A critical reflection of WINOL’s General Election 2015 coverage

This year, as my final stint working for WINOL during my final year, I felt I learned about the more serious side of journalism as I took on the role of Presenter during the GE 2015 show. I also contributed towards content such as a constituency profile on Basingstoke and news stories about the politics in Basingstoke. I think that the quality of packages, presenting, production, the content and the team effort and output as a whole for this special WINOL GE 2015 show led to an outstanding piece of journalism: something everyone involved should be proud of.

After months of preparation, the team could not have been more prepared. WINOL had a large team of reporters, presenters, stand-in ‘presenters friends’, directors, producers and a huge amount of people working on production. It has to be said though that those who did the best job on the night were those who had done the research; who were prepared for anything and knew their facts and politics inside out. I felt that I was as well prepared as I could have been. I am usually not a politically minded person and to be honest, before this election special, did not have a clue about politics. Looking back, I am thankful that I chose to participate in the election special because it is not only fantastic in terms of experience, but actually forced me to teach myself about the political spectrum and ongoings in the UK.

For the election special, my role on WINOL was to be one of four presenters on the night. I presented a two hour slot from 10pm-12am. I wanted to present because I knew it would push my boundaries and also because it is something I aspire to do in my future career. I feel confident in my skills as a reporter, and so instead of playing it safe I wanted to be a little uncomfortable so that I would work harder. I also spent the other six hours manning the cameras, and running around helping out anyone who needed it, fixing talkback, getting batteries for mic’s etc.

I felt my voice was definitely a strong point. I spent the months leading up to the election watching news readers every day at home (and have done anyway since a young age) and so I find it easy to copy the way they sound. I also felt I had good diction and projected my voice well. I could feel myself growing in confidence as the night went on. I think the more I learn on this course the more I know I want to be on screen and talking as I think my strong points lie in this area of journalism. I actually surprisingly also felt that my chats with Henry were really strong. Considering a couple of months ago I would of blanked and not had a clue what to ask him for 10 minutes, I held on with loads of really good questions and bounced them off of what he said. I also felt that after a nervous beginning, I eventually loosened up into the role and became more relaxed in front of the camera.

I felt that my camera skills were good (as I also worked on the camera’s for most of the night). I thought I listened to the best of my ability and worked hard to stay focused even during the really late hours when we were flagging.

One downfall when it came to my presenting was that I sometimes thought so hard about presenting and concentrating on the auto-cue I didn’t automatically pick up when there was an error in the auto-cue. Similar to the scene in the film Anchorman, where the presenter just reads what is written without thinking, I did make a mistake in saying Steve Bryant rather than Steve Brine as it was written Bryant on the auto-cue however I realised prior to it and corrected it and carried on.

I felt really proud of my constituency profile which I did on Basingstoke. I also wrote six articles throughout April and May about the politics in Basingstoke. I decided against doing video reporting as I felt I had plenty of practice in video reporting over the last two years and felt it would be more beneficial to work on my news writing skills and using the task as a chance to do so. I am submitting three of my best articles for my final year project alongside the constituency profile, this critical reflection and my showreel.

Overall in terms of the show as a whole, I felt that one of the main successes was probably for once, our organisation and planning as a team. With only a medium-small team of reporters and only a few main people manning the whole of production, I felt we did a really good job of creating a WINOL special on the general election. We had many live Skype calls, numerous in-studio discussions, packages from reporters regarding how it the news and updates will affect each local constituency and also live interjections from our different reporters who were assigned a party to specialise in. I think we all worked really hard to pull together as a team, and considering that this was a huge full-scale operation, which even for the BBC would take months of preparation, I felt we did an outstanding job, and I am proud to have been a part of it.

According to my notes from each week we put into planning, we chopped and changed ideas about how the show would work a lot, but I feel that this shows our flexibility and creativity as a team to revisit our ideas constantly and criticising our own plans and structure which we previously might of decided on.

