Wednesday 15 December 2010

Back Where I Was Stuck

Today I went back to Hulland Ward near Ashbourne, where I was stuck in the snow with the BBC Radio Derby radio car two weeks ago. As you can see in this photo compared with those in my blog post below, the snow has since melted away. However, the white stuff is scheduled to fall there this weekend. I went back to interview the Coxon family who looked after me when I was stuck there for four hours. I asked them how they're preparing for the impending below zero temperatures.

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Stuck in the Snow

Today instead of covering the story, I became it after being stuck in the snow for four hours. I left the newsroom prepared for the cold weather (see left) and headed to Hulland Ward near Ashbourne to do a radio car story for the breakfast show. I parked the vehicle in a drive off the main road and after doing the interview decided to head to Ashbourne to report live on the effect of the snow there. What I didn't realise was that from where I'd parked - on a gradient - and despite desperate attempts by myself and the friendly people who lived there, I was going nowhere.

This did nonetheless provide me with the opportunity to report live on the my predicament. After all, I was planning to report on how the snow was impacting on people!

Snow report 1:

Powered by
Snow report 2:
It also allowed me the chance to Tweet my goings on and include some snaps of what happened on the BBC Radio Derby Breakfast Show Facebook page.

After a couple of hours I was no closer to leaving but was cheered by the sight of a gritter from the council in my wing mirror. However not only did they fail to clear the snow and spread salt to allow the residents access to drive, they quickly became stuck in the snow just as I was. Their efforts to escape were captured on the phone of by Tom Coxon, a 16 year old who lives there. His video is well worth a watch, it's featured on the BBC Derby website.
Tom provided me with cups of tea and excellent interviews for my live updates. I ended up recording a story for Wednesday's breakfast show on how he and his step dad snowbaord down the hill behind his garden whenever it snows.

Eventually, at 1 in the afternoon the RAC man managed to get the radio car out with the use of a rapidly dwindling supply of grit and a shovel I borrowed from one of the neighbours. So it was back to the newsroom having made new friends and with plenty of tales to tell my amused colleagues.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Is the high street dead?

I reported live for the BBC Radio Derby breakfast show on the phone in topic, is the high street dead? I went to Long Eaton, between Derby and Nottingham, and staged managed this live. I lined up the first interview with the owner of a newsagent who partly blames charity shops for the death of the high street and then walked across the road into a charity shop to put that accusation to the shop's manager.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Reporting From A Speed Boat!

I went to Ogston Reservoir in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside to do a feature for the BBC Radio Derby afternoon show. I recorded the interview about the sailing club on a speed boat with one of the club's founder members, 91 year old Harry Fisher.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Reporter's Dream - BBC Radio Car

I've been working on the radio car shift at BBC Radio Derby recently and it's been really enjoyable. I've learnt loads about the patch - Derbyshire and East Staffordshire - and met some great people. I can broadcast live from almost anywhere in the patch by putting up a 30 foot mast from the car.

One of my favourite radio car reporting jobs was at a sweet shop in Alfreton. I found this story while out on another story - the most effective way of discovering new ideas in my experience. I was in Alfreton voxing locals about the success of the town's Football Club. If I'm struggling to find people to speak to me on the street, I resort to going in shops to vox pop and the first one I went to was Anne's sweet shop. There's nothing better than reporting on a story that you've found, especially in a sweet shop!

Click play below to listen to my piece.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

The Cancer Diaries

I've been listening to some incredible podcasts made by one of my former colleagues at BBC Radio Oxford who's very sadly recently passed away. It's the best radio I've heard since the 'Anatomy of a Car Crash' Radio 4 programme which I blogged about a year ago. Ali Booker made 'the cancer diaries' for Oxford commercial station Jack FM. They are an incredibly moving insight into what it is like to live with terminal cancer. Her warmth, self deprecating humour and popularity with her audience always struck me.

You can listen to all 21 podcasts on this website:

And 15 of them on iTunes so you can put them on your MP3 player:

Ali won Gold at the Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards 2010 for the cancer diaries...

