06 July 2016

The Binary World of Antisocial Media

I love my wife and children. I love radio. I love chocolate HobNobs. I love teaching my students.

Each of the above statements is true. Each carries a nuanced meaning. "Love" means something different in each context, as is readily understood in human communication. There are varied meanings, and many more than fifty shades of grey.

Now replace "love" with "like". Go online, to what is cynically called social media. The nuances vanish. I have a binary option; I can "like" something, and instantly tell Google or Facebook HQ to deliver more of the similar to me in their endless, automated infinet battle to keep my eyeballs locked. Or I can ignore it, thereby ensuring I see "less like this" in future.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. Babies, cute pets, mundane food and inspirational quotes. It would be so utterly trivial if it wasn't so important. I'm now seriously worried for the future of understanding, in a binary world which is becoming dangerously polarised.

15 June 2016

Getting Personal

This isn't one of my normal opinion pieces; rather it's a personal statement, given that I've come to a crossroads in life and have to make some important decisions.

What I know is that, after 23 years building a career training people for jobs in radio news, I'm backing out of full time university teaching. From September I'll be on a part-time contract, and I'm not sure yet what I'm doing with the rest of my time.

This post is to explain why I'm making the change.

02 May 2016

A New Deal For Political Coverage

This week, voters are going to the polls across England to elect local Councillors, and to choose the Police and Crime Commissioners who supervise forces in England and Wales. Londoners also have the little local matter of a Mayor.

Turnout is unlikely to be impressive. Most people can't name their Police and Crime Commissioner, let alone describe what they do for (in West Yorkshire) their £100K salary. I don't sense a huge enthusiasm for the town hall contests either.

What I do sense is profound cynicism towards the democratic process. Call it the Boaty McBoatface phenomenon. People don't vote in huge numbers but when they do it's for anti-politics, anti-establishment options or candidates. As to the real decision, they don't believe any party or individual is speaking to them or for them. The prevailing mood is that politicians - all politicians - are in it for themselves.

And we in the news media are partly to blame for this sorry state of affairs.

12 April 2016

Five Questions

This is the time of year when thousands of sixth formers are making life-changing decisions about which university course to choose. Many are seeking vocationally-relevant, advanced training to get the right start in a professional career.

For those seeking to enter journalism it's vital to get the choice of course right. There are many, many training institutions out there, and it's so important to choose the one that will best meet your aspirations.

An essential skill for any wannabe journo is to ask the right questions. No journalism tutor worthy of the title will think badly of you for going beyond the glossy pictures in the prospectus by seeking hard information about the realities of the course. Five key questions ...

03 April 2016

Breaking Bad Habits

The two most over-used words in the modern lexicon of journalese have to be "Breaking News".

We are in an age where the speed of publication is reduced to nanoseconds, and a genuine scoop (at least in terms of blue light stories) is almost unheard of, although to be fair Sky News came close when, by chance, a MoJo-savvy reporter happened to be checking in at Brussels airport as the suicide bombs went off.

It's a bad habit, and we've got to break it.

18 March 2016

Frustrated with DAB

No-one is more delighted than I am to see all the new choice for radio listening in the UK with the launch of the new tranche of DAB services this month.

But there's a problem. I'm angry about how difficult it is to listen. I'm furious about the money I've spent on and the commitment I've made to DAB, only now to be unable to enjoy it. This frustration is coming from a dedicated follower of wireless fashion.