Rotherham Civic.  It was really professionally put on and quite good actually.

On Wednesday I had an assessed interview at 9am.  I was given a scenario and I had to interview my lecturer as if he was a policeman explaining a crime story to me.  It went well.

In the afternoon I visited Barnsley for the first time with one of my coursemates to look for stories.  Getting off the train Barnsley looked fairly drab, but we walked towards the old town hall and it got nicer as we went on.  It was pretty easy to find ideas for stories, such as the town hall being turned into a museum and a new exhibition at the gallery.  I'll be following these stories up soon.

On Thursday we had an all-day writing for TV workshop.  We were given a BBC news story with all the audio taken out and a summary of the story.  We then had to write words to fit the images we were seeing on screen.  It's harder than you might think, but the teacher said mine was excellent.  I'm used to writing simple, to-the-point stuff, partly through writing this blog, so I found it fairly easy.

This morning I interviewed Barnsley poet, Ian McMillan - another story for my patch. I'd only heard of Ian McMillan recently through a programme called Fry's Planet Word.  Ian appeared on that show and gave his thoughts on the various Yorkshire accents, and I thought he'd be a great person to interview for my patch as he's from Barnsley.  His publisher sent me a couple of his new books to read, and we arranged to meet up at the Showroom theatre.  They kindly lent us the use of one of their screens so we could record without background noise, and we talked about his books and some more general thoughts on Yorkshire.  I also got him to do a performance of various Northern accents, similar to that which he did on Fry's Planet Word, but the Marantz recorder didn't record all of that section, so I can't really use it.  But I think the interview turned out really well overall.  It was around 20 minutes and I'm going to edit it down to three and submit it.  I'll probably submit it to a local radio station as well.  You can hear the whole unedited thing here and here.

I pre-recorded my show for Forge Radio this afternoon and now I'm done until Pizza Hut tomorrow.

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Sunday, 6 November 2011

Right, let's see what's happened since my last post...

Things are heating up at uni.  We've all been given our news patches now, and mine is Barnsley, so over the next six weeks I have to visit regularly and find four stories to film and record for TV and radio.

During the last week I had a voice training session where I got some advice on how to improve my voice when reading news bulletins.  Basically I need to 'read' less, and understand the story so that I'm explaining it to the listener rather than just reading from a screen.  I also need to inject some more emotion and variation into my voice, so I'm planning to practise reading news bulletins quite a bit over the next few weeks.  I think this would improve my voice when I'm presenting my Gamewave show as well.  To an extent, doing a music show like Gamewave, you're voice is always going to sound more natural though, as you're ad-libbing, not reading from a sheet or screen.

Speaking of Gamewave, I've now switched from broadcasting live to pre-recording my shows.  Broadcasting live is more fun and basically easier, but my time slot of midnight-1am on a Friday makes getting home when I've finished difficult.  The guys who run the station say I should get a better time slot next semester, and I look forward to broadcasting live again.  I want to get more experience doing it live.  It's completely different from pre-recording, and I have enough experience pre-recording shows from doing the podcast for years.

BJ F.C. has had a mixed season so far.  Out of four we've lost two and won two.  Due to having so many people in the squad it's impractical to give everyone a game each week, so three players now sit out each time.  We've been experimenting with formations and positions for different players, and last Thursday we seemed to find a winning formula - we played really well, winning 5-3.

Halloween was fun.  I dressed up as a chainsaw murderer and hit the town with the guys from my class.  Everyone at Pizza Hut dressed up over the Halloween weekend as well - I wore a Hannibal Lecter mask.


Bonfire Night was good.  It's one of my favourite times of year and I didn't really celebrate it when I was in Japan last year.  Well, Emma and I attempted to make parkin and bonfire toffee and watched V For Vendetta, but it's not the same.  This year I went to a mate's house and he had some fireworks in his back garden.

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