21 blog posts series seventeen

21 blog posts series seventeen

Seventeen: “The changing face of journalism”

Journalism first and foremost, should be informative and engaging – fact based certainly, but in no way boring. You should as a reader, want to get to the end of the sentence, end of the paragraph and indeed – end of the piece. Now I know we are all human, we have our favourites whether that be newspaper providers and the type of writing included in that or the glossy magazine or indeed website. I think journalism has done well for the most part in spreading itself across different mediums but everything changed simply because it had to, when social media came into the playing field.

Newspapers on social media, did we ever think we’d see the day when the Irish Times or the Guardian would be updating their current Facebook status? Well it’s here and we just have to get on it. The good thing about social media is that it’s interactive and various views can come into play in the comments section (if you’ve the time to read it all). The bad part of this can be the lack of filter there and it’s hard to tell what is worth reading as that is no longer defined.

Instead, we must use independent thought to decide what is worth spending our time on as it’s not all set out in front of us in a newspaper style. The question of funding here is up for constant debate as although advertising is still a relatively good foundation for a paper, actually paying for the quality of journalism with limited resources puts extra pressure on editors to make sure they’re surrounded by fellow quality journalists and not just “content creators” to make money off simplified masked content.

Now, I know that there’s a place for entertainment and opinion based pieces in media as there is a demand there to be met and people who are very skilled at creating this. But I think branding this kind of media as “fake news” is something completely outrageously wrong. These styles of media are new and growing and although they’re not what we might call traditional, they’ve earned their place for the moment.

I feel that journalists work for the people as the messengers and if the people want these light news pieces, somebody has to be there to provide it. Although they want this kind of content, they also need the factual news based journalism as well that should not be forgotten about. To be well rounded, you must take samples and engage with various types of news and journalistic styles. Sure, find what suits you, but don’t completely ignore everything else that’s going on around you.

I will say as well, just like you hold your elected politicians to account, hold your journalists and newspapers to account also. We speak about the place of people power and this can be true of journalism as well. I will admit that journalists can make mistakes, often quickly corrected by themselves, their editor or even a fellow colleague but I would advise that the public be on alert too. This will allow you to play out your full potential as an engaged citizen with the free press.

Quality can be sometimes hard to find when social media is ruling the roost. But I think journalism can be found that’s clear, concise, non-biased and fact based if you’re willing to give it the time. Look to the sources of the news provider or even follow the journalist to get another impression for yourself. I can tell you that journalists have the audience in mind when they are writing and we want to know what your impression is of the work we are doing. So please, don’t hold back and hold us to account.

I think that we can all agree that we need journalism in a democratic world and we need it to be done in the right way for everyone to benefit from. So let’s not start digging our own grave, not just yet anyway.

All images are from my personal instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

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21 blog posts series take two

21 blog posts series take two

Welcome back.

Day two brings us to the topic of travel, in that of appreciating how easy it is for us as EU citizens, the opportunities and adventures out there available to us.

Two: “Appreciating the ability to travel”

It feels strange writing about travel at a time like this. Just hours earlier on today, the city if London that I visited the week after my 21st birthday saw horror in the form a terrorist attack. The chaotic scenes flashed on to my TV screen when I arrived home today and took it all in. It felt strange to recognise the area so vividly, but it looking utterly different from the positivity I had seen there in early December.

I think in one sense of it, the aim of terrorism is to contribute in the form of creating that scene of distress, to take away the positivity associated with a place and flip everything over to show complete destruction instead. Destroying everyday like in causing heart-breaking chaos.

Of course following this, we’ll have heightened security and possibly further fear formed. I understand that this is of course necessary to protect citizens.

But I think to keep the sense of appreciation of traveling and staying true to ourselves as humans, travel and ease of travel needs to be part of what makes up human life. If we think of a world without integration and travel, without the mix of different cultures, people and places – I really don’t see that as a colourful or warm place to be.

Travel is essential and we are so lucky to have the ease of travel that we have. Just last week I went to visit a friend in Amsterdam, Holland. We also have another friend there who is studying on Erasmus. If the indicators around free travel within the EU and the systems of Erasmus were to change, these incredible experiences and opportunities for personal growth wouldn’t be possible. I’ve seen my friends grow and truly appreciate travelling, whether that be in the form of Erasmus, J1’s or even inter-railing. It’s all about the ability to interact like that and do so at ease. To really make travel your own independently.

I will admit that acts of terrorism can play a part in jeopardising that freeing mindset.

But one negative should not outweigh the endless positives. I think travel is something organic and easily integrated into our regular lives. It can play a huge role in the development of friendships and relationships, continued on wherever the people may be in the world.

