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Still write on form

An article I wrote as part of my final practical exams. A profile piece about Ex Rugby Captain, Eddie Butler.

Shying away from the camara, leaving The Observer, a tendency for laziness and a growing love for gardening. This could spell retirement for ex rugby captain Eddie Butler – but Eddie’s journalism is flourishing and he has no plans to stop any time soon.

“Seriously I am a very lazy person, I find it very easy to go and watch iPlayer at two o’clock in the afternoon, I don’t feel guilty about that at all; but I enjoy writing I really do.”

After 20 years of writing a weekly column in The Observer Sport, Eddie Butler has announced he is leaving the paper. But the writing game is far from over for the ex Welsh Rugby captain, who despite hanging up his boots 26 years ago, remains a prominent figure in the world of sports journalism and intends to keep it that way.

Although claiming to be somewhat of a lazy individual, Eddie is a passionate journalist, ready to embrace the freelance world. “I loved being a staff writer for The Observer. It was great because I was so lazy that freelancing was never quite my bag but here at the age of 53 I seem to be doing it again.” He is also having a ball as a commentator for the BBC, “Broadcasting journalism is a hoot in its own right, I wish I could look you in the eye and say it’s hard work!’ but it’s good fun.” he says.

Eddie crossed the media-sport boundary into the journalism world in 1984 when he realised his rugby career was dwindling. In addition to this he was becoming increasingly passionate about journalism. Eddie started working for the BBC which he enjoyed much more than he had first expected, “Instead of looking forward to the weekend as the great moment of release from some mundane job, I actually quite liked working for the BBC and Saturday had started to become a bit of a chore – so once you hit that point your sporting days are numbered.”

In addition to his impending rugby retirement, Eddie believed he had the makings of a good sports journalist, “In 1984 I was being criticised by a little hard core of journalists and I sort of was thinking, ‘well actually I think I could do this better than you,’ which sounds terribly arrogant, but it was certainly a driving motivation.” From here Eddie took up a full-time post at BBC sports and has since remained a prominent rugby journalist, partnering with commentators such as Bill Mclaren and ex-England hooker Brian Moore. His book, Tangled Mane: The Lions Tour to Australia, was published in 2002.

Eddie admits his new freelancing career hasn’t quite got going yet, “Commissions received – none!” he smiles, “But that’s by choice” he adds in. Eddie remains as a freelancer for the BBC in both Cardiff and London and he has plans to do a history series for BBC Wales Ryder Cup programme for BBC Wales.

Eddie has started to shy away from the glare of the cameras after years in the spotlight, both on and off the pitch, “I don’t want to appear in front of the camera anymore – this is the world of HD – every wart on an old man’s face can be seen from a hundred metres. I could do without that.” Instead of being filmed, Eddie would like to write more scripts for radio and television. “I like writing for television. I like this contraction, I like making what sprawls into something tight.”

But despite his love for journalism, there will never be a replacement for the sport he once played, “Nothing beats playing I have to say. Even in the unpaid days it was such hard work. You don’t really appreciate the fun to be had out of it.”  In the days when Eddie played for Wales, they never went on a major tour, as the club were very debt conscious whilst they paid off the old stadium. “It is such hard work that you don’t appreciate it at the time, but looking back they were great, great times and nothing ever beats it full stop.”

But the ex-player appears content and happy with this second career in journalism, and is clearly passionate about his job, “I don’t want to retire but I have no ambitions to do anything other than what I do now, I don’t want to go on a plumbing course. I like gardening and scripting and that could keep me going really.”

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ivy magazine: the final chapter (issue)

It’s It’s been a long and emotional journey creating ivy magazine. An idea that was born from scratch in January and blossomed into our own little bundle of printed pride and joy. After churning out three issues in six weeks and another compilation issue in twenty four hours the ivy team are well and truly pooped. We will send our little baby off into the big bad world tomorrow to be judged by the PTC for the New Student Magazine Competition. Does it have what it takes? Watch this blog…Until then, ivy will be out of our lives – I almost miss the sweat and tears already…

Check out our snazzy updated website.

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ivy magazine issue 03

Ah so here it is – our little bundle of joy; ivy magazine

We have slaved for seven or so weeks over our class magazine, and here it is…

and the website…..

