Monday, 10 December 2012

Doing Brilliant Production Work

My session at the MediaMag conference this year focuses on some tips to improve your production work and encourages you to enter for the next MediaMag Video awards 2013. Here are the three winning videos from 2012: Music Video: Stripper Fiction: Blitz Creativity: The Great Escape Here is a pdf of my presentation tips

Sunday, 2 December 2012

A level media students' guide to Leveson

If you're wondering what to make of the outcome of the Leveson Inquiry, you're probably not the only one. So here's a quick ten introduction with a load of useful links from recent articles where you can 'read all about it!'

1. You can download the report itself here, though it is a bit of a lengthy read at 1.4 million words and nearly 2000 pages. That is actually longer than all the Harry Potter novels combined, which come in at 1.1million. If you read it carefully and check all the sources, you may even find some mistakes. Already spotted is a bit that was obviously copied and pasted from Wikipedia (tut,tut), where Leveson wrote:  'The Independent was founded in 1986 by the journalists Andreas Whittam Smith, Stephen Glover and Brett Straub.' In fact, Straub is a made-up character whose name was added to the newspaper's Wikipedia profile by pranksters. It appears to have been cut and pasted from the web without any checking (spotted by The Daily Mail and others)

2. The report is the outcome of the Inquiry itself, which took statements from and questioned witnesses for several months. Amongst those who appeared were victims of phone hacking, including both celebrities like Hugh Grant and ordinary people like the parents of murdered girl Milly Dowler, politicians, newspaper editors and proprieters and many more. The Inquiry itself came out of the phone hacking scandal which led to the closure of the News Of The World, and was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron, to look at the whole culture of the relationships between newspapers, politicians and police and to get to the bottom of the wrongdoing that had gone on. As Leveson reported, it is the seventh such Inquiry since the end of World War II, as freedom of the press v public anxiety about the behaviour of the press has tended to be an all too frequent opposition.

A range of Leveson witnesses all looking like they are describing the size of a fish that they nearly caught.

3. How was the press regulated before Leveson?  Broadcasting has OFCOM, adverts have the ASA, films have the BBFC. Newspapers have had something called the PCC (Press Complaints Commission) for nearly 20 years which looks into complaints by members of the public and has a code of conduct for journalists. Many people believe that it lacks 'teeth' because it is a voluntary body and not all newspapers even belong to it (The Express Group, for example, withdrew in early 2011). Very few complaints are upheld by it and it is seen as too cosy and largely controlled by powerful editors. The phone hacking scandal was seen as a classic example of this, with the PCC having largely dismissed it until the shocking revelations reached a point where it became obvious to anyone that they were largely true. 

What else do you need to know?

Well, the best summary I have found of the whole thing is here from The Guardian, which outlines  ten key areas from options and arguments to a history of regulation. It was published before the final report, so it is very useful for background. There is a post-report summary on this blog which is quite accessible.

Also from The Guardian is this useful piece on newspaper coverage of the Inquiry and why reform is needed and here Emily Bell suggests that the growth of the internet may make most of the report largely irrelevant . An angry Steve Coogan says why he thinks David Cameron's response is wrong and Nick Davies talks about why only the right wing papers have anything to fear from change.

The Daily Telegraph argues against adoption of Leveson's proposals here and former Guardian editor, Peter Preston also sees the report as flawed, but from a different perspective here.

And another useful blogpost from Maire Messenger-Davies from the University of Ulster here

Some papers ran adverts to scare readers about what Leveson's outcome might mean

So have a good read and keep your ears and eyes open as to what happens next!

...and finally, the forgetful editors video mashup

2012 Conference Preview

The third Media Magazine annual student conference takes place at Logan Hall in London on Thursday 13 December. In this post, I'm going to preview the speakers and give you a bit of background on their work.


Martin Barker

Martin has had a distinguished career as a media academic, working at the University of the West Of England (UWE) in Bristol for many years, then at Sussex University and Aberystwyth in Wales. He is now working at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Martin's work has mainly been in the area of  film audiences, including projects on Lord of the Rings, Crash, Judge Dredd and Straw Dogs, as well as his most recent work on Alien.

His list of publications includes books on comics, notably: Comics: Ideology, Power and the Critics, Manchester University Press 1989, Action: The Story of a Violent Comic, Titan Books 1990. and A Haunt of Fears: the Strange History of the British Horror Comics Campaign, Pluto Press 1984. He was also the editor of The Video Nasties: Freedom and Censorship in the Arts, Pluto Press1984, an excellent book on the whole moral panic around horror videos in the early 80s.

Martin's work has often unpicked simplistic assumptions about the relationship between media audiences and media texts and in his session he will be looking to challenge our perceptions around storytelling with a starting point that says: “Imagine if you can the most vile, horrific, awful story you can … no, no, do – come along and try your hand at doing this, and then see what the results are … and see if you want to ban it.”

Jolyon Rubinstein and Heydon Prowse: The Revolution Will be Televised

"No moguls, politicians or bankers are safe from exposure in this satirical comedy series" says the blurb at the top of the BBC3 website. Jolyon and Heydon's series was cult viewing in the summer and saw a series of characters that they have developed wreak havoc in a variety of settings.

Their young coalition MPs, James and Barnaby, are always up for winding up politicians
James and Barnaby

Here James meets Ed Milliband:

Ace reporter, Dale Maily, has his finger on the pulse of public opinion, or so he thinks.

Dale Maily

Here he is reporting on a MoD exhibition:

And here are our intrepid duo winding everyone up at Barclays HQ when they set up an impromptu casino

The programmes are not just sketch shows, however, but always have a hard-hitting political point to make.

ex-student panel

Last year we invited some former media studies A level students to come and talk about their university courses; this year, we have some students who have gone on to work in various media environments, including newspaper journalists, a film-maker and a TV production manager. They will talk about their route since A level and answer questions on what they do now, as well as giving tips for current students.

Shakuntala Banaji

After lunch, we welcome Shakuntala from the London School of Economics, who has worked as a researcher on a number of projects about young people and their understanding of the media. In her talk, she will focus on the research she has undertaken in rural India about children's media use there. As you will see, this is dramatically different from the UK experience! She has written and edited a number of publications, as shown below

Paul Lewis

I have blogged about Paul's work before, as he led the 'Reading the Riots' project for The Guardian and was one of the few reporters to get a real sense of 'what happened' during the 2011 riots, by being 'on the ground' and tweeting throughout. Paul returns to the MediaMag conference, having spoken last year.

Corin Hardy

Our final contributor is music video director and horror aficionado Corin, whose work features in one of my recent posts. We will be showing several of his videos and one or two surprise pieces not available online! Corin's blog features most of his videos here: