Tag Archives: Journalism

Britain In A Day: Uncovered

The project

On Saturday 12 November 2011, a diverse range of British people responded to a call by the BBC to turn the camera on themselves and their everyday life. For the first time, even film captured on mobile phones could not only be of an almost professional standard, but of broadcastable quality.
The result? A 90-minute film directed -which in this case means edited-by BAFTA winner Morgan Matthews, executively produced by Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald, which offers a candid look at 21st-century life across the UK, crafted from over 750 hours of footage, including 11,526 clips submitted to YouTube.
Following on from the feature film Life in a Day, Britain in a Day is an extraordinary project telling the fascinating story of the British public in their own words, while being an example of the crowd-sourced film phenomenon. The difference between the two films lies in their global vs national character; the first included clips from around the world, in an attempt to underline the similarities of all humanity. Britain In A Day’s goal was that the resulting film and on-line archive would be a powerful and moving snapshot, a specific moment in time which separates Britain in A Day from most reality-based documentaries.

This captivating self-portrait of Britain is a meaningful project, which fulfilled a need of people to allow others into their lives and offer a remarkable insight into their thoughts, fears and hopes and be part of something bigger. Although the individual videos might be seemingly insignificant, when put together they become a powerful and overwhelming piece, so much more than a film.

For more information,


You can also follow Britain in a Day on Twitter using #BritaininaDay and  join the conversation http://twitter.com/BritainInADay

The process

BBC Learning was looking for people from right across the country to help select and archive clips from their local area on the BBC2 Britain in a Day project; it was an opportunity to create a time capsule for the future. As an extension of the project, the BBC has partnered with universities from around the UK to create a permanent on-line Britain in a Day archive; a number of multimedia/journalism students were selected from each university to participate.

The chosen students would work to the following brief and outcomes:

• Watch all videos submitted in their region and to assist the BBC in reviewing the crowd sourced footage for compliance
• Curate their region’s showcase of approximately 200 clips which comply with BBC guidelines and have any required guidance or warning labels suggestions.
• Provide a top 10 curated clips playlist, with commentary telling a story about their region, and provide their own version of Britain in a Day through compiling a playlist of 10 films
• Contribute to a blog/social media about their regions selection, how they chose the clips, how they were edited, their thoughts and feelings on the archive.
• 2 students from each university were invited to their local radio station in conjunction with their regions archive launch to be interviewed about their clip selection.On the 29th of each month starting with June, 2-3 regions went live on the archive.
You can see the films that were submitted to the project, as well as the full-length versions of films featured in the BBC2 programme by visiting the archive here:



BBC Open Day

BBC held an industry open day event on the 12th November (the anniversary of the project) at Media City UK in Manchester to celebrate the completed gallery (24 playlists in total). All partners involved in delivering the project were invited to come along and travel expenses were covered by the BBC. The event consisted of 3 sessions, combining the opportunity to speak to staff as well as putting our skills into practice. The outcomes from the day are described shortly below for those who couldn’t join us on the day.

The 3 sessions were:

1. Elevator pitching

Working to a brief in order to prepare a pitch and present to the people who make the decisions.

Pitching to a panel of accomplished professional is never easy; it was an opportunity to experience the pressures of pitching and receive on the spot feedback. Thankfully we were creative enough to pull off a unique idea and present it in a decent and hopefully comprehensive manner.

Things to consider before pitching:

• N- Why do I NEED it
Your audience must be convinced that your idea is essential and why they should go with it

If they do go with your idea, what’s in it for them? What will this idea offer?

What is the target audience for the idea? Who you intend to approach, how and why?


Is your idea unique or has it been introduced before? What will differentiate your idea from the norm and make it compelling?
In general, it’s best to treat it as a hypothesis and define all relevant variables (including the ones above).

2. Editorial policy in action

How  is it decided what gets broadcasted on the BBC?

Having reviewed the Britain in a Day clips we all had an idea of the “flagged up” issues, but in this session the non-obvious factor was examined and we had the chance to see if we had what it takes to comply clips for broadcast. Tommy Nagra introduced the basic points of editorial policy and tested them through a series of practical examples. It’s always better to be safe than sorry with compliance, so make sure to check the few basic and substantial points below:

• Editorial is divided into Legal and Regulation.

• Informed consent- legally, you have to be 18.
For TV etc. and regulated purposes: 16-18 is considered a young person (for topics including bullying, drugs, alcohol, sex). Permission has to be granted by the head teacher or the parents. However, it can be withdrawn if the situation changes; for example, if the title is not the initially agreed one, that could be a deal-breaker.

• Audience expectations is a vital factor.
If people are not expecting violence from a specific show/channel they will react; cursing or tolerance regarding racism for example depends on the specific book/movie/presenter. There is a common sense about what is generally accepted; meaning that especially when introducing a new concept, additional caution is required.