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ivy issue 02

Here’s the cover of ivy magazine, issue two. We made it as part of our magazine diploma course at Cardiff university.

ivy magazine is a sexy sustainable women’s magazine.

Visit the website and see what you think…

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“Will good journalism be the first casualty of the digital revolution in the media?”

“When I started in Journalism, journalists were the first person at an event, the first to file, they’re not anymore,” says Richard Tait, Director of the Centre of Journalism Studies at Cardiff University. In the London bombings for example, user-generated content was used to tell the story not professional reporting.

New technology means journalists no longer have a monopoly of comment; anyone can now create online content. Ian Hargreaves, former editor of The Independent explains in Journalism Truth or Dare, “Journalism today is a two-way street, or rather a multidirectional process in a boundryless space, rather than a one-way street of a traditional newspaper or television news bulletin.”

Matt Drudge, the blogger who broke the story of President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky in 1998 agrees, “The ‘net gives as much voice to a 13-year-old computer geek like me as to a CEO or speaker of the house. We all become equal.” This is fantastic for freedom of speech, but as traditional reporters are drowned out by the ever-growing online blogs and twitter feeds, this raises the question: if anyone can write and be heard, why should someone be paid to do it? In The National Review, screenwriter and producer Andrew Leigh writes that many successful bloggers believe that journalism isn’t rocket science and that anyone can do it. But many maintain there remain vital differences. Richard Tait points out crucial traits that distinguish journalism as a profession: accuracy and authenticity, in comparison Bloggers have no checklist to follow. Bill Press from MSNBC says, “Bloggers have no credentials, no sources, no rules, no editors, no accountability,” and this is the difference between the professionals and the everyday citizen.

Accuracy and authenticity are however difficult to maintain in the fast-paced twenty-four hour media world we now live in. Journalists are expected to produce a lot of content quickly and are expected to develop an array of new skills to keep up with the changing face of journalism. Charles Reiss, former Evening Standard political editor, advises journalists not to lose the all-important basics such as producing a well-written story in exchange for the new technical abilities they are acquiring. “The way we do things has changed enormously, but what we do has changed very little,” he reminds them. Indeed old practices remain very important, as a 2009 report by Skillset (a training and skills organization) shows, the findings revealed a critical skills gap in new journalism recruits. Skillset commented in The Media Guardian that traditional skills are even more valued today if brands are to encourage customers to pay for high quality content.

Key skills are not the only thing that sets journalism apart from general online content. Trust is another major distinction. What brands can offer the public is reliability, unfortunately tighter budgets and increased time pressures put journalists at risk from making mistakes and loosing this crucial trust. Serious errors made by journalists over the years have sunk well-established careers and threatened the reputations of respected brands. “The opportunity for reflection and depth is harder to find these days. There is more pace and more urgency,” says Ian Hargreaves.

Mark Byford, Deputy Director-General of the BBC, agrees that journalists must remember accuracy is paramount over speed. Being first to a story is “wonderful” if you are right he says, but to be first and wrong is an absolute disaster, especially for a respected brand like the BBC. A lesson learnt from the Hutton Inquiry, in which an exaggerated allegation made by Andrew Gilligan led to the resignation of the BBC’s Chairman and Director General and strong criticism of the BBC. What went wrong? Under pressure, Gilligan had over-cooked the story he had from his source David Kelly. Gilligan had not checked his facts with his lawyer or editor before he made a dangerous claim on The Today Programme that the government was lying. He had no evidence to back up the accusations he made. The Guardian’s Post Hutton Guidelines for Journalists remind journalists of the importance of producing straight stories over interesting and exciting ones, “Every time we flam a story up we disappoint somebody – usually a reader who thought The Guardian was different,” they say.

Mark Byford maintains that BBC journalism is also rooted in values: truth and accuracy. “Those values are the fundamentals of what makes this journalism tick,” he says. Twitter may often break a story, but the reader needs to turn to an established publication to verify the facts. If people lose faith in the brand, it will struggle to survive the competitive digital era.

Journalists need to be even more stringent and careful today as errors made are more likely to be picked up. Facts can be checked and tracked easily online, as illustrated by the fall of Dan Rather, an anchor of the CBS Evening News for 24 years who lost his job after running a story that was later found to be forged or doctored by bloggers. But surely this transparency can only be a good thing for the industry, as it will force journalists to be more accurate and reliable in their reporting?

The industry must accept and understand the new changes so they can firstly acknowledge the potential mistakes they could make, and secondly they must learn how new technology can work in their favor. Social networking should not be seen as a scary rival, pipping journalists to the post for news. It serves a different function, not as a definitive news source, but a way of showing how a story unravels in real time. Journalists can work this to their advantage, using it as a pool of potential leads and contacts.  The opportunity to interact online allows the journalist to engage with readers, something that was never possible to achieve before. Enhanced interaction makes the news more real, encouraging journalists to stretch further than a dry press release.  Citizen journalism provides a more real, but also more objective view of the world. Journalists need to accept that they can’t physically be at the wake of every natural disaster or plane crash. Technology allows a moment to be captured through the eyes of real people, such as the grainy but irreplaceable footage taken by the citizens in the London bombings.

Journalists need to accept that they’re not always the first to a story and that journalism isn’t just a one-way street anymore, they must learn citizen journalists and bloggers have something special to offer, and if used carefully it can really enhance and enrich their work. Throughout all this change however, accuracy and regulations remain vitally important. Richard Tait advises future journalists that, “Success for you is blending these new opportunities with very traditional editorial values.” This advice cannot be ignored, as values are what set the journalism profession apart from the bulging Internet blogosphere.

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iPad: the beginning of the end of magazines?

Just another iPad blog post….

Does the new iPad spell the decline of print magazines? Experts seem to think it will change the face of the magazine industry….

The new Apple baby: the iPad was unveiled on 27th Jan 2010. With Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive showing the world how newspapers and magazines can be viewed in a new way online. After completely rewriting the way we use and buy our music, Apple is ready for the print industry. A few publications have already made apps such as The New York Times, with many  others expected to follow shortly.

Hello you! The new addition to the Ipod family. Source: flickr.com/photos/ ben30/2866006814/

But will the iPad manage to make a dent in the techno world- will people bother with it? People are indeed going gadget crazy, there is not a day that goes by without another friend joining the Blackberry/iPod crew. I on the other hand am a bit of a granny when it comes to flashy things, pretty content with my robust, old school Nokia – no need for any internet in my pocket, therefore I’m not exactly the best person to judge the appeal/success of the new mini computer. From where I’m standing it seems like there’s just no place for another gadget when everyone already has a swanky internet phone – but what do the others think?

iPad:big fuss?

Well, a Gizmodo blogger was not a fan of the new Pad, similarly  CrunchGear didn’t seem too enthralled, ‘Greg’ from the tech website said “As a developer, I’m excited about it. As a consumer, not so much.”  Many agreed it was yet another thing to lug around. Others were concerned about the price. Charlie Brooker from The Guardian rightly said “The iPad falls between two stools – not quite a laptop, not quite a smartphone.”

On the other hand, many believe it will revolutionize the world of magazines…

The iPad and the future: magazine design

Cliff Kuang at fastcompany.com talks positively about the iPad. This is in response to Luke Hayman‘s five ways the iPad will change magazine design. Hayman is the designer behind Time and New York‘s recent redesigns and thinks people will read more publications on e-reader than they do online. This he reckons will see the mag industry boom, there will be a huge shift to online leading to a greater demand for flashy storytelling devices.

“In other words, magazine editors–who’ve been fearing for their jobs lately–haven’t been this excited since they lost their virginity.” says Kuang, he underlines the importance of keeping up with these rapid leaps in technology – new skills need to be learnt fast.

So what would an e-magazine look like? Check out the futuristic Sports Illustrated…

For another example check out Tennishead magazine.

It seems the iPad will no doubt encourage more magazines to become ever more flashy and interactive for the reader as they expand online, but just how dramatic the changes will be is difficult to predict. Will we ever really completely replace the feel, smell and luxury of a printed glossy? I truly hope not, I cannot bear the thought of a life completely lived online, I enjoy turning the pages of a magazine, peeling off a perfume sample and cutting out that dress you want, indulging in a meaty feature. Surely the survival of the book provides a bit of hope for the continuation of the printed magazine.

Oh print! How I love you so..

Online does bring the page alive in ways print cannot through video, audio and reader interaction. It is undoubtedly the way we are moving in the techo obsessed world, let’s just hope it doesn’t compromise the print world completely. One things for sure though, with all these crazy new inventions this certainly is an exciting time for the magazine industry and I’m excited to join in the action.

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