Monday 20 September 2010

ITV Calendar Online

One of the last things I did at ITV Calendar was to start a Facebook and Twitter Feed for the programme - something I had wanted to do since starting there. It felt quite a triumph to finally have it mentioned on air with the graphic I'd commissioned.

Friday 10 September 2010

Bird Songs

My friend Millie is doing research on how great tits change their songs according to where they live. She's found out that urban birds sing at a higher pitch than rural birds as they have to reach above the noise of traffic. Millie's doing her PHD at Aberystwyth University but did part of her research in North Derbyshire. After discussing it in the pub (surely the best place to find out new stories!) we agreed it would make an excellent report. Eventually we filmed Millie carrying out her research in Dronfield (between Sheffield and Chesterfield) with ITV Calendar's weatherman Jon Mitchell. I produced the item - directing Jon and the cameraman, scripting the voice over and editing the package.

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Flotilla Interview

Before I left ITV Calendar I interviewed Mohammed Bhaiyat and his dad Ziauddin. Mohammed was on one of the boats heading to Gaza when it was stormed by Israeli troops in May. He was taken captive after the forces dropped from helicopters onto the deck of the vessel. When Mohammed returned home to Bradford he came in to the ITV Calendar studios in Leeds to be interviewed.

Friday 27 August 2010

Missing Royal Marine

One of the last reports I did for ITV Calendar was on the missing Royal Marine Alan Addis. We got hold of the footage from British Forces News (BFBS) and I re-edited and re-voiced the footage.

Monday 16 August 2010

Monday 2 August 2010

Ferrets. On air and in print.

For the first time ever, a story of mine has been pinched by a newspaper! I've been working for BBC Radio Derby recently and came across an engaging story about three ferrets.

The day after it was broadcast, I found it in the Derby Telegraph, here's the start of the article...

"Postman finds missing ferrets during rounds

A POSTMAN left devastated after losing his pet ferrets has been reunited with them – when he found them on one of his rounds."

And you must have come across Paul the World Cup predicting octopus, well I decided to create Derby's own version! I came across the ferrets story (above) at the pet shop. I always try to bring a story back with me.

Monday 26 July 2010

Boy Found Dead In Tumble Dryer

I'm now working at BBC Radio Derby having left ITV Calendar last month to get more experience of reporting. Today I went to Ashbourne when a story broke about a four year old boy being found dead in a tumble dryer. Here's my live on the drive time show:

After doing the live I went in to the centre of Ashbourne to try to find people to interview who know the family. I found Jenny who was happy to talk to me and we used the interview on the breakfast show the day after the tragedy. The interview was distributed to all radio stations in the BBC through the internal wire service:

Monday 12 July 2010

Britain isn't Broken

Following on from my last blog, I've recently discovered the superb podcasts from The Economist. The best of which is the "Editor's Highlights" podcast where you can listen to an audio version of the editor's favourite articles from the magazine.

I agree with the recent "Britain isn't Broken" leader article which I listened to on the "Editor's Highlights" podcast.

But I would add another reason why people think Britain is broken - the media's (especially newspaper journalists') reporting of stories . The problem is, although I believe broadcast journalists tell the truth, we're always looking for the most dramatic angle on any news story. And it's even worse with newspaper journalists since they're not subject to the strict Ofcom Broadcasting Code rules which rightly mean broadcasters have to be accurate and impartial.

You can either listen to or read The Economist article on broken Britain below:

How broken is Britain?

It has become fashionable to say that British society is in a mess and getting worse. It isn’t

Feb 4th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

THEY are not the world’s most effusive people at the best of times. But even by their usual gloomy standards, Britons seem to have got themselves into a slough of despond of late. Well before the economic crisis they were weeping on the shoulders of pollsters, who reported rapidly rising levels of dismay about the country’s direction and an increased sense of nostalgia about the good old days. For those (and they are legion, on inner-city council estates as well as in the shires) who think that society in Britain is “broken”, the country is stuck in a mire of crime, fractured families and feral youth.

It is an idea that resonates. Every week serves up a new tragedy or outrage to be added to the pile of evidence. Such episodes have the power to jolt the public mood, as in 1993 when Tony Blair, then the shadow home secretary, described the murder of two-year-old James Bulger as a sign of “a society that is becoming unworthy of that name”. A similarly awful attack last year on two boys in South Yorkshire was held up by David Cameron, the Conservative leader, as not an “isolated incident of evil” but evidence of a profound problem that goes to the heart of society. He has made “broken Britain” a leitmotif in the run-up to the general election due by June 3rd.

It would be idiotic to claim that Britain is perfect. The vomitous binge-drinking mainly by the young, the drug abuse and teenage pregnancy that are still higher than in most west European countries and the large proportion of single-parent families all tell a tale. But the story of broad decline is simply untrue (see article). Stepping back from the glare of the latest appalling tale, it is clear that by most measures things have been getting better for a good decade and a half. In suggesting that the rot runs right through society, the Tories fail to pinpoint the areas where genuine crises persist. The broken-Britain myth is worse than scaremongering—it glosses over those who need help most.

The bad old days

The broken Britain of legend is one where danger stalks the streets as never before. In the real Britain, the police have just recorded the lowest number of murders for 19 years. In mythical broken Britain, children are especially at risk. Back in real life, child homicides have fallen by more than two-thirds since the 1970s. Britain used to be the third-biggest killer of children in the rich world; it is now the 17th. And more mundane crimes have fallen too: burglaries and car theft are about half as common now as they were 15 years ago. Even the onset of recession has not reversed that downward trend so far.

Comatose teenagers line every gutter in the boozy Britain of popular imagination. Yet after a long period of increase, there are tentative signs that Britons are drinking less alcohol. The overall consumption of drugs is dropping (though some narcotics, including cocaine, are becoming more popular) and rates of smoking are now among the lowest in Europe.

As for family breakdown, some commentators seem to think that sex really was invented in 1963. British grannies know differently. Teenage pregnancy is still too common, but it has been declining, with the odd hiccup, for ages. A girl aged between 15 and 19 today is about half as likely to have a baby in her teens as her grandmother was. Her partner will probably not marry her and he is less likely to stick with her than were men in previous generations, but he is also a lot less likely to beat her. In homing in on the cosier parts of the Britain of yesteryear, it is easy to ignore the horrors that have gone. Straight white men are especially vulnerable to this sort of amnesia.

A dangerous misdiagnosis

Such forgetfulness can be partly blamed on a dominant national press that tends to report the grotesque exceptions not the blander rule. But politicians have connived in this. Labour is far from blameless, but it is the Tories who are on course to be the next government. In attempting to convince voters that society has suffered a comprehensive breakdown (and pandering to his own party’s right wing), Mr Cameron has been guided towards social policies that are designed to heal the entire country, rather than help the relatively few who need it. His proposed tax break for married couples and gay civil-partners is an example. It does nothing for workless households. It would help only 11% of the 4m British children in poverty, while handing bonuses to plenty of well-off people. That would be a bad idea at any time; in a period when the state must tighten its belt it is an extraordinary proposal.

Above all, however, it is a distraction from the Conservatives’ far better policies to deal with something that does need fixing: education. The main reason why a small but worrying proportion of families and young people is falling behind is that schools are failing to give them the skills they need to get and hold a job. This is about more than Britain’s ability to compete in a brave new globalised world that demands flexible, highly skilled workers. It also has to do with social behaviour.

The waning of the manufacturing jobs that used to be the mainstay of the working class has created a generation of young males, in particular, who don’t know what to do with themselves. Britons have been boozers and scrappers for centuries, but self-destructive behaviour today in part reflects the perception that their lives are not worth much. As for children bearing children, there is evidence elsewhere that if girls are given better education—not just about sex, but also in areas likely to improve their job prospects—they are less likely to get pregnant at 16. Yet for all the official talk at home about ever-improving exam results, Britain is beginning to slide down the international league table of educational attainment.

