Category Archives: Comment

Fighting for their future

NASUWT, the teachers’ union, alongside the shadow education secretary, Ed Balls, are calling for a lobby of Parliament tomorrow. To get involved, check: this.

What does it take to be called a journalist these days?

Isn’t everyone is a journalist? Sharing information with networks of people: whether it is peer-to-peer, on a blog or social networking medium, story tellers exist everywhere. When is it that a citizen journalist is shortlisted and invited to join the elite of relatively few hardcore ‘journalists’?

It can’t be when you work for an organisation – what about freelancers?

Is it when you write a story in a way that can be understood by people? No. That doesn’t fit either – that would exclude broadcasters too.

And it certainly isn’t when you have studied journalism.

Within the industry there is a certain snobbery about who can identify themself as a journalist. In the recent BBC College of Journalism/Polis conference on the value of journalism, Damien Tambini described citizen journalists as ‘new media insurgents’.

In regards to ‘saving journalism’ Tambini explores a few ideas – and whether/how ‘new media insurgents’ can access those privileges of old. “We need to think more innovatively about how to support [journalism],” he says. “We need to think about creating new kinds of privileges and support…”

Using new mediums such as Twitter gives the writer access to swathes of unreported information and people of interest. It has never been so easy to publish interesting and exclusive information as it is now. At the same time, giving a platform to the public also drives down standards, tests media ethics and limits the verification of information.

The industry is quickly embracing social media. The toll of new media reporting on large organisations is yet unclear, but it could easily be said to be helping some companies. The Daily Mail, along with the Guardian and Times were recently under scrutiny for using TwitPic photos without permission. Writing outside of an organisation gives a freedom of integrity and expression. Yet at the same time, it leaves us open to abuse.

To be a journalist. Just when will I acquire the title?

Young people need a positive message

Since leaving sixth form, battling with UCAS and the Student Loans Company myself, it has evidently become more difficult to be given a place at university. At the same time, young people are being pressured into becoming more educated than ever before.

Government attainment targets such as league tables encourage schools and colleges to push students into applying for university. With cuts to university places, combined with increasing youth unemployment figures, the future for young people in this country is looking gloomy.

Media reports of “The lost generation: Unemployed, broke and disillusioned” merely worsen our situation. Positive sourcing of work such as social enterprise, skill development and entrepreneurship are all attainable attributes for new graduates to consider in these tough economic times.

Unpaid internships are at the forefront of hierarchical, class-based gaining of experience – with those in London, along with people who are given the means of borrowing money having a distinct advantage. Campaigns surrounding the inequality of unpaid internships such as Interns Anonymous and All Skilled Up, All Dolled Up are fighting for fairer internships.

What we need is a positive, inclusive message for young people and graduates. Being bombarded with defeatist  rhetoric on a constant basis is dragging down our spirit. We went to university to learn more, to be more employable and to have a good time in the process. University has not prepared many of us for what we have found once we get off at the other end; mortarboard dislodged and certificate clasped in the queue at the Post Office.

Green councillor facing suspension after uploading video clips

A Green Party councillor in Brighton has been given 28 days to appeal against being suspended for uploading videos of council meetings that were already available online.
Jason Kitcat claims that Conservative councillors complained about him uploading video onto YouTube and his blog, and that they were already available on other websites.
Earlier today, he tweeted:
“Tory cllrs try to get me suspended as a cllr for putting council webcast clips on YouTube. What happened to open gov?”
To read more, see Jason’s blog, or follow @jasonkitcat

Why I joined Labour…

Remaining party impartial has always been important to my online presence. Cheerleading on all sides of the British party spectrum is rife on the internet. In my own opinion, and experience, restrained party promotion stifles debate and contains ideas within small boundaries with no foresight to criticise one’s own beliefs. Being able to comment on politics from the outside has been something I have taken pride in.

However. Since the instatement of the new coalition government, I have felt an increasing disappointment in myself for voting for a Liberal Democrat candidate. Distaste in the 2.5% VAT rise, rapid cuts to the public sector and workers, and attacks on the welfare state have driven me to resent the party – which I had argued was ‘more left than Labour’ throughout their general election campaign.

In a moment of madness, one pound seemed worth the political statement I am now making: I have joined the Labour Party. Last night, I attended the yearly Eastbourne CLP AGM, where we voted show our support for Ed Miliband for Labour leader.

Although I am now a full party member, I do not plan on partaking in the status-quo cheerleading of many activists. Critique will continue to be free flowing and in all directions.

Lord of the Dance

The ‘Dark Lord’, as he autographs himself, Peter Mandelson is set to go head-to-head against Tony Blair this autumn. This time, they will compete to sell more titles than each other in a publishing competition which is reportedly costing millions of pounds. Intriguingly, HarperCollins will be publishing Mandy’s book, not Blair’s.

I wonder who will even notice when the new Labour leader is installed?

Overqualified and out of work – the story of the education policy victims

To be newly graduated.

Today’s message to the class of 2010 has hit a raw nerve. We are taught to do the best for ourselves: schools, colleges and sixth forms condition many of us into the ideal of university as being a foundation for getting the most out of a career.

Just weeks before I symbolically throw my mortarboard into the air for good luck, I fear that it will be more than luck that some of the 420,000  graduating students will need. With an average of 69 people applying for each graduate job and in the face of accumulating interest payments and mass youth unemployment, higher education policy must be addressed.

The last government’s gung-ho approach to getting half of young people into higher education is constantly criticised for devaluing education. More worryingly, the recession-lead cut on jobs, followed by the new coalition government cutting of public sector workers and Future Jobs Fund will result in thousands more people signing up for Jobseekers’ Allowance this summer.

Creating jobs, not cutting them should be a top priority for any government committed to tackling the current problems faced in our society. The Tory ‘big society’ policy cannot work autonomously from the job market; furthermore, the big society should function as more than a social capital boost for those who can afford to run a public service, along with doing paid and other domestic work. Opening doors and giving opportunities to those who cannot find work could lead to a more positive impact, such as crime prevention and redressing the growing ‘dependency culture’. In turn, the third sector needs to be protected from austerity cuts to remain effective.

The next months and years will prove to be interesting for any new graduate (and those of the years before). In some respects, I must agree with the coalition reduction in the numbers of university places. It will reduce the number of unemployed graduates in years to come – leaving 10,000 people without a bachelors degree is a small price to pay compared to the individual debts that we suffer from now, with thanks to top-up fees and the new Labour higher education mess.