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Moving on from The Guardian

24 May

So as many of you that follow me on Twitter will know, I’ve decided to leave guardian.co.uk for pastures new. I’ve had a great time working here, made some really good friends and learnt a hell of a lot about working in the media industry. I’ve been lucky enough to spend nearly two years working on what is probably the best newspaper website in the country and it’s proved to be an experience that will stand me in good stead for the future.

Speaking of which, my increasingly near future lies in Wolverhampton, where I’ve landed a job as an Online Journalist for MNA Digital, the webby arm of the Wolverhampton Express and Star and the Shropshire Star. Specifically, I’ll be taking over the commercial sections of the websites, namely Jobs, Property and Motoring, and will be responsible for the social media presence of both publications. It’s a big challenge and that’s why the role was so appealing to me.

I’ve got a lot of ideas to take with me into my new job and I’m chomping at the bit just to get going really. I felt as though I’d learnt all I could do in my current position with The Guardian and needed something new to get my teeth into to progress as a Journalist, a professional and an all-round person. It’s a fantastic opportunity and one that I know I’ll enjoy every minute of. Expect more updates as they come…

More Guardian Careers blogging

25 Nov

Over the past couple of months, I’ve continued with the careers blogging and have contributed another couple of posts.

Interview advice for dummies
I don’t need to be told to smile during a job interview; why do some career sites assume that we’re all idiots?

Relocation
Many graduates find it necessary to relocate after university, but it’s not always that easy

Once I think of some more things work-related to write about, I’ll be contributing some more.

Lighting up the Guardian Careers blog

3 Oct

I’ve recently started contributing to the relatively new Guardian Careers blog, where I write mostly about the idiotic things that I’ve done in my blissfully short working life thus far and mildly poke fun at those with a more blogworthy career than my own.

The first piece, ‘The art of working from home’, looked at the difficulties of not working in an office environment. It focused largely on my housemate, a freelance filmmaker, who spends many a long day editing video footage from the comfort of our own living room.

Secondly is a piece that went up only yesterday, entitled ‘When job interviews go bad’ is a more self-mocking blogpost in which I share my own interview horror stories and encourage readers to post their own. They havn’t thus far.

I’m hoping that, one day soon, they’re going to let me take part in one of their podcasts. I think I’d be brilliant at it. I wouldn’t say anything useful or actually help anyone in their career, but what I’d lack in knowledge I could make up for with sarcastic remarks! Take a look, leave me a comment and, hopefully, have a little laugh!

Ice Age 3 game review for guardian.co.uk

13 Jul

An unashamedly blatant plug for my first piece of published work on guardian.co.uk, a game review for Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. I’m hoping that it will be the first of many.

In the mean time, you can find my Guardian contibutor page here.

Journalists need to start taking more notice of their communities

13 Mar

During Meg Pickard’s Social Media briefing today, she discussed how journalists could use the comments posted on newspaper websites as a potential source for new stories or interesting angles on a current story and it made me wonder, why is this practice so underused in journalism? Having spent the time and effort to build up a community filled with intelligent people with local knowledge and often specific expertise, why do newspapers seem not to make the most of this easily accessible, cheap and willing resource?

It took me back to my studies, where I would often use local messageboards and comment sections to look for potential leads, with mixed success. Often, I would find little of use, but occasionally I would find an interesting comment that I could follow up. I was once able to scoop the Birmingham Mail with a story about how police were failing to crack down on the trading of illegal goods across the region. I discovered this story in a forum post on the Birmingham Mail’s own website.

So it would seem that there is potential for news stories to come out of user activity on newspaper websites. Yet, as far as I know, it is not a particularly well-utlised area. Time is clearly an issue here. How many journalists have time to scroll through all of their comments to search for something that could well resemble a needle in a haystack? It was commented that, ironically, freelancers may make better use of this resource as their need for that next story is greater than their staff member counterparts.

