Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Is online journalism the future?

The Times have recently started charging for their online material. Cynics would argue that this is a money grabbing effort by the Murdoch Empire - a large proportion of me would tend to agree. But we're used to the Murdoch sword wielding and whirling its way through the worlds media. The interesting side to this new development is whether by charging for its content, the Times have set a precedent that other online newspapers will follow and therefore stating the claim that online journalism is the future for the profession. This topic has been rearing its head for a while and has been debated fiercely by journalists and media types alike.

Personally I see online newspapers as a brief catch-up to the news. I couldn't see myself replacing an actual newspaper with its internet counterpart. This is partly because I enjoy the freedom of being able to take a newspaper anywhere (Apple would argue that the iPad has this role, but I see it as a go-between a phone and a laptop - and not really achieving the greatness of either) Partly because I find reading a computer screen for an extended amount of time difficult. Also, I think that although the Times has broken the mould by charging for its content, its actual website and news is inferior to say that of the Guardian. Subconsciously, as a Guardian reader I'm probably more likely to gravitate towards its output, making my last point seem massively biased. Certainly that is the case with its news; I like the Guardian's journalists so therefore I am bound to like its online articles. But in terms of structure, layout and being user-friendly, I genuinely believe the Guardian online is leagues ahead of all other British newspapers offerings.

However, that is slightly off the point. My question was is online journalism the future? Well in truth, yes I think it is. I don't think it has the credibility or accountability of print or broadcasting, but you just have to look at the numbers of bloggers and people that read online content, to realise that whether you like it or not, the internet is home to a plethora of journalists. A lot of it is rubbish. Some of it is outstanding. I don't think the newspaper will die, not just yet anyway, but it has been steadily declining for decades and the internet is booming. The real question is how online journalism will be managed? Well that is something I certainly don't have the answer to.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Why do Americans love a winner and Britons love the underdog?

Many argue about the differences between Americans and Britons. British people think America is full of obese, arrogant loudmouths who wouldn't notice irony if it came free with a supersize McDonald's. Americans think Britons are uptight, painfully posh and fear sex, parties and generally anything fun - in fact we live our lives like Sherlock Holmes (not the cool new Robert Downey Jr one, but the old, stifled one that had a worryingly surpressed homoerotic relationship with Watson). These are both of course sweeping generalistaions that everyone knows are so far removed from the truth.

So let's make a sweeping generalisation. I think the fundamental difference between Americans and Britons is their attitude towards success. America celebrate it with flashing lights and a marching band. Britons detest it and mock it mercilessly. Americans are brought up to think they could be the next President; Britons are told it will never happen to you. No American would have rallied so strongly behind a team like Portsmouth, when they played high-flying Tottenham in the Cup this weekend. They would have considered it a travesty that a recently relegated team who have so many self-inflicted financial problems they make Icelandic bankers look careful, could beat a side pushing for the English football elite. They would think why aren't we supporting the team that haven't shot themselves in the foot and have played some football this year that is worthy of a European place next year. Fair point. But in Britain (unless you are a Spurs fan of course) we loved to see essentially a Sunday league team fumbling their way to the final and making Harry Redknapp look increasingly more like a toad that's had a stroke... or five.

Look at the most successful sitcoms from the two countries in the last ten years. In America you have Friends. A group of good-looking successful people, who despite many pit falls along the way, in the end wind up happy, rich and essentially winners. In Britain there was The Office (yeah I know there's an American version smart arse). A sitcom basically based around the shortcomings and embarassment of a slightly seedy boss, who thought he was the next comedy genius. It was an office mostly full of losers, but we rooted for them. Britons wouldn't have liked a smart, sophisticated boss. Even in the American Office, Michael Scott is just that bit more efficient than David Brent.

None of this really matters, or is probably true and I'm sure there's thousands of examples that would blow my theory out of the water. Personally as a Briton, I hope nobody ever reads this blog because then it would make it successful and then where do I stand?

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Stu-debt, No Food And Still Smiling

Student life. How to write this without hitting every layabout, tax-consuming, alcoholic stereotype that The Daily Mail churn out like sour milk. It's actually quite difficult; maybe the Mail was right all along? Well actually no, thank God. Rest easy in your beds, word on the street is that the Mail isn't always right. Who'd have thought it.

Yes it is true (well certainly for me) that students consume more alcohol than a Glasweigan stag-do that have been told their livers need to be destroyed or Scotland will never beat England at anything ever again. Or Peter Dowdeswell on a three hour bender. However, we do squeeze some work in there too. Perhaps more scattered and inconsistent than lecturers would desire. Not sure I'm going to be the next Oscar Wilde, but studying is occasionally undertaken and I do enjoy it... mostly.

University life has ticked a lot of boxes for me personally. Freedom, enjoyment and expansion of the mind, body and debt. Ah yes the debt. My favourite drunken subject, when I whinge about my current financial predicament. Let's be honest I'm not poverty stricken but I used to be able to buy bread and a pint of Guinness. I don't eat as many sandwiches now. My overdrawn account peers up at me pathetically at the hole in the wall, as another phone call is made to the parents to explain why I need bailing out or else I'm going to have to eat the desk. The desk is getting smaller.

That being said, university has met me squarely in the middle of my life. Right enough of sounding like a Guardian-reading twat (which I am). Have I proved the Mail wrong? Not really. Ah well, if my journalism course goes well I might be able to infiltrate them one day and sneak in a article about why illegal immigrants are modern-day heroes. Ha if only I had the nerve.

Conservatively Labouring To Complete Confusion

Is anyone else completely confused by politics but won't admit it because they think they'll look like an idiot when asked by their so-called "cleverer" mates who they're going to vote for? Um, well I'm not going to vote for Gordon Brown you answer - because apparently we all hate him. I'm actually still not sure why that is? This may be because I'm politically illiterate; but I bet if most people were honest they are too. Blundering their way through arguments with political spiel that no one really understands until they feel they can move on to lighter topics. Similar to what politicians do funnily enough.

I'm not trying to take the moral high ground here. Far from it. I'm the worst for pretending I know what I'm talking about when in truth the only thing I actually know about is football. Even then my mates manage to out-geek me on the subject - I'm not even the best at the only thing I'm good at. Brilliant. Slightly off the point though.

To my embarassment, I studied politics for two years and still have no idea what it's all about. In fact I'm probably even more confused now, I think I was better in blissful ignorance. Again this problem is down to me. If I had got a strong A, rather than a modest C, I would probably know my manifestos and mandates like I know my John Terrys and Wayne Bridges. But when it all boils down to it, I'll probably endlessly discuss parties and policies I don't know or understand in the build-up to the election, happily watch the FA Cup final and then make a last minute decision to vote Green... because they sound nice.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010