WINOL: Features Archive

At the age of just 15, Paul Blackburn was wrongfully imprisoned for 25 years. Presented, edited and produced by Tom Morgan.

Media Law - Year Three Notes Archive

A collection of posts looking at media law, including tips for journalists, case examples and information on the various codes of conduct. Click here for more.

American Election 2012 - US Embassy Report

Myself, Lee Jarvis, Sam Sheard and Kirsty McDonagh spent the evening at the US Embassy as part of WINOL's coverage of the 2012 American election.

Work Experience: The One Show

This blog post serves as a summary of what I got up to during my time at the BBC and also provides some information on how the One Show is run.

Work Experience: PC Advisor

After breaking up from University for the summer, I arranged two separate work experience placements to keep me occupied over the break. The first of these placements was at PC Advisor in London.

Work Experience: Basingstoke Gazette

After breaking up from University for the summer, I arranged two separate work experience placements to keep me occupied over the break. The second of these placements was at the Basingstoke Gazette.

HCJ Notes Archive: Year One and Year Two

A collection of lecture notes, seminar papers and seminar summaries from Year One and Year Two on the HCJ course at the University of Winchester

Thursday, 20 December 2012

WINOL Year Three - Weeks 1 to 9 - Review

In this post I'll be looking back at my time on the WINOL features team in my third year at the University of Winchester. This post will serve as a means of summarizing the main events each week during the term.

Note - This post will not serve as my critical reflection. My critical reflection covering the term can be found here


Week Two

The first main challenge for the WINOL team involved organising and filming the 2012 BJTC Awards. I was given the task of filming behind the scenes as the WINOL team prepared for the evening. I filmed the rehearsal process, along with some interviews of the students carrying out their own roles.

I wanted to make the feature feel as professional as possible, and I feel that edits made in Final Cut using on-screen text gave the piece a nice polish.

I filmed over the course of two days. My first day was spent filming the rehearsals and WINOL team meetings and the second day was spent interviewing the winners and gathering shots of the audience.

My final piece can be viewed here:

Among those interviewed in the final piece are:

1) ITV News Presenter - Alastair Stewart OBE
2) BJTC Journalist of the Year - Natasha De Silva
3) Journalist of the Year - Andrew Giddings
4) WINOL Editor - Ewan Kennerell
5) Producer - Henry Lewin-Titt
6) Graham Marshall
7) BJTC 'Best TV Newsday' Winners - Cara Laithwaite / Domonique Jenkins

The BJTC Awards kept the features team and a number of production members busy, so any content that went onto the website in Week 2 was related to the awards. At this point in the term, website progress was slow as we were only just getting to grips with implementing a concrete website template.

Kate Drummond also uploaded an image gallery to the website, which became the first of many on the website. Analytic data gathered over the following weeks later showed that the gallery gained some good traffic from across the web. The features board also had some strong content on it, so the coming weeks looked promising.

The News and Sports team were occupied with producing the first WINOL bulletin of the year. Among the headlines were stories on the BJTC Awards, a Southampton Sex Hotel and Rhinos at Marwell Zoo.

I thought it was important to emphasise the BJTC Awards in the WINOL bulletin and this was done effectively. Although I didn't edit the content that went into the package, I was glad to see my interview with Alastair Stewart was included. I feel I did well framing the interview, although the lighting was slightly problematic  I wanted to conduct the interview in the room where the awards were held, which meant having to put up with some blue lights above Alastair.

The package started with some footage of Alastair presenting for ITV, which was effective in showing viewers his background in the business. Alastair is a particularly strong and professional newsreader, so it complimented our bulletin to have him involved. Mentioning winners from the University of Winchester also looked very impressive.

As it was the first bulletin, there were a couple of technical issues with some of the packages. Obviously, this was to be expected, and I feel as a whole the bulletin was strong.

The first story from our Political Editor was well paced. We've covered Barton Farm many times before so ultimately the package served as an update on an existing project. The piece was slightly let down by recycled shots of the Barton Farm site. Clearly, the site is relevant to the story, but for viewers, having to look at different angles of an empty field was repetitive.

The story on the Southampton Swinger's Club was very strong visually. I thought the shot taken during the interview, which had both George and his interviewee in vision, was a refreshing variation on how we usually conduct our interviews. The VT was slightly let down at times by the audio quality. As far as I'm aware, this was the first time the News team had made use of the lip mics, so it was going to take some time to get the best out of the equipment.

Next up was Thomas Baxter's VT on mobile glass collection schemes. There was no reason not to use a tripod for the shots of the bins, particularly as it was a stationery object that was being filmed. The interviews were also framed incorrectly. The first saw the interviewee looking straight at the audience, with the camera tilted slightly. The second interview, although framed better than the first, was also slightly wonky. The shot should also have been pinched in during editing.

The Sport packages in the first bulletin of the year showed good promise. There were some nice shots, particularly in the AFC Totton piece. I also thought that Liam Garrahan's use of a slow motion replay looked very slick. It's something that is used all the time on other local sporting shows, so it suits WINOL very well.

Our first 'and finally' of the year was on Marwell's charity campaign. I thought Ellen's piece to camera with the rhinos behind her was a nice addition to the bulletin.

Week Three

Our week three WINOL bulletin saw some major improvements from the reporters, with less technical issues and problems related to interview framing and sound quality.

Ali was in the newsroom delivering the script this week and I thought the change of scenery was refreshing.
Without the help of an autocue, which would be present in the studio, Ali did well to remember the script and deliver it with confidence.The presenter was well lit under the corner lights in the newsroom and the backdrop, with the computers and reporters partially in vision, looked professional.

This new setup gave audiences something new to look at instead of a stationery background, which is what the studio offers.

Our Political Editor's piece on the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Debate served as an effective way of profiling each candidate up for the role. The WINOL team was to cover the debate itself, so it was ideal to give audiences an idea of who they'd be watching on the night. The profile piece on Jacqui Rayment was well edited, but the sound quality dipped slightly during the fact card graphic.

The interview with Jacqui was also slightly blurry as the shot had to be pinched in significantly to avoid an issue with a car number plate behind her.

Week three's bulletin contained arguably one of the strongest sport packages WINOL has featured in a while, Liam Garrahan's piece on Fabrice Muamba and life saving medical equipment. I feel that what makes the piece so interesting to watch is the variety of shots, the interesting subject matter and the effective use of still photos and archive content. Both the interviews in the piece are framed well and sound quality is strong throughout.

Harry Parkhill's University piece was a decent story, but technically it was poor. The sound levels and quality in particular were inconsistent, which sounded odd to the viewer. The opening line of Harry's piece was recorded in two different locations, which explains the dip in quality. The piece also starts with a piece to camera, which we're reminded regularly to steer away from. Generally, a piece to camera fits well before the first interview in a package.

The story on the toll bridge was well constructed. This is a story that affects local people directly, so in this instance the use of vox pops was justified. The camera was very overexposed throughout the VT which was disappointing  It was pointed out in the debrief that the story possibly shouldn't have made it into the bulletin simply for this reason alone.

Overall, though, this bulletin was a vast improvement from the one before it. The reporters had clearly taken on board the advice from their first efforts and have done well to build on their performances.

Week Four

The WINOL bulletin produced during week four was slightly late getting onto YouTube and indeed the website, but featured some strong content including the resignation of a Southampton Councillor, a story detailing the outbreak of scabies at the University of Winchester, coverage of the US Presidential debates and a report on a local arson case.

The headline sequence for the bulletin, editorially, was strong. The leading story on scabies was vital to cover because the issue directly affected students on campus. I believe that our coverage of the event was professional, informative and well produced considering the time constraints.

Our 'but first' piece saw George Berridge in the studio to discuss the resignation story. George spoke confidently on camera and the 'I spoke with' line that led into the Royston Smith interview felt very professionally done.

Introducing an in-studio chat and combining that with VT segments kept the bulletin varied. This was the first in-studio piece of the term and it was well delivered. Our guest editor, Chris Coneybeer, also said he felt the setup was interesting to watch as a viewer and something that should be used again on WINOL in the future.

WINOL's Political Editor Lou O'Brien then addresses the camera in the newsroom in the same location as Ali-Al Jamri did during the previous week. Again, this PTC location is ideal when it comes to lighting levels. Crossing over to the newsroom gives the sense that WINOL is constantly producing and gathering content, which is true.

The package on Stephen West and David Goodall was effective in providing audiences with the information needed to form an opinion on the candidates key policies and political history  As with the previous week, the audio quality in the VT was slightly inconsistent. The scripting, however, was very well paced and delivered confidentially.

David Goodall's interview location wasn't ideal and it was pointed out in the debrief that talking to somebody by the side of the road should only ever be a last resort.

Our next story on the scabies outbreak at the University of Winchester made the most of still images and archive content. The images of the virus under the microscope were interesting pictures and gave the piece a nice opening. The interview with Harry Stow was well framed and well lit, which was encouraging considering some of the interviews we'd seen in the weeks before. 

Next up was Harry Parkhill's story on American voters. Although the package started with a piece to camera, which we're told during debriefs not to do, I thought in this instance it worked well. It was nice to see a reporter do a piece to camera right in front of the action and Harry's PTC with the audience behind him, visually, was strong. The walking piece to camera was also a nice touch.

The report on the arson case was a powerful package, made even more engaging through the use of the photos of the burnt flat. It was vital to the VT that still photos were included, and Christina Michaels did very well in delivering the report. The piece to camera outside of the scene of the incident was well delivered and the inclusion of a mugshot was also very effective.

Week Five

The headlines this week included the Ford factory closure, vulnerable residents during Halloween, the Basingstoke Bison and the 'pub bus'. 'The beers on the bus go down in rounds' line in the headlines was a nice play on words and something that would put a smile on the viewers face. It's a light-hearted story, so it was right to have some fun with it. Another gem courtesy of Sam Ashton!

Our first story saw WINOL's Politcal Editor in the studio to discuss the upcoming Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner debate. Much like the previous week, the focus went from an in-studio chat to a pre-recorded VT. Again, this process worked well.

The interview with Simon Hayes was framed nicely, but Simon was in front of a plain, white wall. It goes without saying that this was an extremely boring backdrop to a fairly interesting interview, which took away from the clip slightly.

Faith's story on the Ford factory closure was well structured, considering that it's the type of story where gathering shots can be quite tough. The quote that appeared on screen wasn't ideal and obviously an interview would have been better, but in saying that the quote wasn't on the screen long enough for me to get bored of it. It was an interesting, relevant quote that needed to be included to bring balance to the story. The ending PTC was also well delivered.

Our story on Hurricane Sandy featured a strong, emotional interview with a student affected by the storm. Our guest editor, Graham Bell, said:

"The best thing about today was taking the US storm story. It's taking that national story and making it local. That's getting a real understanding of the audience which is what Winchester news is all about".

The next report on the car park boycott opened with a voiceover that was severely lacking in terms of audio quality. The interview with the Councillor was also unintentionally amusing due to the long pause in one of the answers. Ideally, this would have been the perfect place to use a cutaway shot to hide the edit.

Week Five marked some major improvements in terms of the WINOL website. A strong selection of features have appeared on the site and it seems the web team have decided to stick with a particular Wordpress template. This is great news, as now we can work off this base to expand the website further.

Our first competition launch is also gathering momentum. With the help of social media, we've been able to plug the competition in a number of places where it'll be seen. I also helped to hand out advertisement slips with Ben Hatton.

Week Six

Week Six on WINOL saw Myself, Lee Jarvis, Sam Sheard and Kirsty Phillips spend the evening at the US Embassy as part of WINOL's coverage of the 2012 American election.

My full report of the evening can be found here:

The final behind-the-scenes package I produced can be viewed below:

Week Seven

This week on the WINOL bulletin we changed things around in the studio and had the presenter sat on the desk during the headlines. Looking back on this alteration, I don't think it looked as professional as we had hoped. Although the script was delivered well by George, he looked awkward and uncomfortable in the position he was in. It's worth noting that perhaps it would be better for the presenter to stand up during the headlines, much like Channel 5 News.

In the headlines we had a story on the debate, a continuation on the Ford story, Basingstoke Bison and Winchester graduation ceremony.

We began the show with Ali Al-Jamri in-studio to discuss his work on the 2012 WINOL American Election special. It was a strong idea as it gave us a chance to show off the efforts that had gone into ensuring the show was a success. The content we produced on the nights building up to the election and on the day itself were very impressive and made front page news over at

Our Political Editor's package on the debate was visually very strong. Lou did very well to pack out the Stripe building on the night, and overall the evening was a huge success. On a personal note, I'm proud of my work manning the camera at the front of the room. From that location, I was able to get some great reaction shots from the audience as the candidates fought their corners.

The next story, looking at the Ford closure, began nicely with a shot of the closed factory gates. The package also made use of creative commons content in the form of pictures of George Osbourne. These stills added to the piece and helped provide the audience with some context. The interview clip featuring Ray Finch contained some strong, emotive quotes.

Ellen Milliard's story on the Ash tree disease was a well structured piece that made use of some nice visual elements. I thought the walk and talk with the interviewee was a good idea, but it would have made more sense to have him walking towards the camera instead of away from it.

Our story that ran just before this weeks 'and finally piece', which covered the Winchester graduation ceremony, was very important for us to cover as a local news team. Visually, the event was particularly engaging for audiences and the shots of the students emotions during the event were well captured.

This week on the features team the focus is on our December edition of WINOL Here and Now. There's some strong content in the pipeline that has been placed onto the planning board, and if these projects come through, we'll have an editorially strong magazine ready to showcase.

I edited and uploaded onto the website the features highlights of the American Election. Despite the fact the election has been and gone, it's the sort of content that will still gain traffic. Surprisingly  a clip I uploaded of Russell Watson singing the American National Anthem has already gained over 400 views.

Week Eight

This week I missed the filming of the WINOL bulletin as I was in Southampton at an Innocence Project talk. I rented out some camera equipment and with the help of Lee Jarvis, travelled to the event in the hope of getting an interview with Paul Blackburn, a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 25 years.

Originally, I travelled to Southampton with Brian Thornton and a group of students to see a guest speaker called Ray Krone, an American man who was serving a life sentence on death row. Coming away from the talk, I felt inspired by Ray’s story and knew that exploring the subject of miscarriage of justice cases would be ideal for WINOL features.

Ray’s story was particularly interesting, but it wasn’t relevant to the UK’s legal system. This was when I decided to talk to Paul Blackburn, who was at Southampton the week after Ray. I'd been informed prior to the talk that filming in the building in which Paul was speaking was prohibited, so I went to the event with Lee Jarvis prepared to conduct the interview outside the venue if I had to, even though I knew this wasn’t ideal. I wanted a confessional interview and carrying that out anywhere other than a quiet location inside would give the wrong effect.

I decided to approach Paul at the end of his talk and asked him if an interview at Winchester would be possible. He said he appreciated the fact I’d asked him in person instead of via email and agreed to talk to me in Winchester.

Week Nine

This week my main task was arranging and filming my feature interview with Paul Blackburn.

The interview itself went well and what Paul told me was genuinely heartfelt. It was both the hardest and most enjoyable interview I've done for WINOL. In the end, I spent almost an hour talking to Paul about his experiences.

I feel the three-point lighting configuration, built with the help of Graham Marshall, gave the interview a nice visual polish. We were somewhat limited by the room we used in terms of space, but the way in which we positioned the cameras ensured this wasn't noticeable at all. Lee Jarvis and Dan Mackrell worked well on the cameras and framed the interview nicely.

If I'd had more time to work on the feature, I would have liked to produce a mini-documentary studying Paul's case and possibly more on the Innocence Project and its work as a whole, using other contacts at the Southampton Innocence Project and Paul's solicitor.

Since editing and uploading the interview with Paul Blackburn, the video has reached around 700 views and 34 likes on YouTube. It has become my most popular piece for WINOL and has also managed to generate the most views of any video uploaded to the WinchesterJournalism YouTube channel this term.

My final piece can be viewed below:

Our guest editor this week, Ben Mitchell, was thoroughly impressed by our WINOL bulletin. He said: "I was very impressed. I felt like I was watching a real TV broadcast that would work very well at the BBC, ITV or Meridian. I thought it was a great piece of Journalism."

Friday, 14 December 2012

Critical Reflection

Photo: Courtesy of

My time on WINOL this term has been thoroughly rewarding for a number of reasons. Myself and the features team have developed and put into place an effective template to publish content to and our work has gained some of the highest view counts of the term. Audience figures across the entire WINOL site for both news and features have improved significantly.

The addition of a new, professional-looking website has certainly been beneficial. Initially, deciding on a website design and the form it would take took longer than it should have done, however, which affected the work of the entire team.

During the opening weeks, the WINOL website didn’t have a confirmed form, which limited what myself and the rest of the features team could produce. It also hindered the news reporters, who didn't know how to put their stories onto the site.

As news stories and feature ideas were discussed during meetings, knowing what form they’d take on the website was difficult because the website wasn’t finished. The initial week or two where we were experimenting with website design was the least productive for the features team.

On reflection, I don't feel that enough was done to plug individual news stories. On the features team and indeed for the weekly bulletin, every effort was made to gather views from Twitter, Facebook, online forums and through direct emails to people who we felt would appreciate the content.

On average, each WINOL bulletin this term has achieved around 158 views, which should be higher considering the quality of our output. YouTube statistics show that each bulletin last term averaged around 359 views. Our viewing figures have dropped slightly for the bulletin but the number of hits on the website are increasing, which suggests that more needs to be done to plug the bulletin on our homepage.

The platform migration from Joomla to Wordpress was another strong decision. Wordpress proved much easier for the whole team to use, as it has many functions similar to 'Blogger'. Wordpress also has the ability to allow users to install custom plugins and templates, which the web editor, Jason French, made the most of. Using the Wordpress plugin tool we were able to add features such as an article viewer counter, social networking buttons and footnotes visible only to authors and site admins.

External links and embedded players continue to have a major role in drawing traffic to the website. Alexa shows that the main WINOL page has 61 traffic sources that can be traced back to websites including The Student Room, and YouTube. ELL has over 400 external website links, however, so if WINOL wants to compete effectively, efforts must be made to ensure our site is linked across the web.

Our work on a number of 'specials' this term has also helped to improve website circulation. The American elections made the front page of, which was an impressive achievement proving that our content on the night was top quality. The Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Debate was also a huge success, selling out on the night. Most recently, our work on WINOL 99 has gone one step further in putting an innovative spin on local news.

At the time of writing, WINOL has a British traffic ranking of just over 10,000 and a worldwide traffic ranking of around 477,000. The Hampshire Chronicle has a UK ranking of 40,000, so for the WINOL team to outperform a genuine local news team made up of paid professionals is outstanding work and proof that the content we're delivering has importance on both a local and national scale.

The performance from the news team has also improved throughout this run of bulletins. In our opening weeks, interviews were poorly framed, a number of reporters had issues with sound quality and often the stories weren't particularly interesting. As the reporters continued to contribute to the WINOL bulletin, however, the quality improved. It became standard procedure to include some NATSOT in a piece or a well-delivered PTC. The inclusion of a 'coming up' belt also gave the bulletin some added polish and was a brilliant addition to the show, as it served as a means of stopping viewers from clicking off of the bulletin.

I feel one of the highlights of this term from the news team was Faith Thomas' continued work on the Ford factory closure. It was vital that the team did well to cover the story as it was of significant local importance, so revisiting the story as new developments arose was very effective. Lou O'brien's weekly look at the Hampshire Commissioner candidates during the build-up to the debate was also very well produced.

This term one of our main competitors was East London Lines and statistics show we managed to put up a strong fight. In September, WINOL had a UK Alexa ranking of around 50,000, which was poor compared to ELL's 38,000 (approximately). Undoubtedly, one of the reasons explaining our poor start was the lack of an established website design, but this was soon fixed and once it was, rankings improved.

This month, WINOL has come out on top with a UK Alexa ranking of around 10,000, compared to ELL's 25,0000 (approximately). This, in my opinion, is one of the key signs of WINOL's success this term. We have a new and improved website, higher viewing figures, well-established news and features and a dedicated fashion magazine, all of which draw users to the website and engage our audience.

The WINOL fashion magazine, Absolute:ly, looks highly professional. The striking animated banner at the top of the page is an effective means of showcasing the best content on the magazine. Sophie Webb's Legacy photoshoot and Georgia Spears' Dr Fashion feature have both been produced to a particularly high standard. Furthermore, Kate Drummond's work on the website has resulted in some impressive, eye-catching photography, which wasn't something that WINOL excelled at before this term.

The fashion magazine is updated on a regular basis which is important, but I feel that the content is not advertised enough. A dedicated Twitter and Facebook account for the fashion magazine would help it establish its own identity and make it stand out from the main WINOL page.

Our competitions have also proved very successful, with the first of them receiving over 30 unique entries. They were plugged extensively on the WINOL Twitter account, which now has over 1000 followers. Myself and Lee Jarvis have also been maintaining a dedicated WINOL Here and Now Twitter account throughout the term, which in itself has reached close to 100 followers.

Before officially beginning work on the features team, I attempted a piece titled '48 Hours Without a Mobile Phone’. The article took the form of a typical two-page magazine spread with some still images of myself and a mobile phone and described my struggle without the technology over that time. At this point, it was thought that on our return myself and Lee Jarvis would be producing a monthly online magazine accessible through a .PDF file.

It was decided soon after arriving that this format would not work. Looking back on this editorial decision, it was wise to abandon this idea. The structure myself and Lee were backing was too plain and had been done many times before, so we decided instead to try for something new, fresh and innovative. As a result, the mobile phone feature was not uploaded to the website.

Features is a production led process that requires an established, concrete system to feed ideas into. This took a couple of weeks to fully form. Finally strengthening the board during the features meetings and dividing it into specific sections gave myself and the team a much clearer idea of what was being asked of us.

The first feature I produced for the website, Appsolutely Fabulous, was made before an effective features system had been implemented. As a result, it took longer than it should have done to produce as I kept changing the appearance of the piece. Despite this, it managed to become one of the most shared pages on the website during WINOL's opening weeks.