If time is the issue, then why not have other staff members do it for you? As commented before, the moderation team at guardian.co.uk now has a Twitter feed @GuardianVoices which highlights good individual comments and interesting debate. Could they be used as a tool to collect potential leads? After all, moderators will already be reading the majority of content of the publication they work for. However, it would require a rather different mindset to look out for story leads compared to the more usual role of finding and removing offensive content.

The idea, I think, is a good one, but requires a more concerted effort than merely scrolling through comments. ‘What do you want to talk about?’ threads are often used to garner ideas and often work quite well. They certainly aid interactivity, giving the user the opportunity to present their ideas and, potentially, have them reported by a professional journalist. Also, a number of blog posts ask for user opinions about a particular subject, or for ideas to fill a new series, which is a semi-effective of utilising the community.

I can’t help but feel though, that lots of potential ideas are being missed. Increased interactivity with users builds trust, which in turn produces a higher class of debate and, with it, more opportunities for follow-up articles. Since commenting became the norm on newspaper websites, community conversations have been inspired by the journalists articles. Perhaps it is now time for the journalists to take inspiration from their communities as well.

Why I was wrong about Twitter

11 Mar

Around a month ago, I penned a blog post entitled Why I just don’t get Twitter and, well, since then I’ve been emphatically proved wrong in writing the microblogging site off. What I’ve come to realise is that the reason I hadn’t fallen in love with Twitter, as many social media addicts have done, is because I hadn’t embraced it in the same way they do.

Before, I used Twitter intermittently and not in a particularly interesting way. Whilst following all the right people, I didn’t really engage with any of them or tweet anything that would really spark off a conversation. Hence, I missed out on much of the social conversation aspect of Twitter, which is one of its of the primary advantages. I hadn’t used it for crowdsourcing opinion or added much to ongoing discussions. In short, I was missing out.

As is almost always the case, it didn’t take long for this blog post to come back and bite me on the backside. Exactly a week later, I twittered an idea that I had had about creating an account for the guardian.co.uk community, which would highlight the best comments that the moderation team read during our shifts. Jason Cobb replied almost immediately that he thought it would make “wonderful reading” while, later, Janine Gibson, editor of guardian.co.uk, replied “it’s a great idea.” For me, this is where I began to realise just how useful Twitter could be. Not just because of the idea that I had to utilise it, but also that I had been able to gather opinions on it and find that other people also found it to be a good idea. It had given me the confidence to pitch it to colleagues at work, not that I needed to though, as my direct manager had already tweeted to register her approval.

The blog post has proved to be a turning point for my Twitter activity. I’ve been posting much more regularly and using it more efficiently. It speaks volumes, to me at least, that I had three pages of @replies when I wrote that blog post, having been on Twitter for 11 months. I now have nearly six. I’ve used Twitter to crowdsource names for the Guardian Community account, to help me fix a hacked hotmail account and to share interesting articles that I’ve found. It has helped me to network much more effectively than any other method that I’ve tried and I have a quite extensive list of contacts now, many of whom I know only through Twitter.

Now, almost a month to the day that I posted about Twitter, GuardianVoices has been born. The idea that I came up with reached fruition this afternoon and, to be honest, I’m pretty chuffed with it. It has given me the opportunity to be creative and to prove that I have good ideas. For this reason, I’m determined to make it a success.

So, to sum up, I was wrong. Although Twitter does have its limitations, it is, essentially, what you make of it. If you don’t use it to full potential, then you won’t get the rewards from it. If you do, then you may just get something out of it.

Follow me on TwitterFollow GuardianVoices on Twitter

Blog Rebranding

7 Aug

As my University career finished on a high as I gained a First in Media and Communications (Journalism) from Birmingham City University, I felt it about time to rebrand this blog from a Production Project Blog, as all of the previous posts would suggest it to be, to a more general blog about my career.

I have recently accepted a position as Community Moderator for Guardian News & Media, which involves maintaining the interactive aspect of the guardian.co.uk site. I have now been in the role nearly three weeks and am enjoying the rat race of the big city, if not the commute.

Following this post, you can expect to hear my thoughts on a career at The Guardian and the possibilities this could bring. I also intend to recommence the Journalism Today blog in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled!