Are we all news reporters?

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I was having a chat with my wife the other night about what news had become in the modern day. It made me slightly sad about what we have come to, when it comes to what we deem as news or newsworthy and how news stories are created these days.

What has the word ‘news’ become?

I can’t remember how we got on to the topic of conversation that we did the other night, but it made me think a lot about how we use the word ‘news’. The word ‘news’ used to have a gravitas about it, but now it seems social media has stolen the word news by referring to collections of friends posts on social media, as a ‘newsfeed.’ As a society now we seem to be more interested in what is happening on our ‘newsfeed’ than what is actually happening in the news.

I also can’t stand the way that a lot of news has changed now. Many articles seem to be written in order to be social media friendly or to appeal to the social media community. Even worse than this though, is how many news stories are being based on things people like you and I have been posting on Facebook. Somehow now what we post has been deemed ‘newsworthy.’

Social media runs the news

The news stories that seem to get better placed online are the ones people are posting about the most on social media. Rather than reading or watching the news and deciding what we think the big issues of the day are, the social media community are really stirring what we are having our eyes and ears drawn to.

All of this means is that in todays world, we are all news reporters. If you have a blog, a social media page etc. you can break news. What you write has as much chance of being news as everything else. What is for sure, is that in some ways it is not a good time to be a journalist. Well thought out articles are being lost against a tide of irrelevance. We are now in a quantity over quality situation, where it comes to things to read on the Internet. Sadly there is so much vying for our time and attention that we can’t find and read all the good stuff. I just hope as many people as possible continue to write clever and informative pieces and that one day they win out.

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The Great British Bake Off

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Now as many of you are aware, not only do I work in TV but I am also a huge fan of TV. Something my wife and I look forward to every year on the BBC, is The Great British Bake Off. Now the License Fee gets questioned a lot over here in the UK but I would pay it for this programme alone, let alone all the other amazing BBC services. I was saying the same thing last week about the BBC’s coverage of the Olympics; I would pay the fee for just that as well.

With everything that happens in the world, news and entertainment the Great British Bake off is just something I think is very much needed. It is just a nice mixture of comedy, food, inspiration, joy and heart warmingness (I know that isn’t a word) that I never tire of watching. The programme always encourages me to bake, gives me ideas and always puts me in awe of some of the amazing home bakers we have in this country.

A phenomenon

The show is a phenomenon, not only is one of the most watched shows over here every year, but it has since had many off spin off shows produced in other countries and in the UK. Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood have become national institutions because of the show and Mel & Sue have been taken in to hearts of millions.

The show needs these 4 people as they just make the show work. Every year the contestants are different, sometimes better, sometimes worse but that doesn’t always matter. The show is more about how Paul, Mary, Sue and Mel interact with the contestants, than the contestants themselves, although there have been many memorable contestants over the year.

The journey

The series progresses until they determine the champion and star baker of the series. The competition element though isn’t what is most important, which is why I like it. It’s not about everyone out to win at all costs; the winner doesn’t get a huge amount of money and a huge contract to do something. It is just more about the honour of being voted the best. Although this sounds cliché the show is about the journey we go on with all of them.

If you haven’t seen it before, where have you been? Hope you will all be tuning in at 8pm tonight on BBC One, for what I am sure will be another great series.

You will be amazed what happens next

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One thing I can’t stand online, is when articles or video descriptions have the words “you will be amazed what happens next” in the title. If this is in the title of something, I know that it is clickbait. The phrase just sums up what is wrong with SEO, copywriting for web and the rise of clickbait.

It seems that the web has turned in to a place where everything is the same. Where there is one right headline to make sure you get the most clicks and reads, so everyone sticks to it and does the same thing. It’s like there are magical words and phrases.

Maximizing impact

If something has a title that I can see has been written to maximize impact and encourage you to click, the more it makes me not want to click it. When I see a title like that, I know that the writer/website just wants me to click the link and what I link through to has a very low chance of actually being something of quality.

Titles and headlines like “you will be amazed what happens next” seem to have been written after someone has done some basic reading on psychology. The writers are trying to use words and phrases that they think will make you want to click. Words and phrases that still make you click even though you know you are being had and that you know that it is clickbait. Some may call it very clever, I just call it unimaginative.

If you can’t beat them, join them

I will be amazed when and/or if this way of writing ever ends, as I think we are doomed to it for quite some time. The pressure to get you the viewer on to a website for that website to make money is fierce and most companies are going with the adage – “If you can’t beat them, join them.” It seems everyone is so worried about losing out on a potential click that they are willing to sacrifice any standards in order not to miss them.

I know in all forms of art it is so hard to be new and different, as so much has been done before but it doesn’t mean we should just all copy what each other are doing. I want to read quality, I want to enjoy what I am reading and I want my time spent visiting a website to be good and worthwhile not an experience where I feel like I have been duped in to and one that I wish I hadn’t wasted my time on.

Gilmore Girls

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My wife introduced me to the TV show ‘Gilmore Girls’ the other day. I knew it has been a show she has loved for years but I had never watched an episode. Now that it is on Netflix I caught her watching an episode a few days ago and sat and watched with her. I am a big TV fan, especially of drama and comedy, so am always on the lookout for new shows and although I am probably not the usual demographic that watches the show or the demographic it was written for, I found myself really enjoying it.

The show drew me in

To me, great TV shows are based on fantastically written characters. I am in awe of writers who can write characters that draw you in to a show. A great show and great characters are those that don’t need big events to happen all the time to keep the attention of the audience. I don’t watch shows for events and situations that the characters find themselves in, I watch them, to go on a journey with the characters I like.

When I heard the title ‘Gilmore Girls’ it conjured up an image in my head that was different to the show I actually sat down to watch. The show is based around a mother and daughter doing life together, battling the complexity of growing up, family and relationships. I found the two main characters to be real and funny but the main thing that drew me in was their relationship, which is expertly acted and written.

Good dialogue

After every episode of the “Gilmore Girls’ I want to watch another. In many episodes nothing groundbreaking actually happens, but I want to get to know the characters better and learn more about them. I think the show would be a great one to watch for any aspiring TV writer. Dialogue can be one of the hardest things to get right, but in ‘Gilmore Girls’ they nail it. The focus on character is just brilliant as well and is a reminder to any wannabe writer to really make sure you know your characters inside and out, before attempting writing dialogue or story arcs.

So this show would be my Netflix tip of the week. I have got quite a few shows on the go already but this one has drawn me in and jumped the queue. Give it a go and I think it might become regular viewing. After a hard day it is not a taxing watch and is great to watch to unwind.

Only be swayed by the truth

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One thing that annoys me a lot at the moment, is how people seem to be so easily swayed and impacted by the way news companies frame news stories. You could see stories about the same event on 5 different news websites and each will be framed differently.

Framing

Framing means the way people present something. The actual event that happened doesn’t change, just a news company will write about that event in a certain way that they think will a) appeal to their audience b) grab attention and c) tie in with the political views of the news company as a whole.

It’s like the coverage of the murder of Jo Cox last week. The facts of the event were – Jo Cox went to work, was walking in public and was murdered. You can argue all day long about the motives, the reasoning’s and what led it to happen but to try and explain it away is just plain wrong. Lets start talking about events and news stories for what actually happened, lets not try and sanitize it or use it to push an agenda.

Reporting

Murder is illegal and wrong. A person being killed is sad. It is so hard for the truth to out these days in situations and that is mainly because there are so many half-truths and out right lies out there, which are being reported on as if they were facts. If something bad happened to you or I, I would want the truth to out. I wouldn’t want my death to be used to benefit a political agenda.

Scare mongering and fear in this country has been created out of nothing by the media. The way the media reports news (especially in the last few weeks) has just fuelled hatred within our society, made a society of angry people and caused division. If news were just about facts rather than opinion and agenda, society would be in a much better place than it is today.

I hope that we become wise to what the news is doing to us soon and that a campaign is started again for real news and factual news. The news has too much power in our world; it shapes the way we think and how we react to things. The news knows how much power it has; we just need to find a way to lessen the power it has over our lives.

Media relations

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At the moment I am doing the media rounds for my book “Unbreakable Bond.” So over the space of 5 days, I have 3 radio interviews with prominent local stations across the South West of England.

My first interview was yesterday on BBC Radio Cornwall, then this Saturday I am on Phonic FM in Exeter and then finishing up on Monday on CHBN in Truro. This is the busiest little media patch I have had in a little while and I am very much enjoying it.

You never know who is listening

The thing with being interviewed on radio is you never know who is listening. A five-minute interview could lead to lots of new interest for my book, or it might not do anything for it. The question I have to ask myself then is – are doing radio interviews worthwhile if it doesn’t lead to further sales of the book?

Through my printing and distribution companies I can track every time someone purchases my book and where they purchase it. Sadly the thing I can’t find out is what triggered the person to buy the book. If a book is sold just after a radio interview – is it coincidence or was someone listening? If a book is purchased a month after a radio interview – was it because someone just remembered about that interview they listened to with me or listened to it again on a catch-up service?

Don’t be disheartened

It can be disheartening when you invest your time to do a bit of media and it doesn’t seem to have a knock on effect on sales. As this is what you want from the media exposure, you want more people to be reading the book. I think though that no matter if everyone or no one is listening, it is still worthwhile as I believe every piece of media you do contributes to the brand. Being on a TV show, Radio programme, newspaper or website gives your voice more of an authority and might lead you to getting another chance on another platform to talk about your product.

Being on a TV show or Radio programme gets people excited for you and gives you something to talk about and hype on your own social media feeds and websites. You don’t always want to be just continuously posting about your book, so posting about being on a TV show or Radio programme gives you an indirect way and a different way of promoting your book.

If you don’t say yes to opportunities you will never know where they might lead. Even if they lead nowhere at least you now know that, you have gained experience along the way and you may have made a contact or two.

Keeping the ball rolling

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It is now over a year since the launch of my book “Unbreakable Bond.” I am still as passionate as I was on launch day to get this book in to the hands of many people as possible. This has meant since early 2015 I have been keeping the ball rolling on the promotion of the book.

I have no promotion team or advertising budget, so every bit of attention I have to scrap for and I am willing to scrap. Every week I try to set aside a small manageable amount of time to dedicate to spreading the word about the book. It would have been so easy for me to just blitz the promotion at the start and then do nothing, but I think this slow and steady approach has paid dividends. I am seeing constant sales of the book and regular new avenues of promotion opening up.

Mental Health Foundation

It’s like this week the Mental Health Foundation featured a piece on my book, which was seen by thousands thanks to their social media promotion:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/stories/my-mum-and-i-unbreakable-bond

This has lead to the book getting back inside the Top 10 on Amazon for its category, which is amazing. With my hard work and the support of others this book isn’t fizzling out or going away, which I am immensely proud of.

Features

I also have features coming up later this year in the Dementia Care Journal (a leading Dementia publication) and some local radio stations. Even though each week there isn’t a new article somewhere about my book, there is always something going on behind the scenes.

At the moment I am building some great relationships with important and influential people in the dementia world, which I hope will lead to great fruit in the months and years to come. Publicising something is a game that you have to keep the right mind to each week. Some weeks you get lots of support and activity because of your work and some weeks you don’t but you need to work your hardest each week regardless of what the outcome is, as it is only by doing this that great results come.

I am forever thinking of and finding new ways to promote the book and I hope that for years to come that this book continues to be a relevant and a used tool to help people currently caring for people with dementia.

To buy my book or find out more about it go to www.unbreakablebond.co.uk