'Top 10' gaming lists have been done many times before by writers more experienced than myself, so my original idea wasn't very strong. I don't feel my first feature was innovative in the slightest and looking back on my performance, combining text and interactive video segments instead would have improved the feature significantly.

One of my proudest achievements this term has been towards my work with the wrongfully imprisoned Paul Blackburn.

Originally, I travelled to Southampton with Brian Thornton and a group of students to see a guest speaker called Ray Krone, an American man who was serving a life sentence on death row. Coming away from the talk, I felt inspired by Ray’s story and knew that exploring the subject of miscarriage of justice cases would be ideal for WINOL features.

Ray’s story was particularly interesting, but it wasn’t relevant to the UK’s legal system. This was when I decided to talk to Paul Blackburn, who was at Southampton the week after Ray. I'd been informed prior to the talk that filming in the building in which Paul was speaking was prohibited, so I went to the event with Lee Jarvis prepared to conduct the interview outside the venue if I had to, even though I knew this wasn’t ideal. I wanted a confessional interview and carrying that out anywhere other than a quiet location inside would give the wrong effect.

I decided to approach Paul at the end of his talk and asked him if an interview at Winchester would be possible. He said he appreciated the fact I’d asked him in person instead of via email and agreed to talk to me in Winchester.

The interview itself went well and what Paul told me was genuinely heartfelt. It was both the hardest and most enjoyable interview I've done for WINOL. In the end, I spent almost an hour talking to Paul about his experiences.

I feel the three-point lighting configuration, built with the help of Graham Marshall, gave the interview a nice visual polish. We were somewhat limited by the room we used in terms of space, but the way in which we positioned the cameras ensured this wasn't noticeable at all. Lee Jarvis and Dan Mackrell worked well on the cameras and framed the interview nicely.

If I'd had more time to work on the feature, I would have liked to produce a mini-documentary studying Paul's case and possibly more on the Innocence Project and its work as a whole, using other contacts at the Southampton Innocence Project and Paul's solicitor.

Since editing and uploading the interview with Paul Blackburn, the video has reached around 700 views and 34 likes on YouTube. It has become my most popular piece for WINOL and has also managed to generate the most views of any video uploaded to the WinchesterJournalism YouTube channel this term.

I feel other items I have published to the WINOL website have been produced to a high standard too, including my 'Behind the Scenes at the BJTC' piece, 'WINOL Merch' and my work as part of the U.S. Embassy team.

Myself, Lee Jarvis, Sam Sheard and Kirsty Phillips spent the evening at the US Embassy as part of WINOL's coverage of the 2012 American election. We were one of the first teams into the media room on the night and were tweeting and gathering video content throughout the event. The location in which we set up our equipment wasn't ideal, however.

As the election results came in, the lights were dimmed so the monitors around the room were more visible. This was something we should have anticipated before the day, as we could have taken additional lighting equipment to make sure this wouldn't hinder our performance.

Within less than 15 minutes, we were gathering interviews for WINOL's 2012 American Election Special. By the time our night at the Embassy had come to a close, myself and the team had worked together to edit and upload over 30 GV's, 4 interviews and a number of as-live PTC's. Not only was our work showcased during WINOL's election special the morning after, but it was also well received on the features section of the website after myself and Lee Jarvis produced a video package containing the highlights.

The performance of the WINOL team this term has been outstanding and as a result our website is looking the best it ever has. Despite lower viewing figures on the bulletin and Sportsweek, our content remains consistently professional and engaging. Alexa statistics prove we are one of the top teams of student journalists in the country and if we continue to work at the level we've established, this will remain the case for a long time to come.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the WINOL features team and the team as a whole, and look forward to seeing the website and bulletin go from strength to strength in the future.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Paul Blackburn : Wrongfully Imprisoned for 25 Years

At the age of just 15, Paul Blackburn was wrongfully imprisoned for 25 years.

Paul was convicted for the attempted murder of a 9 year old boy, despite the fact that there was no forensic evidence linking him to the incident.

It has been 8 years since Paul finished his sentence.

Presented, edited and produced by Tom Morgan.

For more, visit

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Channel 5 News Feedback - 27/11/12

After watching tonight's Channel 5 News bulletin, I thought I'd take the time to give some feedback on what I thought was strong within the show and what I'd alter.

Firstly, I thought the headlines were good. Some nice shots used with some great interview grabs. I also thought the subtle white fade / flash transition between the clips was nice on the eyes.

Photo: Courtesy of
I thought the story on flooding was very well put together. I liked the variety of shots in the package, particular of the interview with the gentleman stuck in his house and the POV shots from the helmet camera feeds of the emergency service members  The initial cut to Peter Lane was nice as it gave some background to the story before the VT began.

I thought it was interesting to see the interviewer in shot. This is something that, on WINOL, we rarely do. I think it was clearly needed for the interview with the flood victim because the reporter couldn't get any closer to the house. If anything, it added to the piece, because it gave a better sense of scale of the damage caused from the flooding. On a technical note, I was impressed that the sound of the gentleman's voice was so crisp considering he so far away from the reporter.

The second interview followed by the map was nice. It was good to see the VT broken up with some graphical elements.

Cameron's interview shortly after the map graphic was also well framed, with the river running behind him which linked well to the VT itself. Returning to a PTC at the end of the VT was nice, because I half expected the cameras to return to the studio. The strapline that came up during the ending PTC looked nice, but it was particularly hard to read the white 'LIVE' text against the light blue strap.

