REVIEW: News Associates journalism training

15 09 2014

I look after the internship programme at Men’s Fitness magazine. Recently I’ve realised how several journalism students who signed up for the NCTJ course (which I did with News Associates in 2009) start to become disillusioned with it because they didn’t know all the facts about what they were signing up for. For example, if you want to be a court reporter for the Surrey Comet it’s golden, but if you want to be features writer for Esquire it might drain your creative juices. Anyway, I reviewed the course after I finished it back in 2010, and given it still appears to be relevant, here it is again. Hope it helps.

Reassessthepress's Blog

Here I hope to offer up some of my personal experiences of journalism that could help those considering disembarking society and becoming a career hack. First I review my training with News Associates.

Enough is enough. I’ve been completely side tracked. I set this blog up in the first place with the interests of journalism at heart. Specifically to give a firsthand account of the travails experienced in pursuing a career as a trainee in the media. Upstart Liverpool and Man City supporters respectively and of late David Beckham’s Achilles have distracted my attention. So back to the subject at hand…

I tumbled out of university back in 2008, a history graduate, with the big, bad world sprawled out ahead of me. My dissertation studying the portrayal of the first black heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson (please refrain from picturing the beach-bum surfing, acoustic guitar strumming Hawaiian) in the black…

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My neglected blog – 2011 in review

3 01 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 27 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.





With City’s victory over United, is the tide turning in Manchester?

22 04 2011

Based on comments made in forums and chat rooms after Manchester City’s FA Cup semi final win over United, was the result as monumental for the fans as the press would have you believe?

With Edwin van der Sar’s poor clearance, Michael Carrick’s slack pass and Yaya Toure’s opportunistic finish Manchester City clinched a 1-0 victory over their fierce rivals United and marched onto their first FA Cup final in 30 years.

The facts will read thus: Roberto Mancini’s team will face Stoke City in the final of the FA Cup. It will be their best opportunity in recent years to end a trophy-less era stretching back 35 years since winning the League Cup of 1976. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side will have to wait another year to challenge for the famous domestic cup, which they last won in 2004 having been beaten in two final appearances since.

In the league the Citizens are competing with Tottenham Hotspur for the lucrative 4th place and Champions League qualification. In contrast the Red Devils now have their sights firmly set on a well-positioned assault on the Barclays Premier League and Champions League crown.

These are the facts, yes, but for the red and blue sides of Manchester the 16 April 2011 has had and will continue to have dramatic ramifications for years to come.

City – A watershed moment

The overwhelming reaction from City fans has been one of unbridled joy and optimism.

“Today the team got a monkey off their back. This will instil the confidence in the players that they can beat the best in the land on a regular basis. The celebrations at the end showed that. This result could be the turning point for the team.” Burtonblue on bluemoon-mcfc.co.uk

Several City fans see Saturday’s result as a momentous, watershed moment for the blue side of Manchester – with a playing squad and budget to match the top teams in England – marking the start of better things to come for Roberto Mancini’s team.

“We may lose the final to Stoke – we know that would be kind of typical City – but Saturday 16th April for me is now the start of Year 1.” The Blue Panther on bluemoon-mcfc.co.uk

United – Bitter pill to swallow

For United supporters, the enduring memory from the Wembley defeat was one of indignation. That, and disappointment that these City upstarts dare upstage the team in red and dash their prospects of repeating the treble triumph of 1999.

Unsurprisingly the United fans were also playing down the significance of the result, highlighting how much the team have yet to play for this season.

“If anybody said we had to lose out on one, of course it’d be FA Cup. Yes, to be 90 mins away from a final and not get there is disappointing, even more so when it’s against your city rivals, but I’m sure we’ll forget about this if we win the title or the CL.” MUFCgal on redcafe.net

Some were even feigning relief the treble was no longer on the cards, yet fellow members quickly quashed this suggestion. Clearly the fans are despondent an opportunity to relive the magic of ‘99 has been denied.

“Lets not win the treble because it’s special being a one-off? What a load of nonsense. Good thing our Manager doesn’t have that mentality.” BG on rednews.co.uk

Furthermore, this result has served as a wakeup call for United fans with member comments alluding to a realisation City are now more than mere noisy neighbours – and it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

“We all know Saturday’s loss will need a long time before it is erased from the memory. Now they have finally beaten us in a meaningful way they will want to use it to the max especially with all the moolah they have. No 19 [top flight league wins] would go some way to softening the blow but the taste it has left will be bitter for a good while.” daviephi on rednews.co.uk

Manchester thanks Sheikh Mansour

While the United fans were licking their wounds the City fans were quick to pay tribute to two individuals in particular: their owner Sheikh Mansour, who they feel has more than shown his commitment to the club, and their often-maligned manager Mancini.

“Just can’t believe what has happened to us so quickly and cant thank Sheikh Mansour enough! I look at our squad now and if we get Champions League…it blows my mind! We will be legends for years to come but will never forget our history!” richards30 on bluemoon-mcfc.co.uk

While the optimism is clear to see some are just thankful for the memories the result provided, presumably none more so than Mancini who looks to have finally endeared himself to the fans.

“I know if we were to finish 5th and lose the final my attitude will change again but I have been saying that even if we finish top 4 I would still like [Mancini] to be removed of his duties…now I am not so sure. Whatever the future holds thank you Roberto for that moment yesterday, something I will remember for a long time!” OriganiNinja on bluemoon-mcfc.co.uk

A Manchester in transition

So in the longer term, what does the result mean for each team’s future prospects? In brief: a brighter outlook for City, a bleaker outlook for United.

“Fergie has a huge job to do to get us over the line for 19, (I do not think we have the ammunition to win the CL) and an even huger task to recruit/rebuild and shed dead wood this summer. It’s not going to be easy. If the berties [slang for City fans] qualify for the CL, this guy at the Arse puts his hand in his pocket and Dogleash [sic] starts spending we will need to do some very astute wheeling and dealing, starting NOW!” Everred on rednews.co.uk

The red fans have been aware of a transition taking place in the northwest and are wary of the challenge City will bring to their recent dominance. The fraught second Manchester derby last season was billed as such – as this author wrote ahead of that lunchtime contest at Eastlands.

That match was dramatically settled with a last gasp Paul Scholes header, which the United midfielder recently described as “one of the best things I have ever done”. Those memories are set in stark contrast with his actions in the teatime clash at Wembley where Scholes and his teammates cut forlorn figures desperately trying to cling onto a superiority that has been rapidly eroding over the past two seasons.

The Treble and the Auto Windscreens Shield

Despite the immediate implications of Saturday’s result and another reminder of the shift in momentum in Manchester, some fans offered a sense of nostalgic perspective.

“It’s hard to believe the position we are now in. I remember us getting beaten by Bury around 12 years ago and wondered if we would ever get back near to the top. We have and it is all down to one man…” kismet on bluemoon-mcfc.co.uk [on post headed “Manchester thanks Sheikh Mansour”]

These memories hark back to the 1998-99 season, when City were battling in the old Third Division (and United were building to a famous treble), chronicled in Mark Hodkinson’s Blue Moon:

“Sensibly, staff at Maine Road seldom mention Manchester’s other team these days,” wrote Hodkinson. “United are success, money, glamour and a 1-1 draw with Juventus in the semi-final of the Champions League, while City are failure, debt, calamity and a 2-1 home defeat to Mansfield Town in the Auto Windscreens Shield.”

It is a testament to how far City have come to be competing, once again, for the most coveted prize of English cup football yet highlights one of the greatest strengths this United can boast under Ferguson – that of a remarkable consistency and staying power at the top.

City have won four FA Cups in their history. In Sir Alex Ferguson’s 24-year tenure at United he has held the trophy aloft on five occasions, with the club amassing 11 wins in the competition overall.

“While they cared on the day, and I’m sure it still hurts a bit, it would have pained us a hell of a lot more. Celebrating is great and we deserve it after beating them but it brings us back around to this small club mentality. We should enjoy this now, enjoy the small victories, because we’ll have them singing non stop when they win the Premiership at the end of the season and God help us if they get to the CL final and Barca have an off day.” Rahart on bluemoon-mcfc.co.uk

Stoke and silverware is just the start

For now, objectives such as to knock United “off their perch” will have to wait but in the short-term City have all the weapons in their armoury, with gifted players an astute management team and an ambitious oil-rich backer, to challenge their cross-town rivals.

