MA Broadcast Journalism: the 6 month landmark

It’s the last day of March and the end of our pre-summer heat wave. Today I anticipated sitting in my garden reading Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress (I implore you to read this if you haven’t, I only started it 3 days ago and I’m already two thirds in) however the sun has gone, the temperature has dropped and after a week of wearing shorts and sunglasses I’m back in the knitwear.

It is the perfect weather for blogging.

And there’s lots to blog about.

It’s been almost 6  months, 6 months, since we started our MA in Multimedia Broadcasting, which certainly warrants a blog post and I can’t help but reflect on the time with a sense of nostalgia. I sit and consider the truth in the phrase tempis fugit and feel slightly overwhelmed at how much I’ve learnt within such a small time period. I’ve a wealth of journalistic knowledge at my fingertips and now I’m supposed to go out and use it!

If someone had told me a year ago that in 12 months time I would be able to script write for radio, produce TV bulletins, talk ‘funny’ like the presenters on TV (though I’m not all the way there yet..), work a big, complicated (or to be more technical P2) camera, TX (if you don’t know don’t ask), interview strangers on the street with a microphone, film, edit and encode video footage, self-op my own radio bulletins, use the phrase ‘what’s the angle on this?’ without referring to trigonometry and run around a building with a USB stick like it’s a matter of life or death, I would have said ‘shaa’ uuupppp‘.

When I think of how my life was a year ago, well.. not only academically and professionally but emotionally I’m in a much better place. I have more friends, more aspirations and am one year wiser! If only I wasn’t so lazy.

Equally I am regretful that I haven’t made more of the opportunities that have been presented to me. I procrastinate about procrastinating and I kick myself for not working harder. There are so many opportunities out there if you’re willing to stick your neck out.

However all is not lost, there’s plenty of time to catch-up and I feel like I’m making progress. One of my new year’s resolutions this year (and every year) was to be more productive. Perhaps I’ve not succeeded as well as I would have hoped, but I feel my productivity levels have improved somewhat!

It sounds really lame but I’ve learnt a lot about myself these past 6 months. Being thrown into a group of over 2o people you’ve never met before who you’re required to spend 8 hours a day with 5 days a week forces you to accept some things about yourself.

The most important: being late, talking about clothes and laughing at everything really loudly will automatically make people assume you don’t do any work.

Since beginning this course I’ve had to make some pretty big changes. Getting up at 7:30/8 every day was one of them. I went from a job where I was working until 10:30 most evenings and going to the gym afterwards until half 11 and eating my dinner as late as midnight to disciplining myself to going to sleep at midnight (and failing). I still can’t manage to have my dinner any time before 9pm.

It took me a long while to adjust – I remember the first few weeks being a struggle! The biggest change though has been how I view and utilise my time. Before this course I used to have all the time in the world. I never had to be anywhere or work to any deadlines excluding those at work and if we didn’t get things done on time we just over-ran. Now time seems to be all I can think about. I’m constantly working around it, towards it, trying to fit things in. I used to be one of the people in a queue that didn’t mind waiting, now I’m the impatient one wondering whether I’ll have time to make it to the next shop before the next train, so I get home in time to make dinner and clean my room and blog and do all the other things I need to do before I go to bed!!

But it’s what I’ve learnt that’s been really important. I came onto this course not really sure of what I wanted to do – other than be a Radio 1 presenter; oh hapless dreams. I was always open-minded about doing other things, but now I feel as though I know where I realistically want to be and sort of how to get there, or at least make a start. I’ve discovered that I do love radio, I love music and there’s something about relying solely upon sound that really appeals to me; rich voices, vox pops, dry humour, sing-alongs whilst baking in the kitchen, Desert Island Discs and Radio 4. But equally I love being behind the camera. I love being active, out and about, visiting different places and meeting new people. Sitting down for hours really doesn’t suit me – I’m like those jumping beans!

All the things I’m passionate about and enjoy: literature, art, photography, fashion, music. There’s a way to fuel all of this into something by being creative. This is what I am now striving to do. Next work experience placement applications: NME Magazine and The Culture Show. I haven’t got lucky yet but one day I believe I will. You’ve got to, right?

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Given to the Wild

A symbolic title for a beautifully simplistic record. Filled with Orlando Weeks’s typically ambiguous and meaningful lyrics the surprise that the latest Maccabees album has to offer is that, despite its depth, the melodies and riffs that drive its lyrical mastery are incredibly straightforward.

The album comprises of 13 tracks including the two minute intro and nearly every one is laced with languorous beats, lyrical repetition and generous helpings of extended intonation; it’s a good thing Orlando doesn’t employ reverb. Many of the end notes are held for unusually long amounts of time – think Ed Sheeran in reverse – which lends a feeling of eerie emphasis to the songs and album respectively. The overall tone is one of intent and purpose; for a writer that says so little, the album says so much.