The second story by Catherine Jones on the sickness bug warning had some nice elements to it, but I didn't like the ominous and slightly spooky background music that accompanied the fade-in image. I appreciate that the bug is something to be feared, but I thought the music was a little over the top. It didn't seem to fit with the package as a whole and that's why it stuck out to me so much. The shot of the hospital hallway with the graphic over the top was also used twice during the VT, which seemed odd. The second time we saw the shot, it didn't add anything at all.

Again, for the interviews in the hospital VT, the interviewer was in shot. This seems somewhat odd to me, possibly because we don't use this technique on WINOL a great deal. To me, it seems unusual as I feel that the audience doesn't really care who's conducting the interview. They care about what's being said by the person who the camera's pointed at. In saying that, I did enjoy the pull focus shots in this VT, they were nice.

The OOV on EON was OK. Obviously, it wasn't the most entertaining / interesting story in the show which is why there was no accompanying VT. I thought having pictures behind the presenter in vision was a nice touch, though.

I think the 'coming up' segment that followed the Nadine Dorries package came at just the right time. It gave me a reason to carry on watching because the way the graphic was put together was genuinely interesting to look at and pleasing to the eye. This 'coming up' technique is something we've recently implemented on WINOL, and I think it works very well in both instances.

Following the ad break we had the Yasser Arafat package. I thought using the documentary clip as part of the VT for some context was a nice addition to the piece, but the audio was too loud as the voiceover of the reporter came in. Both the documentary clip audio and the voiceover were cutting against each other, and to me that sounded slightly odd. I thought very slightly adjusting audio levels here would have been ideal.

I thought the story on Bill Tarmey was a very strong piece. The shots from inside the church were beautifully shot and the interviews following the service were a nice touch. Again, the reporter was in the shot with the interviewees and the gun mic was slightly in view, which felt a little messy.

The graphics in the Sports Personality piece were, I thought, really well done. The scrapbook-style shot of all the contenders was effective as it gave each sports star some screentime. The interviews with Chris Hoy and Ellie Simmonds has some great quotes. I thought Ellie's interview was particularly well done. The reporter was out of shot for Ellie's interview and in shot for Chris Hoy's interview and given the chance to compare the interviews, I'd say Ellie's looked more professional.

Overall, a strong bulletin with some very impressive visual elements.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Media Law, Lecture 9, Year Three - Investigative Journalism

Our ninth lecture in media law looked at the world of investigative journalism  During the session, we covered topics including source protection, the difference between criminal and civil law, and relevant case examples.

Above all else, a gonzo investigator is always looking for tension. A sociologically unusual situation makes for a fantastic story. Put yourself in jeopardy for impact.

Image: Courtesy of
The '4th Estate', which refers to the overwhelming power of the press, supports the idea that we as journalists have a duty to investigate corruption, which leads nicely to this case example:

Case Example: The Dreyfus Affair

The Dreyfus Affair is a story of social injustice, following the wrongful conviction of French army captain, Alfred Dreyfus.

After secret documents were found in a waste paper bin at a German embassy, it became obvious that the French had a spy at the facility. The documents that were discovered discussed the future plans of the French military. Somebody in the French army was taking documents and handing this information to the Germans.

The French army framed Dreyfus, claiming it was him that was passing around the sensitive information. There were many reasons why Dreyfus was chosen to take the blame, but the most obvious was due to an overwhelming sense of anti-Semitism from the army. The fact Dreyfus was a particularly clever individual also made him seem suspect. After being pronounced guilty of treason, Dreyfus was sent to 'Devil's Island' in 1894, which remained part of the French penal colony until 1952.
A writer and novelist named Emile Zola (Born 1840) was present at Dreyfus' trial, and was disgusted and horrified by the way the French captain had been framed. This was ultimately his reasoning behind writing the famous 'J'accuse' article - to expose the Government for their actions. 

J'accuse was published in 1898, on the front page of 'L'aurore', a Paris daily paper. It was a massively controversial article, because it exposed the government for falsely accusing Dreyfus and knowing that they were doing so. 

My full seminar summary on the Dreyfus Affair can be found by clicking the following link:


Naturally, investigative journalism is often controversial, because it exposes powerful groups and leaders over issues that up to a point have remained private / secret. 

For a journalist, reliable sources and contacts are vital. Building a good relationship with a reliable contact can provide information on a regular basis that perhaps couldn't be obtained any other way. On WINOL, myself and the rest of the team know of the importance of contacts first hand. Our local political contacts in particular have proved vital to the bulletin on multiple occasions.

One way of gathering information to help bulk out a VT is by speaking to somebody 'off the record'. This serves as a promise that what is discussed will remain private. No matter what, you won't say a word. Once you've built a trust with a contact though, you can convince them to give information on the record, which can be shared.

Qualified privilege was also covered in the lecture, and I've discussed that previously here:

On the subject of privilege, we discussed the case of Toogood v Spyring, upon which qualified privilege in common law is defined. 

Case Example: Toogood v Spyring

Toogood employed a butler and believed the butler was stealing spoons from his house during working hours. The butler was sacked by Toogood, but from this a legal issue arose. In the reference letter that accompanied the sacking, Toogood had stated that the butler was a thief, which was clearly defamatory. Toogood had no defence for this as there was no evidence the butler had stolen anything, however the judge threw out the butler's case.

On 'common convenience of society' - If there's no malice present at all, but it's good for society to know the information, that outweighs the rights of the butler.

During the case, the judge said: "The law considers such publication as malicious, unless it is fairly made by a person in the discharge of some public or private duty, whether legal or moral, or in conduct of his own affairs, in matters where his interest is concerned. In such cases the occasion prevents the inference of malice, which draws from unauthorised communications, and affords a qualified defence depending on the absence of actual malice. If fairly warranted by any reasonable occasion or exigency, and honestly made, such communications are protected for the common convenience and welfare of society; and the law has not restricted the right to make them within any narrow limits."