• Family or people’s identities in general shouldn’t be exposed without their consent; elements linking to their identity shouldn’t be mentioned or implied.

• Endorsing should be avoided when discussing especially sensitive matters like drugs, alcohol etc.

• Releasing a story can lead to personal implications. For example, someone could lose their job if they aren’t in the right state of mind to be filmed; and even if they are, they could still lose their job anyway for mentioning sensitive topics!

3. Meet the staff

The final part was a 1 hour session with members of BBC staff-journalists, producers and researchers- sharing their experiences and offering tips and advice about getting into the industry, followed by a Q&A in order to find out what it takes to get a dream job.

Gordon Burns narrated how he made his way into journalism, during the era of Rolling Stones and sexual freedom. Things were different back then and it took hard work and guts to get into the job. He created a school magazine and “managed” to get it banned due to school regulations, which made the issues “sell like cupcakes”. After this he realised what he wanted to do and after hunting a job at the Belfast Telegraph, it escalated from there.
Burns underlined the importance of luck, which appeared to be on his side. Above all you need to bring yourself to a position to get that luck and make something for yourself by constantly trying to prove what you are capable of. Luck can help you get one foot at the door, but the other one will come with hard work. Social media and the web might have hardened the game, but some rules still apply.

  • When preparing for an interview, do your homework

Each organisation is different so take the time to research its background and the people you will potentially speak to. You must be prepared for whichever interview and really want the job-or at least act really well like it!-; always show your passion. You have to be keen, bright and enthusiastic about what you do; creative ideas/thoughts in particular are gold for TV.

  • Programme making requires in depth research

Sometimes you need to take a step back and shadow someone for a while, watch what they do and how they do it in order to improve your skills; always be willing to learn new things. Know how to behave, don’t hustle people too much, make suggestions, offer help, and get as much work experience as possible.

  • Try to network as much as possible; after all, the best jobs are not the ones advertised.
  • Establish yourself after university with work experience, develop and perfect your skills.

Multi-tasking is a necessity for the media professional of today; you must be able to report, shoot videos, record sound and take great pictures, so it’s best to move around in order to gain new skills. If the question is to specialise in something or not, be aware that specialising might close doors in the sense that many people will be after that one job; but if you broaden your skills you automatically broaden your job horizons and are more likely to get a job. Multi-tasking is key and can be the factor that will set you apart from the crowd.

  • With the rise of technology and hence, community journalism, everyone is a journalist in a way

What differentiates journalists is their credibility. Information needs to be checked, especially in the online times we live in; check check and check again, as there is no excuse for inaccuracy. A good practice is to have two credible sources, independent to each other in order to fact-check information.


Photograph by Carol Guillaume under Creative Commons license

The revolution in the media industry has shaken the tectonic plates of print media to their very core, leading in perpetual alterations and adjustments in order to comply with the new world order. The web’s impact on the field is unprecedented, and more challenging than ever.

Some suggest that much like the paper photographs, written press will disappear. However, humanity has seen similar vast technologic leaps over time and opted for Mp3 players over CDs, cars over carriages. The more efficient achievements of our kind were cherished and guess what? Books and newspapers are still around.

For some, including myself, print still serves its purpose, and we aren’t quite ready to let go yet; the shift from print to online will definitely take some time. Real life interaction can be experienced through print; it is more physical and tangible. It engages memories and sentiments; it is text that lives outside a screen. Take a minute and breathe in the distinctive smell of the magazine in your hands; would you change that feeling for the online alternative? The beauty and portability of a glossy magazine is indescribable; the ideal companion to curl up in bed with, or even when in the loo.On the other hand, I hate to admit, online is a very powerful channel of communication. In the “glocal” (global and local) communities that we currently live in, it is impossible to gather all the news required unless using web tools. Sound, still and moving image, are now used to enhance the media experience and expand the reach of the written word. It is essential that you see what you hear and vise versa; the possibilities are endless.

The minute a story is released online, the transparency of sources is constructive at the very least. The author can instantly react with the readership, be judged, get feedback, exchange opinions. He can be inspired and motivated by the comments, form a better idea of the public’s needs and eventually satisfy them.

Moreover, the upcoming trend of community journalism and citizen journalists gives voice to more people. The online database allows easy and fast access, leading to the emergence of the “prosumer”, the new kind of consumer who is accustomed to the social media and both produces and consumes all the messages he/she wants. However, this unlimited freedom in expressing one’s opinion on every possible subject raises the question of whether or not we are turning into a human centipede. Do we just consume and reproduce each other’s crap, instead of relying on accurate and verified information?

Online media are constantly reinvented, giving the opportunity to its users to customize their news. They can use filters to learn what they want, when they want it; a gradually more demanding audience that won’t be able to settle for less.

Thankfully, at least for the time being, the online doesn’t have as much credibility. Due to the bulk of information circulating online, “sloppy” news stories are regularly published and unfortunately, can be easily forgotten. The emergence of “churnalism” (when journalists reproduce information released by PR agencies/Press Association without checking, as a result of time and cost shortage) is increasingly prominent, while serving specific interests. Therefore, online lacks quality and in-depth analysis, as stories are updated by the minute. Quality is sacrificed for the sake of quantity, leading the readers to information overload.

Apart from bursting generalities, a few dare to predict the future of the profession with certainty. According to Center for the Digital Future of USC, in five years most US newspapers will close down. I am not going to bother with any more statistics; figures may differ from country to country, depending on the accessibility to digital resources-only two billion people reached, not the largest part of the world yet-, the content and size of publications.

Bottom line is that most newspapers will become obsolete in the near future; whether that is in five or in ten years. There will be unexpected merges and vast changes in the landscape of the field. The biggest and smallest firms will survive, the ones in the middle won’t. Strong brand will keep functioning as a status emblem, and combined with solid, experienced reporting it will keep bringing readership. Local will survive, due to the loyal and very specific target readership groups; it was never the youngsters who kept these papers going.

The proof of print’s survival lies in real life examples, and there is a perfect one I would like to share. A couple of months ago, Jemondlocal (a hyper-local online newspaper for the Jesmond area), Novel and a team of ambitious and eager journalists, editors, illustrators and photographers, gathered up at the Baltic to execute a delusional plan: create a 48 h pop-up magazine about Turner prize, in an effort to bring art back to normal people. The task was successfully met; the most invaluable lesson this experience taught us was that print is not at all dead, at least on a local level. Advertisers where more interested to participate in the project than they were for any other online template we have produced in the past. Print might not be the primary or most profitable means of media, but it will still be around, in the form of Sunday papers mostly, tabloids, magazines and books.

This is not the first and possibly not the last recession to be dealt with; hence print media is not the only sector facing a crisis. Realistically speaking, jobs lost are not coming back; prices and profitability will be dramatically reduced, advertising rates are already dropping.

“Our new economy is shrinking because technology leads to efficiency over growth” as Jeff Jarvis, journalist and new media guru, puts it. The only possibilities for new job openings will be counted in the fingers of one hand and will be created by entrepreneurs.

Profit is what makes the business world go around. Myriads of people in the industry are worried sick, trying to follow new profitable routes. Everything from “pay walls”, micropayments, restructuring their websites. Online almost eliminates the cost of production and distribution. So how can print compete with free anymore?  Gradually both professionals and audience are getting used to that pattern of free circulation, which at this point seems irreversible. Online subscriptions-much like in NY Times case- have strongly failed; when a service previously free goes private, the percentage of digital ads and traffic revenue go downhill. The truth is, news organizations never entirely relied on subscriptions for profit. The big money came from advertising and stocks.

For online media, there is no direct payment. Indirect funding services are the future, like ad integration features and value-add services. Banner advertising is no longer a successful option; there are already applications out there, which can successfully remove all ads from a page. Nowadays-even customers can function as ads agencies through word of mouth on the web. In author’s Elbert Hubbard words “The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done, is generally interrupted by someone doing it”. No potential predictions can be finalized, being innovative and keep an open mind is the way to be part of the change.

The essence of media doesn’t modify, only the platform. We are facing a movement of content from one medium to another. The means of distribution might be different, but the focus should remain on the information. Of course, print will suffer a slow death. Few parts of it will eventually survive, but will shift shape many times, evolve, and adapt to new markets.

The only way to keep print around a little longer is by giving it an edge; investigative journalism could even stand out online. People use RSS feed mostly for the headlines, but most would definitely take the time with a well-written, accurate piece, providing a hint of hope.

Our effort though should not focus on the resuscitation of print media. The Golden Age of print journalism monopoly is long gone. Unfortunately, the relation between print an online media is a zero-sum game; one has to fail for the other one to prosper. And this modification in dynamics is not a sign of our times; it is simply a matter of years.

With the digital era being finally upon us, the more open people are with their ideas, thoughts and information, the better human contact and general progress are promoted and accomplished. Jeff Jarvis’s advice to turn our private parts into public is not only encouraged, but also mandated.

Money will be earned through variant venues and life-long learning will be imposed; harder times will come. Journalists will follow alternative paths to make a living like consulting, blogging, teaching or writing books. They will experiment with the profitable possibilities of new and creative business models. Waiting for our moment of sheer serendipity is pointless; we should constantly struggle to acquire new skills and keep up with the pace in order to survive an ever-changing world.


*Parts of the article published in “The Print is Dead” issue of Novel magazine, March-April.

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