Introducing ‘The Impaired Judgement Podcast’

There’s hosting a radio show, then there’s creating a podcast. The former, I have done now, on-and-off, for around two years. When it comes to the latter, despite my presenting experience, was all very new to me – that is, until today.


At 5pm, the very first episode of Impaired Judgement – my podcast which sees me and other disabled people cast a critical eye over the latest disability news – went live on YouTube (and soon, it will be available on iTunes). Despite being in front of a microphone many times before, I still struggled to find the right place to start – although I did have a detailed plan of things to discuss.

Thankfully, I had my good friend Connor to discuss things with, as he was my first guest on the podcast. Reaching the 30-40 minute target was easy. However, coming up with the name was particularly tricky (an earlier idea was Sign of the Times, before I realised that Harry Styles may have a few words). The great thing was that this new name contained a similar level of wordplay – ‘impaired judgement’ being a common phrase, but it also nicely sums up a podcast which sees disabled people discuss the latest news.

Looking ahead, the aim is to build up my ability to improvise when thinking (I often rely on scripts when on radio), and hopefully have at least one guest on per episode. How frequent the podcasts will be is something I still need to figure out, but I hope to keep a regular flow going for as long as possible.

Nevertheless, if you’re interested in hearing myself and Connor discuss noisy restaurants, the latest MMR vaccine statistics and schizophrenia, then you can give the first episode of the podcast a listen on YouTube.

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A New Adventure…

This has been an exciting one. Monday saw me visit Go Ape for a fun day out with a friend, and Wednesday saw me go to London to see a live recording of The Russell Howard Hour (more on that soon). It was also on Wednesday that I received another bit of good news.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you’d know that I went to Summer in the City last month – a UK convention dedicated to YouTube and online video. It was there that I met the team from the YouTube magazine TenEighty, and naturally, I asked about writing for them.

A few weeks later and after a fun application process, an email landed in my inbox saying that I can join the team, and I was over the moon.

I already have two articles up on the website so far, including one on disabled YouTubers having their videos demonetised, and asdfmovie creator TomSka announcing the end of his vlog series, Last Week. I look forward to writing even more articles for TenEighty in the future.


A Thousand Words: Persistence and an attention to detail

It’s been a fun week of journalism this week, as I went to the for work experience whilst also receiving some exciting news about an application I submitted last month. Both situations reminded me of the two skills mentioned in the title of this blog post – skills that are essential for a career in journalism.

Thank you to the team at the i for a great week of work experience. Here’s yesterday’s issue of the paper, which featured a couple of pieces from yours truly.

One thing I have always admired about the is its focus on concise, to-the-point news stories. Page two of their paper sees a ‘matrix’ of short, 50-word articles summarising news from a variety of different areas – be it foreign affairs, politics or something else.

The short pieces, known as nibs or ‘news in briefs’ present a fun challenge to the typical journalist. With the right story, reporters have quotes, statistics (of sorts), backstory and facts to hand, which they then need to squeeze into such a tight word count. It’s a case of prioritisation and they have to ask themselves: what is the most important information which needs to be included?

It was a craft I was able to hone throughout my week at the i. Alongside an exciting visit to the Saatchi Gallery to help out a press photographer, writing some business nibs and writing a short piece for the arts section, most of my week was spent assisting the Foreign Editor with articles. Every day I had the opportunity to write up about five or six stories to go in the aforementioned ‘matrix’. Some could quite easily be summarised in such a limit, but others proved more of a challenge. Nevertheless, it helped build upon my love of the news form and my attention to detail. It was great to get some editorial insight into the style of the i too.

Then there’s persistence – that came during one particular lunch break. After spotting a message from Sky’s Early Careers department in my voicemail, I was quick to return the call when I had a minute spare. It was about my application for a placement at Sky News under their Diversity Scheme, and it was third time lucky. I had been offered a place!

I fell in love with Sky HQ – based in Osterley – last year, when I was offered two weeks’ work experience at the firm’s Product and Brand PR team. A vibrant atmosphere complete with a just as positive work ethic meant I had to get a placement at Sky News, and return to Sky Central once more. Now, that day has come. Well, in November, to be exact.

I can’t wait. Bring it on!

Thoughts on Future News Worldwide 2017

There’s something extremely humbling about Scotland: a sense of community, of collaboration, and of life just getting on.

Group photo of delegates from Future News Worldwide.
The 100 delegates from over 40 countries who were selected to be a part of Future News Worldwide 2017. Photo: British Council

I was in Edinburgh this weekend for Future News Worldwide 2017 – an international conference where 100 student journalists from across the world gathered in the Scottish Parliament to talk all things news with media professionals. After visiting Glasgow in May, it was great to be back on Scottish soil so soon.