Glancing at the song words it’s surprising how few and far between they are. It conjures up a reminiscence of Radiohead like tact; think ‘Punch up at a Wedding’, a bold and brazen song which consists of one paragraph of 150 words. Similarly Slowly One, perhaps the most melancholy song on the record in a tossup between Forever I’ve Known consists of 89 words and lasts four minutes eighteen seconds:

In every quiet moment
In every little silence
Every small reminder where you find her
With every left light on
Let alone
Every little loving word said out of love
you cold
Going cold
Little by little I’m laid down
I can go wherever
Still the same
Every small reminder of a name
Any half measures
Any pleasures
Every new encounter that’s not her
Leaves you cold
Little by little I’m laid down
Some day you’re going to wake up
And think you went a day without
Going cold

The album isn’t only lyrically strong however; the evocative riffs and atmospheric backdrop that drive Week’s echoing repetitions are what leave an impression on you; before you listen to it enough times to take the song words into account. Orlando’s soft and uncomplicated vocals interlaced with melodies in such songs as Heave and Glimmer unite in a way that cannot be replicated. The simple guitar and drum beats work in perfect unison with a voice swathed in subtlety and genteel. There is no embellishment, no effects; no technological musical gadgets. It is refreshingly organic.

It’s a far cry from Wall of Arms and Colour It In and looking at the albums chronologically their progression is palpable. Hints of their style to come can be heard in their last, Wall to Arms. The indie quintet seem to have followed in the footsteps of similar bands like Foals and Bombay Bicycle Club. The latter not so long ago having released their third album, which saw the band develop a softness and refrain contrasting to their first record that housed catchy beats and fast tempos. Similarly Foals’ Total Life Forever swapped electro, riff driven style for understated and ethereal tracks like Sahara and Blue Blood. Without drawing direct comparisons, there are similarities there.

There is a fragility and sadness to this album that sets it apart from its predecessors. It possesses the candour of songs such as No Kind Words and the sentimentality of Wall of Arms yet the tenacity of X-Ray and the innocent playfulness of Latchmere have been left behind to make way for a more mature and emotionally engaging sound.

Given to the Wild is soft, yet heavy: it is self assured, yet it is fragile. Pelican is the only truly upbeat song on the entire record, yet this shouldn’t put you off. Initially it might seem like a loss after the whimsical days of About Your Dress – this isn’t the kind of album you’ll be wanting to get ready to on a Saturday night – however for what the Maccabees have lost, in another way they have significantly gained. You have to respect them. They haven’t produced something that they think everybody will like; they haven’t stuck with the same formula. They’ve changed and developed and the results sound pretty good from where I’m sitting.

This is truly a heart-felt record and according to the musicians themselves, the kind of album they’ve always wanted to produce. It isn’t out to impress (though admittedly that’s what all musicians would wish), it is merely sincere. If I had to personify this album, its character would be that of the shy kid at school standing silently and awkwardly besides the wall, thinking hard yet always saying so little. It offers a window into what wallowing hedonists crave; the glimpse into a tortured soul…

Perhaps that sounds like a pretentious load of bullshit, but speaking as a lover of melancholy music, Slowly One has become the soundtrack to my bedtime introversions. I fall asleep to it, just as I’ve fallen asleep to After Glow and How to Disappear Completely before it.

Stand out tracks: Feel to Follow, Forever I’ve Known, Pelican, Unknow

Rating: 4 out of 5

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[photos taken at Bournemouth O2 Academy and Reading Festival ’10]

IM-PORE-TANT FOOD FOR THOUGHT

We all know that the key ingredients to having great skin are plenty of sleep, water and a healthy diet. But naturally following these three rules is easier said than done what with the busy and hectic lifestyles we lead. Listed below are a few products that I ‘swear by’ in order to give my skin a bit of a boost – a couple of which may surprise you.

The first one is completely under-the-radar, unheard of and always incites people to say ‘WHAAAT??’ when I tell them about it. Why this product isn’t on sale in drug stores or supermarkets I will never understand, because it is by far the best thing-for-your-skin I have ever encountered. I can not urge you enough to try this! I discovered it through an ex boyfriend and have been using it ever since. You can buy it from Holland and Barratt but I buy mine from a safe seller off Ebay because it’s cheaper and I prefer to buy it organic. What is this mystery item?

Coconut oil.

It has a gazillion health benefits including maintaining cholesterol levels, aiding weight loss, increasing immunity and metabolism, plus it is great for your skin and hair. Not only can you use it as a moisturiser but you can also cook with it. I use it as a replacement for olive oil when cooking curries and I also grease my cake tins with it.

The best thing to do with it though, is to eat it.

A tablespoon a day will improve your skin no end and for some it helps decrease cellulite. Mostly I put this on my face and on my hair before bed. Massaging into your head at night and working through to your ends prevents dandruff and nourishes your hair making it nice and shiny! I also highly recommend it if you’ve just dyed your hair, it works better than any expensive conditioner. One thing to note is – being oil – it’s very greasy and gets everywhere. I wash my hair every other day so only use coconut oil on the nights I’m going to wash my hair the following morning. That way it doesn’t matter if your hair sticks to your face and gets all greasy whilst you’re tossing and turning!

