Busy Busy

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I apologise for my lack of blogging…it has been a crazy few months. After our Christmas break, time seems to have absolutely flown by…with TV and radio portfolio’s to do, law and Public Administration exams, practicals and endless production days, there hasn’t been too much time for fun. Admittedly I have enjoyed this 4 day weekend so far though. I now only have 3 more exams and then that’s the end of an incredible year!

My TV portfolio was on the loss of the high street, following on from the Mary Portas review, myself and Karen decided to find out more.

Written and produced by Karen Lyons and Bethan Muxworthy

My experience as an undercover journalist

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My first TV Credit

My first TV Credit

The last 3 weeks have been very chaotic but also extremely rewarding and exciting. I spent 3 weeks at ITV Wales working with the Welsh current affairs team. Despite wanting to write all about it during my time there, I was sworn to secrecy as I was working on an investigative programme with the Byd Ar Bedwar team. On my first day I was asked if I wanted to go undercover to find out if a modelling agency in London were scamming people, unsurprisingly I didn’t hesitate when I said YES PLEASE!!After a long and hard 8 months on the course it was time for me to put what I’d learnt into action, but this time not in the comfort bubble of Cardiff’s journalism school but in the REAL world.

After being invited to the first ‘Hacio’ meeting to discuss ideas for the new structure of their programme I was then asked to have a meeting to discuss my role as the roving undercover reporter. I was delighted that the team trusted me enough to send me to London to try to find out if this agency were breaking the law. One boy from Swansea had complained about them saying they’d taken money from him by pressurising him to pay for a portfolio of pictures. They promised him work as an extra on programmes like Eastenders and adverts like Heineken. When he had his pictures back he was really unhappy with the quality of them, he had to go through the BIS (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills,) to get his money back and never heard from the company again.

The team had already found more case studies that had experienced the exact same thing, but now it was my turn to capture it all on camera so that something could finally be done to stop them. On my second day on work experience I was getting a taxi to Cardiff train station to meet the team to get the train to London. I’d made a phone call to the agency on the Monday to make an appointment, they were happy to see me the next day! We arrived in London, waited for our camera man to arrive then headed to Soho. Before going into the interview myself and Sian tested out the hidden camera to make sure it was all in tact and off I went.

I thought by this point I’d start feeling nervous, perhaps my heart beat would start speeding up but I was actually extremely calm and managed to persuade myself that I had to be convincing. As I waited in the reception I noticed a young boy was waiting to see the agency with what looked like an envelope with pictures in. I started chatting to him and found out he had paid 400 pound for these pictures and that the agency had assured him he’d make a lot of money with this professional portfolio.

One of my portfolio pictures!

One of my portfolio pictures!

An hour went by and then I was called up for the interview. She told me I needed a portfolio or I’d never be taken seriously, she provided me with my paperwork and took a 100 pound deposit from me. After about half hour i’d arranged my photo shoot in the same studio all the other people we’d spoken to had been sent to.

We spent the day filming on Thursday and interviewing a man who used to model for Storm to find out how a professional agency should act and he told us they never charge you for photos, only if you start making money. On Friday we headed to the Studio where I paid the rest of my money to the guy on the desk (390 pound.) In the ‘studio,’ there was already a guy having his pictures taken so myself and Ian (Byd Ar Bedwar) took the opportunity to speak to the photographer.

After finishing the pictures we did some interviews with myself and Sian and then headed back to Cardiff. I learnt so much in those few days and had a great time getting to know the team too. The following week I spent most of my time phoning all the companies that the agency said they worked for only to find they’d never even heard of them, resulting in the modelling agency removing all their advertised logos from their website. The more research we did the more proof we had that something wasn’t right. Unfortunately at this point we couldn’t prove the agency were linked to the photo studio which made things legally complicated, but Sian and Ian managed to find the company on Companies House and worked out that the director of the photo studio and the director of the modelling agency were both listed under the same company.

After 3 weeks of persistence and hard work, I then saw the programme being edited together and then voiced by Sian. I spent the evening with some friends to see all the final product. To see my first TV credit was a huge accomplishment and I’m so grateful that I was given such a great opportunity. It’s in Welsh but if you go online you can put the subtitles on- the link is http://www.s4c.co.uk/bydarbedwar/?lang=en

Me and Sian at the ITV News Awards

Me and Sian at the ITV News Awards

TV special report

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As a part of our course we work as a pair to produce a 3 minute television feature. Myself and Tom Lewis worked together as we researched the increase of microbreweries and the amount of pub closures in South East Wales. We found that more and more microbreweries had been popping up and opening their own pubs but that statisitcs by CAMRA (campaign for Real Ale) showed that since December last year more pubs have had to close down. We interviewed Gareth Williams (Tiny Rebel Brewery,) Nick Otley (Managing director of Otley Brewery, Pontypridd,) and Brian Lee ( a Cardiff author.)


    Written and produced by Tom Lewis and Bethan Muxworthy.

TJ’s reunion gig Newport

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(Broadcast 9th March)

Bands in Newport say they have nowhere to perform ever since popular music venue TJ’s closed two years ago.

The venue was forced to shut after owner John Sicolo died.

But as Bethan Muxworthy  reports, bands were given another chance to take to the stage at last weekend’s reunion gig.

(First interviewee- Steve Jenkins, a musician.)

(Second interviewee- James Andrews, Busker.)

Produced and written by Bethan Muxworthy and Kelly Bradnick

Top journalistic tips

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It’s been almost 6 months since the beginning of my course and I’m pleased to say I have definitely learnt a great deal.

Me and Colin- driving the radio desk, early days!

Me and Colin- driving the radio desk, early days!

