Category Archives: Beat Blogging

The Redhead Runneth…

Now I’m a fully fledged and unemployed journalist I am finding that the past 9 months of intense training have left me with a few interesting additions (mainly in the form of lbs and a death-defying liver) and subtractions (£££s).  I’m not exactly destitute but I DO have a hemorraging car and a very broken laptop, which means I’m not jumping at the chance to re-join my old gym.  I’m not reeeeeeally overweight either but I used to be a stone lighter and I was much happier with how I looked then. 

I’ve always wanted to run a marathon, not just to have a marathon-runner’s figure (although, let’s be honest, if running put ON weight how many people would still do it?) but because I want to be someone who is just that fit.  It’s also one of those things I want to do while I’m still supposedly at the peak of life fitness, before I hit 30 and my knees start disintegrating or whatever.  So I’m going to run a marathon, possibly next year’s London Marathon, but first I’ve set my sights on running the London Half-Marathon in just over 100 days…

Actually, after googling how to train for your first half-marathon, the results don’t seem all that bad.  I’m following a mixture of this plan, which measures my training in minutes, and this one which goes for miles.  As my old pedometer only measures in kilometers, I feel I’m already on a winning amalgamation. 

I’m going to blog my journey as I go, mainly to keep up my writing (now that my melted laptop has probably swallowed the diary I kept for 6 years) and share with anyone who might be interested in reading how I’m even going to attempt to do this.   As well as those who are doing the same – please get in touch 🙂

And just so you know, I’m not a good runner.  I was never fast at school, I go tomato-red within the first 10 minutes which is NOT a good look with red hair and I have horrible short, stubby legs which wobble when I’m going downhill like an unsteady shopping trolley.  Filled with sweating tomatoes. 

Today I launched my half-marathon campaign with a 3k run around my hometown of Dartmouth.  I didn’t run up all the hills, but I still sweated like a trooper and got many a wry and amused look.  It wasn’t too bad though… Something I would like to point out is that on the rare occasion I ran before I used to always do so  first thing in the morning (otherwise I would end up putting it off all day) before breakfast. 

This time, following the advice on the training programme I ran an hour or so after breakfast and I did find that it gave me extra energy so I was able to do more.  I also read that if you run first thing in the morning it helps you burn more calories during the day, which is always a good thing.  But I would like to try an evening run sometime too, just to compare as well as prepare for the possibility of someone actually giving me a job someday. 

If you’re reading this and are attempting something similar or have any advice or tips for a first-time half-marathon runner, I would love to hear from you.

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South Devon: The Hyperlocal Blackspot?

Or so it would seem… Following this week’s lecture on the rise of hyperlocal blogging as a low-cost, far-reaching mode of online journalism, I did a search for South Devon hyperlocal blogs on Google.

Most of the maps detailing the whereabouts of hyperlocal sites show a significant blank spot around the South Hams area of Devon, where I used to work as a local reporter. Even Northcliffe, the producers of the bigger local and regional newspapers in the area, with their 23 local sites launched last year, had a significant gap in their site map.

Here is the South Hams:


Clearly plenty happens here, and I’m not just saying that as a former reporter for the area.  Local papers have crumbled elsewhere while South Hams Newspapers is still going strong… So why has the 21st century still not quite reached the area in terms of futuristic journalism?

Maybe it’s because the average reader profile of the local paper does not match the profile of a person who would look for their news on a hyperlocal website.  Maybe it’s because not enough people in the area are ‘media-savvy’ enough to know what hyperlocal journalism could offer… 

The appetite for local news has not changed.  What has changed is the nationwide appetite for local newspapers.  Surely this means, then, that it is just a matter of time before places like the South Hams, or from the looks of things, the majority of Ireland, begin to spring hyperlocal sites.  A huge benefit is that it brings the whole community together into one place, from which they can spray off into whatever they care about the most.  As I’ve said previously on this blog, a huge part of local journalism is feedback from your consumer – hyperlocal sites have the potential to merge consumer with journalist, community with stories, reading with commentary.  It raises the bar without reducing the emphasis on the beauty of local news’ relevance to the average person.

As for the South Hams… Well, no doubt we’ll get there in the end.


Blogging On the Beat

Adam Tinworth brought the I back into journalistic blogging at CJS this week. 

He told us that publishing online does make money, that the market is all about the niche and that old school beat journalism is making a comeback.  In short, blogging has facilitated the return of definining journalists by what they report on. 

Using the example of Jon Ostrower, Adam explained how journalists can make their name by reporting on something that they find absolutely fascinating.  The downside is, so can everybody else.  So how do you define yourself in a world where your interest in a particular subject is twn million a penny?  Enthusiasm, honesty, communication, information… they’re all the building blocks Adam gave us, but what I found the most interesting was the emphasis he put on being social.  If you interact with your readers, your public, they will trust you more, more will follow you and you’ll being to carve your little intials on the great big world of your niche.

But what about the journalist who retreats from the face of what they report on?  Who keeps themselves separate from their subject and goes home at the end of the day someone completely different?  Why shouldn’t the journalist be entitled to their own private life? 

To answer this I want to look back at the words of another guest lecturer at CJS, Charles Reiss, former political editor of The Evening Standard who spoke to us in our Reporters and Reported module.  He stressed, among other things, that the root of people’s trust in journalists lay in their determination to ‘tell the complex truth.’  He also revealed some rather damning statistics on the current state of said trust… But even worse off than journalists are politicians – because, among other things, politicians spin.  People feel they only get the slippery surface of a politician when they hear them speak.  And this is why journalists need to be open, this is why journalists should put their all into their beat blogging if they are to have any chance of competing with people who blog on their own steam.  Because if you show that you care about something more than you care about your own self-promotion people will trust you more and you will get a step closer to expanding those inconsequential little initials to a full-flowing signature.


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