Smarter than your average …

On Wednesday I interviewed my fourth specimen Tremough Politics Society Vice President Mr. Noah Law. What a title.

And what a smart cookie.

Noah’s studying BA History and is just 17 years old (I’m only 23 yet that seems so young to me). But seriously, for someone who’s only 17 he was incredibly articulate and made a lot of valid points and gave great answers.

I really wanted to get the perspective of a young person – but someone outside of the sterotyped langorous teenager. I’m as guilty as anyone for assuming that all teenagers are lazy because I used to fit into that bracket, but Noah is one of the people that sit outside of the circle of stereotype. He proves that for as many people that don’t give a toss about politics and couldn’t care less who the primeminister is, there are as many (or at least a significant number) who are actually very engaged in the world around them and striving to be politically active.

After I spoke with lecturer John More I established that perhaps the key to getting more people to vote – not just young people – is for them to become more aware of what’s going on in the country and how decisions that are made everyday affect their lifestyles and welfare. To break it down, people need to know stuff in order for them to give a shit.

Noah is a smart and informed individual (who is now my facebook friend) so I asked him – do you watch the news and do you think if more people did this or read newspapers this would translate to the ballet box? This is what he had to say:


I also asked what he thought about e-voting. So far everyone I had spoken to had been very positive about introducing an electronic voting system and said that if it attracts more young people then it could only be a good thing. Obviously there are measures that would have to be taken to ensure it’s safe and accurate – however would e-voting make a difference in boosting young voters? Again, Noah made some relevant points:

‘The computer which they use regularly’ … I wondered whether the most obvious answer in engaging young people could be via multimedia platforms. Young people may not watch the news but they use their computers every day.

However John More had also, at my request, suggested that one way politicians could engage more with young people is by having youth representatives. People that can relate to the younger generation – because let’s face it, politicians are nearly all public school educated and Cameron is, as More put it, a toff.

So many possibilities, how to condense it down into 6 minutes? Time to revert back to my orginial question; if a lack of engagement is the problem, how do we engage young people?

It’s at this point – having done my vox pops and my 4 interviews that I realise I probably could have done a 6 minute package solely on e-voting …. and that that would have made it much more condensed *sigh* too late now.

Technically…. technical difficulties

CLIPS:

I seemed to have a serious problem with my M-Audio in that it crackled really badly – it’s not a hiss it’s an actual sound of distortion. However at the time recording it didn’t sound as bad as was.. and I didn’t think it would affect the clips I thought it was just the noise the M-Audio made. This being about my fifth one I thought I’d do the best with what I had.

For some reason the crackling is worse during some interviews than others. It deduced having the headphones plugged in seemed to make it worse so during my interview with Noah Law, which was the last one I did excluding vox pops, I didn’t have my earphones in.

Jay Schofield’s interview has the worst sound quality and I was reluctant to put his clip into my package but decided to do it in the end because I thought I needed another voice and his was a very short clip. I was sat very close to Jay, in comparison to John More, so technically his clip should have been clearer. I don’t know what the M-Audio thought it was doing but for some reason it decided to play up big time – luckily I didn’t want to use very much of that interview.

STEVE GILBERT – Steve was very media savvy, of course, and it was no problem exercising a closeness when we were sat down. It’s a good thing I did this as there is still audible crackling in his clip – but I managed to edit it out a little bit using noise reduction. I found out, after asking Patrick to listen to my package, that he used the same ‘if we can put a man on the moon’ line with me as he did with Patrick.

JAY SCHOFIELD – This was an unplanned interview, Jay happened to be there – assistant of Steve – and he’s 24 so.. unfortunately the sound quality of his interview is dire. No idea why.

JOHN MORE – Really nice guy, unfortunately as the interview went on he moved further and further away from me (as in he leaned back in his chair). It was hard to sit really close to him because I genuinely felt like I was evading his space, however I really, really should have. School boy error there, I know better. His clips needed tweaking.

NOAH LAW – Knowing, having edited some of my clips, that my M-Audio is dodgy I make sure I sit really close to Noah and I take out the headphones. This resulted in his interview probably being the clearest. Still had to edit his clips slightly because of that distortion sound but the quality wasn’t half bad.

VOX POP – My vox pop sound quality is oddly good. I did a couple of voxes in a pub and the rest on campus and all of them were fine – perhaps the background noise drowned out my crackling M-Audio, however I was really pleased about this because I thought I got some good voxes.

The Kids Are Alright: though it’s a shame they don’t vote

It’s that time again – time to produce another assessed radio package.

This one is about politics, which sounds rather vague and broad (and horrid).. but fortunately it just so happens that I, and everyone else that chose the proposition laid before you, have had the delightful option of producing a package which concentrates on why younger people aren’t voting and what can be done about it, which actually, I find quite interesting.

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Politics and public trust

The British are proud of their democratic tradition. So why are they reluctant to turn out and vote in elections – European, Parliamentary and local? Assess what could be done to encourage greater participation in the democratic process.

Here are the facts:

Only 44% of 18-24 year olds voted in the last general election and looking at the table you can see the percentage of voters goes up as the age bracket get older. So why is this? Is it simply that people don’t gain an interest in politics until it directly affects them? Until they start buying homes, earning more, starting families and paying bills? Is the margin so high for 55 and overs because that’s when your free public transport kicks in, when the NHS becomes a life-line and when your pension looms? It would seem so.

However this doesn’t mean that young people should be less inclined to vote or that their input is any less important. They are the future after all – isn’t that what our elders tell us? Speaking to Liberal Democrat MP Steve Gilbert I discovered that getting more young people to vote is something that political parties do take seriously – however it seems to me that in order for people to vote they need to become more politically active or at least aware – which is the crux of the problem.

This is what I discovered after speaking with History and Politics lecturer John More on Wednesday. Gilbert was very enthusiastic about modernising the voting system which he emphasised is stuck in the ‘eighteenth century.’ However I query whether making e-voting possible is not so simple a solution; not that I don’t think it wouldn’t be plausible, but that I don’t believe it is that easy. You still need to spark young people’s interest in order for them to know which party to even vote for.

Mr. More said something incredibly eye-opening yet seemingly obvious to me on Wednesday; that the students that regularly read the paper (“the good paper, not the Daily Mail or shit like that“) and watch the news are always the ones that get better marks.

Having a political opinion is entirely about being well-informed.

The more you learn about how the government’s running the country the more involved and often indignant you become. Look at the student protests over tuition fees. However it’s that classic case of what you don’t know can’t hurt you, and unlike older people who have more responsibilities and can’t escape the need to find how their hard-earned money’s being spent, the younger generation don’t seem to feel the obligation. I wonder whether the percentage of 18-24 year old voters has dropped over the past 70 years as our lifestyles have altered? Us young folk now live at home for longer, get proper jobs when we’re older, don’t marry as young and have children a lot later in life. Things have changed.

Yet young people are smarter now than they’ve ever been. I’ll never forget my mother always looking at my Maths homework and saying she would never have been able to solve those kinds of equations when she was my age, or even be expected to. Young people have the brains to make well-informed choices but lack the information to do so.

So how are political parties going to tackle this?

More, more, more

Today I interviewed History and Politics lecturer at Cornwall College St Austell John More.

He was very patient with me considering how much I probed him. I ended up having a bit of a chat with him and talking about my brother – which was nice!

John emphasised how much a lack of engagement is to blame for so few young people voting. He said

  • politicians need to make more of an effort to connect with young people
  • that they don’t do enough for the younger generation
  • that things are getting worse rather than better

I realised listening back to John’s interview that a lot of what I asked was irrelevant – however out the valid questions I did ask I got some pretty good answers, and long ones. I only really knew where I was taking my package after speaking with John. He shared the same opinion as me – that a lot of young people aren’t politically aware enough to want to vote and are generally disengaged from the democratic process. Not enough people watch the news or know enough about political parties to be able to just go out and vote.

I was beginning to think that citizenship was the answer – I still think it has the potential to work if it’s done properly, however I was of the opinion that college students would be the best people to have it, because they’re reaching the voting age.

I had in my original script, before Steve’s clip, the question of whether primary and secondary school children – as Steve mentions, would be able to understand well enough the weight of what they were learning. Primary school children wouldn’t be able to relate to politics or government strategies and would teenagers care enough to pay attention and carry the information into their post adolescent years?

However John More brought up the issue of whether college students would have enough time to do something like that – another flaw in the system. Here’s Steve’s clip again in contrast with More’s:

Radio Assessment Pt.3

POST PRODUCTION

When I got back to uni and listened to my audio I was really annoyed and disappointed because my levels were low, despite doing everything in my power to get good sound. I regretted giving my original M Audio back, because although it was faulty, the sound on it had always been ok.

I wasn’t sure whether to find another second interview after listening to the one I did with Neil Roach, and I think this is where I lost touch with the assessment brief.

REFLECTION

Though we knew the news story only had to be in some way related to the EU- once you have someone talking to you about it, your mind lapses, and I began focusing on Convergence Funding rather than making the package about something actually news worthy. Unfortunately I realised this too late. I was able to change my cue, as I’d left finishing that right up until the last minute, but it wasn’t until someone else said ‘I’ve just realised my radio package doesn’t actually have anything news worthy in it’ that I thought.. oh crap.

Convergence Funding has been around for years, but it’s so easy to get carried away with your material (particuarly when the information is all completely new to you), that I’d forgotten this. I’d originally started off wanting to make my package about 4G and faster internet being more accessible and available in Cornwall. That was the news, that was my story. However when I’d asked Julian Cowan about it, what he had to say was only really how it works, nothing on how it tied in with their programme. Listening back to the audio from his interview and Neil’s, I thought that Cornwall’s poor economy was the most interesting thing that was said and would be the most interesting to listeners. I ended up scrapping my initial story. I sort of lost my way a bit..

Your package wasn’t meant to be interesting it was meant to be news worthy, and there was nothing new about my story. It’s one of those classic scenarios. You get carried away with something and forget what you’re meant to be doing.

Radio Assessment Pt.2

INTERVIEWS

Out and about in Redruth.

I checked all the settings on the M Audio on the train and had the levels right up. I had a lot of time to spare so I also wrote my questions, with my printed out articles in hand, that morning. I asked a few questions about the EU, but also about the company and 4G internet- as this is what the Western Morning News article had covered. At this point in time I didn’t know what my angle was going to be.

I met the loveliest bunch of people imaginable in Redruth. Everyone I spoke to was ridiculously nice. I found out which bus I wanted to get from the station to get to Poole and met a really nice lady who didn’t know where the nearest cash machine was (because I foolishly had no change for bus fare) but who asked the driver to wait for me! I also met a Camborne Cornwall College student who I now have on Facebook! If I can network as well with people in the industry I might be alright!

Lesson number one: always get to your destination in good time. I had 45 minutes to get from Redruth to Poole, which is aaages, however there were roadworks on the route there and when I arrived at my destination I didn’t know which building I needed to go to as there were a lot of them, and I ended up turning up just ten minutes early, rather than half an hour early like I thought I would.

INTERVIEWEE: JULIAN COWEN

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Everyone at Superfast was really nice, including my interviewee Julian Cowen, which was good. I felt quite at ease sat in his office and after testing his levels (which were fine according to the M Audio) I kept the levels turned up and moved right in for the interview! Cowen was fairly softly spoken, and after having gotten too low a levels in my previous radio assessment I was very conscious about getting it right this time. Plus Mel stressed that non perfect levels would be unacceptable. Well…

  • The mic was held right.
  • Was in the right place, under his chin.
  • Could not have been any closer to his mouth without trying to make him swallow it. We were sat in a great position, at the corner of the table so that our chairs were right next  to each other, but so that both party was comfortable.

I carried out the interview technique we’d been taught to perfection (and it made no difference) *see post production

After taking copious pictures and also chatting to Matt Silver, who gave me his business card and went to Falmouth uni and did a BA in Journalism! I asked if Cowen (though it was a long shot) knew of anyone else relating to Superfast Cornwall that I could speak to. He suggested people I could speak to over the phone, which was no good, but then he said that another EU funded project were based right next door. I went there not expecting to get anything, but completely out of the blue that turned into my second interview.

