Sunday, July 26, 2015

London lovin'

A couple of years ago I visited London at the end of a mission trip to Moldova. We stopped in London before heading back to the U.S. and spent three days here during the Olympics. Those three days were nothing to prepare me for this summer. 

Arriving at King's College, I have never felt more nervous, excited and overwhelmed all at once before. I had no idea what was coming for me, but I have loved every second. 

Trips to various news organizations showed me that I chose the right field. While my degree is in journalism, my emphasis was broadcast journalism. Visiting news organizations like the Guardian and the Telegraph were encouraging and so much fun, but it was the South London Press that really got to me. 

Hearing someone talk about the importance of local newspapers and how they are more trustworthy and accurate stuck with me. It is because of those community connections and relationships in the community that make that possible. 

Exploring the city on my own and learning to navigate the tube taught me to be more independent. Getting lost in London is still a daily thing for me, but I can always find my way back so that is win for a directionally challenged person like me. 

While it has been a fantastic experience and something that I will treasure forever, I cannot wait to get home and use what I have learned.

I have missed my room and my bed, my family and friends, pancakes and my grandmother's cooking, air conditioning, driving my car, my job and south Mississippi. But I know when I return I'll miss my small flat and Stamford Street, my new friends, jacket potatoes and Nando's, not needing air conditioning, the tube and walking everywhere, class visits across the city and London. 

No news is good news?

When I think of elections back home, the first thing that pops into my mind is not the politicians and the campaigning, but the journalists and news organizations that cover the entire thing. 

I know that is probably last on everyone else's mind, but this news junkie recalls staying up all night the night of the Hattiesburg mayoral election at Dupree headquarters to cover it. Who cares about that 8 a.m. class the next morning when you have the opportunity to do something like that? 

In America that is so common. News organizations offer constant coverage on Election Day. From profiles on candidates to analysis of the polls, you cannot escape it. However, when we visited CNN London we learned something very interesting. 

Regulations in the UK keep them from saying anything that could sway voters on Election Day. Meaning they cannot report on the election at all that day. Zero coverage. You read that right. Zero coverage. 

I thought they were joking when they  told us the most they could say is, "pretty weather out for getting to the polls today." And that is it. Definitely not something we are used to back home. 

Elections are coming up in my hometown and I could not imagine not seeing anything about it on our local television station. 

Broadcast v. Print

After our very first lecture, something became very clear to me: British and American journalism are basically opposites. I never knew how different they were until the professor began telling us about how each operate. 

In America, our broadcast news organizations are known for their analysis and comment segments. Many are known for their biased commentary and slanted reporting of the news. Just comparing the coverage of certain stories is drastically different from one to another. 

However, our newspapers have a slightly better reputation for being more accurate and trusted. Newspapers in America are not quite as talked about for being slanted or biased. 

In the UK, it is a bit different. Broadcast news organizations are known for accurate and fair reporting. They are held to a higher standard because of the amount of regulations placed on broadcasters. Meanwhile, the newspapers are not quite as trusted. 

I did not expect such a stark difference between British and American journalism, but visits to various news organizations across London has showed me otherwise. 

Fact checking or nah?

When I worked as news editor at the Student Printz, one of my responsibilities before we hired a copy editor was to fact check stories. Each Sunday and Wednesday night the three of us, the managing and executive editors and I, would print, edit and factcheck each story before it was entered into the drive for layout. 

Once we hired a copy editor, she would come into production and triple check each story for the usual gsp errors, check names and so on. So it really struck me as odd when we visited a few news organizations and they said that they do not factcheck. 

It seemed so strange to me that their stories went straight from reporter to editor to print. One person who spoke to us commented that there was just a trust there that the reporters would get it right. At another, someone commented on the fact that the Guardian is infamous for misspelling names and such. Seems like fact checking might come in handy there, maybe? 

I do not know if this is just something that is unique to the place we visited or if maybe they misunderstood the question. But that is definitely something the Brits do differently. 

Friday, July 24, 2015


My absolute favorite place in London is Camden Town. I am actually pretty sad that I did not discover it until five days before I leave the city. 

It was home to Amy Winehouse and has tons of cool shops, a market and plenty of pubs. Just walking down the street and window shopping is fun here. There isn't a shop in this area that I don't love. 

My friends and I visited the coolest pub, the Hawley Arms, after walking the streets and doing some shopping. It has a wall of autographs from various singers, including my fave Amy Winehouse. Plus a walled garden and plenty of Guinness. What else could a girl ask for?

In addition to a the shopping there are tons of theaters, bars and restaurants. I'm obsessed with the idea of living here. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

London love

Although our Fleet Street tour guide said not to use this quote because it's a cliche, I will anyway because I have found it to be true. 

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." 

I arrived here June 25, unsure and a little intimated by this big city. I was nervous about transportation, getting lost, being homesick. 

However, it was not long until I figured out the tube, I got lost and found my way back and I learned to deal with missing home. 

In fact, I do not miss home quite as much after a month here. And I'm actually quite sad to be returning next week. 

If there is one thing I have noticed since I arrived here, it's how much there is to do. I can walk outside of my flat and I am immediately in the heart of the city and in the middle of so much business and life. 

I have fallen in love with London and will be sad to head home to south Mississippi. I'll miss the shows and the pubs and my friends that I have made along the way. But I will be happy to return to my family. 

A month here was not nearly enough for I do not believe I could ever tire of London. 

SLP and Schillings

Yesterday we took a trip to Oxford to visit the Oxford University Press. Today we visited the South London Press and Schillings Law firm. 

At South London Press we spoke with Hannah Walker, editor of 15 years. She said some things that really stood out to me as someone who works for a local newspaper back home. 

Walker said local papers are more trustworthy and place more emphasis on accuracy. That's because the reporters usually have a closer relationship with their readers because they reach a smaller community. 

They are in the process of redeveloping their website as they are catching up with the digital first journalism world. 

Walker said journalism is a great industry going through massive changes and that even as a small local paper they are still able to make a difference. 

Next we went to the law firm where we heard from a couple of lawyers specializing in privacy and reputation. The firm's client base is a mix of individuals and companies. 

They work only with claimants and not the press. They help with invasion of privacy, blackmail or reputation cases. 

Claimants have to prove publication, identification, defamation and harm. 
Companies must prove financial loss or potential financial loss. 

It was an interesting day in new areas of London. Always something new to see. (:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sky TV

One of my favorite visits so far was to Sky TV. Here we met with Simon Bucks, the associate editor of Sky News who spoke with us about the show and gave us a tour of the building.

Sky News was the first twenty-four hour news broadcast in Europe. Bucks said the news organization is multi-platform as their work is produced online as well, and that they have  a “large international footprint” as they broadcast across Europe.

With the rise of digital-first news organizations, it comes as no surprise to me that their website is wildly popular with 22 million unique views monthly. This seems to be the trend with news organizations across the world in this age. Online content boosts popularity as it is easily accessible.

Sky News is also a nine-time winner of News Channel of the Year.

One thing that stood out to me is the difference between television in the US and the UK. Bucks told us that they are only allowed a maximum of twelve minutes per hour of advertisements, while in the US it is a little different. I’m not sure what the max is, but I know it is more than that.

While touring the newsroom, we noticed the news desk for broadcasts was located in the center of the newsroom. The desk rotates throughout the day to give a new background as it gets later. So for a brief moment we were in the background on the news. (:

National Portrait Gallery

Last week my friend Chanler and I decided to pay a visit to the famous Trafalgar Square. We took a look around the National Portrait Gallery then had dinner by one of the fountains after class.

The National Portrait Gallery is an art gallery in Trafalgar Square that contains numerous portraits of famous British people from over the years. We began the exhibit with the Tudors and ended with Anna Wintour, which I of course had to have my photo with. Wintour is the editor-in-chief of American Vogue.

Each exhibit was so much fun as we attempted to guess who some of the portraits were of before we read the sign beside them. We learned so much more about each person as each portrait gave a small glimpse into each person’s life and personality.

We were even lucky enough to catch the exhibit showing the winner of the 2015 portrait of the year award, so we were able to get a look at some modern work of faces we are unfamiliar with.

There was also an exhibit showcasing a woman’s work that she created detailing the life of her family, from the birth of her children to her relationship with her sister.

I also learned that when this gallery opened in 1856, it was the first portrait gallery in the world.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Edinburgh, I love you

Although I am excited to get up in the morning and prepare to leave for Dublin, Ireland, I am sad that we do not have more time in Edinburgh. It only took five minutes here for me to completely fall in love with this Scottish city. I love the architecture, the accents, and basically everything else.

Our first full day here we visited the Scottish Parliament and wondered the streets exploring and visiting many interesting shops along the way. We ended the night with a pub crawl. It was interesting to say the least. Seven bars in four hours was definitely an experience. Today we visited Pagoda public relations firm and Union advertising agency. (More to come on these).

After our class visits we hiked our way up to Arthur’s Seat. This was probably the most fun, but exhausting thing we have done here so far. From the top you can see all of Edinburgh. I wish we had more time to spend here. The people are much warmer and welcoming, and the weather is much colder and pleasant than London.

Don’t get me wrong, London is amazing, but I will miss this city when we return. But for now I am excited to take on Dublin for mini break.

Cab ride

After our adventure at the Wireless Festival, we made our way out to the tube to head back to our flat. Walking back to the underground from Finsbury Park we quickly discovered it would be impossible to get back that way. The underground was packed.

We walked around trying to decide what to do. Exhausted and cranky we decided to just split a cab. Our driver, Martin, turned out to be the best person we met all night. Once he heard our accents he had to hear all about where we were from and what it is like back home.

He told us the only place he ever visited in America was Vegas, and as much as he liked it there he said that Southerners were his favorite. He said there was just something about that Southern charm. He sang us Cash songs and asked about our travels.

He said the Southern charm is what set us apart from all of his other customers. Just a simple “thank you” and kind words to him made his day, because no one else even really spoke to him except to bark out their destination. He carried on with us the entire ride back, and sang more songs to us of course.

When we arrived at the dorm, he gave us a discount and when he heard us discussing our plans to go get dinner he drove us to the restaurant free of charge, just because of how kind we were. Southern charm goes a long way.