Travelling to new places as a young person can really contribute to someone’s confidence as well as their own perspective on various things in the world, from humane issues to climate issues. It’s such an eye opening thing that I think everyone should get involved with in some shape or form. There’s an explorer or adventurer in us all and whether that be a big or small part of you, it cannot be ignored.

Also if indeed you are a bit of a home bird, I really think that you have to go away and come back to truly appreciate what you’ve missed and value your sense of belonging that comes with the security of home.

Being in the EU is such a resource to encourage us to travel. The dedication in the form of policy really places value of travelling during your youth and that in itself gave me a high appreciation for the mentality behind it. The inter-railing and Erasmus experience can be costly but in the end it’s something truly priceless. To put yourself somewhere new, challenges you to open your mind to new ideas and be immersed in something totally new.

The very best of luck to those taking on such a challenge and my heart goes out to those in London today.

 

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

The first of 21 blog posts

The first of 21 blog posts

Welcome back to the blog as it should be.

I welcome you back to a brand new series, of something never seen before on this blog. I see blogging as something personal that you’re presenting on a bigger platform. That being said, on reflection of my two year old blog (yes, a whole two years!) I’ve come to the conclusion that it maybe it wasn’t as personal as it perhaps could have been.

So I’ve decided to change that. For the next 21 days at 21hrs nightly – starting today on the 21st of March – I’m going to blog about 21 things I’ve learned since turning 21 (that being November of last year, if anyone is wondering about that).

I’ve chosen various topics from the personal to the ambiguous but throughout I hope to give some insight to my own learning of each topic from personal experience. Just to give you a taste these will vary from: appreciating history, learning from mentors, social media, money management, travel, politics and really, really much more.

I hope some of these topics will peak your interest and so I start with the first one, where else?

One: “The importance of being reflective”

I think that one of the most important skills we can learn and even teach ourselves is that of being reflective. This being: reflective of ourselves, our actions, faults and achievements. This can be both a positive and negative thing, as it takes you to different highs and lows that have occurred in your life. But I hope that through this process, sometimes challenging, we can find something incredibly new altogether.

This year in my journalism course, each student has to take part in in individual “reflective process” after completing each segment of the course. While I’ve been on work placement for the majority of the year, in the office we always had a bit of laugh that I had to go home and reflect for my college course or my day’s work.

But really, after thinking about it like this, it’s something so important to do.

If we didn’t reflect on our studies, I don’t think that we’d get as much out of what we’ve been taught. Education is something we dedicated a chunk of our lives to as well as our overall income, don’t we want to get the most out of it as possible?

Being reflective is something that is very personal and I suppose it comes to into the idea of giving a bit of self-love. I really think we are our own biggest critics, whether that’s something good or bad, I leave entirely up to you. If we reflect on our actions, we can pinpoint what we didn’t like and even train ourselves to be better the next time.

We don’t know for sure why things happen to us in life exactly as they do and I think in being reflective we can in some way help overcome that challenge. Putting things into perspective in a reflective way to me is like a calming process, an essential cleanse.

Life is full of decisions and that seems to be something never ending. In being reflective, going back on your past decisions and deciphering what was good for you or what wasn’t at all for you, can make a huge difference to taking on a decision you face.

I guess life is all about understanding yourself, to then go on and get on in the world you’re surrounded with. Being reflective is a key tool to doing this.

So in reflection: I want to challenge myself and give something back to this blog, the time and care it deserves. I look forward to sharing these twenty-one lessons with you.

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

A Message amidst madness series: Taking Alternative routes.

By Cathy Lee

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you choose one way rather than the other? Let’s take for example, your walk to college or walk or your system of commute.

Can you remember the first time you went that way, and why you did?

Did it stand out to you or present you with something good? Did it lure you in?

Think now about how much of an impact this has had on you now. It is now part of your regular routine, you must spend the majority of your days on this route.

It has become part of your life.

I believe politics to be the same.

There was a general election in Ireland just recently on February 26th  2016.

National media described it as a “very different” election and in turn will create a very diverse Dail.

But why is it different?

You may have seen the hashtag ‘ge16’ on Twitter (it even had a little Irish flag automatically attached

For me it meant travelling back to my home town of Wicklow, over 200km from where I’m living currently to attend college.

I know from those I met at the polling station that much more also travelled home to cast their vote and valued having their views counted.

I think for once I was proud of my hometown simply because the people were willing to branch out and away from the FF/FG politics.

This was not the case for the nation as a whole.

Wicklow saw over half of the people gave their first preference to neither Fianna Fail nor Fine Gael.

In Wicklow Stephen Donnelly was elected on first count when he soared over the quota. He was elected in 2011 as an Independent candidate and just this year he co-formed a new party, the Social Democrats.

I was overwhelmed to see this as it really surprised me the courage that my constituency took to try new paths.

Now this doesn’t mean that the Fine Gael or Fianna Fail didn’t make the cut, they did too.

But it’s the one that tops polls that sticks in the mind and captures the coverage.

I was talking to a Galway woman about it who remarked that Wicklow did “something weird didn’t they?”

I chuckled when she said this, also mentioning that Galway East were the same with an Independent Alliance candidate topping polls.

Honestly, I’m happy to be classed with the weirdos if it means some actual change.

Why can’t we give the alternatives a chance to change the curve?

I don’t see how it doesn’t worry everyone that ever since the foundation of the state, it’s only ever been a majority led Dail government of Fianna Fail or Fine Gael.

I study journalism and politics in college so as you may have guessed that I was interested. I had been speaking prior to the elections to many media-types and political analysists, ever since about October.

I think it was only a very few who thought Fianna Fail would make such a comeback.

Looking back to the leaving certificate, after studying Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth I learned not to trust predictions.

I think that lesson could be seen again here as the count results came flooding in quite random order over the days following the election.

I woke up on Saturday morning and my dad left for work saying “it looks like Fianna Fail” are coming up.

I slipped back into the pillow and picked up my phone to check Twitter immediately.

I checked my sources which were an article on the journal.ie, independent.ie.. it was all true.

I checked Facebook. Saw a friend’s status claiming that those who had voted Fianna Fail had done an injustice to the nation.

I couldn’t make sense of it. After some thought, I came up with this.

In my mind, this election for some presented this:

“I don’t like the current government. What options do I have? I haven’t looked to any other new parties and sure independents can’t get a word in. My options then are Fianna Fail or Sinn Fein. It’s embedded in me to have a fear of ‘what Sinn Fein would do if they were in government’. I’ll vote Fianna Fail then.”

This is a simple break down. It may be way off.

I can’t predict the future, as I said Mr. Macbeth taught me. But in the next while we’ll see if the old roots will creep back up and blossom.

And this was your choice.

A Message Amidst The Madness Series: Lessons Learnt.

By Cathy Lee

A lot of not very “every-day” things happened in my every-day life last week.

Let me just say before we get into this that you shouldn’t worry as this won’t be a diary entry.

Last week I began my usual college student routine, doing what I was supposed to be doing. By Saturday, I had had three cover stories in three different newspapers.

I also won first place at a competitive Poetry Slam (but that’s a different story).

The overused term that comes to mind is “that escalated quickly”, but if the shoe fits.

The irregularity of these events come from the content of the cover stories and the fact I was even involved in a Poetry Slam.

The stories were an analysis of changes in property prices in county Dublin, Wicklow and Carlow which were spread across three pages each.

That’s altogether nine pages of house prices, analysis and content coming from a student journalist who doesn’t own a home and isn’t an amazing tenant either.

Also currently I live in neither Dublin nor Wicklow and believe me, not even Carlow.

The point of this post is that life is quite unpredictable and basically I believe you need to take every opportunity, big or small, that comes your way.

I will tell you just how I did that this time around.

Back in December, I met with the editor of the papers to do an interview about the upcoming general elections in Ireland in 2016.

I had completed work experience at their “Wicklow Voice” paper over the summer, a two week stay at a paper I grew to really enjoy writing for.

He was very willing to talk and gave a good interview, I was happy with how it went.

He told me during our talk that day that he would have some upcoming journalism work for me and also mentioned the magic and underused word of “paid”.

Of course, I was delighted at this.

Then, the horror of the words hit like a ton of bricks on the horizon of a ghost estate, (now growing from ghostly to homely I might add).

“Property”.

I sunk at the thought, knowing that property was not in my vocabulary never mind my journalistic abilities.

15,000 homes were sold in Dublin 2015. I looked at the name, location and price of each property.

500 homes were sold in Carlow and 1,300 in Wicklow. That’s nearly 17,000 homes.

With the extremity of excitement in uncovering information such as this, I was beginning to lose faith in terms of whether anybody would even want to read this endless jargon of stats.

I soon learned that I was wrong. People love putting their nose in others homes, to see how the other half lives in some way.

I listed the cheapest and most expensive sales and also the top ten homes in the counties.

People go crazy for these things and such stats, I found out when I saw the spread of numbers and cartoon homes on the published papers.

I also noticed that each other national paper and locals had property stories too, so I didn’t feel alone in my extensive investigative research into the “Property Price Register”.

I think I got the shock when the killer headline was in big bold print and I had the beloved by-line to go with it.

I almost felt like a spreader of my personal property propaganda that the poor readers in Dublin, Wicklow and Carlow had just me to read on the cover of their locals.

Last year in the first year of my journalism course in Galway, a speaker from thejournal.ie told us that you can’t predict what stories readers will like the most.

That idea flashed into my mind all through last week.

I think in this game I’m now invested in, you have to just take it as it comes.

Never say no, nod along and figure out the ins and outs later because a high percentage of the time, you can figure out the best way around a tough situation.

We are born survivors aren’t we? Embrace that inner strength and grab at these chances.

Who knows, maybe when I buy my first home. I’ll know where to go and look, because the stories stick with you, no matter how far gone you are.

Carlow

 

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I attach links to the property stories and photographs of the cover stories, feel free to browse and thanks to Wicklow Voice, Dublin Voice and Carlow People papers.

 

A day in the Irish Independent Newspapers

You know you’re in a place that means business when once you walk in there’s a statue of ultimate journalist Veronica Guerin on the wall saying ‘Be Not Afraid’. You know you’re a place where real things happen when you see ‘Je suis Charlie’ posters plastered across the walls and desks of a newsroom. You know you’re in the real-life Irish Independent Newspapers when you’re seeing all this first hand for the first time.

My Sunday shift started at 11am. Although admittedly I spent until 11:20 at the front desk waiting for my mentor and guide for the day, the deputy editor of the Irish Independent, to arrive and whisk me away to the unknown. I wasn’t unhappy to wait though, I felt the need to take it all in. Behind the security of the front desk you can see a spread out logo list of all the news outlets run by the Irish Independent. These included The Herald, The Sunday World and http://www.Independent.ie.

Independent.ie is what I have to thank for getting me this opportunity. You see each week they choose a ‘Weekly Read’ article from the student college news site ‘Campus.ie’. My first article written for Campus.ie was about New Years resolutions and how you could adapt them into college life and this article was picked as the Weekly Read luckily enough.

I’m a first year journalism student studying in NUI Galway. Although I have some experience under my belt as a journalist, I’m certainly not a professional and I am without a degree as of yet. Needless to say the night before the shift the nerves had festered and the feeling of uncertainty had come over me. I wondered whether the Irish Independent would even take me seriously, I mean I was only there for the day.

As soon as the shift started I knew this was not the case. First up when I had got myself settled onto the third floor in the newsroom came a press release from a business company who had completed a survey on couples spending for Valentines story. I had to turn this into a 150 word piece (without providing the company with any free advertising) to capture the bigger picture of what this survey actually showed. I accepted this relatively small challenge and I was given help and guidance not before but after the article was written. I knew then that this day would be more on an ‘up to me’ basis than I had thought.

Challenge one complete and it was only 12 noon. Next up I had to do a report on the unlawful killing of a rare bird of prey. This was a sensitive one because this particular bird was a special with a huge online following and a local community involved in its care. A TD was on the phone to me telling me about the incident and the implications. People say you can’t trust politicians and maybe that’s true – I mean he did talk to me for a good five minutes and then requested not to be quoted. But it’s fine, he was quite helpful considering it was a Sunday.

Honestly there’s something you should know about Sundays and maybe some of you already do know. People don’t want to be talked to or pestered by journalists, especially on Sundays. My third article was one that I pitched to the editor, but to make it a good news story a good quote was needed. Quotes are hard things to come by I learned that day.

I spent my last hour and a half of the shift trying to get a decent quote for the piece but of course people either don’t answer their phones on Sundays or else leave you to wait until normal office hours.

But looking back now it was an excellent work experience. I mean I didn’t even have to make tea for anyone, I actually went for tea with one of the news journalists, and I was taken seriously. As contacts are so important in journalism, I was happy and honoured to be working alongside them all and thankfully they were all perfectly willing to help me out. It might have helped from that perspective that Sundays are quiet.

Although something on the opposite to that Sunday quiet was the sports department. All the sports people come in at about three in the afternoon and watch their games, commentate and write their reports while the TVs, laptops and radios roar in the background. It really was interesting to see this in action, although I did have to move chairs because one of the sports guys needed it.

Now I’m really grateful for the experience and although I don’t know whether I’ll be back for another shift, the deputy editor did tell me my writing was good and if I had any story ideas to just drop him a line and we’ll stay in contact that way. It’s tough to sum up a conclusion to the day but all I know is it meant a lot to me and I could see myself enjoying the experience if I was to work there for real.

Thanks for reading and I just realised this is my first blog post so hope it wasn’t too bad!

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