INTERVIEWEE: NEIL ROACH

Head of Partner to Succeed, Neil Roach, was soo obliging; the entire office was, considering that I just waltzed in, no warning, with a mic and recording device.

It amazes me how helpful and willing some people are in comparison to how against talking to you others can be.

Neil explained how Convergence Funding works and drew some diagrams for me. Which was very helpful!

free notepad!

drawing number 1

drawing number 2

After he’d been explaining how the EU works for a while I knew I should take the initiative and ask him if he’d mind me recording/interviewing him. I didn’t know if I was going to use it for my package, or if it’d be relevant, but I was there and these people had welcomed me into their work space. I’d also learnt my lesson after missing out on an interview that has stared me right in the face, for my tv package.

There was no separate room in Partner to Succeed’s office, so when someone started talking on the phone I requested we go somewhere quieter. Unfortunately there was nowhere! We moved to a seating area which was quiet, until the automatic coffee machine started humming, so Neil searched for a vacant room. Unfortunately he didn’t have access to any of them with his card, so we moved one floor up to the next seating area, which was fine until people started walking around below us, in high heels, chatting. Neil was such a good sport- we re-did the answer regarding Cameron and what would happn if we were to pull out of the EU (which I really wanted to get) several times, until we had to give up because lunch time was approaching and it was starting to get noisier.

Neil gave me a lot of his free time which I was grateful for, and I just hoped the background noise hadn’t been too bad or too frequent in case I wanted to use any of the audio.

The journey back was frustratingly long.. the bus showed up only 2 minutes after I reached the bus stop, but when I got back to Redruth station I found out the next train to Truro wasn’t for another  hour, and when I got to Truro the next train to Falmouth wasn’t for 40 minutes! I didn’t want to hang around the train stations so I did a lot of walking around. I’d not been to Redruth before and I guess you could say I made the most of it!

Radio Assessment Pt.1

RADIO

PRE-PRODUCTION

For my radio assessment I trawled through the thisiscornwall website in order to find a story that was EU related. When I saw the one to do with Ofcom and Superfast Cornwall, I immediately went for it and emailed them. Having emailed Thursday morning and not heard anything back I gave them a call Friday afternoon and spoke to a very nice receptionist who said someone would read my email and get back to me.

Now, a lot of people that say ‘we’ll get back to you’ actually mean ‘we’re going to pretend you never called.’ So I was concerned. It was now the weekend and so I had to play the waiting game- which is one of the worst things, I’ve discovered, about being a journalist.

Thankfully I got an email back Monday aftertoon saying YES! All I had to do now was figure out how to get to Pool Innovation Centre from Falmouth. I pondered over what to do for my 2nd interview; I had considered the manager of a phone shop or the like, to talk about 4G, but I thought I’d go and talk to Superfast first, as that might give me an idea of what direction I wanted my radio package to go in and who to talk to.

Looking back I should have got an interview with someone about 4G anyway. Best to give yourself as many options as possible, plus, as you will see reading my postproduction post, I shot myself in the foot a little bit.

TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES

I didn’t enjoy doing my radio package as much as I would have liked.. my M-Audio had a loose connection and so I swapped it for a different one at the Media Centre. I took it home Tuesday evening, the night before my interview and charged it all night. When I went to switch it on the next morning I discovered it was completely duff. Dead to the world. Broken. Crap. I wasn’t much amused. Luckily, Emma Fry had offered to lend me her M-Audio  the night before, should there be anything wrong with the new one I’d gotten out, as she was with me at the time. I walked to the train station via her house,worrying whether the battery was going to last the day- fortunately it was fine.

Part of me thinks I should have got a new M-Audio out sooner and not as I was leaving uni at 8:15 at night, the night before my interview. But another part of me thinks broken things should be separated from working things, rather than just lumped together in the same box.

I’m going to be paranoid about things working in future.