“Even if they don’t win it they’ll bang on about it for ages like the Leeds lot still do. 1-0 blah blah blah. It’s horrible. We better get used to it because they’ll be there or thereabouts as long as they have the money and with SAF set to retire one day it will be tough.” Claymore on redcafe.net

The Citizens won’t be happy until parity is unequivocally confirmed in the League and in the Champions League but ending 35 years of hurt – something that puts Arsenal’s current woes in perspective – will go a long way to restoring the balance of Manchester.

Then of course, if United secure the Barclays Premiership, the blue and red armies will be locking horns again at the home of English football in the curtain-raiser to the 2011-12 season for the FA Community Shield.

Whether United fans like it or not, it appears City have joined the top table of English football and the Red Devils will have a fight on their hands to hold onto the silverware.





2010 in review

3 01 2011

So people do actually read this…thanks whoever you are. See more of my features, blogs and interviews at sport.co.uk be merry and enjoy the New Year!

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,600 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 10 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 30 posts. There were 29 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was July 7th with 99 views. The most popular post that day was Spain v England: a Champions League class apart.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, en.wordpress.com, student-loan-consilidation.com, and it.wikipedia.org.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for spain football, wayne bridge girlfriend, child snatcher, aston villa, and vanessa peronccel.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Spain v England: a Champions League class apart February 2009

2

Twitter and the twit: How the John Terry affair has granted the press their freedom February 2010
7 comments

3

Bitter legacies or best of friends – the top 10 greatest sporting rivalries March 2010
1 comment

4

England’s World Cup squad as Capello sees it – the goalkeepers February 2010
4 comments

5

Sonya Says: England must learn from mistakes or fear punishment March 2009
2 comments





From Ugo Monye to Gary Mabbutt to Beth Tweddle: My interviews @ sport.co.uk

3 12 2010

What do UFC’s John Hathaway, Patrick Barclay of the Times and Spurs legend Gary Mabbutt have in common?

What links England rugby’s Ugo Monye, Steve Borthwick and Lee Mears to Wales rugby’s Ian Bishop, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton and Leigh Halfpenny??

What secret does Ryder Cup hero Sam Torrance, Great Britain’s champion gymnast Beth Tweddle and Irish and Lions icon Keith Wood share???

He's got a little secret

The answer: they’ve all had a chat with me, Sam Rider!

Click here, on the highlighted names or click the link below to check out my revelatory, eye-opening, exclusive interviews during my internship with sport.co.uk

http://www.sport.co.uk/features.aspx





Paul the octopus style F1 predictions

9 10 2010

The oracle’s skills are not limited to mere World Cup knock-out prophesying; here he casts his tentacles at forecasting the Formula 1 final standings

Hamilton, Alonso, Webber, Button and Vettel (not pictured) are all in the hunt for the championship

On Friday morning before practice sessions began, the vociferous Japanese supporters sprawled across the Suzuka circuit, paying tribute to one of the most supreme drivers ever to grace the rollercoaster circuit in the land of the rising sun. Ayrton Senna was adored by the influential Soichiro Honda developing an affinity with the Japanese crowd whenever he hit those shores.

This weekend five drivers are all poised and capable to emulate the great Brazilian and set up a thrilling culmination to what has been an utterly absorbing F1 season.

Here Sport.co.uk gives you a preview of what to expect at Suzuka, the implications for next week’s South Korean grand prix being cancelled and in Paul the Octopus fashion, we ponder how the prospective final standing table may look come 14 November and the end of the 2010 F1 season.

Preview – Red Bull look primed

Table-topping Mark Webber, exciting Sebastian Vettel and relentless Red Bull have been setting the pace again this weekend. In Friday’s practice sessions the two drivers topped the timing sheets, narrowly ahead of Renault’s Robert Kubica who also impressed.

