Critical Review of WINOL: Semester 1 Year 3

This term Winchester News Online has published some excellent student journalism. The standards were set at a high level from previous WINOL term but this years team have maintained a good standard of work this year. Every news bulletin has had a key package that worked very well. Although I do think the consistency of the standard of work produced varies. This may be because the second year students will improve with practice. 
We monitor our traffic figures for our website. In early October, according to alexa ranking, we were placed at #38,579 in the UK. By the end of the semester we were placed at #32,323 in the UK. So we have improved by 6256 places this semester. But compared to the same semester last year we achieved a final rank of #10,338. There are many suggestions for why the ranking slipped. Most obviously its hard to come back after months without our website being updated over the summer period. It could also be due to inconsistencies of our work perhaps when the bulletin hasn’t gone out on time. Other than that our website has been improving. We have focused on raising the standard of our written news stories and in particularly we have worked on producing a successful looking front page. Our sub-editing team have worked hard on getting the written news stories to the right standard and altogether with better sub-editing management this has been a success. 

In an attempt to increase our viewing figures our social media editor has continued to post on various social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook about WINOL to help advertise the bulletin in particularly. This is our best way of telling people about the bulletin however we still need to establish who our target audience is. Without a clear target audience this may be having some effect on whether the social media is having a great impact. We have also tried to screen the bulletin around the university campus. Due to some debatable issues this has still been unsuccessful for this year. 

Looking at the bulletin this term the content produced varies in quality with some news packages really standing out and some being a good learning curve. Liam Garrahan, a third year student, produced an excellent structured package about scrap metal. He used sequences, an effective piece to camera on location and a case study. This news story should be a guide for us all on how to produce a successful news package. 

The third year students are a good example of how important it is to stick to a beat and to continue contacting all of your contacts made in the previous semester. Matt Spencer kept in good contact with the Police Crime Commissioner throughout the year leading him to produce a successful story. Our political editor, Nadine Forshaw, produced a series of high quality interviews with political names such as Rowenna Davis. Also our third year crime reporter Christina Michaels has managed to bag some outstanding contacts. Her interview with the Winchester prison governor is an example of this. 

The second year students, who are new to WINOL, will develop throughout their time on the course. Zeena Alobaidi constructed a good story about local care homes. It highlights how important a case study can be if you are struggling to find pictures. Her entire package was based on a case study therefore she overcame difficult obstacles that do arise when piecing together a story for tv. 

To produce the best bulletin I think we need to go back to basics in terms of our filming and technical issues. Too many times the white balance is incorrect and the sound is always a difficult aspect to get right. Without great sound and pictures a story becomes a challenge to edit.

I think the content that the sports team produced has improved from the beginning of term. They have shown more creativity with their match reports by interviewing players and managers at the match. To produce a good standard of match reports I think the team need to continue adding graphics to their packages. It’s very much like what our guest editor, Claudia Murg, said about bringing something new to the news and to aim higher. 

The features team is improving in particularly with with the launch of a new website. Having all five magazines proved to be struggle to maintain and access. We have bought the magazines together onto one platform, our new magazine called “Here and Now.” This is a step forward for features as it should make articles easier to find. Elsewhere on our features team the ambition has been high. The fashion team have used their creativity and produced video packages/tutorials. We have also introduced a what’s on show called Access Winchester this term that has been an ideal platform to introduce to increase viewing figures. 

My role this semester was entertainments reporter for the showbiz bulletin ‘Access Winchester,’ that acts as an additional weekly bulletin alongside the news bulletin. Access Winchester included packages containing coverage of local events such as new productions at the ‘Mayflower’ Theatre in Southampton, or ‘Coffee House Sessions’ being held at the University of Winchester Terrace Bar. ‘Access Winchester’ has established a new audience and this helps viewing figurers overall for WINOL, it generally is an easy watch. It is produced and made available online every week just like the news bulletin.

Myself Emma Jefferies and Jack Webb worked on the showbiz bulletin. We started it from nothing and built it up each week. In previous year the what’s on show has been produced before and this is what inspired us to do it. a new name, a logo and some jazzy headline sequence clips which are a lot more punchy than the usual news bulletin headlines. We had to establish new contacts to ensure we gained enough stories. I gained a good relationship with The Mayflower theatre in Southampton which provided me with some successful packages. 

We overcome a lot of problems with Access Winchester, Jack Webb worked hard on getting the headlines right. We also had to approach this showbiz style in a different way to news. We needed to take this less seriously and add humour to our pieces, by changing the way present and adding graphics to our packages. 

The packages on Access were initially too positive and we were faced with the problem of the just promoting an event. When reporting events we still needed our reports to be fair and include balance. Therefore we spent a lot of time in our editing sessions to add balance to our scripting of our voice overs. Eventually we achieved the right tone we needed to set by offering the viewers not only a positive opinion of the event but also a more negative opinion. People only want to know the truth at the end of the day. Overall by adding these changes to our packages improved them completely. An example of my own work where this played effect was my report from the Mayflower theatre about the English National Ballet Le Corsaire. In my piece to camera my tone was too positive. I then needed to add a fair review to the piece when I was voicing over the pictures of the ballet. By adding humour and factual knowledge in my voice it sounded like I was a real expert about the ballet and overall the package was much more successful. 

The editing transitions of this new bulletin need to be a lot more quicker than the news bulletin. We spent a lot of time editing our packages to make them shorter and quicker. The cuts between shots needed to be quick and by simply cutting things down made it more effective. 

When editing my interviews I had to take a step back and remember that the my voice over must include the facts and the interviewee will provide the opinion. Obviously when reviewing I could put in my opinion but when editing an interview we literally just needed opinions. With my Keith Chegwin interview I initially had too many facts in his voice so to improve the package I cut the interview length down and voiced the facts in my own voice which straight away looked more effective. 

We used a lot of fair dealing on Access Winchester as we were reviewing a lot of events/films. The fair dealing shots editorially look fantastic. We had a lot of help from our fellow students. Liam Garrahan produced many packages from his specialised beat technology. He bought us a package from the App Convention in London, Beaulieu motor museum and a PS4 review. Harry Parkhill our film reviewer made some successful reviewing packages like his ‘top five halloween films.’ Liam and Harry naturally had the right approach in terms of their presenting skills and their contributions have been a great help. 

To improve Access Winchester further I would suggest more time was spent on editing. We produced a show every week just like the news bulletin. It might be something to think about whether to produce it at the same pace when more editing needs to take place. 

On an overall outlook of WINOL I think improvements can be made. Investigative reporter, Claudia Murg, made a good point about pushing ourselves more editorial. This could be something to consider, maybe we do play it too safe. 

The majority of guest editors have highlighted the issue that we do not know who our target audience is. It’s always been a debatable question for us whether it is simply our students on campus or a broader audience scanning from across the South. Many of the stories we produce are for a niche audience. Whether it is a theatre piece from myself or a police crime commissioner story. We need to establish who are audience is so we can tap into the audience more. Access Winchester has been successful because we know who are target audience is and therefore know how to produce our packages. 

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