Bread and circuses and #sandwichgate

sarnigateAs the country is allegedly gripped by #sandwichgate which, if you missed it, relates to this Daily Mail front page, it’s worth a dip back into the history of the Mail’s enthusiasm for bread-based stories.

In 1911 the paper began campaigning for better bread to replace the toxic processed variety that contributed to disease and a population so stunted that the army had to content itself with recruits just five foot tall.

The Mail itself marked the centenary of this campaign, in 2011, and reported that: “Lord Northcliffe told reporters he wanted a story about bread in the paper every day for a year.” The campaign had been “begun by the father of MP Sir Oswald Mosley. In an interview, the MP (who was later to become notorious as leader of a British fascist party) told the Mail that bad bread was to blame for ‘degeneracy’ and ‘the decline in the national physique.” Continue reading

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Working for a beacon in real local journalism

What a delight to welcome back BA Journalism graduate Vicky Hallifax as one of our recent Atrium journalism/media guest speakers here at USW’s central Cardiff campus.

And even more delightful to welcome her as editor, following her recent promotion.

Vicky started writing a column for the Monmouthshire Beacon while she was still studying, got some work experience there, graduated straight into a job, and has just been put in charge. She told students that she loves the variety of the work – and that her course at USW was instrumental in securing it.

The Beacon itself is one of journalism’s little gems. It first published in 1837, and still prides itself on having run in 1839 a 200-page report on the trial of Newport Chartist leader John Frost. (That’s a whole other story, and is well told here.)

The Beacon today is part of the newspaper group run by Sir Ray Tindle, who championed the idea of hyper-local journalism before it went out of fashion and came back again. He continues to remind the industry and its detractors that a good grassroots press is booming. (Sir Ray started his first paper with his £300 demob money at the end of WW2 and now has more than 220 titles, which carry on their front page his family motto: Noli Cedere or ‘Never Surrender’.)

Back to Vicky, who told students at the Atrium that not only does nearly everyone in Monmouth read the paper but a fair few of them pop into its town centre offices for a chat, too. Never mind an online comments section – they deliver their views face to face. It seems that a combination of hyper-locality and a real physical presence achieves an intimacy of which social media can only dream.

Vicky’s talk drove me to check out some stats on the world outside social media. Out there, about 30 million people in the UK don’t use Facebook and another 50 million don’t use Twitter.

Life is, instead, more local than we might think. According to the Newspaper Society, 85 per cent of people spend more than half their time AND half their money within five miles of their homes. The local press plays a huge part in that, with 30 million people reading it every week and responding to the adverts.

The decline of the printed press? Not yet, not in Monmouth, and not any place where real people live real lives.

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Thanks to our guest speakers

You always know that students enjoy a good guest speaker; it’s clearly great for them to hear from someone who spends all day every day out there in industry.

But the deeper benefits of a good speaker programme, like our one here at USW’s Atrium campus in Cardiff, surprised even me (and I help to organise it). Continue reading

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Exposure returns to the airwaves at Wales’ biggest university

IT’S that time of year again, the University of South Wales’ online broadcast project re-launches with a new group of students. There will be live audio content broadcast for ten days from Tuesday (25) and additional content will appear online. Students from the Faculty of Creative Industries are running the major practical project, which is live streamed at Exposure USW and Tequila Radio
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A flood of news: are we drowning, or waving?

We are apparently downing in news, and lack the tools to make sense of it. Journalists just churn out more of the stuff, without pausing often enough to suggest what it all means. Schools and universities don’t teach us how to make sense of it.

My words but, if I understood correctly, Alain de Botton’s thoughts, as expressed in one of his witty and thought-provoking talks this week to promote his new book The News: A User’s Manual. Continue reading

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Eat My Radio

One of the world’s greatest creative audio makers is the guest of honour at a unique event being held at the University of South Wales’ Atrium campus next week.

Alan Hall, from Falling Tree Productions, is joining forces with BBC audio feature makers and university staff and students to share some of the sounds which have captivated them during the last twelve months. Continue reading

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Exposure Radio – raising money in hair-raising fashion!

November really isn’t the best month to shave your head. But if you’re trying to raise money for charity, sometimes you just have to do what has to be done. A group of my radio students dug deep on behalf of a leading charity and event today. Broadcasting live on Children in Need day, we raised money and hopefully awareness of the work done by the BBC charity. Continue reading

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Award winning graduates put Tenovus in the limelight

TWO graduates of the former University of Glamorgan have helped steer a well-known Welsh charity to scoop two Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) awards. Tenovus, Wales’ leading cancer charity, won a gold and silver at the CIPR PRide Awards, which recognise outstanding public relations in the UK regions and nations. Journalism graduate Liz Rawlins and Will Barker, who studied Radio, are part of the PR team for the charity, which recently celebrated its 70th birthday. Continue reading

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Graduate challenges

Over the summer I was busy collecting stories from graduates about the challenges they faced in the early weeks and months after leaving university.  Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest challenges in the current economic climate is getting a graduate job. So many talented, capable and willing youngsters are unemployed for a considerable period of time or are forced to take jobs they don’t need a degree to do. Continue reading

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Murray mania played out across multi media platforms

LIKE millions of others, I saw sporting history being made in SW19 yesterday as Andy Murray became the first British man in 77 years to claim the Wimbledon crown. But my experience of the event was more than being a television viewer – I consumed it on a variety of platforms – and, thanks to social media, the experience has continued well into today. Continue reading

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