Mobile Reporting exercise using Soundcloud, smartphones and Storify

Digital Journalism is fun in the sunshine!

Digital Journalism is fun in the sunshine!

This is a class project I worked on with first year Journalism undergraduates at Salford University, MediaCityUK. It was part of their Digital Journalism module. There are four groups each with about 15-20 students. My aim was to get them to explore audio recording on their smartphones/iPads and to create digital stories using curation techniques.

Choosing a storyBEhgHIXCEAAhATP.jpg-large

Every week, students complain about the bus service which goes from the main university campus to our MediaCityUK building. It’s free to students on the stretch between the two campuses but it’s unreliable, they tell me. It’s a frequent reason they give me for being late to class! So let’s turn a negative into a positive and use this as the basis for our mobile reporting class.

The Tools

Most students in the class have smartphones or iPads – certainly enough to make this exercise work. Not many have done any serious audio work with them though so there are plenty of learning opportunities here. I’m indebted to Mark Settle at the BBC College of Journalism who specialises in smartphone reporting. His video tutorial on recording audio came out the day after this exercise so it was pretty timely! But my favourite tip came from Nick Garnett, a BBC 5Live reporter. He’s a bit of a pioneer when it comes to iPhone reporting and has pretty much ditched other recording equipment. His blog about his experiments and discoveries is incredibly useful. I’ve always been worried about using the internal mic on the iPhone for serious audio recording because it’s so prone to wind noise but I’m yet to find the perfect external mic solution. His tip is simple –  an ordinary windshield on the microphone end of the iPhone!

Windshield on iPhoneSee my twitter conversation with him about this. So I bought one the day before my first session with the students so I could get them to experiment for me. £4.49 in Maplins!

Most students already use Soundcloud for sharing and searching music so this seemed like a good place to start. I set up an account for all our students to use and gave them a quick demo in class, including the simple “top and tail” editing facility. I told them to save their audio as private. Not everybody had devices or 3G but so long as 5 or 6 in the class had it, we were OK. I also showed them Voddio in case some of them were feeling ambitious and wanted to do some proper editing and mixing on the go. Nobody did but that’s probably because you need to pay £6.99 to get the sharing/sending facility on Voddio.

The final element was Storify. I love Storify and was really keen to introduce it to my students! Again, I set up an account for the class to use and gave a quick demo. Storify is not perfect and sometimes it doesn’t hook up to Twitter as it should. We had some issues with it in the first two sessions but found a workaround. It was fine the following day with the other two groups. I know some people have given up with Storify completely because of its problems. I’m sticking with it because, when it does all work, it opens up so many creative opportunities for storytelling and engaging. Great teaching tool too.

The Task

I asked three students in each group to volunteer to man our digital newsroom (an ordinary classroom with PCs). There was no shortage of volunteers, I’m pleased to report! Everybody else teamed up into reporting teams – mostly pairs but some slightly bigger groups. We decided which aspects of the story we were interested in and what kind of audio material we wanted.

The newsroom team then took charge of deploying their reporters with additional instructions to take photos and tweet information.

Once the reporters were despatched, I briefed the newsroom team in more detail. I gave more instruction on Storify but, to be honest, they didn’t really need it. We talked about what makes good curation. Again, credit here to Mu Lin at Georgian Court University, New Jersey for putting together some guidelines. Basically, don’t drag and dump; provide context and background; have a structure; be selective.

One student specifically looked after the Soundcloud material once that started coming through. They listened through to all the material and made public the ones which were good enough for our story. They then alerted the Storify editor to the availability of the material.

I also wanted the newsroom team to use social media to engage the broader student community which also relies on this bus service. Could they get people outside this exercise to contribute to the debate? They came up with the hashtag #50busprobs.

Once the exercise was over and everybody was back in the classroom, the newsroom team briefed the reporters on what they’d been doing. we published the stories and explained the “notify” option on Storify.

I encouraged students to embed/export the Storify to their personal blogs and add a paragraph about their own contribution and analysis of the task. This was not assessed.