The adventure began on Wednesday. After landing arriving at Edinburgh Airport, I was quick to jump on a bus – along with fellow delegate, Veronika – straight to our accommodation for the week: Brae House.

The room was by no means unfamiliar to me. As a student accommodation block (run by a company which used to be the landlord for my flat in Lincoln) it was a pleasant environment to call home for the next 5 days.

Scottish Parliament
One of my favourite photos from my time in Edinburgh. The Scottish Parliament hosted us for our conference this week.

Bags were unpacked, then it wasn’t long before we all made the short walk towards the Scottish Parliament for drinks and networking. Nestled under the shadow of King Arthur’s Seat, the very post-modern building was such an amazing venue for the conference. Also, as a devout political nerd, stepping foot in the place responsible for Scottish democracy left me buzzing throughout the event. It’s needless to say that I was quick to take up the offer of a free tour when that became available on Friday…

A quick change of clothes and I had another opportunity to get to know some of the other 100 delegates (chosen out of over 2,000 applicants) that won the competition. It was a night filled with drinks, good music, and good company.

Then came the two days of the conference, which were so jam-packed full of insightful talks that this post would become an essay if I mentioned them all in detail. Journalists from The Sunday Times, The Economist and BBC World Service were just some of the people to speak to us – highlights included an interview session with an award-winning BBC documentary maker, a data report from the Reuters Institute and workshops with Google and Facebook.

The conference ended with plenty of new business cards, two new tote bags (which I just managed to squeeze into my suitcase), plenty of new friendships and some opportunities to pursue in the future.

After two days of receiving a lot of information from media professionals, a day of tourism yesterday offered some respite. It started with a walking tour of the city, stopping off on The Royal Mile, Parliament House, and a graveyard which inspired famous Harry Potter characters. I spent the whole of yesterday and Friday with Neil, a good friend of mine who I rarely get to see because of long distance.

Sadly, I couldn’t make it out for one last party with everyone, but I still had time for some celebrations on the Friday night. I also had time to explore King Arthur’s Seat, which boasted incredible views.


As I get ready to board my flight from Edinburgh Airport, my mind flashes back to what was said during one of the opening speeches at the start of the conference about the aim of Future News Worldwide. Whilst the actual speech itself has slipped my mind, I believe the event was all about collaboration, breaking down barriers, and campaigning for change through the world of journalism.

The past two days were the start of some wonderful new friendships around the world. Looking ahead, now is the time for me to learn more about their countries, educate myself, and collaborate with others who are also passionate about reporting.

As the British Council said on Twitter: “The future of journalism is in good hands.”

At the centre of the action: thoughts on covering the general election

Journalists can have two results to the news of an election. For most of us (excluding those in Scotland) the news of a third vote in the space of three years can stir up fatigue as a voter. However, it’s the reporter within us that gets excited, knowing that UK politics is about to change once more, and we’re at the heart of the action.

My set-up for the evening, as I reported on the count in Mid Bedfordshire.

Annoyingly, with the EU referendum taking place on the week of Glastonbury, I was unable to cover it. So, naturally, when the surprise general election was announced, I was quick to ask the local media if I could help out.

This led to me working with the Broadcast Journalism Council and Radio LaB in Bedfordshire on their programme, The Vote. I was sent off to the Mid Bedfordshire count – an ultra-safe seat for the Conservatives and their candidate Nadine Dorries.

The night started with me heading into the offices of Central Bedfordshire Council, worried that a mere student reporter would be turned away by the security guard or the receptionist. Thankfully, I was quickly handed my visitors’ pass and escorted to the press room.

There’s always a sense of community that comes with hanging out with other reporters in a press room. A feeling of mutual stress (in that we are all rushing to meet deadlines) and excitement fills the air as I get settled down – laptop powered up, shorthand notebook open and mobile phone fully charged.

It was 20 minutes later that I had my first ‘two-way’ (a radio term for having a back-and-forth discussion between a reporter and presenter). I painted the scene of the constituency and gave details of some of the candidates, before it was back to work.

It wasn’t long before the Liberal Democrat candidate came in to say hello, and I had my first interview of the night. Due to the rules in place around the count, reporters weren’t able to go into the marquee where staff were counting the votes, and so a member of staff had to go in and track down candidates on our behalf.

Once the first interview was out of the way, then things started to pick up. I had to edit the recording to get a solid 30-second clip, whilst also grabbing a quick snack (a sweet chicken sandwich which sadly, wasn’t too pleasant), composing tweets for Twitter and doing the occasional two-way. Much like in a normal newsroom scenario, work was starting to pile up, and the night started to pick up pace.

The Labour candidate was next to come into the press room for interviews, and it was whilst transcribing the recording that the news came through: the result was due to be announced shortly.

Plenty of Skype calls and phone calls were made to the studio as I sprinted into the marquee. A particular highlight at this point of the night was the fact that I posted news of the result ahead of the BBC – get in!

After that, I was able to speak to two more candidates and do a final two-way before packing up for the night. On the whole, regardless of the party allegiance, everyone was up for a chat – even when a serious election was taking place.

I was in a position which was new to me. My Friday Article posts on this blog are pretty reactive to political events, and save for my work experience at the press office of the Department for Work and Pensions, everything else has seen me respond to politics, as opposed to experiencing it first hand.

Being at the centre of politics during a general election is intense, fast-paced and exciting. Given the current state of affairs and the possibility of a second election, I can’t wait to return to heart of the action again in the near future.

If you fancy a look at what I got up to on the night, you can see my tweets on my Twitter profile, and listen to interviews with some of the candidates on my Facebook page.

Nearly 28,000 incidents of fare-dodging took place on the Underground last year, new data reveals | The Friday Article

Over 27,900 cases of fare evasion took place on the London Underground last year, a Freedom of Information request has found.

Photo: tseyin on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode.

The figure is higher compared to last year, where 27,413 occurrences took place.

The number has been increasing year-on-year except for 2012 – when it fell by over 2,500 to 13,825 cases. It then rose by nearly 8,000 to 21,810 the next year.

The statistics combine two different ways in which fare evasion is reported. Penalty Fare Notices are when people are charged for their first offence (such as failing to touch in their Oyster card), whilst Irregularity Reports are when individuals are considered for prosecution for repeat offences or other issues such as using a forged ticket.

Steve Burton, Transport for London’s Director of Enforcement and On-Street Operations, said: “The overwhelming majority of our customers pay the correct fare, however there is a minority who do attempt to travel without a valid ticket.

“We take fare evasion of any kind extremely seriously and we have reduced fare evasion on our rail and bus networks to around two per cent of all journeys, which is low compared to other transport authorities around the world.

“We widely communicate the consequences of being caught without a valid ticket and anyone failing to pay a Penalty Fare Notice is referred to a debt recovery agency.

“We are also working towards measures that will improve our ability to pursue those who don’t pay,” he said.

The data also revealed that from 2010 to 2014, over £2.6 million was collected in court costs for successful prosecutions for fare evasion for the underground. These costs are one of many sources of income used by the Transport for London (TfL), with money also coming from penalty fares and maximum fares income.

For the past two years, the most fare evasion offences took place on the Jubilee line, with the highest number of incidents before that (between 2010 and 2014) taking place on the Victoria line.

The request also discovered that there are currently 13 underground stations with one or more gate-free entrances. These include:

  • Chalfont & Latimer
  • Chorleywood
  • Finchley Central
  • Kensington Olympia
  • Mill Hill East
  • Pinner
  • Roding Valley
  • South Kenton
  • South Woodford
  • Woodside Park

The other three stations have ungated entrances temporarily. Euston Square will have a new gateline layout this year, whilst Crossrail enabling works at Moorgate has caused there to be gate-free access at the station. Bromley by Bow currently has no gates at present due to improvement works being made.

Despite not having a gate line, these stations do use card readers at entrances and exits for passengers to tap in and out.

More information about the penalties and enforcement procedures for fare evasion can be found on the Transport for London’s website.

Where I stand on sport…

It’s a typical ice-breaker question I don’t like to be asked: which football team do you support?

SINCIL BANK
Lincoln City Football Club made history in their match against Burnley this weekend. Photo: blogdroed on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

England is the easy answer – everyone unites over patriotism. It’s when you’re forced to name a local team that I struggle, because sport doesn’t interest me.

Well, that is when it’s a sports story. When a football team transcends the back page of a newspaper and becomes a news story, that’s when I pay attention.

This shift from sports to news happened yesterday, when Lincoln City won against Burnley and became the first non-league club to get to the FA Cup quarter-finals since 1914.

As a second year journalism student at the University of Lincoln, there’s that ‘second home’ feeling which really makes me proud to be studying in the city at a time when history was made. Talk of an ordinary match would probably remain with football fans, but greater success often leads to the whole community getting behind them, regardless of how much they like football.

So whilst I’m not the biggest sports fan, I have reported on football news whilst in Lincoln and as with any skill, it’s something I’ll look to improve upon when opportunities arise. But for now, it’s worth saying a big congratulations to Danny Cowley and the players at Lincoln City Football Club. Up the Imps!