FYP Critical Reflection

My FYP is on the General Election. It is a feature-length video with three complimenting reports in different mediums.

Milk: A political issue? is a profile/mega package on an environmental political issue, its subject is the current milk price crisis. The video is an extension of my WINOL package from last year, giving a more rounded and informed view on the issue.

It was clear to me that I wanted to get involved in the General Election coverage and still continue to operate as a broadcast journalist right up until the end of third year. I wanted to ensure that my FYP would be useful in my career as a piece of journalism and not just university work.

I originally intended to produce a three to four minute mega package with several multimedia reports to go alongside the video, not only to link directly with the FYP but also to compliment it. My idea was to make a series of reports all based around the milk issue, all varying in formats and styles. The feature length video would be in a slightly softer news style than I am normally used to, similar to Countryfile reports. The main package would have different textures from a variety of cameras and some content created entirely virtually. I aimed to have three interviewees: the Hampshire NFU Chairman, DEFRA or the Environment Secretary/ Farming Minister and, a supermarket chief. For the reports, I intended to include an in-studio graphic, a standard news package and, multiple text stories and comment pieces. I wanted to create more than three reports so I had the choice of which to submit and could ensure those were my best work. I wanted to show that I was a versatile journalist and could incorporate modern data journalism and iPhone filming with traditional print.

Being a national issue makes interviews difficult as we are not a well known broadcaster. I made the issue stretch across the South and Hampshire to work on our platform and was able to use my contacts and knowledge of this beat to make the video a real success.

With news, the biggest problem is securing the interview. I used my contact at DEFRA to try and pin down Elizabeth Truss or George Eustice. I was in negotiations with the body for weeks over phone and email but neither was available so I was sent a comment via email. To make this visual and work for a video package, I filmed a piece to camera at College Green in London on an iPhone. Despite this change, I think the footage came out incredibly well and even better than the DSLR (vision and sound) that I took to the location as well. Even though this wasn’t in my original plan, it looked even more successful than I imagined as it meant that my package complied with the Representation of the People Act as parliament had dissolved by the time my video was aired. I chose not to edit the iPhone footage on the device and instead in Final Cut but I would definitely use an iPhone for filming again.

Unintentionally I created texture in my video package as I didn’t realise its value, I therefore developed this idea from that moment on. I continued to film on an iPhone with the vox pops and the timelapse introduction, then moving onto go pro footage from my personal archive. These techniques all add to the change in pace to my four minute milk report, which I think, makes it visually striking. Despite this experiment and risk, I have not compromised on the quality of sound or image throughout.

I also spent time researching and in talks with supermarkets to discuss their milk pricing. Unfortunately I was unable to secure an interview, with two sending me statements and two declining any contact with me. However, I managed to localise my profile further with a local farm shop (Good Life Farm Shop) interview. I chose this location and carried out a recce of the farm shop and knew that the fruit and veg holders and lighting would make very good visuals and sequences especially with the DSLR cameras.

The most time consuming part of my FYP was the starting graphic in the main video. Before this point, I had not made a graphic I was happy with. I wanted to push this and make a stand-out piece of journalism no matter the timescale. From the start, I knew I wanted a map graphic but as I was not experienced in this type of journalism I found a Creative Commons map website (openstreetmap.org.uk). With my previous knowledge of Photoshop, I moulded the maps to what I envisaged, with statistics from the NFU and thisisdairyfarming.co.uk. I wanted a UK map with various dairy and milk stats over the top and then to zoom in and pinpoint Hampshire and do the same with the county. I had not intended to use pictures as bullet points but I think this was extremely successful, all images are licensed under Creative Commons. The attention to detail makes all the difference in this fairly simple graphic.

Another time consuming section was the sound sync for my Hampshire NFU Chairman Jamie Butler interview. This was due to the cameras recording at different frame rates. I researched how to fix this and am now confident that this issue will never happen again.

