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*