Women's Health Base

A look at women, the world and the web

Archive for October, 2008

Psycogeography and Problems with Technology

Posted by hannahflynn on October 29, 2008

I attempted some psycogeographythis week to increase the platforms used in this blog. Using the suggestion in Daniel Meadows’ lecture last week and armed with my dictaphone set off around Cathays Park.

I’m afraid the results have not been uploaded yet*, and this raises a few interesting points. First of all the technology. Issues with formatting have meant that I have not yet managed to edit the piece and issues with Blogger have meant that I am unable to upload it. (In fact I’m so frustrated with Blogger right now, I’m just about to move to WordPress, watch this space!).

A number of people have brought up the issue of time concerning multimedia journalism, its hard enough to write copy to deadline without having to podcast it, Flickrit and create a Flash package. I ran out of time before the deadline this week. Luckily for me, a blog is an ongoing piece of reporting and I can upload that piece when the time and expertise becomes available.

*5th November 2008

So far I have tried numerous pieces of software in an attempt to upload this and my advice to anyone else attempting to add an audio file to their blog is don’t. Do a video instead.

The silver lining to this quest has been the amout of free software I have discovered available to the public for producing, editing and uploading. I am planning on using Houndbite as an external host for my audio clip, MP3 cutter to edit it into the 15 minute ‘clips’ that Houndbite requires and Jodix to convert my WMA file to an MP3 (though you can use iTunes, or any old Mac to do this).

Also worthy of a mention in the free audio software hall of fame is Audacity. Its presented as an audio editing package but its really more appropriate for producing podcasts. You can just pop in your microphone and then record and edit all on the same programme. Plus you can use it on the JOMEC computers as its already installed.

What is particuarly useful for a begginner is that most of these come with pretty good user guides, some of them created by users themselves due to the web based nature of the software.

* Here it is (finally!)



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Cash For Cervical Screening

Posted by hannahflynn on October 28, 2008

Recently I was interviewing people for an article on what the minimum age should be for cervical smears in England, as it is higher than it is in the rest of the UK. The overwhelming consensus was that it wasn’t very clear, but what was certain was that women not turning up for their smears when they are first called was a major cause for concern.

The NHS announced today that they are injecting £250,000 into a campaign to tackle the falling numbers of women who turn up to their screening appointments in England, and it isn’t a moment too soon.

Its epidemiology 101 that you need to have 80% of the population covered in a screening programme for it to be most effective. Current figures for 25-29 year-olds are at 66.2%. I won’t bore you with the view that raising the minimum age is hardly going to encourage people to go; the figure stands alone.

However, maybe it isn’t all doom and gloom. Speaking to Robert Music at Jo’s Trust (a cervical cancer support charity) recently he claimed that a London hospital had told him the number of requests for smears had shot up from around 250 per week to around 750 since Jade Goody’s diagnosis. Every cloud…

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Social Networking in Journalistic Practice

Posted by hannahflynn on October 22, 2008

I have been looking for examples of organisations using social networking tools to find and recruit people. Luckily, so has Press Gazette’s Student Journalism Blog. By joining a Put Dr Pepper in all UK McDonalds group on Facebook, he has been targeted by a Channel 4 journalist looking for fast-food aficionados.

This is a classic example of how much easier it has become to find people (and target them) on sites where people group together according to interests or ‘beliefs’. I’ll be trying to contact this Channel 4 journalist to see how successful using social networking sites was for her documentary.

With regard to my own social networking networking experiment, The Waves is going relatively strong nearly a week after it began. The Facebook group has been the most successful (38 members, three discussion topics and 12 posts) example, probably because of the fact that you can invite people to it which increases the level of traffic. The launch of the blog was popular with several people who asked for it to become a community blog. I agreed after visions of becoming the administrator for the UK version of Feministing. However, no one else has posted anything yet.

I have had two people respond to the Yahoo group, and one person (already involved with the group) respond to my post on 43 Things.

It is less than a week into this experiment but I’m really starting to doubt the power of anything other than Facebook, but we will just have to wait and see.

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Facebook: The Voice of the People?

Posted by hannahflynn on October 16, 2008

Those who watched the last installment of Jamie Oliver’s new campaign for social justice, The Ministry of Food, on Channel 4 last Tuesday will know it was not going well. The people of Rotherham weren’t getting their mates round for a cook-up as Jamie’s food revolution manifesto had insisted on. So, he’s gone online.

On to MySpace to be exact*. And I’m left wondering; why didn’t he think of this earlier? A quick googling session later and its clear others have already jumped on the Ministry of Food bandwagon. Fans have already set up a website based on Jamie’s ‘pass-it-on’ campaign, which links to their Facebook page. Students’ favourite, Beyond Baked Beans has a Facebook page which has recently started promoting the ‘pass-it-on idea’ with a vlog showing people how to cook the recipes from the book. A brilliant branding idea.

Its not surprising as any campaign group worth its salt has at least a Facebook group these days. These are not only used as a forum for its members, but also as a recruitment and advertising technique which ensures as large a group as possible is aware of its presence.

It has been touched upon in lectures but I have failed to find many good examples of the positive influence that social networking can have on campaigns and grassroots activism. Then, completely by accident, a little experiment has fallen into my lap…

Wasting time cruising on Facebook, I found a post on a group’s wall looking for people willing to set up a feminist group in Cardiff. I fired off a message saying I was interested and ended up at a Cardiff Feminist Society – Founders Forum meeting at Milgi’s last night.

Having already discovered this using Web 2.0 social networking facilities I have decided to carry on in this vein. So, I have set up a community blog, a Facebook group, a Yahoo group and a posting on 43 Things to get the ball rolling.

Lets see what happens!

*Not Facebook as was suggested in the lecture!

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Who is Using UGC?

Posted by hannahflynn on October 12, 2008

A lot of people have been asking who the ‘online community’ that we keep on referring to is at JOMEC over the last couple of weeks. People have been blogging on it, debates have been raging in and out of the classroom and our most recent lecture was on who the ‘U’ in ‘UGC’ is. While it has pretty much been established that the contributors are not representative of the public as a whole, I have been questioning who it is that actually reads, watches and otherwise engages with user contributions.

The simplest answer to that question is pretty much everybody. Heather Hopkins head of research at Hitwise UK tells us that user-generated sites are becoming increasingly popular with people looking for news, “Earlier this year, we looked at three major news events: Saddam Hussein’s hanging, Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt during the World Cup, and the Israel-Lebanon conflict.

“When we looked at how people were searching for those events, and where they went after they’d searched, we found Google News, Wikipedia and YouTube figured more prominently than the sites of mainstream media news companies.”

This is being acknowledged by media chiefs, who must “adapt or die” according to ITV online Jon Godel. “We believe it is important to gauge the mood of the public and some members of the community, ethnic minorities or those with niche interests who have a social experience that is just not represented in mainstream news shows,” he said.

But what is the best way to do this with out undermining the tradition of quality news that these media centres have built their empires on? The BBC and CNN are the two biggest media corporations to develop separate user generated content sites: CNN with iReport and the BBC with Have Your Say. Jack Schofield recently argued in the Guardian, that providing these separate services with their own branding ensures that readers “do not confuse its professional news service with an unfiltered platform run by users.”

He may be right. As web 2.0 ensures that UGC = page views = advertising = money, it is important that users of UGC are able to see that it is just that. It’s not quality or investigative journalism… but it does give them a voice.

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Multimedia and Breaking News

Posted by hannahflynn on October 9, 2008

With multimedia journalism broadening the opportunities for user generated content (e.g. uploading video), it could be argued that multimedia opportunites are be best utilised when accompanying topics that the user can actively engage with. While this does limit the areas that will benefit from multimedia reporting, these are increasing as Web 2.0 takes over.

People at the forefront of online journalism are acknowledging this. Mindy McAdams, who has written a book on the subject, refers to Jim Ray, a multimedia producer at MSNBC.com in her blog.

He says, “We are not out breaking Watergate, its not the right medium for that.

“What we can do is take a complex issue and make it personal to a user who comes to our site and help them understand it better. We can provide a context and a different way to experience that story.”

Looking at the Guardian website today, its top UK multimedia story is about wardens being employed to sort out fights between cyclists and pedestrians. Hardly breaking news, but it is something that many users will be able to engage with.

The red tops are in on it too. The Mirror’s top video news story today investigates the possibility of a fuel price difference ban. This is also focused on the public’s opinion where possible.

You may also be interested in having a look at what onlinejournalismblog’s students did when faced with a Flash journalism assignment, which involved engaging with a number of multimedia forms of reporting. Fascinatingly they almost all chose to represent ethical and environmental issues, rather than engage with traditionally newsworthy topics.

And all you micro blogging aficionados out there should know they were twittering as they did it…

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