In the first few months I remember when we were given our first assessment, a ‘link and clip,’ which was 25-30 seconds of copy and  a short 20-25 second clip from a relevant interviewee. We were all  panicking and spent hours re-phrasing sentences, editing one clip and ‘faffing’ around the newsroom. Six months down the line and we’re out filming 3 minute television packages, leading a team, producing hour and a half breakfast shows, conducting full interviews, writing online content, producing radio packages etc.

Throughout the course we’ve also been lucky enough to have some excellent guest speakers from the industry giving us some top tips e.g. Jonathan Hill (ITV,) Charles Reiss, London Evening Standard’s former Political Editor , Mark Brayne, former BBC Correspondent, Peter Preston, former editor of The Guardian, John Ryan, Managing editor for BBC radio Manchester, Bill Turnbull (BBC,) to name just a few. Our lecturers, Colin Larcombe, Emma Gilliam and Tony O’shaughnessy have also been preparing us for the scary world of work by teaching us all their knowledge and assessing our performance on production days. Here’s a list of some of the tips I’ve picked up on my exciting journalistic journey so far…

RADIO:

  1. Be clear, concise and accurate
  2. ALWAYS answer the following: Who, What, Where, When, Why?

    Practicing our Breakfast show

    Me and Karen, practicing for the Breakfast show!

  3. Make sure the story is current, why does anyone care?
  4. Check the source
  5. Always have ideas for different treatments of a story
  6. Use conversational writing
  7. Don’t use too many statistics in a bulletin, the listener will switch off
  8. Think why you are using a certain interviewee, what do they have to add to the story?
  9. CHECK the Audio levels, make sure the audio is not distorted or too quiet
  10. When doing a package, think carefully about wild-track and structure
  11. Record links on location (sounds far more interesting)
  12. Make the most of your toolbox:  voicer, two-way, illustrated two-way, wrap, package, link and clip, copy (which one is more appropriate for the story you’re trying to tell)
  13. Be organised
  14. Don’t let the adrenalin take over (journalism is exciting but you must not let the adrenalin distract you from the job)
  15. Always lead into a clip by introducing the voice that the listener is about to hear

TELEVISION:

  1. Always think pictures

    TV studio gallery practice!

    TV studio gallery practice!

  2. When filming, film the same thing from 3 or 4 different angles
  3. Avoid pans, tilts, moving zooms
  4. You can never have too many close-ups
  5. With vox-pops, remember camera right, camera left (the person being voxed will alternate e.g looking to the left/right of the camera)
  6. Close-ups are best when interviewing (they are more important than the background)
  7. Always use headphones when on location (to ensure natural sound and correct levels of sound)
  8. Filming- check white balance, shutter speed, gain, focus, iris- flip to ‘auto’ to see what the camera expects the picture to look like and adjust in ‘manual’ mode to achieve that
  9. Make sure the tripod is level
  10. Write to pictures (when the presenter speaks the pictures should correspond to what’s being said e.g. when reading ‘Sam Warburton’ the picture will be of him and not Warren Gatland!)
  11. ALWAYS use pictures when possible (presenter in view is  last resort)
  12. Pieces to camera- should be about 15 seconds and used when what needs to be said can’t be reflected in the pictures
  13. Two-ways- be natural, know your story, use your script effectively, deliver it with authority, practice, make it
  14. Presenting- be natural, move your script along incase auto-cue fails, adjust your tone so it suits the story (happy if it’s a positive story, serious if it’s a sad story etc,) don’t wear bright or patterned clothing, be plain so that the viewer isn’t looking at your flowery suit but is listening to WHAT you have to say.
  15. Check spelling, capital letters, be clear, accurate and NEVER write anything you don’t understand.

I could probably write hundreds more but these are some that have definitely helped me develop my journalistic skills.

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CJS Breakfast show

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Practicing our Breakfast show

Me and Karen, practicing for the Breakfast show!

As a part of our exciting course we have the opportunity to work as a team to produce an hour and a half breakfast show. At the beginning of the week, we’ll have a breakfast meeting where we’ll all share story ideas and then assign a couple of stories to each member of the team.

Last week was my first breakfast show, and so we all spent the week gathering material, phone bashing and getting around our patch to get a range of light and serious stories to have an editorially balanced breakfast show. Myself and my colleague Karen volunteered to be the presenters. We spent some time in Bargoed speaking to people about the history of the town and the plans for its re-development.

We also went to speak to Andy Gorno, a Welsh food producer who has both Italian and Welsh heritage to find out who he’d supporting in the Italy V Wales on the weekend. On Thursday evening we sub-edited the programme to avoid any slip ups when reading through it.

It was one of the most exciting production days as we really got to know our content and worked really well as a team. The programme was recorded in three slots of half an hour, so here’s a sneak preview of our show:

(Team- Geraint Thomas, Tom Lewis, Tim Walsh, Niamh Hannon, Zahra Ullah, Kelly Bradnick (editor,) Karen Lyons, Lavinia Hoyos, Bethan Muxworthy.)

Multimillion pound development Bargoed

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(Broadcast 9/03/12.)

Many towns in the valleys of South Wales suffered as a result of the decline of the coal mining industry.

But now one of them, Bargoed near Caerphilly is about to get a multimillion pound makeover.

Work will start on building a new supermarket on Monday and there are more plans for a multiplex cinema and restaurants…

I went to Bargoed to see what this would mean to the community…


(Second treatment for the later bulletin)

Building will start on a new multimillion pound development in Bargoed on Monday.

The town, near Caerphilly has been one of many areas in the valleys to suffer from the decline of the coal industry.

A new supermarket and a multiplex cinema are among the plans to give the town a new lease of life.

I’ve been speaking to Ron Davies, the Councillor for regeneration and planning for Caerphilly about the plans…