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.