Archive | March, 2009

Newspapers – a “waste of trees”?

13 Mar

After writing an article about the Metro’s recycling campaign, I was recently pointed in the direction of an article entitled Save Money. Save Trees. Abandon your newspaper, (thanks to @wildelycreative). This article got me thinking about the concept of all newspapers converting to online – would it work? Is it likely to be the case in five, or ten years time? We all know that newspapers are apparently the “dying breed” of journalism, and most big newspapers have extensive online databases. Would it be that big a step to cut out the printing of the paper altogether and make it just available online?

I personally have never thought that much about how much paper, and therefore trees, is wasted on newspapers and magazines before. The amount of paper that is printed, to just be read or even just skimmed through once, then thrown away, is huge. According to enotes, on average a years worth of a newspaper (one a day) produces 250 kilograms of waste paper. And when you think about how light paper is, that’s quite a lot!

So, would the idea of all newspapers converting to online-only work in reality? I’m undecided at the moment. I know I like reading my daily Metro or trashy magazine on long train journeys, or when I’m stuck waiting somewhere. And reading a newspaper is a lot easier than having to cart a lap top around to catch up on news on the go. Another concern with newspapers producing their content online, is, where would they get their money from? It is very unlikely that many people would be willing to pay to access online news with the current economical climate. Newspapers converting to an online-only format may not be a feasible concept at the moment, but only time will tell.

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Lickey Hills Conservation Workday

9 Mar

On Sunday, 8th March, myself and Natalie Adcock attended a Conservation Workday at Lickey Hills Heath. After Natalie wrote an article about this day for Birminghamrecycled.co.uk, we decided to follow it up, and find out what this conservation day was all about!

The workday, which takes place every Winter and Autumn, is open to the public to volunteer to help with the work, because of staff shortages at Lickey Hills.

It started at 11am, so myself and Natalie had to get up bright and early at 9.30 – not a time I am particularly keen on facing on a Sunday! As soon as we set out for Lickey Hills, typically, it started to rain. We arrived at the visitor’s area, where we had to wait for about fifteen minutes to see if the rain eased off. The park ranger, Steve, explained it is too dangerous to take volunteers out on the heath in the rain. Luckily for us though, the weather cleared up after a little while, and we set off to the heathland. We were kitted out in bright yellow anoraks and large gloves to protect us from the weather conditions – not a good look!

There was quite a poor turnout for the day – headed to the heath was just myself, Natalie, our photographer, and just two other volunteers from the public, with Steve leading the way. But despite this and the cold weather, there was a positive atmosphere, with the volunteers ready to get stuck into work. We met a woman who is passionate about recycling, and works for the Bromsgrove part of Freecycling. She told us “It’s just amazing to see what can be recycled if you look in the right places!”

The Lickey Hills Heath is classed as an endangered area, “Even more endangered that Rainforests!” Steve told us, “Years ago, it was over 600 acres, now it’s down to just 60 acres.”

So, what was our job for the day? We were there to removed unwanted trees and bramble growing on the heathland, that are stunting the growth of endangered plants such as heather and moss.

We were given three different tools. Firstly, clippers, to cut down the majority of the tree and cut down the bramble. Secondly, a saw, to cut through the tree stumps. Steve gave us very strict instructions on the safety of using the saws, emphasising that the guard must be on at all times when the saw is not in use.  We were told to never hang saws from trees, as “it’s pretty painful if it swings in your face.” He’d also bought a first aid kit along “just in case”  – it was all a bit daunting!

We were also provided with forks, to dig up the roots of the weeds and bramble. If you can, it’s much better to get these plants out at the roots, rather than just cutting them, because if they’re simply cut down, people will have to be back there in a couple of years, cutting them down again.

So the volunteers and park ranger all got stuck into work. Luckily, we got the hang of using the tools fairly easily, apart from a little blip when Nat accidently cut down some Heather – the endangered plant – and got a telling off from the park ranger!

It was satisfying watching the piles of cut down trees grow, and as the day progressed, the heath was looking clearer and clearer. Getting rid of the unwanted plants meant that the Heath was a lot clearer, and we could see how pretty the heather and moss really is. We even had dog walkers passing by offer us their support!

At the end of the day, all the cut down wood was piled up. We left it in the heath where a “chipper” machine would later come to dispose of it. We didn’t get a chance to see this machine, but Steve told us it’s “Massive! Like something out of a film, it’s got teeth!”

After a hard day’s work, the group headed back to the visitors centre for a well-deserved cup of tea. It was an enjoyable day, and of course it’s always good to know that you are doing good! See the pictures from the day here.

The park rangers suggested that we could get a group of Birmingham City University students to return to the heath, for a day of conservation work. He said we would get a chance to do other jobs, such as building. Anyone interested?

My Production Proposal

1 Mar

Below is my idea for my Third Year Production Project. It is still quite vague at the moment, and clearly needs more work before the idea is finalised, but I would appreciate any feedback on whether people think this is a valid, feasible idea. If anyone has any suggestions of how it could be improved or changed, or whether there is a market for this, I would love to hear them!

Following the outstanding success of British film Slumdog Millionaire, the British film industry has recently been getting more media attention. In a recent article published in the Independent, even Prime Minister Gordon Brown was praising the industry, after the success at the Oscars. Culture secretary Andy Burnham said “ “Cinema attendances and domestic production increased last year and the industry continues to produce outstanding, surprising and culturally enriching films” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brown-hails-british-film-industry-after-oscars-success-1629648.html

But despite praises from the Government, there is little information in the media at the moment which is solely based on British film-making. There is a website, http://www.bfi.co.uk (British Film Industry). This website contains information on “What’s On” and some on the history of British film, but it doesn’t seem to contain many reviews, and it does not offer a printed publication. The other main magazine on film which is currently available is Empire. This is a magazine on movies, including reviews, features and interviews, but it is very Hollywood-based.

My proposal for the production project is to create a magazine about the British film industry. The magazine would include information on new releases from the British film industry including independent companies, features, interviews and general information on the industry. It would celebrate the successes of the British film industry today. I believe there is definitely a market for this type of magazine in Britain, as over 5 million people in the UK go to the cinema every month, and the UK box office had the strongest January performance for five years in January 2009, with takings of £100m (according to Nielsen EDI). The magazine would probably be monthly or quaterly, and it will aim to plug a gap in the market, as currently there are only really trade magazines on this subject, which are too business-based, and the more commercial magazines such as Empire tend to focus much more on the Hollywood industry.

Thankyou!

The twitter takeover…

1 Mar

A few weeks ago, I barely knew that Twitter existed. The word “micro-blogging” was just techno-jargon to me. But since joining the social networking website for my Online Journalism module, I have realise that Twitter is everywhere! These days, wherever I turn, be it the radio, newspapers, or online with website such as Msn.com, Twitter isn’t far away. It even seems to be taking over Facebook!

Me and Twitter didn’t get off to the best start. I first struggled with the concept of “following” people, rather than simply adding them as friends as you do on other networking websites. I also find it hard to say everything I want with a limit of 140 characters (hence why is it called micro-blogging), but this is part of what makes Twitter different. I was worried that no one would be interested in what I had to say, and so quite reserved about my “Tweeting”, but once you get into it, everyone on Twitter is so friendly!

Twitter is a must for any journalism student, as it is a great way to make contacts in the industry, not just in the UK, but worldwide. I have found myself communicating with people I really never thought I’d get a chance to talk to, and it’s a great source of industry experts, who are generally more than willing to offer help, advice and opinions.

Yesterday I finally hit 50 followers, which was a proud moment for me! And I won’t stop there, as I get more used to “Tweeting”, I hope to gain more followers and more contacts on Twitter in the future. So follow me. 🙂