We then revised the standard of proof in both civil and criminal cases. In a criminal case, the standard of proof must be 'beyond reasonable doubt'. Prosecution must be absolutely sure an individual committed a crime. The consequences of loosing a criminal case is severe punishment e.g. heavy fines, imprisonment. As the outcome is so severe, it's important all doubt surrounding the case is absent. Civil cases, on the other hand, are resolved on a balance of probability

Double jeopardy means that an individual can't be tried for the same crime twice. Recent and ongoing advances in DNA evidence, though, can bring about exceptions.

Case Example: Stephen Lawrence

Stephen was a black 18-year-old student who was the victim of a racial attack. He was stabbed to death whilst waiting for a bus on the evening of 22 April, 1993. The Daily Mail picked up on the case 4 years later and published the names of five men who they believed were Stephen's killers. The headline used by the newspaper read: "Murderers: The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us." Calling the men 'murderers' was libelous and the defence in this instance was that it was true. It's worth noting that there was no defence of justification here or any privilege, but the men didn't sue the paper.

Below the Mail's headline was a picture of the 5 men who had been named. To this day, the men identified have not sued the paper. The case of Stephen Lawrence led to alterations in the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Following the changes, it was decided retrials would be allowed if there was 'new and compelling evidence' to justify doing so.


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Media Law, Lecture 8, Year Three - Electoral law, TV and Radio

Our eight lecture in Media Law looked at electoral law, including topics on how to cover events and proceedings during such times and the importance of producing fair and accurate reports.

Why does reporting the elections matter? It matters because we, as journalists, have a duty to deliver news to the public on national and local issues. It's a powerful position to be in, because the content journalists produce during the election process can sway voters. A local political story certainly may not always prove to be the most exciting package to put together, but for potential local voters accurate coverage is vital. 

Image: Courtesy of
Naturally, when reporting on local politics and electoral proceedings, it's essential to maintain balance and accuracy. Fairness and impartiality are also key. For more on guidelines and codes of conduct, visit my blog post here: 

There are a number of notable differences between print journalism and broadcast journalism when it comes to publishing content related to elections.

In broadcast, there are strict regulations ensuring that if a story on the subject is aired, each major candidate gets an equal amount of time on screen. As was said during the lecture, "Keep your eye on the clock". If, for example, a reporter had interviewed two of the three major political party candidates for a package, the package couldn't air if a third interview with the final candidate wasn't included. To broadcast such a package without balance is very dangerous. 

A recent package put together by the BBC on the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner debate, for example, featured interview grabs from every candidate. 

OFCOM defines the UK's 'major parties' on its website, stating:

At present, "major parties" in Great Britain are defined as: the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, and the Liberal Democrats and, in Scotland and Wales respectively, the Scottish National Party ("SNP") and Plaid Cymru. The major parties in Northern Ireland are: the Democratic Unionist PartySinn Fein, the Social Democratic & Labour Party, and the Ulster Unionist Party".

It's also worth noting that minor major party candidates who may end up being influential should be included in the VT.

Image: Public Domain
Print journalism is a little different to broadcast when it comes to electoral rules and regulations. As you can see from the image above, newspapers are able to have clear political allegiances, which is something that broadcast strictly forbids. 

Case Example: Phil Woolas, former Immigration Minister - 2010

During the lecture, we discussed the case of Phil Woolas. Mr Woolas, the former Immigration Minister, was removed from his parliamentary role after being found knowingly producing false information about his Lib Dem opponent at the time.

Originally, Woolas won the election by 103 votes. Liberal Democrat Elwyn Watkins said that Woolas had intentionally misled Oldham East voters in order to win the election.

One of the leaflets backing Woolas stated: "Extremists are trying to hijack this election. They want you to vote Lib Dem to punish Phil for being strong on immigration".

The high court ruled that Mr Woolas had broken election laws by incorrectly claiming that his Lib Dem opponent was receiving support from Muslim extremists. When the 2010 parliamentary poll was overturned in an electoral court, this marked the first time such a move had been made for 99 years.

Woolas lost his seat in the Commons and was barred for three years.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Features Archive

A collection of posts with links to the work I have produced during my time on the WINOL features team.

This post will be regularly updated as I upload new content to the site.


BJTC Behind the Scenes - A behind the scenes look at the BJTC awards, hosted by Alastair Stewart and held at the University of Winchester. For the full video, click here:

Appsolutely Fabulous - Browsing through a seemingly endless list of games on your mobile phone’s application store can be a tedious challenge, so this month we’re making it easier than ever for you to find the best free downloadable titles out there. For the full article, click here: 

London U.S. Embassy Report - "WINOL was in the thick of it through the night on Tuesday and Wednesday this week as a team of video journalists reported the US election live from the US embassy in London. The team were feeding information through to the studio at WINOL headquarters where an historic first live transatlantic election results programme was underway"

For the full video, click here: 

For my analysis of the evening, click here:

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

WINOL at London's U.S. Embassy Party

Today I finished editing together the footage collected by myself and the rest of the team that traveled to the U.S Embassy.

Image: Courtesy of
The full video can be accessed below:

I have also blogged in more detail about the visit at the following link:

Friday, 9 November 2012

Election 2012 - WINOL Visits the US Embassy

It's been a couple of days since I travelled to the US Embassy with a team of 3 other WINOL team members and I thought it would be beneficial to summarise our time at the event.

Myself, Lee Jarvis, Sam Sheard and Kirsty Phillips spent the evening at the US Embassy as part of WINOL's coverage of the 2012 American election.