The main focus for my FYP was to produce content suitable for the WINOL election live show. I was torn between doing a complete political profile or a mega package – I played to my strengths and did the mega package so that I did not have a video of just talking heads. In my opinion, if I had made a standard profile it would not be able to be played on the night as it is not part of a series of videos on separate political issues. To get the most out of my video and how in-depth and focused my issue was, I think the package was the best option. If I was to interview politicians on their policies and views on milk prices, I would have to localise the problem for our show and using, for example, Winchester candidates would not paint the full picture. I solved the slight lack of politics with my first report.

I produced a pre-recorded as live to be uploaded separately to the site or to work on the back of Milk: A political issue? I rehearsed this in the newsroom, made sure all logos and images used as floats and inserts were under the Creative Commons license. There was a necessity to be balanced in this inject because of the Representation of the People Act reporting restrictions. I also thought that due to my lack of supermarket input in my video, the inject was the chance for supermarkets to have their say here. Lives and off the cuff piece to cameras are one of my weaknesses so I wanted to push myself with this report whether I intended to submit the final video or not. I think the finished video is very successful and is well researched – the piece has different textures and a variety of different components that add even more texture to my FYP.

The main issue with creating the reports would be to produce them with a local enough angle or to be audience appropriate if there was the intention to publish on the WINOL website in the lead up to the General Election. As I was given such a broad subject and I have previous experience as working on the environment beat, I made the decision to focus more on national stories from Westminster. I have tried to add a local line into the multimedia reports (specifically in the Tory badger cull article) but found the angle in others particularly challenging. Having said that, I think that national stories attract a bigger audience to the website because we do not limit the audience we are aiming at. This may also encourage larger audiences to watch our election live show.

In my article: Tories to continue controversial cull if they win election, I added updates as and when the other political parties released their manifestos. This made sure that the content complied with the election reporting restrictions over the whole election period so the article could stay published after parliament had dissolved. I feel like WINOL as much as possible should replicate other news websites with constant streams of updates. News is a formula with changes; there are patterns of stories that come back into the agenda. This is one of the reports strongest points. I think the variety of interviewees and strength of their quotes also added a lot to the standard online news article and my pinpointing of a largely national story to our local region was successful. I used social media to get in touch with a Flickr user to confirm a Creative Commons license on his photo – this led to me being sent a higher resolution copy of the image on the photo sharing website.

My third report: Manifesto watch: rural broadband, was on a particularly pressing issue over the last year at least in politics. This essentially was one big research task going through reams of manifestos and stats simplifying the information for readers. I also had to churn out the information and condense it fairly quickly; I have not noticed that the main broadcasters have covered the issue. The photos are all licensed under Creative Commons, with accreditation in captions and in the photo descriptions with links to the pages on Flickr to secure the license. The report was not meant as a news article and as more of a summary to inform readers. Although direct quotes were not necessary, I included extracts from the manifestos themselves. To make this article stronger I would have got direct quotes from the parties but it is still successful without them.

As part of the run up to the General Election, I have been working as a paid member of the election team at ITV News. I am an Assistant News Editor in the lead up, logging images and checking their copyright licenses and, keeping on top of the database of constituency information throughout the UK including stringer records. On the night, I am adopting a producer role with the official title of OB result input checker.

In conclusion, for pre-recorded packages there should have been more of a formula and standard template for the night, see for example the house style of ITV and BBC. This would make the show more continuous like telling a story and link into the website. The biggest issue with being a small broadcaster in the election period is being dwarfed by all different media, this is why for the show going local was our forte. OB locations were the focus for the night and what WINOL’s audience would be most interested in. In my particular project, I feel that the portfolio I produced was very successful; there are no legal issues, it is visually striking and, it is a very informative video. I produced a variety of reports that were equally entertaining and newsworthy – showing a mixture of my abilities. A big success was my research tasks for each part of the bundle; I gathered information from a range of sources and so was able to make work with real credibility utilising skills I had learnt over the last three years.

*My critical reflection to be submitted as part of my FYP alongside my video package , three reports and my showreel*

 

 

FYP Critical Reflection

Milk: a political issue?