In a crucial week for McLaren, currently playing catch-up in points and performance, the team have so far struggled to make much of an impression. Jenson Button could only manage 12th on the time sheets and Lewis Hamilton, in the wars of late after retiring in the two previous races, has again suffered misfortune.

A crash ruling him out of much of the practice sessions has left him poorly prepared for Sunday and an illegal gearbox change has seen him handed a five-place penalty on the grid. He will hope the notion that bad luck comes in threes rings true this weekend and he can collect some much needed championship points.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who this week dubbed himself the title favourite in typically brash manner has been boosted with the momentum taken from winning the last two races, shaving the gap to within 11 points of Webber. He has valuable experience, winning at Suzuka twice.

Suzuka girls

With the withdrawal of Japanese car manufacturer Toyota from F1 this year after eight seasons, the presence of two home drivers in Sakon Yamamoto and Kamui Kobayashi is sure to crank up the intensity and interest at Suzuka.

South Korea party poopers

The news of inspectors marching into Korea is nothing new these days but on this occasion concerns have been raised in the South. Next weekend the F1 calendar has South Korea’s Yeongam marked down as the venue for round 17.

However speculation has been rife that problems with completing the circuit may render the venue unfit for the drivers and it is yet to pass an FIA inspection usually completed months before race day.

It is an alarming proposition for racing fans and the Far Eastern investors who were expecting 2010 would be the year South Korea was added to the four other Asian venues that make up this intoxicating globe-trotting season.

Nevertheless, the dilemma has potentially shortened the race calendar to only three remaining races. Japan, Brazil and Abu Dhabi will host the other three final grand prix. For teams and drivers last season’s memories and results are sure to play a fascinating part in determining who gets pole, who skids into the tyres from the start and who will ultimately be finishing 2010 as World Champion.

Paul the Octopus predicts

If this eventuality comes to fruition the experiences at the same venues last season may prove a psychological advantage. Donning the role of Paul the Octopus we have put two and two together to get the final standings (based on last year’s results) for the 2010 Formula 1 season.

Paul the octopus

If we attribute this season’s points to their positions at Suzuka, Interlagos and Yas Marina and tot them up with their current haul it makes for an intriguing final table with only one point separating the top two. Remember 25 points for 1st, 18 for 2nd and 15 for 3rd.

Webber is in the proverbial pole position sitting on top of the standings table with 202 points. He struggled in Japan last year, waltzed to the chequered flag in Brazil and second spot in Abu Dhabi; ergo Paul predicts the Australian will collect 43 points from the three races this year.

Alonso, currently holding second place, disappointed at the culmination of last year, taking only the solitary point from the three races after finishing 10th in Japan.

Hamilton began showing signs that McLaren’s technical team had recovered from their woeful start making it onto the podium in 3rd place twice yet did not finish in Abu Dhabi. He ultimately came away with 36 points from the corresponding venues.

Vettel excelled when it came to crunch time. The brazen German finished first at Suzuka last season, 4th in Brazil and top spot again at Yas Marina collecting 65 points.

Finally, Button did just enough to hold onto the top spot overall – largely due to his blistering start to the season – managing to scrape together 29 points from an 8th, 5th and 3rd result respectively.

Final scores

Now to our mollusced mate. Paul…what are the scores?

You couldn’t make this up, or perhaps we just have: Alonso can only muster 192 points overall. Button didn’t do enough with 206. Fellow Brit Hamilton paid for those retirements, amassing 218. And so, drum roll please…separating the Red Bull drivers by the narrowest of margins, Webber collects 245 to the 246 of the young German, and new Formula 1 World Champion, Sebastian Vettel!

FYI the final standings for the two teams in the frame would finish McLaren, 424 points, Red Bull, 491 points. World domination awaits the feisty German, team principal Christian Horner and that drink that gives you wings.

Drivers’ Championship: Fernando Alonso 192 | Jenson Button 206 | Lewis Hamilton 218 | Mark Webber 245 | Sebastian Vettel 246

Constructors’ Championship: McLaren 424 | Red Bull 491

Sebastian Vettel number 1





South East Asia

4 09 2010

Thailand…Cambodia…More to follow…