Thursday, 2 December 2010

Website Manager: Week 2

The website has seen a massive change in appearance this week as Glenn and I have been working hard to format the entire site so that it looks both eye-pleasing and professional. This was done by deciding upon a standard layout default for each article, which we would follow in every article without exception.

Each article now has a picture or video, or both, which looks a lot better, and also helps me, as the Website Manager, to align all articles in the same manner i.e. line the text up with the picture/video then insert a "Read More" at the bottom of the photo/video to create a consistent look. Once I have conquered the Sport layout - which is difficult to make it look visually pleasing - there will be only two types of typographical format on the entire website - articles with videos and those with pictures.

In addition to this, the amount of articles a viewer can view per page has been altered so as that it aligns with what is displayed on the side-bar; this leaves no gaps or areas on the site which appear empty.

The above image demonstrates the consistency in overall look, which we wish to maintain.

The screenshot shows how we have changed the amount of articles present on each page so as to neatly align the side-bar content with the articles.

On top of changing the overall look of the site and deciding which articles go where (they are placed in order of importance), I have also been sub-editing with the team of sub-editors. This has been a great learning curve for me; just when I think I have correctly subbed an article, I get another sub to check it out, only to discover some glaring errors (granted these errors mostly occur after hours at looking at the computer screen). I feel there is now a more efficient system of getting the articles on the site as now there is a Website Manager, there seems to be a greater sense of urgency to get articles subbed as quickly as possible and get them uploaded; before it seemed there was a somewhat more blase and laboured approach with getting articles on the site.

On Wednesday I helped out in the studio from midday. I vision mixed the feature which included Laura Barton and then also vision mixed the bulletin. Unfortunately, I messed up a crucial handover for the first time in weeks, but I'll put this down to lack of communication in the gallery (that will remain the party line haha). All in all it has been a successful week, I just wish I had more time to embrace and excel in my newly appointed role as Christmas fast approaches.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

WINOL: Website Editor

At the mid point of this year's first Semester we were given the opportunity to change roles (those of us who wanted to). I decided to resign from my position as Managing Editor as I felt I had got all I could from that position and believed that it needed a fresh head to provide some new impetus. I certainly felt that my time as Managing Editor was successful but believe that it was time to give up the role and try something new.

I am currently Website Manager. This is a position which I am not entirely thrilled about acquiring as the same problems seem to be present in this position as with the position of Managing Editor; that is to say that other people can do your job, which makes you feel rather irrelevant.

My duty now is to decide how the website looks and to say what content should be included. The Website Editor position, seems to me to have been created without any real need to have one; Chris and Glenn can decide the overall look of the site, and Veronica decides the content- so I don't honestly see that there is a requirement for a Website Editor thus leaving me very disappointed with the overall WINOL experience I have encountered this semester. I have strong convictions that if it weren't for me putting unessential and unrequired work into the project, I might as well have been absent this term.

Nonetheless I wish to make good use of the couple of weeks I have left before Christmas to make the best of the newly created position of Website Editor. My new position has given a certain air of clarity to the layout of the website as Glenn and I have tidied it up and made it look a lot more presentable e.g. we made all articles appear the same lengths on the site, changed the overall typography, and made the site look more smart in appearance.

In addition to my job I also did sub-editing this week (I felt my role requires me to do so), which helps out with Glenn and Cara etc. I Discussed the use of photographs to improve the site with Veronica and also conferred with Jason as to the essentialness of having photos for the site.

As my role appears to give some free time, I offered my assistance to production. On Tuesday I helped out with the children who came in and alongside Paul, Josh, and Rob, demonstrated and let them use our gallery facilities for their own production. On top of this I filmed the band Davis who came in as part of our What's On Winchester production. Also, on Wednesday I ressumed the role of VT operator, for the bulletin, on the newly improved VT software.

On Friday we finally got to record our bulletin live at the Southern Daily Echo. This was a privilege of which I had arranged as my time as Managing Editor for WINOL, which had finally come to fruition. This was a great experience, as it gave all WINOL's executive team the chance to go down and take part in producing a bulletin the like of which we have never done, and so I am particularly pleased with myself and the team as a whole, who, in visiting the Echo, got to "show off" what we can do, and hopefully retain close links we made that day with the Echo in the future.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Media Law and Ethics: Codes of Practice

Codes of Practice are the very rules which keep us, as journalists, in check and should be followed in order to protect both ourselves and others.

There are four main codes:
-NUJ Code of Conduct. This is outlined in the 12 point guide NUJ Code.
- PCC: newspapers and magazines. This covers the areas below:
Opportunity to reply
Intrusion into grief or shock
Children in sex cases
Reporting crime
Victims of sexual assault
Financial Journalism
Confidential sources
Witness payments in criminal trials
Payments to criminals
Sometimes there are exceptions to the way in which each area is dealt with when public interest is cited
- Ofcom: broadcasters. There are lengthily guidelines for broadcasting on Ofcom's website under "Broadcast Guidelines"

- BBC: for their staff and licence payers. There is an extensive amount of information under the BBC's Editorial Guidelines.

Why do codes matter?
- Guide us through ethical issues
- How far we can go to get a story
- Guide us to what practices are legitimate

Key areas the codes aid:
- Ethical behaviour
- Fair treatment
- Respect for privacy
- Accuracy and impartiality
- Protecting vulnerable demographics

Currently in the media this week, Ofcom revoked the licences of four Adult premium-rate phone channels. The channels "Tease Me" have all been suspended as they have been ruled as "no longer fit and proper" - Ofcom said that the various channels' daytime content was 'the equivalent of hardcore pornography'.

Ofcom hopes the removal of the Tease Me channels will act as a warning to other channels of the same genre, and the broadcast regulator is set to meet all Adult licencees to ensure that they are adhering to the regulator's rules. Over the last 18 months the network had breached Ofcom regulations more than 60 times and had repeatedly breached the rules regarding protecting children from inappropriate material.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Media Law and Ethics: FOI continued

After previously having a Freedom of Information Act lecture, we then had another one which consisted of a more in-depth analysis of the act, plus we put the FOI act into use as a classroom exercise.

The learning task we undertook was to make an FOI request ourselves. Firstly, we had to learn how to properly construct and implement a request. Here we discovered that precision is key for finding the information the individual requires. The more specific the enquiry, the quicker and less likely the respondent will be in postponing the request.

Below is a screenshot of the acknowledgment from an FOI request Rob and I put in. We contacted the Young People's Learning Agency to enquire how many young people who receive government financial aid go on to complete their respective studies.

The response was met quickly, and I was told that they would get back to me as soon as possible. I am fairly convinced that my request will be answered as I have made two previous requests and both were met within the time limit stated in the 2000 Act.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

WINOL: Week 6

It was a good week this week as I encountered WINOL's first complaint of the semester. The complaint followed a live studio debate, which focused around tuition fees and budget cuts. The format consisted of a presenter posing questions to three studio guests (two of which were left and one right of the political spectrum). From the offset we were rather dubious about appearing bias due to us only having one Conservative guest, so we payed close attention so as not to appear as we were attacking him in any way. Oddly it was not this individual who filed the complaint.

The individual had complained that he had been unfairly treated as he was misrepresented by the way the final edit was put together; his complaint wasn't that there was heavy editing, but that it had been edited in a way which he felt misrepresented him.

All involved, and I saw this was the case, did everything in their power so as not to cause controversy and remain impartial and fair, however, due to inexperience, we made a fault and duly and graciously accepted this. In response we wrote an apology to the studio guest, and offered him a chance to reappear as a guest. In addition, we are also going to publish an open letter of apology on the website to acknowledge our mistakes and present the fact that we have nothing at all to hide in coming forward to receive criticism.

My duty was to offer the guest our condolences and offer him a chance to appear as a guest again (an offer to which I am yet to receive a reply to). Also, Veronica and I worked together to write the apology letter. I strongly believe that everyone involved worked quickly and efficiently to amend the problem (i.e. I took the video down from YouTube), and appease the studio guest.

Although the aforementioned was the highlight of my week, other tasks were undertaken by myself which included: reviewing the bulletin, publishing the stats, thanking the IT staff for the improvement on our network, distributing the bulletin running orders in the newsroom, and helping with filming.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Media Law and Ethics: Copyright

Copyright is, in a sense, theft. It is classed as a theft because it is making use of someone's work without that person giving any sort of consent of permission. If an individual can prove that their 'intellectual' property has been stolen then they have grounds to sue the person/persons who have stolen their intellectual property.

Copyright is a fast growing law area, and the lengths that people are willing to go to protect their intellectual property are huge as the world makes technological advances in media.

All work an individual produces belongs to the individual until they sell the results and rights of the work to another.

Intellectual property has as much copyright solidity as something produced by hand. When someone sells their property, there are differences between the two types, as property produced by hand's rights is likely to be sold of completely whereas intellectual property is far more likely to be licenced in exchange for payment, with the original creator still holding ownership; this is particularly true for freelance media work.

There is no Copyright for ideas. One can only claim copyright breach when there is already clear evidence of an idea. If one wishes copyright protection then there property must be of substancial detail and not infringe on any copyright itself (i.e. be original).

Lifting. There is no copyright in the facts of a news story, but everything about the news story is copyrighted... even down to the very words the reporter uses. Any interview or quotes in a story is copyrighted, but the barebones and facts of a story is free from copyright issues.

Fair Dealing. Through fair dealing, copyrighted material can be used in the following ways: Private study purposes
Performance, copies or lending for educational purposes
News reports
Lending by libraries
Official proceedings
"Time shifting" for convenience
Producing a personal back-up
Playing a recording for a non-profit organisation
Fair Dealing allows wider reporting of stories in the public interest, criticism and review of coypright material, broadcast of news obits of film stars can use famous movie clips for free. Photographs, however, are NOT subject to fair dealing.

The best defense of breach of copyright is that one can lift quotes etc from a publication through fair dealing if it is in the public interest. However, the extracted copyright material must be acknowledged (that it is the work of somebody else) by it's extractor and certainly not be passed off as their own work. One does not have to specify where the source was from exactly, i.e. if the Daily Mail revealed some info, it could be said that 'a newspaper revealed', but one should never pass the work off as their own. By doing this malice can also be avoided if the 'news exclusive' transpires to be of a malicious nature.

The length of time property has copyright protection is very peculiar. The 1998 statute states that art work, music scores, drama, film etc is free from copyright 70 years after the death of the particular author/performer. And for music, sound, and broadcasts, there is no copyright after 50 years.

Recently the government has proposed to lower the restrictions on 'intellectual property' to that of the US. The lowering of restrictions, it is argued, is to help economic stimulus and stop creativity being impinged and restricted. The business and economic argument for lowering current UK copyright law is that there is a neccesity for creative people to take already existing concepts and rework or better them for greater creative purposes and economic stimulus.

David Cameron commented that a huge company such as Google would have been unable to originate from the UK with the current restrictions the way they are. If more relaxed copyright laws come to fruition then technological businesses will benefit from a clearer vision and certainty as to what can be patented.

Hopefully, more relaxed copyright laws will be met in the UK, which will bring both economic and creative advantages.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Media Law and Ethics: Freedom of Information

Since the Freedom of Informations Act's introduction, investigative journalism has experienced a major breakthrough. It is now easier than ever to acquire previously unattainable information from public establishments - with most institutions having their own FOI sector and being legally obliged to respond to a request within a specified time limit.

This is an exceptional gift for the investigative or Gonzo journalist, who now can now expose miscarriages of justice and public interest material without going to enormous lengths to obtain the previously repressed information.

It's significance can be seen, with an example that I'm sure everyone is familiar with, in the MP expenses scandal. The Telegraph exposed the information after it had made a simple FOI request.

The 2000 Act, which came into effect in January 2005, makes it mandatory for a public authority to disclose whether or not it has the information the enquirer wishes to know. This includes Government departments, police, and hospitals.

"Information must be released UNLESS it is judged that the public interest in NOT disclosing it is greater than the public interest in releasing it".

The exemptions of the Act includes things such as special forces and trades secrets etc (not public sector).

The individual seeking information is not obliged to reveal why they require the information, and the institution's response must (usually) be within 20 working days.

Right now in the media there is an amusing example of the use of the Freedom of Information Act in Sussex, where the local Brighton newspaper (The Argus) has exposed that "an OAP crimewave is washing across Sussex". It details that hundreds of old age pensioners have been arrested in the county for an array of offenses including fraud, assault, and serious sexual offenses.