The government used to be keen on overhauling education but it has run out of puff. Now it is the Tories who have thoughtful ideas about getting more good school places through supply-side reforms. They should focus on these rather than proselytising about marriage, which suggests a nannying streak curiously at odds with Mr Cameron’s (largely correct) view that government has got too big for its boots. Britain has a crunched economy, an out-of-control deficit and plenty of social problems; but it is not “broken”.

Saturday 3 July 2010

Friday 25 June 2010

Barnsley Millionaire

We weren't allowed to go and film with the Lottery winner because of his poor health so relied on the Lottery's press department to supply us with footage. All they gave us was two photos of Ashley and a few interview clips which made it a very 'shot-challenged' story, as it's known in the industry. This meant I had to tell it in a way that didn't keep referring to him winning the lottery. One of our cameraman managed to find Gary's friends at his local pub so he went and filmed with them as well as at the newsagents where Ashley had bought the ticket. Then I used archive footage of: Barnsley FC's stadium, Oakwell, and New York.

Saturday 19 June 2010

World Cup Podcasts

There's quite a few daily World Cup podcasts on offer and I've had a good listen. Expect to hear discussion on the Jabulani match ball and the noisy vuvuzelas mentioned in every podcast at least once. Here are a few in order of my preference:

1. Top spot has to go to BBC Radio 5 Live's World Cup Daily. Mark Chapman or Mark Pougatch present the day's highlights from South Africa. The podcast includes clips of the commentary of the goals and the summarisers' post match analysis and interviews with players and managers. It's my favourite of these podcasts because they have the best World Cup commentators, summarisers and interviewees on the radio and it's only 15 minutes long, instead of thirty plus like the rest of them.

2. The ITV Football Podcast, like 5 Live's, is short and sweet. Former 5 Live presenter Matt Smith and the very able Ned Boulting go through the day's match action and news from the tournament with the ITV Sport commentators and summarisers including Peter Drury, Chris Coleman and Andy Townsend. I like the podcast because they have a good knowledge of football and throw in facts and figures you didn't know.

3. Alan Davies' Armchair World Cup unlike all the other podcasts reviewed here, this one's also broadcast on the radio and is weekly, not daily. It's an amusing, quirky take on the events in South Africa in front of a studio audience. Davies' presents it along with guests Ian Stone and DJ Tayo and it's actually very funny, not that I'm normally a fan of Alan Davies. It's broadcast first on BBC Radio 5 Live on Sundays at 11am.

4. Former Channel 4 Football Italia presenter James Richardson presents the Guardian's offering, World Cup Daily with a few friends. Lively, jokey and decent summaries of the day's matches. Richardson interviews newspaper journalists based abroad about the different countries' performances. But at 35 minutes or more, it's only going to be regularly listened to by the most keen World Cup followers.

5. ESPN's Fifa World Cup Today is hilarious but for all the wrong reasons. It's an American podcast mainly focused on the fate of the USA team presented by a man named Chuck Wilson! Think Fox News meets the World Cup. It's awful. The ESPN match highlights are so bad you do wonder if it's the first "soccer match" the commentators have ever been to, for example, one commentator pronounced Gerrard (as in Steven) with a hard G! Worth listening to just once for the experience.

So plenty of World cup podcasts to get your teeth into. Have you found any other decent ones?

BLOG UPDATE 22.06.10

I've since come across ‘The Game’ World Cup podcast from The Times through reading the paper (if you search 'World Cup' in iTunes it doesn't come up - sort your search engine optimisation out The Times!). Gabriele Marcotti presents the podcast on a dodgy line from South Africa. He speaks to The Times sports journalists, including Oliver Kay, Matt Dickinson and Patrick Barclay, over the phone in the UK. Marcotti's strengths are his football knowledge and strong opinions, an Italian/American Alan Green if you will but this podcast suffers from two drawbacks. Firstly, the sound quality is awful which hardly makes it an enjoyable listen and then there’s the fact that it’s made up of phone conversations with journalists in the UK – it simply doesn't give you the atmosphere of the tournament. You can subscribe to it here.