The Outcome

You can see an example of the stories created by students here just to give you a flavour of what they were able to do in the limited time (about 75 minutes).

The newsroom team worked really hard to engage with the broader community with some success. Maybe we should have started doing this in the week before the exercise to build momentum.

Working with Storify was great. It’s a really intuitive tool for building digital stories quickly. The students picked up the concept of curation v drag ‘n’ dump really well. They worked together to find relevant background context and structure whilst they waited for the audio material to come in from the field.BEhd7oUCcAAha7E.jpg-large

The students assigned to editing the Soundcloud material quickly worked out what kind of material would work best in a digital story. They also made sure to add titles and, in most cases, relevant photos to each Soundcloud to maximise their visual impact on the final story.

The reporters in the field all managed to find interesting audio material and get it back to the newsroom. We also got lots of really useful photographic evidence of buses standing idle round the corner rather then en route! All students reported finding Soundcloud easy and fun to use.

Some students has borrowed my windshield to experiment with. Apart from one group which had put it on the wrong end (!! my fault. I should have showed them), they reported good results


The students loved Storify and several of them went away and experimented with it on their own. Really pleased about this!

One student said she’d have liked longer for the exercise so that we could have rotated roles. I agree but on the plus side, she said she’d go and experiment with Storify on her own which is a good outcome!

Overall, the audio quality needed some work. That was mainly down to lack of editing. They needed to be ruthless with their material! This is largely my fault for not emphasising enough the need to edit BEFORE uploading the material. But on the plus side there was a great range of material and creative use of the medium. They definitely used audio to enhance our appreciation of the story.

Interestingly, the students doubted they’d be taken seriously with an iPhone as opposed to a “professional” recording device. That’s at odds with the professionals’ view. I suspect it will change as iPhones become a more acceptable part of the broadcast industry. Watch this space!


This was a fun exercise and I would definitely do it again. There is so much learning and thinking involved. The tools worked well. They’re free and easy to learn and use straightaway so everyone benefits.

We were lucky with the weather on both days – bright and sunny with minimal wind. I’m not sure how much we would have got done in more typical MediacityUK weather (howling wind, rain, cold)


Recording audio with iPhone – tips from the pro!

Nick Garnett is BBC 5Live’s North of England correspondent and an iPhone pioneer. These days, he works in the field almost exclusively using an iPhone. I recently saw that he recommended using an ordinary windshield on the iPhone’s internal mic. Does this really work?

  1. @nicholasgarnett Does an ordinary 50mm windshield really make big diff on iPhone? Just stretch it over the end?
  2. @LizHannaford yes. It’s great – better on 4/4s because the headphone cable is on the far end away from mic
  3. @LizHannaford it rolls off top end, eliminates all really bad wins noise and also makes it look a bit more like a mic for ppl being iv’d.
  4. I’d not thought about that. Does anybody else find that some interviewees take you less seriously because you’re using an iPhone rather than a stand alone piece of kit? Interesting point.

    Nick was speaking to me from Todmorden where he was reporting on a slaughterhouse which had been raided by FSA officials following the horse meat scandal.
  5. In Todmorden for #horsemeat (not to buy it, to report on it!). On R4 and @bbc5live (plus 1 o’clock tv) ALL at same time. The magic of radio
  6. @nicholasgarnett That’s great! Thanks. Sounding good from Todmorden, btw. iPhone?
  7. @LizHannaford yes but w/o windshield! Biggest problem is I keep losing them! Voxes recorded, edited, filed on Voddio & live on 3G luci.
  8. Ah, there’s always a catch…

    Still, he’s definitely convinced me to try a windshield. I’m still not happy about using an external mic (kinda defeats the object of using an iPhone?) but I’m also concerned about the noise problem when you use the internal mic outside. The windshield – if I can keep hold of it – could be the answer.
  9. @LizHannaford this is why we should just use iPhones as they are w/o mics. this is a

  10. Here’s the monstrosity Nick refers to.
  11. @LizHannaford & from an interviewers pov too: a mic is seen as part of iv process but intimacy of no mic = v honest & revealing iviews
  12. We seem to have started something here. Another 5Live reporter joins the discussion!
  13. @LizHannaford indeed, tho as @nicholasgarnett points out people are far more comfortable w an iPhone in front of them.
  14. @LizHannaford also allows much faster filing of material than even w a radiocar or on wifi for BBC. Cc @nicholasgarnett
  15. @rowanbridge @nicholasgarnett Intimacy v professionalism? Would some people equally see iPhone as amateurish?
  16. In the meantime, do read Nick’s excellent blog, full of practical advice and experimentation for audio reporters on the go.
    And thank you very much to Nick for taking the time to answer my question.

Should journalism students ditch shorthand and learn to code instead?

That was the slightly provocative question I posed in an article for the website WannabeHacks.  

“Coding is the new Latin”, says Alex Hope, the co-author of a report last year which urged the government to get British school children learning how to program.

But should coding become the new shorthand for journalism students? Most are currently required to spend hours practicing their shorthand to get up to the NCTJ-required 100 wpm. Would their time be better spent learning the basic logic of computer code?

It’s a hot debate at the moment, especially in the US, where several colleges are already offering a joint MSc in Journalism and Computer Science.  It makes sense to me because so much journalism these days relies on complex search engines and so much news is consumed on phones and tablets.  Surely new journalists should have some idea about the programming that goes into this in the same way that I had to answer questions about Ohms Law for my first radio traineeship at the BBC.

But most of the debate is amongst the academic community and experienced professionals.  I wanted to find out what new and aspiring journalists thought.  Do they want to be part of the new generation of journo-programmers?

Perhaps you’re already coding ninjas? Perhaps you think it’s a dangerous fad which will only create journalists who can’t write and computer scientists who can’t code. 

So, I’ve set up a quick survey to find out what journalism students and those just starting out think.  If you fall into that category, please take part!  If you don’t, perhaps you’d care to pass it on to someone who does.

Click here to take part in the survey.  Thank you!

(And by the way, if you know how to EMBED SurveyMonkey polls into posts, please teach me!)

How much multimedia and digital journalism content is there on University student news websites?

I came across a blog post last week by Mu Lin who writes about how journalism schools in the US are teaching multimedia journalism.  He compared the multimedia and digital journalism content of twelve news sites which are affiliated to or sponsored by universities or J-schools “in an effort to tell how their affiliated journalism schools and programs are embracing the ongoing digital revolution in the journalism profession.”

It was an interesting exercise so I decided to copy develop the idea by looking at some equivalent UK sites.  I’ve broadly followed Mu Lin’s method although I’ve tweaked it a little, as I’ll explain.

How I selected the 7 news sites

I started with the Guardian’s Student Media Awards 2011 shortlist for Website of the Year. I dropped SUSU.TV because that’s specifically video content and more entertainment than news (it’s worth a look!).  I also dropped the Oxonian Globalist because it consists of Economist-style, long-form analytical articles with no multimedia content (on the day of my analysis, at least).  So that left me with Redbrick (University of Birmingham) which was the 2011 winner, The Student Journals (University of Warwick) which was the runner-up and LSMedia (University of Liverpool)

I then added Quays News which is the University of Salford’s website.  (I had to include that, didn’t I!)

I included EastLondonLines which is run by the media department of Goldsmiths.  I like this website, set up in 2009, because of the community it covers.  The East London Line is a new-ish train line which runs from Dalston in East London down to Croydon so the website is an experiment in creating a community out of a transport link.  Nice idea, eh?

I included my old alma mater, the University of Sheffield’s, website, Forge Today.

Finally, I added Gair Rhydd (“Free Word” in Welsh) which is run by students at Cardiff University which has a prominent journalism school.


I’m using the same categories that Mu Lin used for his analysis and, like him, I’m not including text and photos as multimedia content.  Instead, the focus was on video, audio, audio photo slideshow, photo gallery, data visualization, infographics, web-specific writing technique, social media use, etc. (MuLin)

I just looked at the front page of these websites and the content which was linked on there.

Unlike MuLin, I do look at interactivity and engagement e.g. share buttons, comments sections, polls.


I analysed the websites on Tuesday 19th June.  This is not the best time of year to look at student websites since most universities are like ghost towns at the moment.  Some websites I discounted from the analysis for this reason;  they hadn’t been updated in months.

I’m not analysing the quality of the journalism in this exercise.  I’m simply looking at how much multimedia content there is on the front page.

I know I’ve omitted some excellent websites.  If you’d like to suggest some others I should have included, I’ll see if I can carry out this analysis again using some other examples.

I’m not always comparing like with like.  Some of these websites are more closely tied to journalism departments than others (Quays News, for example)


I think it’s important to see whether the next generation of journalists is already embracing the digital era, innovating, pushing boundaries, multiskilling.  It’s one thing to learn this in the classroom but are they then applying it to their own journalism practice outside?  Not all the contributors to these websites are journalism students which is refreshing and it’s good to see students from a variety of backgrounds embracing multimedia.


DATA VISUALISATION (interactive maps, graphic, timeline)

The only example on the day I looked was Gair Rhydd’s very simple pie chart representing the way Guild fee money was spent.  (It’s spoilt by the fact that they couldn’t write £3000.00 accurately!)

I should mention though that the reason Redbrick won the Website of the Year was for its excellent live coverage of the August riots in Birmingham.  It looks like they made good use of interactive maps and time lines (plus CoveritLive and social media) so there are definitely good examples out there of students willing and able to grasp this new-ish area of journalism.

But I thought I’d find more examples of students experimenting with data and visualisation. It would be a great USP for fresh-out-of-college students who need something that makes them stand out from the crowd.  Most newsrooms are full of people (like me) who know very little about data journalism and might well be very keen to take on somebody who can show them a portfolio of work in this field.

VIDEO (Only video originated by students rather than stuff they’d sourced from YouTube and embedded)

4 of the websites had links to video content on their front page.

Quays News – Monton residents campaign against pay-and-display car parking.  This was a new report that had been tweeted about the day before.  It contained interviews with key people and a script narrated by the reporter.

Food hygiene report.  Again, this was a video report with interviews, scripted narration and a piece-to-camera.

Both videos are embedded into the online article and to some extent enrich the story rather than simply reversion it on a different platform.

Latest TV news bulletin.  Quays TV is produced and presented by students and broadcasts every Wednesday afternoon from MediaCity.  It features a mix of live interviews and reports.

Article on plans to redevelop St Peter’s Square contains an originated video of a walkaround showing what the square looks like now.  There is no narration or interviews, just natural sound.  It sits well in the article and is a really good use of video to tell an important side of the story which can ONLY be told in video.  But it’s spoilt by the poor sound quality.

LSMedia – There was no video in their main news items but LSFilm and LSRadio (all under the umbrella of LSMedia) feature on the front page and have videos about their participation in Liverpool Soundcity.  LSFilm’s is just video on a music bed – very creative.  The second from LSRadio centres round a nicely informal discussion with participants.

ForgeToday – Videos are in a separate section on the right hand side rather than embedded in articles.  On the day of the analysis, these were exclusively sports matches with commentary.

Redbricks – has an article about the British tennis pro, Laura Robson.   A video of quick fire questions is embedded into the article.


3 websites featured photo slideshows (without audio.)

Quays News – The article on the Chester Food Festival includes a photo slideshow.

Report on plans to redesign St Peter’s Square contains a photo slideshow.

Redbricks – The review of five different video games uses a Slideshow format which works really engagingly for this subject matter.

Forgetoday – used a standalone slideshow to capture the essence of Sheffield Pride 2012.


Only Quays News had a social media story on its front page but do see my notes on Redbrick’s Birmingham riots coverage above which used Coveritlive etc.

Quays News – The article on homelessness featured a Storify curation of the reporter’s live tweets about spending a night on the streets of Manchester.  Storify is embedded in the online article and really enriches the online experience.  It includes several YouTube video updates of him talking about his experience.


Quays News – Salford students produce various podcasts using Soundcloud.  “Added Time” is part of a regular series in which students discuss the latest football issues.

The article on the Chester Food festival contains Soundcloud interviews with one of the organisers and a chef.  The article itself had short quotes from the interviewees but the audio went much further and deeper so enriched the online offering.

EastLondonLines – There was a Soundcloud recording of a house sparrow embedded into the article on the decline of the Cockney Sparrow but I suspect it was not originated!

EastLondonLines – The online article about a local college head getting a CBE had a Soundcloud interview with a student at the college.  The interview certainly enriched the online experience but it wasn’t properly incorporated into the article.  It was just tagged on to the end with nothing to tell the reader what it might contain.

INTERACTIVITY (polls, comments)

Most of the websites gave readers a chance to leave a comment, the exception being Quays News.

Redbricks – had a comments option at the end of articles.

Redbricks – poll asking if Usain Bolt will break World Record.

StudentJournals – Quick poll – Was this the best Premier League Season you have ever watched?

Student Journals – had a comments option at the end of articles and a “Best Comments” column on the front page.

LSMedia –  had a comments option at the end of articles

LSMedia – poll – Should the UK follow the ECHR’s ruling on giving prisoners the vote?

East LondonLines –  Featured videos on home page shows creative side of students’ work.

ForgeToday – had a comments option at the end of articles

Gair Rhydd – had a comments option at the end of articles


It was good to see Salford doing so well in the use of multimedia on the day I observed!  Phew!  But the majority of websites were looking for ways to enrich and expand the delivery of their stories on a digital platform and that’s a really good thing to see.

There were some glaring missed opportunities.  Gair Rhydd’s article on the 30th anniversary of the university’s bellringing society surely cried out for a video/audio of the bell ringing?!

On the writing for the web side, some articles were still too long with no sub headings and few pictures to ease the reader through and keep them engaged.  Only Redbrick used a “fact box” for example to add a bite size extra bit of information and had links to related articles. Several websites made good use of hyperlinks.

Redbrick and LSMedia a ticker feed at the top of the website carrying the latest news.

I thought there would have been more interactivity on the front page in the shape of polling, for example.  I didn’t see any instances of websites reaching out to the audience to ask for their stories/experience on a particular subject.  It seems to me that the nature of a university community, especially a campus, lends itself to this kind of collaborative journalism project and could act as a springboard for all kinds of innovation.  For example, websites could ask students for their experiences – good and bad – about getting jobs to fund themselves through their studies.

I look forward to your comments and do please pass on any really good examples of innovative multimedia journalism on university websites.

How can universities and the news industry work together?

  1. Share

    Arrived at white city with @SueNorth1 for #bbche event

    Wed, May 02 2012 04:25:25
  2. There often seems to be a gap between what we do at journalism schools and what actually happens in the real world.  So on 2.05.12. the BBC Academy invited journalism lecturers from around the country to throw some ideas around.
    The great thing about bringing a load of journalists together for a conference is that lots of them will live tweet about the event (#bbche) giving the rest of us a chance to eavesdrop without having to get on a train to White City.
  3. Share

    @SueNorth1 discovering how great iPads are at #BBCHE event!

    Wed, May 02 2012 07:18:48
  4. The discussion played into all my current areas of interest.  I stopped being an actual BBC newsroom broadcast journalist about twelve months ago and have been teaching radio journalism since then so I’m still very much in transition.  I’m forever asking myself whether I’m teaching stuff that is relevant, transferable and applicable to a real-life job in the broadcast industry.  Alongside this, I’m working on a research paper which is looking at how the organisation of newsroom jobs is changing with the advent of social media and how that could/should impact on the skills students are taught at university.
  5. Share
    Future BBC staff need to be adaptable, mentally agile and able to work in many areas says Lucy Adams, director of Biz Ops, BBC People #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 05:27:57
  6. Share
    Persevere, watch television, have opinions, ideas, &communicate – employment tips from Pat Younge, chief creative officer, BBC Vision #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 05:33:20
  7. Share
    Pat Younge asks what is a public b’caster when all can b’cast. Adds that essays have a place: they teach you to structure argument 🙂 #BBCHE

