Critical Review WINOL Semester 2

Winchester News Online is a student journalism organisation which consists of four different categories: news, features, production and sport. WINOL has several platforms, the weekly live bulletin constructed by the news, sports and the production team, and the website which offers written news stories and five online magazines. Each weekly bulletin maintains a high standard of 10 to 15 minutes of local news, sports and features.

The addition of a professional-looking website has been beneficial for tapping into online journalism, where we can connect with our audience. This year the visual side of the website has remained the same. I think this helps as readers need to have consistency. I think the website could do with some layout changes. With sport articles, features and news all being on the homepage I think there is a lot to take in. However the slider of images at the top looks professional and the header at the top, with drop selections of the locations we cover, gives a professional look too.

We keep an eye on our internet traffic figures throughout working on WINOL. This shows how successful our website platform is doing. Hannah Hayesmore collected the statistics from Alexa, a website ranking system. On the 23rd January, we were ranked 460,940 globally and 33,950 in the UK already surpassing our closest rivals East London Lines who were 633,421 globally and 56,486 in the UK. Our most successful week was the 13th March; WINOL was ranked 6,426 in the UK. Above our local newspaper Hampshire Chronicle who were ranked in at 50,315. For a student journalism publication we are in strong competition with our competitions and results show success. Today 16.05.13 we place 523,082 globally and 76,836 in the UK. This shows the importance of plugging our website on social networking sites continuously. We have just uploaded a super bulletin but previous to this no new work has been added for a while due to the Easter break. good promotion from everyone on WINOL will keep us up there with our competitors.

My role as Finance Reporter has allowed me to contribute to the bulletin with financial stories and be part of the news team which works hard to produce one bulletin every week. The students work as a team to produce professional and successful student journalism.

We had a significant opportunity to broadcast the Eastleigh By-Elections following Chris Huhne’s resignation and conviction. This gave us a chance to interview some of the biggest names in politics and produce coverage that was the closest to the professionals in journalism.

After a month of preparation we produced an overnight By-Election show where we had a team reporting live from the count. The first show of our Eastleigh bulletin went live at 10pm, using Skype from the reporters at the live count. The second show was at 1.30am and lasted another two hours. The show only worked because of the hours of hard work everyone made from the presenters, production team, the reporters and the news gatherers.

The reporters produced packages for the show to fill up time and allow us to report fairly. Four reporters followed the main political parties on their campaigning, leading up Election Day. I followed the Labour party, Ellen Millard was the UKIP reporter, Ben Hatton followed the Liberal Democrats and Simisola Adebosin followed the Conservative Party. It was useful for us to do this for several weeks as each reporter received fantastic access to each of the parties press events.

Each of candidates had big political names visit Eastleigh to help them with their campaigning. On my first day with the Labour party I simply helped them out with their campaigning by door knocking. Following this I then used by journalist skills and got in contact with the press officers from the Labour Party. Being in contact with the press officers was important. They would send me day to day press releases that allowed me to join the press.

Following this I had the opportunity to interview MP Harriet Harman, Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, and MP Kevin Brennan and the candidate John O’Farrell. The access I had from the Labour party was fantastic.

We also produced packages that gave some ground knowledge of Eastleigh and the political issues. I produced a package on employment in Eastleigh. I was able to use my archive footage from my Ford Factory closure story. This shows how useful it is to find a story that you can follow up in weeks to come.

Ellen Millard interviewed UKIP’s Leader Nigel Farage in a professional manner. We also captured great footage of Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, Boris Johnson and David Cameron. We all worked extremely hard to capture the events in Eastleigh and we received exclusive interviews for WINOL from some of the biggest names in politics.

 We regularly have guest editors visit us at WINOL and give us praise and feedback. The feedback targets individuals’ work very well as the guest editor will go through each of the news stories. In my first week on WINOL I produced a package on the collapse of the high street. Admittedly this wasn’t my strongest of packages. However David Hayward, from the BBC College of Journalism, said that I used "nice language" and "clear short sentences.” But I knew I had to work on my shots as Hayward advised me to give each shot a time to breath. Following this I watched a package from Chief reporter Matt Spencer who produced a package on the MOT investment very well. He filmed in sequences and gave the shots ‘time to breath.’

 Following this learning curve the following week was more successful for me. I produced a package about Winchester City Council’s micro business grant scheme, where small businesses can receive a grant to help their business grow. I used a case study for this package because I knew without the case study this package would not have worked. Angus pointed out a technical problem with the ending of my package. I finished the package with a SOT (sound on tape) and then my SOQ (signing off) I should of said a line at least before my sign off.

Overall the second bulletin had a good range of stories. We covered Price Edward opening a building at the university. We had a very good crime report from Luke Garrett about a mosque hoax. We followed up on the Wind Farm story which we have followed in the weeks before. The ‘and finally’ was about the lambing season, by environment reporter Ellen Millard. To turn this into a story Ellen worked hard at finding a hard hitting top line. Eventually she based the story on schmallenberg this gave it a more hard hitting tone and the story was then able to become news worthy.

 The reporters took in turn each week to be the news editor. This gave us all the opportunity to step aside from reporting and make critical decisions of how the bulletin should run. The week I was news editor the headlines were: the sentencing of Chris Huhne, reported by Luke Garrett on location who did a fantastic job of getting to Southwark Crown Court and surviving the media scrum. Following this we had the report on dead dogs in the New Forest by Nadine Forshaw. All of the other stories weren’t as hard hitting as our usual standard. A couple of the other stories fell though so I took my initiative and assigned the reporters new stories.

 I wanted to include the national story about the selection of a new pope. Ellen Millard took this story on with good creativity. She interviewed a local Catholic pope but struggled to find enough shots to make this a package. At times like these we turn to archive footage or creative commons YouTube clips. My lecturer advised us to use footage from the Vatican as their press office is like the ‘Hollywood’ of religion. To insure we obeyed to copyright laws we emailed the Vatican and eventually found a phone number. Luckily Lavina De Luca, our MA student, speaks Italian. She kindly spoke to the press officer who authorised us to lift some of their footage from YouTube.

This bulletin needed a good OOV belt and fortunately for us a good story arose on the day. A tree fell down in Southampton and we were able to capture some great footage of the debris. Unfortunately the package was nothing more than an OOV but it did fit in perfectly.

 The guest editor this week was Joseph Curtis, a reporter from the Hampshire Chronicle. He offered us all good advice on how to find stories. He advised we use our contacts to provide us with story ideas.

 Following a successful term on WINOL my beat ended with the most important story in finance, The Budget 2013. A team of us went up to London to report The Budget. I was joined by MA reporter Anja Elen Ekenes who did a fantastic job of filming. The day of the budget fell on the day of WINOL but we successfully went up to London in the morning, filmed and arrived back at Winchester at 4 with an edited package. The London team were split into two, so two packages could be made. Ben Hatton and Nadine Forshaw reported from Westminster and interviewed the newly elected MP for Eastleigh, Mike Thornton. This is a good example of how useful contacts are.

I was based outside the Bank of England and received vox-pox interviews from bankers in the area. The bankers specialise in finance therefore the quotes they gave me were useful.

 In the bulletin we had two more packages based on the budget that were localised, one on fuel consumption and one on capital spending. Both worked very well.

The reporting style has improved, with reporters being more creative with their piece to cameras. Chief reporter Matt Spencer went inside a shop and pointed out how much things will cost following the budget. This is visually more interesting than watching someone who is standing still.

The day we reported on The Budget the bulletin also included some local news. Christina Michaels, our court reporter, did a professional PTC on the location of where the crime had happened. This gave the report immediacy and overall the piece was hard hitting. To finish the bulletin off we even had a swimming rabbit for our ‘and finally.’

The success of WINOL solely comes from everyone on the course. Jason French is the website designer; he ensures our website is up to date and to the standard of our competitors. The features team have taken a big step this semester by producing 5 online magazines and many gonzo style video features like Go Ape and Liam Garrahan’s ‘Wheelchair rugby’ sport feature. The use of the GoPro camera has made packages more interesting and works really well for gonzo features.

I contributed to features this year and produced an article for ‘The Way It Is’ the comment and analysis magazine. The article was ‘Where are all the women in the media scrum? - coving David Cameron’s Eastleigh visit.’ I was able to write in a more creative way than I usually do with news.

The addition of new graphics on the WINOL bulletin has set a style that prepares you for hard hitting news, with a music bed that is more dramatic than the last.

Overall this year has challenged us all. The Eastleigh by-election and The Budget pushed our ability as a team further and we have set a good standard of Journalism. The adrenaline from the Eastleigh by-election pushed me in good direction of the type of journalism I want to be producing. The importance of archive footage, access and contacts played an important role this year. The exclusive archive footage we used of Chris Huhne, denying he wasn’t guilty, is an example of how useful archive footage is. It shows that as a team all of the work we produce will become useful.

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