Tag Archives: Journalism

Finding my #mojo: Mobile, memories and an MA

A few weeks ago I was in Cornwall strolling sunkissed beaches, chasing after two excitable children and eating LOTS of ice cream. And with clear blue skies every day, it was pretty glorious and a very welcome break from the daily grind. But I still had my next MA assignment in the back of my mind… (wondering about the last assignment? I passed, yay!)

During my week-long hols on the Cornish coast, I took a step back from Facebook, my usual social weapon of choice for personal endeavours, instead plumping for Instagram – showcasing my holiday highs with a series of photos and videos shorts. And they had to be good ones, I wanted to hone my skills.


I’m pretty much decided that the focus of this next module, production labs, will be on mobile journalism. The details have yet to be ironed out but I consider myself a storyteller in my personal and professional lives and a mobile phone comes with me in both.

So, I spent more time than usual trying to capture holiday moments on my mobile phone. I thought about composition, set some pictures up, captured some spontaneous stuff and did a spot of video editing using iMovie when the kids went to bed. Simple stuff, mostly hyperlapse or slow-mo edits, a few cuts and a few transitions.

I wonder, if in taking time to produce a good picture, I was in anyway compromising the memory-making process. Would memories be stronger if I didn’t have a phone in hand, would the images I captured be more authentic if not so thought out? What is more important, the image or the moment-in-time memory? Or is it the ability to capture one without compromising the other?

I learned some stuff

I actually think both are important. I will always have the memories, they create themselves by the nature of being a family and doing family things on a family holiday. Capturing them on camera is part of the memory-making process and taking good photos just means I have a better recording of that particular memory. And I’m really pleased with my shots, and my mini videos. And because I set myself this challenge as soon as we set foot in Cornwall, I was on the look-out for pictures opportunities from the off. I’m not a fan of parents constantly glued to their phones when with the kids so I whipped it out for photos and videos only, editing, cropping and loading to channels took place when the kids weren’t around.


And I did learn a few things… Not least that Cornish wifi is a bit iffy. I learned that fading into a video from black results in a black video on Instagram rather than an opening image of the action (see below). This looks pants. I learned that I need to remember to film in landscape – I always do this at work because I tend to use a tripod and mobile clip so have to, but for some reason, casual in-the-moment recording is always in portrait and I need to remember to stop that. A great video of a ‘bury grandad in the sand’ memory would have been much better in landscape.


Capturing the content is the easy part though, stories and opportunities present themselves and the tools, technologies and a bit of skill help to hone those stories in whatever format is chosen. It’s what comes next that takes the time, which matters less in a personal context but very much so in a professional one.

The other week I shot some video to do with the ExoMars Mission mid-cruise check-out. Getting the story and footage was simple, editing too, but the hosting, loading, formatting, meta data, multiple image cropping, hyper linking, reworking for social channels, hash tagging, scheduling, publishing part takes a lot longer.

Quality versus efficiency?

And is all this crafting of content worth the extra effort? Or is mobile journalism in its truest sense, shooting something and publishing straight to social media – raw, authentic, and more efficient way? Where does the need for quick turnaround trump a polished, more professional piece of content? Does it need to be great or good enough?

These are some of the things I hope to explore in my current MA module – and I need to get a wriggle on, the clock is ticking!

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Video chat: learning from others who are doing it well #MAent

The rain was pouring. In the space of an hour I’d driven around endlessly to find a parking space – the only one available was in a flooded patch of car park. I’d stepped in a muddy puddle in my nice, bright white Converse, I’d queued and paid for a train ticket I didn’t use (floods delayed or cancelled all trains to London Euston) and I’d lost my cars for 10 minutes in my own coat pocket. It hadn’t been the best start to the day. But it got better!

Thanks to the power of online, what was meant to be a cosy chat with Jennifer D Begg in the comfort of her Camden office space, turned into a Skype chat instead. I had a camera and online voice recorder set up, Jennifer was armed with a camera at her end too. And guess who’s footage came out best? Jennifer’s, of course, because she’s the expert. That’s right, she’s the co-founder of TeamTwoBees.com, a digital marketing and training consultancy – and the inspiration for ContentEdMK, the focus of my enterprise project.

Showing people how to do it for themselves

Jennifer came to my official place of work to talk about social media, creating super quick Instagram videos, and opening up access to her closed Facebook group offering a wealth of extra training materials and a place to continue our learning, ask questions and mingle with peers.

She inspired me with her informal approach, her enthusiasm and her passion for showing people how to do things online so they can go on and do it themselves. And she’s flying the flag for women in technology, selling to concept that tech doesn’t have to be intimidating and front-loaded with jargon. As she puts it, ‘education is a gift no one can take away from you’ and if Stephen Hawking can write a children’s book explaining complex scientific theories, then it should be pretty easy to teach people how to use technology.