    Wed, May 02 2012 05:35:58
  8. Share
    Attitude, agility, flexibility… ability to challenge… IDEAS… talents BBC looking for #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 05:39:38
  9. David Docherty is the Chief Executive of the Council for Industry and Higher Education but he’s held many top-level jobs in media organisations.  He was the BBC’s first director of new media Deputy Managing Director of TV.  His talk looked into the role a university education should play in the development of future workers in the media industry.
  10. Share
    David Docherty Universities about learning how to learn. Skills will be defunct. #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 05:55:21
  11. Share
    Docherty: need leaders, not employees. Grads need to learn how to learn, be interdisciplinary and lead interdiscipline teams #BBCHE

    Wed, May 02 2012 05:56:11
  12. Share
    Docherty: collaborative working is not a soft skill (take note @JUS_News) #BBCHE

    Wed, May 02 2012 06:00:07
  13. Share
    Docherty: expertise is more important than skills. A skill is a repeatable process, expertise is application of theory to practice #BBCHE

    Wed, May 02 2012 06:03:21
  14. Share
    Lots of nods around room as David Docherty tells #bbche what industry wants from graduates: expertise, flexibility, international outlook

    Wed, May 02 2012 06:13:42
  15. Share
    Need for students to learn ‘how to think’, not just get skills, a recurring theme at BBC uni open day #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 06:43:58
  16. Next up, the head of the BBC’s College of Journalism, Jonathan Baker.  He was the Deputy Head of Newsgathering for BBC News prior to this appointment so he was particularly interested in how students should be prepared for the real world of journalism.
  17. Share
    Baker: new entrants to journalism must be familiar with the changing way newsrooms work #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 07:20:10
  18. Donna Taberer is the Head of the BBC’s College of Production.   That’s part of the BBC Academy and the sister site of the College of Journalism.
  19. Share
    Taberer: youneed the confidence to be shot down and shot down again #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 07:29:44
  20. I second that!  It hurts though.

    Sandy Smith looks after the One Show at the BBC.  Camilla Lewis joined the independent media production company, Cineflix, about a year ago.  They’re both looking for people with a bit of flair that makes them stand out from the crowd.
  21. Share
    What we look for in new recruits – curious, sceptical, team players, ideas, make props with scissors and glue – Sandy Smith #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:04:25
  22. Share
    Smith: wants life experience in grads; Lewis: watch our output and critique it. Have something to say. Passion, drive and interest #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:06:46
  23. Share
    Not an industry for introverts – Camilla Lewis, Cineflix #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:07:21
  24. Share
    Degrees in history or sciences would be useful for job on The One Show #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:12:41
  25. Share
    There is a hunger and a need for new ways of telling stories, says Lewis #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:16:03
  26. Share
    We’re becoming a very white and middle-class industry – Camilla Lewis, Cineflix #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:17:14
  27. Those are difficult things to “teach.”  Universities need to encourage those attributes, make students aware that these are areas they can develop and provide opportunities for students to innovate.
  28. Share
    Lewis: worry about the story, not making it look glossy #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:27:35
  29. Share
    It’s all about the story. it’s only about the story – Camilla Lewis #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 08:28:11
  30. Huw Edwards looks very dapper on stage.  Were all the speakers this smart?
  31. Share

    RT @BBCRecruitment: #bbche event is drawing to a close, hope you found the tweets informative, here’s a pic from earlier of Huw Edwards Q&A

    Wed, May 02 2012 12:25:32
  32. Huw Edwards now presents the 10 o’clock news on BBC 1 amongst other things!  That explains his smart suit, I guess.  He’s a great advocate of good writing skills and has produced training modules on the subject for the BBC’s College of Journalism website.  So it was no surprise that this was the core of his message to journalism teachers.
  33. Share
    Huw Edwards: Core journalistic skills haven’t changed despite more competitive, challenging and complex world #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:38:25
  34. Share
    Huw Edwards: You must be capable of clear, concise, accurate writing #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:42:05
  35. Share
    Have we lost the core skills in the drive to master technology? Huw Edwards objects to poor writing and ‘crappy running orders’ #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:45:25
  36. Share
    Huw Edwards: need to start with a clear sense of what makes a good story. Can you write, make a journalistic judgement? Be curious? #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:46:58
  37. Share
    Huw Edwards: don’t get too excited by the technical stuff #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:48:18
  38. Share
    “@TheBBCAcademy: 12 out of 14 candidates in a recent job interview didn’t know who Neil Kinnock is, says Huw Edwards: know your news #bbche”

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:49:18
  39. Share
    Huw Edwards: there’s a real skill in writing a 4 second headline that tells the story #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:50:55
  40. Share
    Very entertaining talk from Huw Edwards. If he ever stops reading the news, a career in comedy beckons. #BBCHE @huwbbc

    Wed, May 02 2012 09:56:05
  41. Yay, MediaCity – the home of newness – gets beamed into the conference room!
  42. Share

    Matt Allwright talks to Mark Harrison in Salford. Can’t put a number on graduate opps at Salford #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 10:21:55
  43. Mark Harrison is the Controller of Production at BBC North.  What does that mean?  He works on the strategy of how programme content is produced – what services, facilities and technologies are required, how should they be delivered and what working practices should be put in place.  Big job.
  44. Share
    Harrison: wants people who are comfortable with organisations other than the BBC #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 10:22:53
  45. So that’s what the industry leaders had to say.  But what about the latest recruits to the BBC – the ex-BBC trainees?  What advice do they have for the educators and their would-be future colleagues?
  46. Share

    RT @BBCTrainees: Our trainees on stage with Matt Allwright for #BBCHE

    Thu, May 03 2012 05:34:56
  47. Share
    Some very talented (ex) trainees being interviewed by @simonsmithster. More details on all schemes: #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 11:13:45
  48. Share
    Wise words from one BBC former trainee: it’s not always the best people that get the work – put yourself out there #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 11:22:23
  49. Share
    @marjon_media BBC trainees said working on their student magazine gave them invaluable experience. Get involved. #bbche

    Wed, May 02 2012 11:28:24
  50. So, plenty of thought-provoking stuff.  I’m really interested to know if any of the universities attending the conference have gone back and started making changes to their courses.
  51. Share
    Fantastic to see so many Unis at #bbche day today. Great feedback, lively debate, and interesting speakers. Let’s keep the conversation live

    Wed, May 02 2012 15:02:44
  52. Share
    Great day at #BBCHE. Top tip is be determined and network as much as you can. Thanks for the event

    Wed, May 02 2012 12:52:17

World Service celebrates 80 years – my box of memories

I don’t do scrapbooking and I don’t like hoarding mementos so I’ve been trawling the internet for my favourite images and sounds from the World Service’s 80th Birthday celebrations.  It’s a very personal selection – the people, places and sounds I want to remember.  I was at Bush House for the 70th celebrations but didn’t quite make it to the 80th so I’m very grateful to all the people who shared moments from the special day 29.02.12.


This slideshow reminds me of the role BBC World Service has played during the great moments of history.  I don’t think those of us working at Bush House ever forgot the sense of responsibility that came with the knowledge that millions of people around the world counted on us as their only source of reliable information.  It meant that we could argue at length about the precise meaning of a single, seemingly innocuous word in a news bulletin – would it be perceived as biased by one side or the other?

Times changed, of course, and audiences came and went but there was always somewhere in the world that needed to hear an independent voice from beyond.

The technology changed too and fewer and fewer of our listeners tuned in using shortwave as the BBC relied more heavily on FM rebroadcasts by partner stations.   But there are still people around the world who need to tune in using short wave, as Bethan Jinkinson found out for this lovely feature.

But if that history lesson was too much for you, try this.  This is Adam Long of the Reduced Shakespeare Company with his Reduced History of the BBC World Service. It was a special commission for the BBC Newshour debate on the future of global broadcasting.

Fortunately, the programmes on the 80th anniversary didn’t dwell too much on the past.  Instead, they came up with this nice concept of Inside Out whereby listeners got a sense of what happens behind the scenes.  How does the World Service decide which stories get on air, which voices are heard and how (limited) resources are deployed?  Well, most of those decisions start here, at the 9 o’clock editorial meeting….

The guy at the head of the table chairing proceedings on this occasion is Olexiy Solohubenko,multimedia editor of World Service Languages (he’s had many very important titles over the years!)  But I knew him as head of the newly-formed Ukrainian Service back in 1992 when I studio managed their first live broadcast.  Sitting on his right is Liliane Landor, controller of Languages for BBC Global News,  She joined Bush House at around the same time as me and I remember her as a presenter on the French Service, which even broadcast to Europe back then (who listened??).  I’ve had to attend and even contribute and argue my case at these meetings on many occasions over the years and never enjoyed it.  But I loved it as a spectator!  It was always deeply intimidating being in the presence of such Big Brains.

The Outlook programme (another one that I worked on many times as Studio Manager, Producer and Reporter) finally realised that the best people stories are in Bush House itself.

This programme is how I’ll remember Bush House – a place full of amazing people with incredible stories but who all share the same lifts, canteen, toilets and passion for what we do.  It’s a very humbling experience and I probably took it for granted whilst I was working there.  When I started out as a Studio Manager at Bush, I worked on programmes in all the languages so there are many familiar faces and voices in these photos and recordings.

Here are the people taking part in that special Outlook programme.  Originally from Sierra Leone, Josephine Hazeley is now the Deputy Editor of the BBC’s Africa Service – and she used to host legendary Christmas parties for the Africa Service staff and their families right in Bush House.  I went to one!  She has an unforgettable voice and you certainly made sure you got things right when she was in charge!

Seva Novgorodsev is a presenter on the BBC Russian Service – but he started out as a clarinet and saxophone player in a jazz band that toured the Soviet Union.  I worked on Sevaoborot many, many times as a Studio Manager and enjoyed sipping a glass of red wine as I did so!

This is Shaima Khalil, an Egyptian journalist currently working for BBC World News TV.

Priyath Liyanage is the Editor of the BBC Sinhala Service which broadcasts to Sri Lanka. When he first arrived in the UK he worked as a nurse, an aromatherapist and a night porter in a London hotel.  He was a great contributor to World Briefing.

This is Najiba Kasraee, a former Senior Producer at the Afghan Stream of the BBC Persian/Pashto Service, now working at the BBC’s College of Journalism.  She has an amazing story to tell.

The anniversary was, of course, part celebration, part wake.  It coincides with the BBC leaving Bush House for a new home in Broadcasting House.  So I guess I’ll never enter Bush House on The Aldwych ever again and my link with that hugely important part of my life will be lost.  Fortunately, some very clever people put together this beautiful film which will be my favourite souvenir.

And this is a Russian version which appeals to me, at least!  Some VERY familiar voices and faces here.

So Wednesday 29th February turned into a pretty emotional day for me.  In the end, I called Lars bevanger who was colleague many years ago on the World Today.  He’s now a freelance journalist and happens to live down the road.  We met up in Libby’s to reminisce ….

But as night fell on Bush House, the REAL party started – a bittersweet affair of celebration, reminiscing and uncertainty about the future.
Jeremy Morgan and Mike Cooper-DiFrancia.

Jerry Sullivan, Clare Bolderson and Rebecca Kesby
And for my final image……
Yes, I did actually operate this B-type mixing desk, with rotary, Bakelite faders.  It’s how I will always remember Bush House – totally unique, hilariously eccentric, a little old-fashioned and very, very loveable.

Talking Coding on Norwegian radio

The interview I did about learning to code went out on Norwegian Public Radio this morning at about 8am.  It was part of a 9 minute package by Lars Bevanger who writes about the UK for various European audiences.  You can listen to it!  I’m towards the end.  Even though it’s Norwegian, all the interviews are in English so you won’t get too lost.  It also features Dr Lucie Green and Manchester GirlGeeks.