Critical Reflection on Myself as a Digital Journalist.

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Getting the interview.

In terms of contacting interviewees, I learned the basic skills of where to look in order to contact particular companies or individuals. I used several different emails, including the company itself and personal emails, and even resorted to social media in order to gain contact with the person I wished to interview. This proved to be effective and is a skill that I will take forward with me throughout my time as a digital journalist.

I learned that the majority of the time, people are happy to give their views on issues that mattered to them, as long as you are prepared to give them a fair and frank platform in which to express their take on the subject.

Video.

In terms of video skills, this is something I am somewhat lacking in experience however it taught me the importance of being able to multitask, ie holding a camera with a firm hand at the same time as holding a meaningful conversation.

I used my iPhone 5c to film the interview, which I believe produced a reasonable quality of video. This practise seemed to prove effective as my interviewee was very nervous about the prospect of speaking on camera, and the whole experience seemed a little less daunting, and less formal when practised with an everyday phone rather than a huge camera in his face.

Unfortunately, on reflection my shot appears to be more in the medium shot range, rather than medium close up range – and therefore this is something that I have taken the time to revisit and revise in order to not fall foul of the same mistake again, allowing me to have a better idea of what shots are required of me in future assignments and my future experiences as a digital journalist.

Although I used the basic software of Youtube Editor in order to edit my interview together, I believe this practise was effective as it provided the basics of video editing in which I can build my skill set on and this allowed me to edit clips together in an easy and simple but professional format.

Unfortunately, under the pressure of getting the assignment together I made the basic mistake of forgetting a simple requirement – to caption my 30 second clip. This mistake has taught me I must write a checklist in line with the MIP in order to ensure that I don’t lose easy marks under time pressures.

Social Media.

I had some issues in the social media department. Although I still believe that the use of hashtags on twitter is still one of the most effective ways of gathering responses and information on social media, I do not have the biggest following on twitter and only a small proportion of them are in Preston and therefore have any idea of my subject matter. This resulted in my only responses tending to be from peers within the journalism course.

For future reference, I will definitely try and take my posts to areas of social media in which people will know what I am talking about, even if they don’t necessarily have me as a friend or follow me. For example, when asking views on the referendum on YBD, I could have gone onto the student union and fresher’s Facebook pages and asked people’s views on there. In hindsight this would have been much more effective practise and in turn would likely have boosted my marks in terms of social media elements.

Images.

The images I used were in fact relevant to the story in question, however in future I would only use images of buildings as secondary references rather than as main focal points.

If I were to do the assignment again, I would likely have used ‘action shot’ style images of YBD staff and customers in action for example an image of a YBD member of staff serving a drink to a customer or images of queues lining up outside of YBD’s venue Macs to show the popularity of the place and the issue.

Write up.

I feel that my news stance was strong and would definitely use this style to articulate an issue or event again, however I have taken on board feedback and on reflection I realise that I was too concerned with everybody knowing the background, before launching in with what is really interesting. If I were to cover the same story again, then I would launch in with an interesting quote to draw people in and then go back and cover the context of the issue, rather than feeling the need to cover everything in a chronological fashion.

In story two, I worked hard to ensure that the quotes from the people I spoke to, led the piece rather than me leading the piece with context. Hopefully this was a more interesting approach to take.

Data.

For data, I used Survey Monkey to conduct a basic survey about nightlife in Preston. This proved effective as I gained a high number of respondents through sharing the post on various UCLan Facebook pages in order to draw in the appropriate audience. I then used the site to analyse the results which I decided conveyed through the storytelling, rather than a graph alone as this will explain what the results mean in line with the story subject and the graph will be there simply to compliment the story in a visual fashion.

Audio.

I asked students on and around campus if they could tell me their favourite club in Preston and the reason for this, and compiled the answers together in the form of a voxpop. I feel this was effective as it was a quick and easy way to display the views of students, however I was slightly hindered by the time scale as I tended to have to use the shortest answers rather than the best and most effective.

I used Soundcloud to embed the audio into my piece which works effectively and is a good visual to add to the piece also. I would definitely use Soundcloud again.

Mapping.

I felt that mapping would have more relevance to my story than a timeline so decided to map the main student living areas in proximity to the main clubs and bars. I feel that this was effective as I used google maps which allowed me to pin point specific areas and use my own images to represent different points.

In hindsight I would’ve liked to link the map more directly to the story and my survey results in order to talk about whether proximity had any bearing on the results. After witnessing colleagues work, I would also consider using the software Storymap next time as this seems to be slightly more visually effective.

Summary.

Generally speaking, I enjoyed the freedom of going out and find our own stories to interpret in our own way, and I will most definitely take forward the software that I have learned to use in the process.

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