18 August 2015

Good News, Weak?

This post was originally written as a comment on a provocative article from David Durant over on media.info.

The gist of the piece is that "radio news is too depressing". David writes:
What effect do you think this diet of bad news is having on the mental wellbeing of the old, the sick, the depressed and the mentally ill and young people from deprived areas with little or no hope of a better life? Do you think this is responsible broadcasting? [..]
Consider the alternative: Positive stories of people, companies, organisations and governments doing good things; positive outcomes in the face of adversity; solutions rather than problems; hope rather than despair; humour rather than gloom. 
What follows is my response to that, and is reproduced here as it's relevant in the context of my blog.

23 July 2015

Hackademic? I'd Rather Chew My Arm Off

I love journalism academics. Journalism educators. "Hackademics" (I know ...).

I love them in the same way I love the National Gallery. I'm glad they exist because they're a sign that, as a society, we choose to spend time and resources on more than just the mundane essentials. That said, they have little to do with the realities of daily journalism.

There's always been a healthy tension between practitioners and career university types in journalism training, but I fear it's getting out of balance.

Here - in a piece I've written for the Association of Media Practice Academics gathering at Birmingham City University on 27 July - I set out the reasons why.

06 July 2015

Overlooking Something Important ...

I don't care where my radio comes from, at least in terms of the technology,

As a youngster I heard the early days of Radio Leeds, and later, with much excitement, the launch of Bradford's Pennine Radio on a little AM pocket transistor my parents had in the house.

Now radio in all its forms is delivered by a bewildering multiplicity of apps, devices and channels (radio on the TV anyone? yes, around 5% listen via digital TV according to OFCOM) I'm worried that it's being turned into something alien; an exclusive commodity to be bought rather than something free and universally available.

In that we're losing sight of one of its fundamental attributes.

30 June 2015

Up Close and Personal - You Are Here Immersive Theatre in Leeds

I’m on the bed in a Leeds city centre hotel room with a half-dressed girl I’ve just met.

We’re alone, surrounded by her intimate possessions – clothes, dressing gown, make up – and we’re talking about love, and life. She gently raises my fingers to her throat to feel the pulse in her neck.

A nymph, not unlike her bronze sisters I’ve just left behind in City Square, this girl is easily young enough to be my daughter. She strokes my arm as she talks and cajoles, and then plants a bright red lipstick kiss on the back of my hand.

It’s theatre. But Toto, in this piece I originally wrote for the Leeds Culture Vulture website, I’ve a feeling we’re not in the plush velvet stalls at The Grand anymore.

27 June 2015

Reports of a Death Are Premature ...

Radio's dead. It's official .. there's been a notice in the Telegraph.

OK, maybe not dead but dying, according to Gillian Reynolds, on licence fee life support and Osborne's hand is on the switch. Oh hang on ... she's not talking about radio, she's talking about BBC Radio 4.

Which of course is radio if you're in London and you're writing a column for a posh broadsheet, allowing for a bit of Radio 3 when the Proms are on and maybe the frisson of a brief liaison with 6 Music if we're feeling frisky.

Don't get me wrong. I'd be sad if Radio 4 died, or became severely emaciated. It's one of those things that makes the country worth defending, and for which I'd certainly go to the barricades.

But radio is a lot more than Radio 4, which is local radio to London and the South East in the same way that Crossrail is an affordable little transport upgrade and the National Theatre has something on worth seeing now and then. I started looking around the dial, and at online listen again services, on just one Saturday in June here in Yorkshire.

11 May 2015

The Original Social Medium

Today we mark a sad anniversary. It's thirty years since the Bradford City fire disaster in which 56 fans lost their lives. They went to a football match to celebrate their team's promotion, and never came home.

The events of that day are etched in our national memory and, as so often, radio captured the raw emotion of the moment so much more powerfully than mundane pictures.

They also highlight something about radio that is too often forgotten in our industry today. Beyond the brands, and the promotions, and the personalities radio has a unique ability to bring people together and to communicate better than the echo chambers and troll-infested swamps of what we now call "social media".

This post explores some of those attributes.