The tubs I buy are just over a tenner for almost 500g which will last you a long time.

This stuff hydrates and nourishes your skin better than any expensive night cream you can buy. It’s also great for reducing fine lines and wrinkles because it’s so hydrating and moisturising. I have a smile line on one side of my face (only on one side because I have a crooked smile/unsymmetrical face!) and when I put this over it before I go to sleep, the next day it has disappeared.

Other great ways to use it- on tired, dry feet – again before bed. Rub the oil liberally between your toes and all over your feet and then put socks on; this locks in moisture. The next day you will see the difference. Also, for future reference, this stuff is great for sunburn.

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Face masks are one of those things you use on special occasions or stereotypically girly nights in (which are stereotypical because they rarely ever happen). However I found that I kept re-buying this because it worked so well and was so easy to apply. The entire reason us ladies don’t use these face products very often is because they’re messy, time-consuming and restrict you from going about your business. You’re forced to hide in your room and sit stock still because you look funny and because some of it might drip off.

This one’s different because it’s a peel off which is why I like it so much. It takes a couple of minutes to apply and then you leave it to dry on your skin which means you can go off and do whatever you want for 10 minutes. Again it’s all about catering for the busy lifestyle! (it’s is also colourless, which helps).

The best thing about this is the satisfaction you get from peeling off!

It’s like peeling the plastic off a brand new phone, laptop or iPod – but from your face! This one is Boot’s own and uses Witch Hazel and Tea tree, two things my skin agrees with. It tightens your pores and leaves you with a really clear complexion. This little bottle is only £2.99 and will last you ages because you only need to spread a 1mm thick layer for each application. I eventually gave in and bought this after buying the individual sachets so many times.

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Honey I shrunk the acne!! Product number 3 is one a lot of you will have in your food cupboard. Honey! It’s anti-bacterial which means it’s good for your skin and, unbeknownst to many, helps reduce the appearance of acne scars. The only thing is that it’s obviously a bit messy. It’s recommended you apply every night and leave on for about ten minutes in order to clear up your blotches. I started using it on my chin to clear up my acne scars and it worked well. The trouble was I kept getting into bed with it on and accidently falling asleep…

However if you’re sensible about it and put it on earlier in the evening (not when you’re shattered and sleepy) then it’s definitely worth it. The better quality the honey, the better it’ll be for your skin. Manuka honey is expensive but is meant to be the best. I currently have Rowes 🙂

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Taking off your make-up at night is a pain
. It’s very easy to give your face a quick swipe with your trusty face wipes and leave it at that. Why it is so, I do not know, but face wipes are what most girls use when they start wearing make-up to take it off at night, and a lot of them continue to do so. But this is a BIG NO NO! Face wipes only get rid of about 60% of the make-up on your face. Similarly make-up remover will get rid of a lot of it but help spread the remainder of it over your face using your cotton wool pad.

The best way I find to get rid of make-up is ex-foliating face scrub. It requires the most effort but it’s a job-done process. If I’m not wearing much make-up a good bar of soap and water work well, or I really like Olay Facial Cloths. These are gentle and foam up when you use them with water, which combined with the texture of the wipes softly exfoliates your skin too.

However the product that’ll finish the job and that I’ve been buying ever since I purchased my first bottle a few years ago is tea tree cleanser. It calls itself a black head cleanser (because it’s tea tree which is associated with spot removal) however I find it works brilliantly as a make-up remover. If you put a few drips on a cotton wool pad and wipe gently over your face and neck you will be shocked at how much dirt/make-up comes off (especially when having already washed your face or used a face wipe). No matter how clean you think you are, use this on your neck before bed and each time the colour of the cotton wool will surprise you!


It’s a clear liquid with the consistency of water, so unlike other milk based cleansers it means you don’t have to wash your face afterwards. And the best thing about this? It costs 90p from Wilkinson (or 2 for £1.50). It’s their own brand and I bought it as an impulse buy in an attempt to soothe my acne and I’ve never looked back! The bottles also last ages because you only need a few drops.

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 Last, but not least, is a little gem of a product. It’s the best spot soother/remover I have ever used and like most of the products I’ve listed it’s uber cheap! My mum bought this for my brother’s eczema and then gave it to me for my acne. In the end it was acne cream that sorted that problem out, however this stuff is amazing for spots. I still break out on my chin and out of every other tea tree/witch hazel/spot treatment I’ve tried this is the best. It’s a cooling, clear gel and you can apply as often as you like. Unlike acne cream which dries out the skin (and burns!) this soothes. It also works really fast.

As well as working on spots, it’s an anti-septic and anti-irritant, so is great for bites, burns and rashes. This is hard to find in the shops, however they sell it on Amazon here for £2.95 with free shipping. Amazing!

And there you have it, a few of my facial essentials.