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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

WINOL Critical Reflection [Year 3]

Critical Reflection
As News Editor this semester, I had a huge amount of responsibility to produce consistently good bulletins week after week.
My first week was very difficult as the majority of the focus was on covering the BJTC awards, which meant I was fully in charge of the first bulletin. Meaning I chaired the news meeting alone, with some help from the Year 3 reporters. After the first meeting, I decided the stories weren’t really good enough, so I gave them feedback on the ideas, and arranged another meeting 3 days later on the Thursday.

I printed off the upcoming meetings from Winchester City Council, Southampton City Council and Hampshire County Council, and pinned them onto the news board for the reporters to get easy access to the information. This meant they always had a place to start when thinking of stories in the first few weeks. This seemed to help a bit, as my 2 political reporters Tom and Faith went to a council meeting early in the semester.

In the first few weeks, we had a large number of reporters delivering content that was broadcast-worthy. There were too many to fit all of them into the bulletin. So I decided to create a playout for the end of the bulletin where we would display all of the unused packages in 5 second bites to promote our extra content and direct people to the website where the packages would be featured. I feel like it was great way to utilise our overflow of content.

We planned to provide coverage of student protests that were happening in London. It would have been a great story to have, as it had protestors from Winchester. As the campus news service, we could utilise as the source for student updates. We had a live blog, but had no footage or images for the bulletin, which was a disaster. The two reporters I sent to London got their footage, but didn't give themselves enough time to upload any of it. Despite instructions to send us images throughout the day, they failed to do so, which left us with nothing to use, so we couldn't even make an oov out of it. The problem was partly that we didn't do enough planning on the Tuesday, and should have done a practice of uploading the footage on the Tuesday too, but that didn't happen. The reporters should have done this, but I feel that I should have been more instructive on the Tuesday to get it all planned out. Unfortunately I had to spike the story for the bulletin, however I found it to be a good lesson of how important planning is, particularly for a live story like this that we know is going to happen.

I had noticed that the bulletins were looking very overbearing, and had nothing to break it up. It was package after package. On the 4th WINOL of the semester, I decided to add a 'coming up' to the bulletin. It is something which I believe had never been done on WINOL before, and I consider it to be a good innovation as it has done a great job of breaking up the bulletin and promoting our upcoming stories. The top of the bulletin tends to be very heavy; the 'coming up' reminds the audience that there is lighter stuff still to come. I noticed pretty much every news programme, such as BBC South Today and Channel 5 has one, so it is now standard practice to have it in a bulletin. I also managed to get some of the reporters to record coming-up PTC’s at the scene of their stories, which gave it an even greater effect,

OOV's played a big role in the bulletins this semester. During the week that I introduced the 'coming up', it was decided to try and create an oov belt to follow straight afterwards, which would include graphics and a bed, providing the 'news in your area'. However, this isn't exactly what happened. We struggled to find a good bed, and settled for no bed at all, and used no graphics because it didn't really work leading into the stories. Instead we just had the 2 or 3 oovs connected together.
On other weeks, we had oovs that could stand alone as bigger news stories, such as the US Storm story, and the Jamie Dack court case, and the Barton Farm update that the campaigners and given up. These were moved further up the bulletin away from the belt, and were another way to break up the bulletin, giving it some light and shade and multiple layers.

I wanted to get some fresh stories from the Wednesday into the bulletin each week. To do this I put a reporter (sometimes 2 or 3) on the wires, checking to see if anything breaking came through on the day. This often led to update pieces such as Barton Farm, and the sex hotel story. This was great as it helped give us the live feeling, making it fresh and also showing ourselves constantly tracking the stories we cover. Which we have done a lot this semester with multiple packages on stories such as the Ford closure and the on-going wind farm debate.

We put new tape on the news board early this semester, green for these stories going into the bulletin, yellow for the finished packages that we can still use, and red for the spiked stories. On some weeks, the yellow was empty, which I didn't want, to combat this I sometimes took unused stories from sport (such as the Pompey news piece and the wrestling package) to bulk up the yellow so that we had back-ups in case something went wrong. This was another reason why I liked to try and have fresh stories from the Wednesday, to bulk up the yellow section of the board.

I got an idea from Claudia Murg when she came in one week and mentioned that reporters should be able to talk 30 seconds straight about their news story without any problem. I decided to try this at the next news conference, giving each reporter 30 seconds to explain their story and get the idea cross. However, when it came to do it on the 19th November news meeting, I could tell straight away that it wasn't working. It just made reporters stumble over their words and rush to fit everything in, which just meant they had to explain everything again anyway. The hope was to streamline the news meeting, and make sure reporters had researched their stories, but it didn't quite work.

