Occupy from the Inside

Following my coverage of the BCCA occupation, I tried to get my article into the Bournemouth University newspaper, ‘The Rock’. Unfortunately, before the paper was due to be printed, new developments meant that my article was pushed aside. Members of the Occupy movement had ‘occupied’ Bournemouth University’s pedestrian entrance. They wished to speak with the university’s Chancellor, who is also the President of the UK Supreme Court. Naturally, this development so close to the campus took precedence, and my article was not published.

The Occupy development gave me a window of opportunity, however. Continuing from the patch reporting, and the subsequent unpublished BCCA article, I was keen to gain more real journalistic experience. I felt more confident about tracking down and speaking to sources, and with finding ‘news-worthy’ events to report on, and despite my article remaining unpublished, I still felt keen to write for the newspaper. As such, when The Rock approached me to report on the occupancy of Bournemouth University, I agreed. I would be able to incorporate some of my previous reporting on the BCCA site, as well as report ‘from the inside’ of the university occupiers. I felt that this would give me valuable experience, and I was keen to learn more of the wider Occupy movement.

I spoke at length with the occupiers, finding out their aims and goals. My reporting led me to court, where the occupiers were on trial. Talbot Village Trust, the owners of the land that the occupiers are camping on, were seeking to evict the occupiers. In this, they were successful, with the judge issuing an “order of possession forthwith.” My first time in court was an unforgettable and valuable experience, and I was glad I was able to follow the Occupy members into court. Afterwards, I caught up with Gary, one of the representatives of the encampment, and we headed for a ‘debriefing’.

Overall, my journalistic reporting led me to new and valuable experiences. My article was eventually published in The Rock, and I feel that I gained useful experiences in journalism. I was also pleased that I managed to understand and gain insight into the Occupy movement first-hand, speaking to several members and understanding more about the group’s aims and goals.

How to use Twitter (pt.2)

Blogging edition.

During my search for how to get the most out of Twitter, I came across an article from problogger.net entitled “How to use Twitter – Tips for Bloggers“. Twitter is a powerful tool for communicating and sharing information, and so I thought I would share the tips of the blog here. The tips are written below, however I recommend viewing the article to get the most out of the tips. Only the headings are stated here, as the intention of this post is not to copy word-for-word the blog but to point bloggers in the right direction. Blogging and Tweeting go hand-in-hand, I always think, as both are forms of communicating and sharing information. Twitter is a powerful tool for publicising blogs, and engaging with followers.

1. Define the outcomes you want to achieve

2. Stay disciplined with your objectives

3. Be original and useful

4. Learn that every tweet counts

5. Monitor your reply ratio

6. Learn to use Direct Messages

7. Ask Questions

8. Don’t be a self-centred Tweeter

9. Be active

10. Promote your twitter feed

11. Connect with others in your nice

12. Pick an avatar and profile page that reinforces your brand

13. Consider your personal tweet strategy

14. Find your voice

15. Work with the rhythm of your followers


How to use Twitter (pt.1)

I realised recently that Twitter can be under-used, with some aspects or tools overlooked. For example, upon reading an article (How to: Use Twitter lists) recently I realised that I do not use lists as often as I should.

Twitter lists allow you to group people or organisations into modifiable lists, letting you group people/organisations by categories or names. As the article states:

In other words, you can create a list that groups together people for whatever reason (the members of your family, for example), and then you can get a snapshot of the things those users are saying by viewing that list’s page, which includes a complete tweet stream for everyone on the list. Lists allow you to organize the people you’re following into groups, and they even allow you to include people you’re not following.

 Lists can be both private or public, allowing you to recommend lists or hide them completely. Once you have created a list (e.g. “NGOs” or “Journalists”), you can then view the list’s feed, showing you a Twitter feed of related, relevant tweets pertaining to your category, for instance. You can even list people that you aren’t following, to save you clogging up your regular feed.
You can find lists to follow in numerous ways. Mashable lists two here:

Listorious – Listorious is a third-party site that maintains a categorized directory of Twitter lists. You can search or browse through lists by category, and find the most popular lists.

TweetMeme Lists – Readers of Mashable will be familiar with TweetMeme, which exposes the most tweeted links on Twitter and powers the “retweet” buttons on all of our articles. Just like it does for links, TweetMeme also finds the most tweeted about Twitter Lists.

Boscombe and the BCCA

As stated in my previous post I reported on a story in Boscombe for a News and Journalism assignment. I uncovered a story which I followed up after the assignment was handed in, as I was keen to report on any further developments. The Boscombe Centre for Community Arts (BCCA) building was occupied by members of the Occupy movement and associated groups such as Anonymous who were fighting Bournemouth Council’s plans to demolish much of the historic site and build flats for first-time buyers. The occupiers wanted to restore the building to its original purpose, opening it up to the community once more. I uncovered an offer by a local GP to purchase the site and open a health clinic inside the building as well as retaining, and restoring, the community arts facilities. After reporting on this, I decided to head down to the site once more and report on further developments.

Although my assignment was handed in, I knew that the occupation was not finished and decided to report on the occupation in a larger article for Bournemouth University’s newspaper, ‘The Rock’. Booking out a DSLR camera and a dictaphone, I headed down to the site and took photographs and interviewed the occupants again. That evening, the BCCA was host to a poetry evening. A mixture of occupiers and residents gathered in front of a makeshift stage, where people took turns reciting their own poetry in the once disused auditorium. A guitar hooked up to an amplifier, as well as a drum kit, were also present, leading to jam sessions. Melodic guitar riffs were played in the background as the poetry was recited in the dark hall, with only the stage lit. Occupiers had painted their own artwork, and set it up around the stage and in a room which was becoming an art gallery. It was a moving night, and I was glad to have attended. I managed to grab some useful photographs and quotes, and although I was there as a journalist, I felt moved by the aims of the occupiers. They wanted to reopen the community centre, and felt that the council was ignoring the wishes and needs of the local community. As one occupier said to me, if Boscombe gains more houses, it will need more community centres, not less. Despite trying to remain objective and detached, I felt that their aims were honourable, and resonated with their cause.

What began as a report for a simple 300 word article turned into something greater. I felt that the BCCA story was too important and interesting to ignore, and so headed back after the assignment was handed in to report on the poetry evening and see how the occupiers were getting on. In doing so, I felt more comfortable with seeking out and reporting on news stories, as well as finding and speaking to sources. I felt that reporting on the BCCA story was a valuable experience, and I was glad that I followed it up.

Patch Reporting: Boscombe and the Arts Centre

As part of our News and Journalism unit, we were each assigned a “patch” of Bournemouth and tasked with finding and reporting on a story in that area. I was given Boscombe, an area of the South of England that faces high deprivation and poverty levels. This was my first real experience of journalism, and of scoping out “newsworthy” events to report on. I wondered how I was going to find a story, and how I would find relevant sources.

I headed down to Boscombe on several days, trying to find a story or event to report on. I had heard of the Occupy movement taking over an abandoned arts centre in Boscombe, and decided to check it out. Upon heading to the site of the Boscombe Centre for Community Arts (BCCA), I found the gates locked and nobody about. Decided I would rather not break in, I headed back and thought about ways to tackle the story. Once I got home, I decided to use social media to track down the occupants, and without much searching I found the BCCA occupation Facebook page, as well as several affiliated pages. I joined the group, and began speaking with several of the occupiers, arranging a time for me to visit the building and interview some members. I felt like I was making progress, and felt like I had found a story that was worthwhile and ‘news-worthy’. The occupiers were fighting to re-open the abandoned arts centre to the community, while the council had plans to demolish the historical building and build brand-new flats for first-time buyers. The story was definitely news-worthy, I thought, but it had also been reported on in the local news. I knew I had to find a new angle to the story. With some digging, I uncovered a piece of information that I felt was unreported, and perhaps crucial to some bigger picture.

I discovered that a local GP had offered to buy the building and the site from the council, and re-open it to the community. On top of this, he wanted to build a drop-in clinic inside the BCCA building. This health clinic would aim to tackle many of Boscombe’s issues including health issues and drug and alcohol addiction, allowing for a safe place where residents can drop in and be treated without fear of stigma. Boscombe has high levels of deprivation, poverty and health issues, and the GP aimed to tackle these issues. However, I found that this development was unreported in the local news, despite feeling that this was a crucial aspect of the story. The council stated that their plans to build flats was aimed at tackling Boscombe’s issues, yet it was clear to many that Boscombe needed more than new flats for buyers. It needed a community aspect and further investment in healthcare facilities. The GP’s offer was turned down by the council, and the development went unreported.

I tracked down the GP, a Dr. Ni’Man, and spoke to him on the phone. I wanted to discover his intentions behind the offer, and gather some quotes from him to use in the news article. After doing so, I pieced together the story and wrote the 300 word article for the assignment. However, the news reporting that I did went further than the assignment, as I eventually wrote a longer piece on the BCCA occupation, intended for the Bournemouth University newspaper, ‘The Rock’. I was surprised at how I was able to uncover such a story, which I felt was important to the local area, when I began with no set ideas. Once I began to follow an interesting angle, however, pieces seemed to fit together and I was able to discover more of the story, and more to report on. The sources that I contacted were keen to speak with me, and helped me to piece together much of the story. The exercise helped me to feel more confident in doing journalism, and led to a larger article which I penned for the university newspaper.