We arrived in the morning at around 10am and dropped our camera equipment off in the media room. We were told that all filming was to take place in this room, which would also be where the guests spent the majority of the night keeping up to date with the latest developments via mounted television screens.

It was useful to scope out the room before we returned later, as it gave myself and the team an idea of where we were going to position our camera, how we were going to gather shots and where to upload from. A quick Internet speed test revealed that the download and upload speeds were extremely good, which put my mind at ease as I knew I could edit and upload content quickly throughout the night.

Above: The lobby area from which singer Russell Watson later sung Star Spangled Banner
We returned to the Embassy after a day preparing in London, at around 9pm. Our first priority was to find a means of syncing our computers with the media room Internet, which we managed within a couple of minutes. We were one of the first teams into the media room on the night, which gave us more than enough space to position our camera equipment exactly where we wanted it.

A number of journalists and film crews then began to enter the media room. Myself and Kirsty set our computers onto Twitter so we could post any information to the WINOL twitter feed as it came in. The whole team was tweeting throughout the night. We made sure to follow the tweets of a number of American political analysts and journalists to help our own work.

Our Twitter profiles can be accessed below:

Kirsty Phillips -

Within less than 15 minutes, we were producing video content for WINOL's 2012 American Election Special. Lee produced his first piece to camera of the night, briefly explaining to viewers our set-up and our plans for the remainder of the evening. It was edited and uploaded to my YouTube channel within 5 minutes. 

The team continued to tweet from inside the Embassy. As I formatted the camera cards so we could use them to upload, the rest of the team moved around the media room gathering GV's.

Our first interview of the night was with Charlie Wolf, political commentator and former Communications Director of Republicans Abroad UK.

He said:

"I think [the polls] are oversampling Democrats. They're basing it on the last election in 2008 and the debate in 2008 was a very different, one-of-a-kind election. You're not going to get the same turnout."

"I feel very comfortable with Governor Romney. I reckon he's going to do very well. I think he's going to win. I feel very hopeful and I feel very confident."

Our full interview with Charlie Wolf can be found below:

We had been told that opera singer Russell Watson would be performing in the main lobby during the night. Whilst Lee and Kirsty were gathering footage from downstairs, myself and Sam made our way to the lobby. Up until that moment, myself and the team had spent the night in the media room, so trying to find an ideal spot in the lobby for the camera proved difficult. 

We knew that the shot of Russell singing was an important one and would make for some interesting footage. We managed to squeeze our way through the crowd to catch a glimpse of the performance, but it wasn't ideal. Sam did well to position the camera and zoom onto Russell's performance.

Interestingly, as soon as we'd uploaded the Russell Watson footage, it began to gather views. Many people were interested in seeing the performance, and we were one of the first teams to get that footage onto YouTube. Even now, when you search for 'Russell Watson Star Spangled Banner' on YouTube, our video is the only result to appear. The video currently has around 300 unique views.

Our next interview was with Rob Carolina, Chair of Democrats Abroad UK.

"As a Democrat, I'm very confident about what the result's going to be tonight".

"From what we've seen, we have every confidence that President Obama is going to win tonight and the reason for that is nothing to do with the popular vote. It's all to do with the electoral vote".

Rob also covered Hurricane Sandy and its effects on the 2012 American election. For our full interview with Rob Carolina, visit the link below:

Our third interview of the night was with British journalist and political commentator, Andrew Marr. After doing OK filming our previous interviews, I'm personally a little disappointed with how I framed this one. Although the media room was, at this point, completely packed, I should have done better positioning the camera.

The lighting, sadly, was as good as I could get it. The lights at this point were dimmed slightly so that people could read the new results that were displayed on the projector screen, and the yellow walls in the room weren't helping matters either. Nevertheless, we got some good quotes from our interviewee and it was nice to get a British perspective on the event. Hopefully, when I edit the piece with Lee this coming week, we can fix the lighting levels in Final Cut.

Our full interview with Andrew Marr can be seen below:

Once I'd taken the interview from the camera and uploaded it to my YouTube channel, we had a break and filmed some GV's. I used my experience filming the recent Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Debate to focus on recording peoples reactions to the news coming into the Embassy. These GV's also complimented our next VT well, which was a 'news just in' piece.

Our next interview was with British Liberal Democrat, Sir Menzies Campbell. As with the previous interviews, we made sure to tweet pictures of the interview process to give a behind-the-scenes feel to what we were up to at the Embassy. Kirsty did a great job on the night of taking pictures of our interviewees.

Campbell said:

"It comes down to [Ohio]. It's a huge opportunity for people who live in Ohio, but a huge responsibility as well".

"As it stands, the results suggest it really is too close to call".

Our full interview with Sir Menzies Campbell can be viewed below:

Following our interview with Sir Menzies Campbell, we returned to our desk at the center of the media room and edited a collection of clips. I uploaded the content to my YouTube channel and ensured that Tammy, who would be using our footage in Winchester the following morning, had the correct links to the best material.

The remainder of our time at the US Embassy was spent filming live reaction VT's to news coming in. I was determined to get the cheering and clapping sound of the crowd as new results came in, but was juggling a number of jobs on the computer. Thankfully, Sam managed to get some nice shots of the crowd reaction which would be ideal for the WINOL election broadcast.

After a final piece to camera from Lee, we ended our video coverage of the event. Once this final clip was uploaded, myself and the team focused our attention on tweeting the latest developments.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the US Embassy. I feel that the whole team performed incredibly well under such pressure and everybody played a vital role in ensuring WINOL had content to use for the broadcast the morning after. Although not all of our footage was used, we'll be editing together a longer package of our time in London to put onto the WINOL website.

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