Features were good this semester, a big improvement compared to recent years, because it had a schedule, monitored by lee Jarvis (features editor). The Paul Blackburn interview has been a huge success, with over 500 views in one week. I was asked by Tom to help film the interview, and controlled the camera facing Tom for the interview, and was pleased that it turned out well.

I was involved in the HPCC debate, which was organised by Louis O'Brien, and was a cameraman on the night, filming 3 of the candidates, which meant moving smoothly between each of them as they spoke throughout the night. It was a sold out event, and was a great way to showcase the candidates. It helped promote Winol, as a few members of the audience approached me after the debate, and asked where they could view the stream.

I wasn't too involved in the BJTC award ceremony, but I was in the audience when it happened, and thought it was a very professional production, and was a great way to promote ourselves.

I helped a bit with WINOL's new Tuesday Sound Radio takeover. For the first week I helped Nadine with some of the script work and story ideas, and also read out 2 of the news bulletins for that day.

The website was a massive improvement this semester. I feel that the switch from joomla to wordpress was the right decision, as it better fits what we are trying to do on Winol. We managed to feature a lot of content on the homepage, which was important because of our constant expansion. This has included a new fashion magazine, and a new arts part of the website. It is also easier to add new content, and meant that we could use pictures in better way.

Along with Sam (web editor) we have managed to improve the regularity and quality of WINOL's written articles, which were previously an afterthought in previous semesters. We encouraged written stories to be on the website by 5pm on Wednesday's to coincide with the bulletin. Gradually over the weeks, I eventually assigned reporters to days over the week to put content on the website. This kept it fresh and brought the site to life in a way it never really was before. This affected the type of stories that featured on the website, as we had a broader area of stories. Including many that wouldn’t make good packages. This meant we could cover more areas of news, and helped with expanding our audience.
The main issue we had with written stories were the pictures used. We mainly wanted action shots and faces. Although, this improved slightly over the semester, the best solution was to make the website less picture-dominated, and more about the text, which happened when we switched to broadsheet.
WINOL started with a fairly low Alexa ranking at the start of the semester (close to 2 Million) because of the website's lack of activity over the summer. However, the emergence of competition from other journalism courses such as East London Lines (at Goldsmiths University) was brought to our attention when they were second place for Student Website of the Year in the BJTC awards. We then began to track their site, and learn from it. Over the next few months, our Alexa rankings (both Global and UK) continued to improve week after week. By the end of the semester we had overtaken East London Lines, reaching the top 500,000 globally, and the top 10,000 in the UK.
We also have a better Alexa ranking than the Hampshire Chronicle, but are behind the Daily Echo. However, we have tracked the Daily Echo frequently over the semester, and have noticed spelling errors in headlines (including on the front page of the newspaper). We also beat the Daily Echo at reporting number of stories, including an arson court story which we reported a week before them, but it then lead their front page. Beating local rivals to stories is a good way to establish ourselves as one
We also kept an eye on other rivals such as Leeds, Westminster and Bournemouth. It was very useful, because it gave us ideas of where we could improve. Such as making our Twitter more prominent and also making sure that the site was getting regular updates to keep it fresh.
We also improved delivering the bulletin Live at 5 every week, which helped rebuild a viewership because they could start to expect the Wednesday bulletin to be up at 5 every single week.
Promotion for news stories is something that could have been improved. We made multiple attempts during news meetings to think of ways to get our best stories across to a wider audience. This included reporter setting up WINOL twitter accounts, which some did, but I don't feel they were interconnected enough to get the full benefit. We needed to contact more people influenced by the story, and maintain a good connection with the people we spoke to about the stories and send it to them.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

WINOL 28/11/2012

An ok week, although it seemed to be one of our weaker weeks in terms of story quality. It seems that people that don't have a story by the end of Monday, give up for the week, which isn't the way to go about it.

We had a number of items in the yellow, but hardly any of them came from the news team. Apart 2 oovs from when I sent out to of the reporters to get some GVs for them after they decided on them as oov options on the Wednesday. The other stuff in the yellow was 2 sports packages, and a feature back anno(which we used).

Focus, exposure, white balancing, and microphones all seem to still be a bit chaotic, which shouldn't be happening this late in the semester. You know what you need for a story now. So you need to put a bit more focus on the quality of what you film. If it doesn't look good, then you're going to struggle to get it into the bulletin this week.

People are still not using focus properly. Lighting is terrible at times, and their have been many interviewees either over-exposed or under-exposed.

We've been having less camera zooms, and while a few people are fans of them, I don't think they look good, and I think a lot of people agree. I think it has helped improve the general quality of shots.


A very solid package updating the Club Kiss story. Arguably this story could pass as just an oov act, but I think you did well to make it a solid package with interviews from both sides, and a couple of vox pops. One of my main disappointments was not having the councillor interviewed outside of Club Kiss. Also you could have pushed more to get a stronger quote from the owner.

Barton Farm OOV
This was a good OOV that was something I felt we should include once I was told that it had broke on Wednesday. Much like the Club Kiss story last week, it's always good to show ourselves reacting to breaking news. Especially for stories that we have covered in the past.

Certainly not your best week, it was visually very poor, and I could have dropped it for that alone, but I wanted a bit more political content in the bulletin. You really need to improve your shot and be more creative, especially with a beat such as politics. I think I now see the Southampton City council building when I close my eyes, because I've seen it so much.

You say olympic legacy just before Jonny Brason does, which seemed very odd to me, and I'm not sure why you decided to do that, sounds like an echo.

You had some great shots for you story, it was a difficult Wednesday though. You worked hard to try and make your story work, like you do every week, but after digging a bit deeper, it turned out that your story didn't have much substance and was a bit of a non-story, which was unfortunate, but that was just a bit unlucky.

Joiners OOV
Once again it's great we had a breaking update to a story we covered last week.

Far from your best package, literally you in vision throughout with a cut away of the court. I should have left it out of the bulletin, not really your fault you just had no pictures, which left your story stuck.

Coming Up
Once again a good 'coming up', no real complaints. It was interesting and had a good PTC one too.

I liked this package, it was great that we had a case study for this story. Something that our audience would be interested in. The statement was pretty long, and we toyed around with how to display it a couple of times, but perhaps we should have just tried to trim it a bit.
The lighting was a bit dark, but at least we were able to see the face of the interviewee. I felt like you could have got him to do a few more things, making tea, maybe a shot of you talking to him. I just felt like you could have made more out of getting a case study, it's not often that we have them.

A nice package, very similar to the Christmas lights story you did last week. It was a shame your dead camera meant you missed the opening, but I think you made the most of what you had. Considering it was night, you used the lighting to great affect, and the ice skating gave you more interest. It was people doing things.

'I was Hitler's Neighbour' back anno
This was great. It showed how diverse WINOL now is, and drives more and mroe traffic to the site.

WINOL 21/11/2012


It was great that we had the interview with Simon Hayes, you said we'd get an interview with the winner of the HPCC position the week after the result, and you delivered.
The package was structured quite well, you used the debate footage well, but could have used more shots to tell your story. It's a story revolving around police, but we saw no police at all. And we could perhaps have seen Hayes being more active. It would also have been good to get some shots of a polling station, and I think we could have gotten access to the moment the final result was revealed. It would have been a great opening shot.

It was a good package, a decent update. It was great that you showed where the designing of the wind turbines takes place, and speaking to someone involved in the process was great. The use of the EDF graphics helped make it more of a relevant update, because people would be interested in knowing how they're expected to look. A nice package.

One of your best packages. You made it more than a court story, it had multiple elements. Mug shot, reconstruction, and interview connected to part of the crime and a PTC at the scene of the crime. It was really well constructed and you told the story well. I was really pelased with it this week.

Coming Up
Our coming up is getting better and better, it's great when people can film a 'coming up' while on the road for their story. It really grabs the viewers.

It's a shame your sound wasn't too good this week, because it would have been a decent package to use. In the end, it made an ok oov. Was a good effort, but just need to work on your sound.

The joiners oov is something that interests our audience, we spoke to many people that knew of it, so it was great that we could feature it in the bulletin. It's just a shame that you had some bad luck when trying to make a package out of it.

The Jamie Dack oov was good, arguably a bit long, but with this kind of complex story, it's important we cover all of the key information, and get the story across too.
It was great that we could update the Club Kiss story as it's something that was breaking that day, and it's always great to show ourselves  staying current and reacting to the very latest news.

It was a nice 'and finally', as it's something that a lot of people in Winchester know about and went to. You were told to slow down your voiceover, and cut it down a bit to let it breath, and you did a great job with it. You got some ok vox pops, and a good grab from the BID Project Manager. It was colourful and did what was expected from it.

Tom and Harry
I was pretty disappointed and annoyed that we weren't able to get anything of the Student Protests into our bulletin, especially after trying to big it up a bit leading into it. I'm glad I made the call early on to not wait to put something in the headlines. I was on edge all day, and was constantly pushing to get it uploaded as soon as possible. Even just 30 seconds of footage would have been enough, or some pictures. Instead we had nothing when we went live, and had to ditch it.
More preparation was needed which is not just your fault, but mine as well. However, you should have at least got some pictures to us, because that's something I requested on Tuesday, and was assured I'd get it. It wasn't a good week for you guys, you failed to deliver what would have been our big story that week, its something that the campus is very interested in, and we were at the heart of it in London, but had no way to show that off. Things like tweets and the written stories didn't go quite to plan, I think you needed to think things through a bit more or tell me if the things we discussed on Tuesday weren't going to work out as we thought they would.