Listen to Jennifer: she talks a lot of sense

Here are five super short videos (here’s the album on Vimeo) where Jennifer spills the beans on how she got started, biggest issues for small businesses, online training and fee structures.






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Elevator pitch. Well, not really #MAEnt

Robyn Bateman waving shadowSo, the current module of my MA requires me to be the business. Literally. I’m full of creative ideas at home and at work (and with the kids… well, you have to get them to eat their greens somehow). But business? Well, that’s not my thing. Or maybe it is and I just haven’t tried it. We’ll soon find out.

The key part is coming up with an idea that is a) online, b) relates to the award for which I’m studying (damn, that food-related project I have burning a hole in my notepad will have to wait) and meet some political/social need. I.e I need to try and do some good in the world while trying to make money while trying to be a journalist.

My idea in its very barest form (the one I think I’ll stick with, at least) is linked with what I love and what I do. One of my work buddies describes me as abstractly creative and I’d never have put myself under that umbrella until he said it. It’s not that I come up with weird and wonderful ideas but I do try and challenge myself to think beyond what’s the easiest option. I don’t always succeed but I do enjoy a spot of creativity.

I also love content, as a creator, consumer and lurker. And I’m fussy, time-starved and suffer a short attention span so it needs to be good. I also love learning, both as a learner – in the direct sense, hence why I’m doing this MA; as a mentor, I love sharing my skills with others, it makes me feel good; and also indirectly too. I work for a university and know first-hand how education changes lives, develops careers, boosts self confidence, contributes to the economy and makes the world go round. And I know that being creative and learning new skills is beyond tricky when you’re spinning many plates: job or jobs, parenthood, carer, friend, sportsman, volunteers etc.

So, my idea is to offer a kind of mentoring service for small business who want to develop their brands without having to employ a large agency or cough up a small fortune to attend a workshop in London. I want to offer an online portal of bitesize content training in all things digital content, from creating videos, writing social media posts, re-sizing images, learning WordPress, web content, enewsletters etc. And that that ‘learning hub’ for want of a better phrase will allow people to put their learning into practice, try by failing in a comfortable, supportive space, and therefore contribute to other people’s learning. Or something like that.

My husband works with a lot of small businesses in his role as web designer/developer and knows first-hand how people struggle with the basics which, in this day and age are pretty essential if you want customers to engage in spaces they’re comfortable in. And they don’t have the time or budget to skill up in a more formal way, and neither do they have to. Although a traditionally qualified journalist, I was trained in print and much of my own digital skillset has come from being mentored by others, learning by doing and experimenting, and failing plenty times over. I’m still learning.

So, that’s the crux of it. It needs a lot of research, polishing and working up but I’m further on than I was last week: clueless.

Enterprise #MAEnt from Robyn Bateman on Vimeo.

All roads leads back to the workplace
It’s interesting to see how prominently my place of work features in my MA in Online Journalism. I’m not sure why, but I read a 2009  post from Paul Bradshaw last week when he was started to write the MA course. In it, he referenced Peter Horrocks, then of the BBC, who’d offered some though on the content of the course. Today, as I sit and type this, Peter is the Vice-Chancellor of The Open University (OU), where I work.

Then, while reading about social innovation, I stumbled on a paragraph that mentioned the OU and the Young Foundation, named after Michael Young, the man who helped to found the ‘university of the air’.

Now, I’m staying late after work to catch up on MA reading and access to the Taylor & Francis Online ‘portal’ has been granted because I’m logged on with the OU and the uni logo has popped onto the top of my screen. Being a distance learning student (live Milton Keynes, uni in Birmingham) can have disadvantages, but working for another university (particularly the ‘king’ of the distance learning tribe) seems to make up for the shortfall.

De Bono six thinking hats graphicHats off to de Bono
And already my work-life is benefitting from the MA. I’ve been reading up about Edward de Bono and his six thinking hats and would really like to try them out in a creative brainstorm session sometime soon. Brainstorms can often be messy, lots of people cramming in ideas, shouting them down and forgetting objectives for what seems like an age. The thinking hats sounds less messy but just as creative and I won’t know until I’ve tried it. I like the idea of sitting in a meeting wearing a hat too. Watch this space.

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Neglected blog but for a good reason

Headphones on an RSS feed: ThinkstockEek, this blog has been neglected of late but I have the best excuse – it’s because I’m focusing on my latest MA project: multimedia journalism.

I’m creating a series of podcasts under the title of Ladies Wot Blog – celebrating female bloggers who will be attending Cybher 2012, the UK’s all inclusive female-only conference for bloggers.

Each blogger attending has their own story, big or small, and I’ll be honing in on some of them for my project. You can follow my progress on my Ladies Wot Blog Tumblr page.

Picture credit: Thinkstock

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If you like to read…

… and you’re interested in multimedia journalism, specifically creating online audio and/or video, then you might like these on your bookshelf:

Multimedia journalism reading list

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