Friday, 22 March 2013

James McAvoy. Out from the Rags, into the Richest.

McAvoy is a genuine walking definition of going from rags to riches, as the saying goes.

From the then small time, rough ends of Shameless, to the elegant noir in Atonement and action rammed Wanted, we've seen  Glasgow boy James McAvoy go from boy, to man, to being the star of every feature he appears in.

(James McAvoy in Atonement 2007, from

A commentary on McAvoy would be false without first mentioning his raw artistic performances. There is no single film or TV show he appears in where passion and teeth-gritting reality doesn't go into each of his characters.

James is different. Different from 'Hollywood' stars such as Brad Pitt in that he's not generic. He's not as well known as some of the people he has worked alongside, such as Angelina Jolie and Keira Knightley. But yet every character is his own, personally I don't even recognise it is James sometimes. Just the character he so masterfully transforms into.

That is power. How else can one describe such talent?!
(Most powerful scene in Atonement. Notice McAvoy's facial expression, it's as though there's no script, no practice).

In just a 12 month period, we'll be seeing McAvoy in so many things my excitement cannot keep up with it all. Again, in just 12 months we get to see his work in:

• Trance by British directing phenomenon Danny Boyle (wow)
• British cop drama Welcome To The Punch
• Filth (my most anticipated one)
• Macbeth on stage

All this as well as Xmen prequel sequel Xmen: Days of Future Past. When James told Empire "I just want to do good stuff. Keep working. Be good. Be the best. Be the best one in the room. Win every award" he couldn't be more serious.

I predict this is going to be his year. That's one statement I look forward to saying 'I told you so'.

Monday, 11 March 2013

The 'Save Ancoats Hospital' campaign continues in strength and spirit!

The Ancoats Hospital, on Old Mill Street, Manchester, is under threat of being demolished by its developers Urban Splash, much to the disgust of the people of Ancoats...

The building opened in the 19th Century, and is at the heart of historical buildings in Manchester.
The people of Ancoats believe the building has a lot to offer the whole community, such as a wealth of history in serving the poor during the height of industrial Manchester. L.S Lowry, Manchester's proud fine artist, laid the foundations of the hospital and its wonders into one of his magnificent paintings in 1952.

L.S Lowry, 'Ancoats Hospital Outpatient's Hall' painting

The 'Save Ancoats Hospital' campaign is now on its 215th day, and is continuing to fight for the protection of Ancoats' heritage to be saved.

On Friday 8th March, 2013, campaign organisers created a 'curry night' event to raise more support for the Grade 2 listed building. I was invited along to find out more about the people involved. John Ryan and Josie Loftus, dedicated organisers and devoted campaigners of the cause told me the success they have made and what they would like to see happen...

(A short slideshow from the 'curry night' at the campaign site, Old Mill Street,) 
 The curry night was a huge success, attracting younger people with an interest in the building and older residents of Ancoats. Having lived in the area all my life, it was a very proud thing to see.
The Save Ancoats Hospital Facebook page has over 400 likes, and over 800 signatures have been signed in an e-petition to force the building developers Urban Splash to reconsider their plans to demolish the iconic building. You can join the petition here.

I am a supporter of this cause and believe it is a valuable piece of Ancoats history that should not be destroyed, to view more information of events and progress, view the dedicated website at

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The 50 Bus Service, Manchester. Reliable Or Useless?

The 50 Bus Service: free for students, running from Didsbury, Manchester to MediaCityUK, Salford Quays.

In a class project, myself and other trainee reporters set out to gather the publics view of the service using 'Soundcloud' and 'Voddio' on the iPhone.

Interestingly, the problems with the service seemed to stem on the fact that the bus is free to students of University of Salford between MediaCityUK and the Adelphi Campus, Salford. Students have been known to stay on the bus all the way into Manchester City Centre for free, which has caused a lot of split opinion whether this is fair or not.

This may be an issue that needs to be raised further. Get involved in the debate on Twitter using the hashtag #50busprobs

Heres a story me and my Digital Journalism class created in a class project. My role was out interviewing the public using an iPhone, getting a variety of audio and images to send to the newsroom for immediate publication, was a great experience!

Enjoy, and feel free to get involved with the debate or comment on the post!

Friday, 15 February 2013

'Churnalism': What is happening to Journalism?

Whatever happened to 'traditional' journalism?

It is clear to all that the news plays one of the most vital roles in the UK. That is, distributing information to mass audiences, informing us of the workings and wrong-doings of society, and of our governments. 

As a trainee journalist, beginning my journey into the profession, one thing has been made clear to me: that traditional journalistic methods of gathering news and the concept of the nosy journalist, knocking on doors and meeting councillors has somewhat become a thing of the past. 
By all means, these traits are still vital to the job. In my own education of journalism, I am constantly told that finding original stories is something to aim for, for least a good reputation. 

So why is this not what I see in the news stories available to audiences of mass media organisations, such as the BBC and The Guardian? 

In today's digital age where information is accessed and produced instantly anywhere on a range of devices from not only journalists but the general public, why is there no determination to find hard, original news that will serve the public interest? Instead I find that the concept of 'churnalism', which is, the 'churning' of information provided by the powers (governments, businesses etc), information which is 'spun' by Public Relations agencies to protect their image, dominates the content of news in the UK.
If authoritative powers such as the Government, who are accountable to the public and therefore subject to the naturally sceptical journalist serving the public, are providing the news content, then what values does our trusted news contain? 

This makes me think whether I can trust the news and as a young, ambitious and admittedly somewhat naive journalist beginning my career, what kind of journalist I want to be.

I somewhat thank my stars that the Media Standards Trust have created the Churnalism Search Engine, in which anyone can copy and paste a news story into, and in return receive a percentage of how much of the news content is provided by Press Releases. As a journalist I dream of one day being respected for providing original, investigative and resourceful news stories and I believe this search engine will allow journalists to prove themselves, as well as the news organisations who employ them.

In a discussion about the dip in quality, and quantity of journalism in the US, John Nichols, political blogger for The Nation, offers an informed and insightful perspective of the modern news industry, which applies thoroughly to the UK news industries.
In his presentation, Nichols provides a simple example of the 'traditional' journalist, compared to the concept of Churnalism.

(John Nichols, political blogger at The Nation, guest speaking at the 2010 Walkley Media Conference)

Power is at the forefront of his discussion and, similarly to anyone studying such topic, the signature line is consistently 'how does this affect the public sphere'. 

It is disturbing that much of the news, which generates social discourse, is provided by those who skilfully evade the truth (to some extent) to protect their very own image. 
Some blame the ever changing consumption methods of news, such as '24 hour rolling news', which pressures news companies to continuously produce news stories and update them.

I however, disagree with the entire concept. Press releases should and always be researched, investigated and a sceptical approach is essential. To ever reproduce the content is nothing more than malpractice and it is not journalism. 

In my journey to becoming a fully qualified, skilful and professional journalist, I hope to keep this mindset at the heart of everything I do; to pursue where others conclude and to pursue for the truth.