Thursday, 2 October 2014

Justification for higher education: the journalism front

The following is my entry for UCAS’s 2014 Love Learning competition. It is a short piece which explains just what it is I find so captivating about studying and practicing journalism at undergraduate level.

Justification for higher education: it isn't this...

No matter which way you put it, today’s graduate market is a bleak one. Unemployment is high, competition is excruciating and that elusive graduate position is but a pipe dream. Breaking into journalism in a good economy is tough; nowadays it is incredibly so.

So why is it that I do what I do? What is my motivation, in an era where further education begins at £27,000 to train for a role of which I have no guarantee? 

I have found that it is so much more than a mere qualification or career path; journalism enables me to experience life by immersing me in it. 

Reporting on something puts me at its centre, making me a small part of history. And I get to tell that history as it happens. More than simply putting pen to paper, journalism is about connecting people and ideas. 

Journalism allows me to learn about individuals, to see the world with their view. One of the most dignified people I have met sells the Big Issue for a living. Were it not for journalism, I’d have passed him without a glance, never knowing or telling his story. Nobody would have known he chooses to live in a tent because he loves to travel and from his weathered exterior, no one would guess his enthralling life account.

It involves me closely with my passion of cars, allowing access which I would otherwise lack. Had I not been writing for my favourite magazine, I would never have felt the adrenaline of an accelerating Porsche, how the scenery rushes into a blur whilst witnessing the engine come alive. I would still be reading about, rather than experiencing it firsthand. 

Studying journalism has given me the confidence to go out and seek knowledge, to ask the questions we all wonder about, and to speak with the people who have an anecdote to share. The immense gratification of publishing an article is matched by the satisfaction knowing that I’ve shared my knowledge and experience for the world to read. With the internet, my work is accessible by millions internationally; millions who can converse, interact and subsequently share their own view.

Writing is just a part of a journalism student’s training however, as for someone with a passion, a necessity of devouring current  affairs, sinking oneself in the context of journalism is a sheer delight. Learning of how Caxton’s introduction of the printing press revolutionized consumption of news in the 15th Century; how social media is doing the same today. To be inspired by the investigative work of Woodward and Burnstein, how they uncovered a governmental scandal and toppled a president in what became known as Watergate.

Although training as a journalist will not make me a millionaire, it will offer an enrichment and variety that no blank cheque can buy. Nothing worth having is easy to acquire, but to experience life through learning? That is fulfillment through and through. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

The Jobseekers' Vociferate

This whole job hunting malarkey is fun, right? The buzz of filling out an application, those butterflies that you get when submitting your CV... wrong. Once the aforementioned drab and any additional hoops have been leapt through to be considered for a position, the waiting game begins.

No, not the that waiting game. As a weather battered job hunter, I no longer wait to hear whether I have an interview or a position, for it is now a case of waiting to hear back at all. Even the courtesy- nay, the luxury- of a rejection letter or call would be nice.

To know that, for all the effort you went through, some fellow (who has a job) went to the trouble of reading through your unworthy credentials and informing you that, despite not being the applicant they’re seeking, thank you for considering them anyway and they hope you find something soon. 

But alas, even this closure is a rarity. And thus, one is left wondering whether the application has been read, or become lost amongst a pile of dejected CVs on some power wielding manager’s desk. 

Jobseeking is a character destroying, integrity eating process, with the added irony that the longer you seek, the less employable you become, partially due to that ever suspicious gap in your emplyment history (The gap exists because none of you will hire me, employers!).  

The hunt, as always, continues.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Homeless Big Issue Seller speaks of Preston life

As winter draws in, Andy Devonshire, a Big Issue seller, talks about life on the street, uppity Prestonians and battles with the local wildlife.

With a steely exterior that could only be carved out by our harsh northern weather, and a soft southern drawl, Andy Devonshire is not your everyday bloke. He is a man who lives by his own rules, as I found out recently.   
Andy sells the Big Issue to shoppers in Fishergate, Preston. He typically sells 10 to 15 per day, but it can vary.

“My heat is more important to me than a five minute fix.”

“I don’t make a lot of money, and I don’t apply for the dole,” he says. “That’s why I rely on drops, it happens more at this time of year. Sometimes I get a 10 or 20 pound drop. During the day you don’t think about heat and light but at night it matters.” 

“I’ve got a routine to my life and thats‘s the way I like it,” Andy admits.

A typical day begins at 4am. He wakes up and walks to McDonalds at 5am. After breakfast and some reading, he sells the Big Issue until 8am when he takes a break. At 9 am, he buys more issues from the local depot and sells until 3pm, at which point he eats. He is back asleep by 4pm.
Andy changes location every few months, preferring the change in location: “You find more interesting people moving from city to city than you ever would staying in one place. The way I live, every single day I meet someone new.”
However, it was a ‘big mistake’ coming to Preston as he finds the locals arrogant.

He says: “They’re so uppity here, it’s unbelievable. People in this town will sooner give a pound to a smack head than buy a Big Issue from someone like me. They’re giving the smack head drugs, but not giving me food.

“I don’t drink. If I could afford it I probably would, it would probably keep me warmer. It’s too expensive, and if I did, people wouldn’t buy from me. To be a Big Issue seller, you can’t be on drugs and you can’t be an alcoholic.

“My heat and my light is more important to me than a five minute fix.”

His didn’t always live this way. Andy had a successful contracting business until one day 20 years ago, he came home to find his wife cheating on him with his best friend.

“I paralysed him from the neck down. Got four years in jail for it. When I came out, everything was gone.”

Andy has lived alone in a tent since his time in prison. He keeps warm with a small brass cooker, which he also uses to cook stews and rice. Many would find such a lifestyle intolerable, but Andy would have it no other way.

Andy Devonshire Fact File

    47 years old

    Originally from Torquay

    Living in Preston since August

    Released from prison in 1997

    Has lived rough since release from prison

    Enjoys reading and listening to the radio

    Last used his National Insurance number in 1988

“I think because I spent so long in jail, I have a fear of being in rooms. I don’t like being inside buildings. I see houses and think I could never live there.”

In doing so, he experiences a closeness with wildlife; a fox in particular has taken a liking to him.

“Where I am, I could tell you every little sound outside my tent, whether it’s a rat, fox or badger. I can tell by the way it’s walking, by the way it’s sniffing, by the way it’s scratching the door of the tent!
“A fox keeps nudging the tent at night. He only does it when I’m cooking! Then last night he
tried getting into the tent. He got into the first part stayed there hassling me all night. I think he’s getting tamed.”
One particular gripe of Andy’s is dishonesty. “Always hated it,” he says, giving an example from his youth:
“I always remember that when I was a kid, St Johns Church. Every year they had a fete, and every year it was for the same thing, a new roof. In all those years they had the same fete, I never once saw a new roof.”
Andy Devonshire is a man with unconventional views, but despite all that life has thrown at him, he is adamant that his beliefs have never changed.

“I live my life the way I want to live it.  I don’t owe anyone anything, and nobody owes me. My attitudes haven’t changed, I’m still the same person I was before prison. I kept my integrity.”
 Further Reading:

Thursday, 12 May 2011

R/C Helicopters

The mini- r/c helicopter has been around for about five years now. You know the type- around 15cm long, made of plastic or polystyrene and typically around £15-£25 ($40)
It's a great little gizmo that won't break your bank, and it makes an ideal Christmas/birthday present. 
Now there's so many different variations of the thing that I couldn't possibly review each one (sorry) but the experience is largely the same. 
You get a little helicopter and a remote control, which comes with a little charging port to connect to the helicopter. 
Once you've found enough batteries, (8xAA) you charge the thing and get playing. A 25 minute charge should give you 10 solid minutes of usage.
At first the controls may seem pretty confusing to use, but you'll get the hang of it soon enough. The left lever makes it go up and down and the right one controls the direction. 
Remote controlled helicopters don't go straight, left and right. Rather you navigate the thing by going in circles (literally!) and half circles in the other direction. 
Overall it's a good toy to play with. Unless your younger than 12, you'll get bored of it after a couple of days. It's mainly just a gimmicky toy you have to entertain friends for awhile.  
The Pros: 
It's fairly cheap and affordable- can be found at any department or toy store
A fun toy to play with- you'll find yourself as a pilate in your own living room
Very durable- I've bumped and dropped mine alot and it's still going strong

The Cons: 
Usually made of plastic or polystyrene- too many knocks could break pieces off
Keep spare batteries handy- it goes through loads, especially because you charge the helicopter with them

Sorry- best picture i could take whilst trying to fly it lol

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Fast Five (fast&furious 5)

Okaaaaay so i saw this film the day it came out in Uk cinemas and i have got to say i was impressed.
Having been a fan of the Fast and Furious franchise since the first film, i was wondering if the fifth installment would be worthy of the brand name, and honestly it is! The story line seems cliched at first (a group of people stealing millions of dollars from a high security safe? come on... like i haven't heard that before! ) but the storyline fits in perfectly with the other installments. You wont be disappointed with the ton of explosions, car crashes and gunfights, and the narrow misses (and often great hits) will keep you on the edge of your seat.

If you were a fan of the original cast, you'll be pleased to know they all group together in Rio to pull off 'One Last Job'. Ludachris (Tej), Tyrese Gibson (Ronan Pierce),Matt Schulze (Vince), and Sung Kang (Han Lue) who have all appeard in one of the movies all meet in fast five.The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) even makes a cameo as the chief antagonist to the group. You'll get a nice surprise if you stay past the ending credits too.

Fast Five is the latest film in the fast & furious series, and is also the longest. At over 2hrs long, i wondered whether it would start to drag on, but the film is really fast moving and action packed. The only bit which i thought was overly far fetched was the bit where Paul Walker and Vin Diesel drag a safe with two Dodge Chargers, with half of Rio police force in pursuit. Nonetheless, it was entertaining to watch them destroy half of Rio's road network.
All in all, its a great film which you must see if you are a fast and Furious fan.


Heres the Trailer for the movie: