Sustainable Journalism

My take on reporting and its evolution

Glastonbury 2011 Webcam

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

Glastonbury Webcam, posted with vodpod

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted, and this is just a quickie, but it will hopefully break the deadlock and encourage me to pull my finger out.It’s less than three weeks until the biggest party in the world rolls into the Mendips.

This year will be my 8th consecutive festival, and I’m vouching it’ll be my last – for a while! So for that reason I’m turning up the hype and staying excited by keeping an eye on site preparations on the BBC webcam.

Bring on, sun, cider and stone circles


Written by Chris Halpin

May 30, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tweetdeck – get it in your newsroom!

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Last week was the 40th birthday of my journalism school, and I went back to Cardiff for the gala dinner. Guest speaker – none other than one of Cardiff University’s more successful journalism alumni Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News. But on my table it was nice for me to be sat opposite an expert in the realm of digital media.

Last year Claire Wardle gave our postgraduate course an energetic and impassioned speech on the future of digital media, and how to use it in our future careers. Back then I wasn’t so sure, but now I’m in the workplace I’m discovering what an essential tool it is. And, one year on it was nice to be having a more frank discussion with her about it now I have a couple of months experience under my belt.

As far as newsrooms go, ITV Central is quite hot on their social media. So much so just last night the late presenter I was producing was tweeting to viewers while she was on air. Luckily she wasn’t in the middle of reading a cue when she tweeted – she at least waited until we were within the relative safety of a package!

But it just goes to show the interactivity a programme can have with its viewers – if the journalists are all on board.

There is a reticence among some of the reporters and producers to get themselves an account. One looked over my shoulder the other day when I had Tweetdeck running and was watching George Osborne rattling through the government’s spending review at the same time and remarked – ‘Isn’t all that information giving you a headache?’

As I mentioned before I was once cynical too. I didn’t quite get the point in it all. And my non journalist friends don’t really get it now either. They’re continually taking the mick out of me for being a social media monster. But I’m so glad I got on board.

It’s only recently I’ve started seeing the benefits though. I’m tweeting a lot more, and that’s down to Tweetdeck. It refreshes tweets live, you can sync it with multiple accounts like facebook and do searches all in the same place. The newly launched twitter is better than it used to be, but simply put, Tweetdeck for me is it.

When I told Claire it was popping up on more and more machines in my newsroom she was clearly surprised.

She has a PHD in the emergence of social media. A part of her job is to help train BBC staff about it. And as you can imagine she comes across people of varying ability and enthusiasm towards the internet. She explained some still don’t really get how to get on the internet at all – something that to me seems incredible.

But what’s my point. Well I’m not meaning to sound all evangelical about this, but when I hear more experienced reporters say things like ‘why are we bothering with twitter and facebook and the internet so much- we’re about making television’ it fills me with sadness.

If you harness these things properly it can only add to your programme, bulletin, and even news report. It’s a shame not everyone can see this. Perhaps I suppose with experience comes cynicism, and maybe ignorance. That may well be sometimes way too difficult to overcome.

Out with the old… in with the new. GMTV makes way for Daybreak

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Well what an incredible anti climax the end of that old television institution was. No glorious send off.  No best bits montage. Just a rushed see you, thanks for coming and hope you don’t bugger off to BBC Breakfast.

It’s a crying shame that GMTV didn’t get a good chance to reflect on its past 17 years with us on the tellybox. I’m not going to pretend I was an avid fan watching everyday, but for a bit of a light-hearted news fix in the morning – something to simply make you smile – GMTV did not fail. The problem is that ratings wise its been in slow decline ever since the competition phone in scandals in 2007.

I suppose I have more of an affinity with it than most having done a night shift in the newsroom there and now producing the regional news opt-outs within GMTV for ITV Central News. All that aside I feel a bit let down by its rather lacklustre departure from our screens – especially as I dragged myself out of bed on my day off expecting some pure television nostalgia.

There is a bit more reflection on their website, but why they made more of a fuss when Ben Shepherd left a few weeks ago than for seeing off the entire programme, for now remains a mystery. For reasons unknown they’ve had to bow out quietly to make way for Daybreak – which bulldozed its way straight onto our screens merely a second after seeing the GMTV logo for the very last time.

From the their website banners things look like they could be staying very similar – and many of the staff have transferred – so what will make Daybreak different? How will it return to the heyday of the nineties and win back its viewers from the Beeb? ITV bosses must be confident their new line up and swanky new studio will do the trick.

So from Monday at 6am we’ll have that grumpy Brummy and his chirpy Irish counterpart gracing Itv1, and although it might not sound like it, I am looking forward to it. I hope it brings the refreshment to breakfast news that’s needed to try and compete with a rather stoic and middle class BBC alternative.

If the way we’re having to refresh our regional news bulletins is anything to go by, it’ll hopefully be a much pacier and news-led production. However with news this morning that 4 Poofs and a Piano are reportedly joining the show – perhaps I’m hoping for too much. That aside it needs to offer something different, as it has a lot of hype to live up to.

It could be in with a fighting chance of a return to the glory days if it can deliver from word go and win over viewers. I reckon it has an even better chance of success with plans to move BBC Breakfast northwards in the BBC’s massive relocation programme to MediaCityUK in Salford.

However, rebrands are a risky business. TVam morphed into GMTV without too much difficulty – but who remembers the ill fated successor to The Big BreakfastRI:SE on Channel4. Heavily promoted, brand new studios, a promise of bigger and better things. Granted in slightly different circumstances and for different audiences.

The Big Breakfast nor RI:SE were about news like the breakfast output from the BBC or ITV. But at the time the new programme was much fanfared and it just did not deliver. RI:SE flopped lasting just 20 months, from April 2002 to December 2003.

Will Daybreak meet a similar fate? I doubt it, but who knows? Ever the optimist me! For now farewell GMTV – it’s not been as emotional as it could have been. As they say out with the old and in with the new.  Lets just hope the editors of Daybreak aren’t soley relying on their anchors to make it a success. Otherwise I fear it won’t be too long before you end up on the scrapheap too.


The post started with the last moments onscreen and so it should end with the final moments of GMTV filmed behind the scenes in the production gallery…

The Blast that was Broadcast – CJS Best Bits 2010

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So that’s it. Exam results have been checked and verified and the majority of us CJSers have passed. The time has come and we can now change our email signatures to read real ‘Broadcast Journalist’. I can hardly contain myself. But that also means we’re dispersing into the far flung corners of the journalistic world and will not be sauntering around the corridors of JOMEC again any time soon.

Let’s then hark back on the year that was, by starting off with looking at our best bits below, so expertly put together by the notorious Nick Hartley and the magnanimous Huw Morgan.

Who would have thought a year has passed, with the highs and lows of production days, filming out on location, early starts for the breakfast shift and the joy of the television two-way from the newsroom.

For the more academic among us who can forget those enthralling public administration lectures, reporters and the reported and never forgetting Duncan Bloy’s masterclasses in how not to get sued the pants off through libellous broadcasting.

Further still, those glutton for punishment who were either brave or foolish enough to get up at 9am every weekday in the autumn semester to learn shorthand, I salute you, you’re made of sterner stuff than I. So here’s a treat – try flexing that grey matter and transcribing this!

Just think, now all we have are production days every day of the week. Just what have we let ourselves in for?

The year in Cardiff has had its testing times and for me it has only been bearable thanks to such a stellar group of people.

There’s been a lot of love between us. We’ve baked cakes for each other, we took a trip back to primary school and made a class tea towel, we’ve visited castles, been go karting, beaten City University at netball, almost went camping, bloody loads of stuff. For the love of cliché we’ve worked hard and we’ve played harder; Vodka Revs often did not know what had hit it! This all topped off with an end of term BBQ in the stately Llanishen venue of the Morgan estate, and the night that was Milgis.

What has been the defining moment of CJS 2010? For me I reckon it was the big man’s birthday. In the few shifts I’ve done so far, when you tell people in the industry you’ve been studying in Cardiff, it isn’t long until you’re asked the question “How’s Colin?” Well to mark the passing of Colin’s 62nd year two clever people had the ingenious idea of the perfect send up. They do say afterall, that imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

It truly has been a blast, and I’ll miss everyone who has been a part of my short time in Cardiff. The class of 2010 is bound to go far. However far that may be,  something tells me it won’t be too long until we see each other again.

All the best and stay in touch news team!

Halpin xxx

First work ON AIR

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Cardiff Journalism School is all over for me now so it’s time to get into the real wide world of work. To kick things off I spent a couple of days with BBC Radio Derby where they had me out straight away reporting for them.

The first piece I did was about the ongoing problems the multi million pound Westfield Shopping Centre is having with its roof, in that it’s struggling to keep out the rain. I was sent out to cover the piece for their breakfast programme Phil Trow’s Breakfast Show. Have a listen below.

Then on my second day I was sent out to interview the work colleagues of local lass Rachael White, who has just entered the Big Brother house for its final series.

I went to Bonds hairdressing salon in Derby City Centre to get the lowdown on what Rachael is really like. This was broadcast on Colin Bloomfield’s Drivetime show on Thursday 10th June.

It was a great couple of days, and is a personal milestone in that they were the first two pieces I have done that have gone to air. I learnt a lot in the process, with some things I could do differently for next time, but thanks to the news team at Derby who gave me plenty of constructive feedback the experience has further galvanised my confidence for reporting out in the field.

Combating Food Waste in Wales – TV Feature

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Between them Supermarkets throw away 1.8 million tonnes of food each year, much of which is still edible. Here I take a look into the different ways people are trying to save some of this waste from landfill.

Written by Chris Halpin

May 31, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Weather Presenting Demo April 2010

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As part of the Cardiff course not only do we hone our journalism skills but throughout production days we also get a stab at presenting the weather. As I’ve had some previous experience with this before, and as it’s a great way to practice ‘pieces to camera’, I thought I’d spruce up a weather forecast with my Photoshop and burgeoning Newscutter skills.

Let me know what you think.

Written by Chris Halpin

April 24, 2010 at 11:52 pm