A huge and probably obvious progression since last year is that as a whole, we have all really refined our camera and technical skills as much as we can given the equipment, which means that the material we are producing looks much more professional. We are thinking more about how we can turn our stories into a visually interesting story which is important because it means we have better pictures. And we are learning the huge importance of social media and using new different types of technology such as iPhones, which we learned after the second years produced a whole WINOL bulletin filmed and edited on iPhones. This also meant we felt brave enough to rely on our iPhones for the OB’s Skype, which by something short of a miracle (and a few dongles) luckily worked perfectly all night.

We also had the chance this term to learn about how to be fearless when interviewing people, especially politicians. Those who worked as OB units or as reporters and especially the presenters, had to learn how to be sweet enough to keep a guest or Henry (our ‘presenters friend’) happy to talk, but strict enough with themselves to cut them off if necessary while remaining calm. We also had to know which questions we had to ask with care and when we could really go for it. Henry was an absolute triumph on the night and I really do think we wouldn’t have been able to keep the show running as smoothly as it did without him. I think without a doubt he was our man of the match.

Another positive to take from the WINOL GE 2015 special was our use of contacts. Most reporters kept in regular contact with those they had interviewed in the past, which was useful as it meant we could find guests and people to interview with ease, rather than struggling. People who were out in the field at the four main swing seats were able to use their contacts with the candidates to get us exclusive interviews throughout the night.

In my opinion, the only weak point was the last minute rush at 9:30pm which led to us not having time to check and test the autocue, which led to the auto-cue not working for the first ten minutes, and also meant that the camera in Tab 9, where Rhodri was going to be reading news, was not working at that point. However, by the end of the first quadrant the team had worked together to fix these problems live on air and the show went on. So therefore that also ties in with planning. The only way this can be improved is by students looking to the future, being a little more organised and thinking logically about things.

Production has been a whole new learning curve for the WINOL team this year as we have had the introduction of Studio 2. Studio 2 is much more high tech and produces, in my opinion, a much more beautiful and high quality finish to our bulletins and shows which we record there. It is a shame however that on the night we had to use Studio 1, because although the studio is better looking and larger, the gallery has much older technology and is harder to work as it can be unpredictable. Although the studio was absolute mayhem on the day, we did expect this and we knew that although we had a structure when we first went live, that within minutes, the structure would no doubt be broken and we would have to depend on a source or talkback letting us in on any changes. So for reporters or OB units outside the studio or university, this meant receiving a phone call. For presenters, this meant being told clearly in our ear piece by the directors and for everyone else in studio or in production, this meant listening very carefully to everything going on around them and staying focused.

In terms of statistics and audience figures, in comparison to other student journalism sites over the general election period, the WINOL livestream had more than 700 viewers throughout the night. This is our biggest audience ever.

We also had a post reach of just under 1,000 for the WINOL website and social media, which could be down to our live feed where we tried to constantly update the website alongside everything else (our social media, uploading videos etc). This is an increase of 37,776% on last week. It was vital to keep on top of our social media in the running up to and during the election night as this leads to more views which leads to our course and talents being given the chance to shine. So overall we have done really well in terms of getting our website rolling. The social media team did a great job of attracting attention.

I think overall that WINOL and the students have all performed to the best of our ability and we really pulled together and stayed professional throughout the whole show. But in terms of improvements to be made there are a few things that stand out to me. We could have done with another ‘presenter’s friends’ as poor Henry had to stay in studio for 8 hours and it was so hot and very tiring. We also could have prepared the scripts better as by the end all of the presenters had written all of their own in a bit of rush as we realised how much needed doing.