Dairy farmers have been hit by industry-wide milk price cuts month on month throughout the year, with some farmers being paid as little as 20ppl. Processors have not only lowered payments but also delayed them to farmers.

I profile the issue, talking to dairy farmers, businesses, consumers, and DEFRA to see what’s next for British milk.

*My package to be submitted as part of my FYP alongside my critical reflection, three reports and my showreel*

Milk: a political issue?

Policy guide: Milk prices

I report on what the political parties are promising in their manifestos for the dairy industry and milk price slump.

Over the last decade the milk market has been a volatile one, with protests and ‘milk spraying’ across Europe. At the beginning of 2015, milk was cheaper than bottled water and some farmers were receiving as little as 20ppl. There has not been much let up in the market since then so 7th May could be a huge turning point for some in the dairy industry.

Here is a breakdown of what the major political parties are pledging for struggling farmers.

          Labour

  • want to create a world-leading food, farm and fish sector
  • promote the best British produce
  • expand the role of the supermarket watchdog
  • protect food producers from unfair practices by major supermarkets

          Conservatives

  • develop a 25 year plan to grow more, buy more and sell more British food
  • in their pre-election budget, the Tories pledged a tax break for farmers in that they could now average out their profits over five years instead of two
  • treble the number of apprenticeships in food, farming and agri-tech
  • reform the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy to promote British food abroad
  • introduce country of origin labelling in Europe
  • refine the Groceries Code Adjudicator to get farmers a fair deal from supermarkets

           Lib Dems

  • introduce country of origin labelling
  • work with the Groceries Code Adjudicator for a fair price

           UKIP

  • work with the Competition Commission to promote fair practice – this would allow producers to create larger co-operatives and alliances against the competing companies trying to control prices
  • refine the Groceries Code Adjudicator if necessary

*This is one of my reports to be submitted as my FYP*

Policy guide: Milk prices

Manifesto watch: Rural broadband

Ed Miliband speaking at the Labour Party Conference. Credit: Anthony Mckeown
Ed Miliband speaking at the Labour Party Conference. Credit: Anthony Mckeown (Flickr)

Labour’s promise of rural broadband by 2020

Ed Miliband has promised to roll out high speed broadband across all parts of the country, he said as the party launched their election manifesto on Monday.

The Labour Leader guaranteed that all parts of Britain would benefit from the affordable, high speed internet in a Labour-led government.

Mr Miliband said in the manifesto: “We will work with the industry and the regulator to maximise private sector investment and deliver the mobile infrastructure needed to extend coverage and reduce ‘not spots’.

“And we will support community-based campaigns to reduce the proportion of citizens unable to use the internet and help those who need it.”

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David Cameron speaking at a press conference. Credit: Number 10
David Cameron speaking at a press conference. Credit: Number 10 (Flickr)

Conservatives to invest almost £800 million into rural broadband

David Cameron also pledged to roll out universal broadband and better mobile phone connections in the party’s latest manifesto.

A Tory-led Government would invest £790 million into rural broadband to provide coverage to 95% of the UK by the end of 2017.

Mr Cameron also guaranteed that the mobile operators’ promise of 90% of the UK having voice and SMS coverage by 2017 would be met.

In the manifesto, the Conservative leader said: “We will deliver faster internet, to help you work and communicate more easily.

“We will ensure no one is left behind by subsidising the cost of installing superfast capable satellite services in the very hardest to reach areas.” Adding: “We will ensure that Britain seizes the chance to be a world leader in the development of 5G, playing a key role in defining industry standards.”

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Nick Clegg delivers his keynote speech to the Lib Dem Party conference in York. Credit: Liberal Democrats
Nick Clegg delivers his keynote speech to the Lib Dem Party conference in York. Credit: Liberal Democrats (Flickr)

Lib Dems echo a broadband roll out

Nick Clegg has promised a complete roll out of high speed broadband if the Lib Dems win in May, as he launched his party’s election manifesto this week.

The Lib Dem Leader pledged 99.9% of the UK would be connected by 2020 as well as small businesses and, rural and urban areas.

Mr Clegg’s party manifesto states it aims at “securing global leadership in technology.”

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Nigel Farage speaking at a conference in February. Credit: Gage Skidmore
Nigel Farage speaking at a conference in February. Credit: Gage Skidmore (Flickr)

UKIP fails to mention the B word in its manifesto

Nigel Farage has not mentioned broadband in his election manifesto, launched yesterday.

Despite all other major parties promising investment into broadband and roll-outs across the country by 2020, UKIP has taken a back seat on the issue.

*This is one of my reports to be submitted as my FYP*

Manifesto watch: Rural broadband

Milk quotas: the end of an era

“the first purpose of the European Union – to secure peace – has been achieved and we should pay tribute to all those in the EU, alongside NATO, who made that happen.

“But today the main, over-riding purpose of the European Union is different: not to win peace, but to secure prosperity.” – David Cameron

Europe has been a big question on the UK’s lips. UKIP centre their policies around it, the public fall out over it and politicians are just downright confused about it. We have regulation from Brussels around pretty much everything that we do. We are the third biggest net contributor to the EU budget and there are several arguments about what we actually get from the union. The cash flow from us doesn’t seem to equal power amongst the other European forces. It could even be described as being abusive to Britain’s generosity and taking advantage of its all-round better economy at this moment in time.

Freedom within the union isn’t high on the agenda, with regulations on anything from food to bail out funding.

Back in 2008, the EU scrapped the previously ridiculed rules for perfectly shaped bananas and cucumbers. But many still feel that Britain gets an unfair deal and proclaim its membership as almost redundant.

EU milk quotas have been scrapped this month after three decades of the measure to prevent milk overproduction. The news sparked celebrations outside the Brussels HQ, which has been the place of protests over the years, where farmers gathered from all walks of life to dispute and rarely encourage EU motions. Brussels has seen milk sprayed across the international press and in fact even the Belgian police themselves have been coated with the stuff.

Despite cheers in Belgium at the latest EU stronghold removal, it begs the question does Britain really need Europe?

In 1948 at the Congress of Europe in Holland, Winston Churchill said: ‘We cannot aim at anything less than the Union of Europe as a whole, and we look forward with confidence to the day when that Union will be achieved.’

British farmers have already begun protesting against the removal of milk quotas; a market that has been so long controlled by the EU left to fend for itself, suddenly chucked into the wild. Fears have been heightened from already struggling farmers with bleak futures. The risk of overproduction is high. No quotas should not mean no limits. Overproduction threatens to drive down the price of milk even further, with many giving up on the industry altogether there is less cheering from this side of the Channel. Farmers For Action Chairman David Handley declared back in January at a conference that he is considering walking away from the industry. April is set to be crunch time for the Monmouthshire dairy farmer; his herd, milking parlour and equipment will all be up for sale if prices do not improve.

Milk is a household commodity. Britons buy it in their weekly shop and probably don’t think much more of it passed how much do we need? And will it last the week? For some farmers in the UK, it is much more than that: it is make or break time for them. With 1 in 8 people employed in the food and farming sector in Britain, it should be a bigger deal. We only hear about the falls in prices and the negative stories around farming but with such a big employer does Britain need the EU telling it what to do?

The UK is the third-largest milk producer in the EU and the tenth in the world. The dairy industry in 2013 was worth a healthy £4.27 billion and we consume most of the milk within the UK.

Dairy is a huge power player in Britain yet we as a country are relying on others to make the decisions. This doesn’t quite add up. Great Britain, the country that used to have a global empire, one of the big powers in the Western world is being told by its European guardians how to run its industries. Why do we need this support? It’s almost like a crutch because we’re feeling slightly insecure. A bunch of kids that have newly graduated without any experience of the world – that’s the Britain we know of today. Not so great. Fumbling around, when the facts point to power and sustainability.

I think anyone would be a fool to think that the question of Europe will be settled on 7th May or even after the proposed referendum. It is clear though, now more than ever, that Britain needs to find its ‘Great’ again.

 

 

 

Milk quotas: the end of an era