One of the things I picked up on as a great success was our sudden attention to any breaking news and we would have our presenters cut off to any reporter with the news and update our stories constantly. This is especially important during the election as the audience wants recent news, rather than footage we filmed or pre-recorded earlier. We should check constantly for updates on our stories with contacts or online. Reporters also need to keep on tweeting as they have been doing this term as it has made a huge difference. We also were hugely successful in staying balanced and keeping an eye on the legal side of things. We can’t report on everything the parties talk about (representation of people act), however I felt we covered every base extremely well and fairly. We overcame every single barrier that came our way. Throughout the night pretty much everything broke at one point, but we all kept on going and fixed things while the show continued, and that I think is our main success. We functioned like a real working newsroom and news company. I think we should be so proud of how far we have come, and we could consider ourselves the ones to beat in the student journalism world.

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Lucy Florence Wilson                                  

My critical reflection to be submitted as part of my FYP alongside my profile constituency package on Basingstoke, three reports (and one extra) and my showreel.

A critical reflection of WINOL’s General Election 2015 coverage

FYP | General election 2015: Meet the candidates working to become the next MP for Basingstoke

Conservative:

Maria Miller

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Maria Miller has been a member of parliament for Basingstoke since 2005. Born in Wolverhampton but brought up in South Wales, Miller is a mother to two sons and a daughter and married her husband Iain Miller in 1990. Now aged 51, she is an Anglican who studied at the London School of Economics. Miller was the Minister for Disabled People from 2010-2012, and was the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and also Minister for Women and Equalities from 2012-2014. The most well-known of all five candidates, after Miller was forced to resign from the cabinet due to public opinion in April 2014 after she had over-claimed expenses which was believed to have been a deliberate act of fraud. Despite this, Maria Miller has impressed locals with her commitment to her party, and has now been with the party for 32 years. Maria Miller hopes to bring changes by investing in roads, creating more school spaces, and building a new hospital.

“I think this is the most important election for a generation, people have got a decision in Basingstoke whether they want to continue with the conservative plan thats working for us here locally and nationally, or return to the chaos that was under labour.” “Over the last five years we’ve seen increased investment for Basingstoke into the services that make a real difference to peoples lives.”

Labour:
Dr Paul Harvey

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Dr Paul Harvey is currently the leader of Basingstoke’s Labour group, a ward councillor for Nordon, and Harvey has been a councillor in the town for 11 years. Harvey considers himself the top competition against Maria Miller in the fight for the seat in Basingstoke in this years election. Born and raised in Lincolnshire, Harvey, now aged 40, moved to Basingstoke a little over thirteen years ago. After years of studying politics and gaining a PhD at the University of Reading, Harvey is also currently an associate lecturer teaching social sciences for the Open University at Southampton Solent University. Following closely behind Maria Miller in the local newspapers polls, Harvey has served his party for 21 years. Dr Paul Harvey hopes to bring an end to zero hour contracts, create more rent or buy opportunities for people wanting to get on the housing ladder, and end austerity.

“We’ve had five years of austerity from a conservative government propped up by the Lib Dems and I’ve seen the impact of that in Basingstoke on peoples lives. Cuts have consequences, for example: We have 647 fewer police officers in Hampshire, we have had cuts to Homelessness charities and Homelessness projects, we see people in housing crisis who can’t afford to rent or buy in Basingstoke, we see people trapped in zero hour contracts, and we need to turn this around… I care about the future of this town.”

Liberal:
Janice Spalding

janice-spalding-with-freddie

Janice Spalding is this years candidate for Basingstoke, and has been with the party for 10 years. Spalding has lived in Basingstoke since 1999, and is a member of the Basingstoke Hockey Club. A social, open-minded person, Spalding is an IT expert after studying Computing in Business at Huddersfield Polytechnic. Janice Spalding hopes to gain trust from voters by creating more opportunities for young people, and looking into introducing more apprenticeships or creating more jobs.

“Liberal isn’t stuck in Dogma, we are pragmatists, we actually will look to see what works, what doesn’t work. We want a stronger economy and fairer society, but people should allowed to live their lives… I’ve worked all my life, worked in IT all my life, so I have a lot of working experience. I want to make sure that our youngsters have an opportunity in life, and thats really why I’m standing here today… I think, being realistic, the vote could go either way… I am a valid choice.”

UKIP:
Alan Stone

Alan-Stone-PPC

Alan Stone has been with the party for four years and is head of the UKIP group in Basingstoke. Stone runs Squirrels Antiques shop in Basingstoke, which is a family business run in the same shop in the centre of Basingstoke for decades. Stone has been campaigning hard to get UKIP further ahead in the election. Alan Stone hopes to bring changes such as introducing an option for students to take an Apprenticeship Qualification instead of the four non-core GCSEs, the redevelopment of brownfield sites and exempting stamp duty for new homes first sale.

“UKIP in Basingstoke, especially, is the only party thats joining forces with all the other parties…We don’t care who we work with as long as the result is correct for the town…I’ve been in Basingstoke now 48 years, I’m a local business man in Basingstoke, I run several shops, and I’m basically a decent honest hard-working person who has the towns interest at heart rather than my political career… Maria Miller is my main competition but 76% of the town do not like Maria Miller at all.”

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Lucy Florence Wilson                                  847 words

3rd of 3 reports to be submitted as part of my FYP alongside my profile constituency package on Basingstoke, my showreel and my critical reflection of the GE 2015 WINOL special show.

FYP | General election 2015: Meet the candidates working to become the next MP for Basingstoke

FYP | General Election 2015: UKIP councillor Matthew Ellery resigns following arrest

photo ukip councillor for news reportPhoto source: Facebook

A Basingstoke councillor has resigned from the UK Independence Party following his arrest over allegations of theft.

UKIP councillor for the Brighton Hill South ward, Matthew Ellery, was arrested on suspicion of theft from Squirrels Collectors Centre in New Street, Basingstoke last month. The Squirrels Collectors Centre is actually owned by Ellery’s father, Alan Stone, who is this years UKIP candidate for Basingstoke in the upcoming General Election on May 7th, and is an antiques shop.

Following the arrest, Ellery has been bailed until May 14th. Despite this, Ellery has announced his resignation from the party. He has also said that instead he plans to stand as an independent councillor.

The news might not come to a shock to locals who were surprised he won a seat in the first place following his movements on social media where he branded the women in his town ‘pug ugly’ and said that he ‘felt like stabbing someone’.

In an email seen by the Basingstoke Gazette, Ellery said that the decision would allow him “to represent the views of my constituency without interference”. He also said: “I strongly believe in enabling all people to have a voice, as this is fundamental to maintaining our rights and to a democratic society. I will no longer be silenced or oppressed by the local branch… It is no wonder so many young people feel disengaged from political parties if these parties only seek to exploit and control them once they become actively involved.”

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Lucy Florence Wilson                                  264 words

2nd of 3 reports to be submitted as part of my FYP alongside my profile constituency package on Basingstoke, my showreel and my critical reflection of the GE 2015 WINOL special show.

FYP | General Election 2015: UKIP councillor Matthew Ellery resigns following arrest

FYP | General Election 2015: Basingstoke constituency profile

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Lucy Florence Wilson                                  

My profile constituency package on Basingstoke to be submitted as part of my FYP alongside three reports (and one extra report), my showreel and my critical reflection of the GE 2015 WINOL special show.

FYP | General Election 2015: Basingstoke constituency profile

FYP | General Election 2015: Conservatives fight to stay on top in Basingstoke

The Tories are battling to win this years general election following a difficult few years for the Conservative MP Maria Miller. Maria Miller is a well known politician, who has recently become notorious for her involvement in an expenses scandal. In December 2012, The Daily Telegraph reported that Maria Miller had claimed over £90,000 in parliamentary expenses between 2005 and 2009, in order to fund her parents mortgage and upkeep of their house. Despite PM David Cameron being satisfied with her reasoning, which was that her parents lived with her as dependents, the row continued. David Cameron was criticised for his support of her, and Maria Miller only issued a short 30 second apology for her wrong-doings.

People in Basingstoke are therefore feeling a little lost when it comes to voting this year and it seems as though the MP has lost their trust following the news. Despite all of this, Maria Miller has stepped up to her role as MP and is determined to show people that she can continue to bring good change to Basingstoke and hopes to beat Labour who are battling hard with the Tories. She has hopes that people will stand by her and the Conservatives with their “long-term plan” which she claims could help the town recover from the recession, improving the local economy and improving the NHS with plans for a new NHS hospital.

UKIP have been using Maria Miller’s expenses scandal as means to attack the Tories, and are hoping that the loss of trust in the Maria Miller might lead to a change of tune to Basingstoke’s usual faithful relationship with the Conservatives. In terms of elections, Basingstoke has been a solid safe seat for the Conservatives as voters in the town have been voting Conservative for 80 years now.

Nevertheless, UKIP candidate Alan Stone has still got some battling to do after news came about of the arrest of his own son, UKIP councillor Matthew Ellery, after allegations of theft. Matthew Ellery has since resigned from the party. This could be seen as damaging for the party who try to convey their strength to win votes in Basingstoke, but Alan Stone thinks it is more likely to do positive, as he was the one who took his son to the police station after finding his stolen goods. Alan Stone is fighting for a united front from all of the councillors to help the town recover from it’s losses and wants to offer students more opportunities after college.

Labour are feeling a little more confident this year and although they haven’t been in the press with stories as exciting and potentially damaging as the Tories and UKIP, they are looking very strong in the run up to the election. Labour candidate Paul Harvey expressed to me how he believed the votes would be split mainly between Labour and Conservative. He said: “It is neck and neck between myself and Maria”. Paul Harvey hopes to bring changes to the NHS, create more jobs/apprenticeships and focus on climate change.

Liberal face perhaps the hardest battle in terms of winning votes – purely due to the loss of faith in Liberal following the part they played in our last government coalition. Janice Spalding is the liberal candidate in Basingstoke and she seems sure that given the chance, she could “fix” the problems that Basingstoke are facing due to both local and national issues. Janice Spalding hopes to invest in training and schools alongside making British prospective employees more employable.

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Lucy Florence Wilson                                  578 words

1st of 3 reports to be submitted as part of my FYP alongside my profile constituency package on Basingstoke, my showreel and my critical reflection of the GE 2015 WINOL special show.

FYP | General Election 2015: Conservatives fight to stay on top in Basingstoke

FYP | General Election 2015: Basingstoke UKIP councillor arrested over allegations of theft

Police have questioned local councillor Matthew Ellery, a UK Independence Party councillor for the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, on suspicion of theft from Squirrels Collectors Centre in New Street last month.

The antiques shop is owned by his father, who just happens to be Alan Stone, the Basingstoke UKIP branch leader and this years candidate at the General Election on May 7th.

Ellery has now been bailed until May 14, a week after the General Election.

A spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary said: “A 21-year-old man from Basingstoke has been arrested on suspicion of theft. He has been released on bail pending further inquiries.”

Following the resignation of Labour’s David Eyre last May, Ellery was elected as a councillor in a by-election for the seat. Despite this success, the 21 year old has a history of causing controversy within UKIP after he posted offensive comments to his social media. He described women living in Basingstoke as “pug ugly” on Facebook while campaigning to be elected a councillor last year which led to him being temporarily suspended while party officials investigated his behaviour.

However, voters still elected Ellery, who was a student at Bournemouth University at the time, to the council. His term of office runs until May 2016.

Ellery is currently free to continue as a councillor while the allegations are under investigation. Legally however, it states under the Local Government Act and our constitution that, a councillor cannot be disqualified unless they are convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for three months or more.

WINOL approached Ellery for a comment on his arrest but he did not respond.

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Lucy Florence Wilson                                  274 words

This is an extra report to be submitted as part of my FYP alongside my other three reports, my profile constituency package on Basingstoke, my showreel and my critical reflection of the GE 2015 WINOL special show.

FYP | General Election 2015: Basingstoke UKIP councillor arrested over allegations of theft