Journalism Abroad: Mizzou Student Talks European News

I can honestly say I have never been out of the United States. I have been as far north as Maine, far south as Texas and far west as the sandy beaches of California; but never to a different country. However, I have full intentions of going abroad in the next few years. The Europe area tops my list. Not only am I interested in the rich culture, but also enriching my knowledge of journalistic practices in the area.

Adam SmithFor that reason, I turned to a dear friend with some questions about his time in Europe. Meet Adam Smith. He interned in London at the NBC London Bureau. He was lucky enough to actually be there in 2012 when London hosted the Olympics.

Here is an example of some of the news that is done there.

Essentially, the bureau is a subsection of the main NBC headquarters, which is based in the United States. Reporters here focus on London news and other world affairs. Adam said seeing how reporters work in London was an experience he’ll never forget.

Nichole Cartmell: What made you want to study in Europe?

Adam Smith: Europe has always been a really special place to me, England in particular and London specifically. I had spent a week there the summer of 2008 and couldn’t wait to get back.

NC: I know you worked for NBC in its London Bureau. Were the news operations any different then what you had experienced as a producer at KOMU-TV in Columbia?

AS: I had never actually produced while at KOMU and the London bureau is different than a normal newsroom because shows aren’t actually produced from the bureau. The bureau produced a lot of segments for shows like Today or Nightly News. It also served as home-base for NBC’s European-based correspondents and as one of the key newsrooms for NBCNews.com.

NC: At Mizzou you studied convergence journalism. In what ways were reporters there making use of multiplatform reporting?

AS: The biggest thing I noticed was the use of social media. Many of the correspondents were constantly tweeting, updating Facebook, etc. Being a network, the correspondents had the luxury of not having to shoot their own pieces. However, there were a couple times where I was with web/digital producers who shot their own video for web stories.

NC: Generally speaking, is journalism perceived differently in Europe, than it is in the United States?

AS: Journalism, or the news at least, is very much part of daily life. While riding the Underground to/from work, one can always see people reading newspapers of every kind, from the tabloid The Sun to the prim and proper Financial Times. An interesting contrast I noticed is that while in the U.S., opinion journalism is seen more on television (Fox News, MSNBC, etc.) and print is seen as fairer, it is the opposite in the UK. Newspapers proudly show which side they support while broadcast is more balanced.

Now, Adam wasn’t kidding when he said news is a big part of the daily life of people living in London. I found one blogger who has dedicated his entire site to covering everything Charlton, a south-east part of London. It’s a hyperlocal blog with an emphasis on covering news that wasn’t in the mainstream.Adam Smith2

 NC: What news do people in London seem to care most about? Are there any specific things U.S. reporters should focus on when covering news over there?

AS: Londoners are much like Americans in what they like to consume; it’s mainly just a difference in subject matter. There’s certainly a lot of interest in British TV and reality shows, and certainly in sports where soccer reigns supreme. Because London is such an important player in the world economy, finance and business news is extremely important.  And, of course, there’s always politics.

If a U.S. reporter is going to cover London/England, they need to recognize the major differences. Britons are not going to care about baseball or American football. And if covering politics, a working knowledge of parliamentary systems and European Union politics is key. The U.S. is very unique in its political system and the way it’s set up does not carry over to most countries.

 NC: You are now a producer for KOTV in Tulsa. How did studying abroad help strengthen your journalistic practices?

AS: It certainly gave me an even greater appreciation for international/world news than I already. Many Americans are ignorant of the world outside their city or state, let alone their country. It helped me develop in my mind that I have a responsibility to help expand that knowledge.

NC: Journalistically speaking, what experiences in London do you wish you could incorporate to your work now?

AS: It’s certainly a pie-in-the-sky desire for local news, but having the access right there to correspondents to go around the world to report just for us would be awesome. Also, just the access to the incredible locations, comparable to St Paul’s Cathedral or the Olympics and such.

Adam isn’t the only person that I found who enjoyed their time working with NBC in London. Check out what Ithaca College student Nicole Ogrysko had to say about her time there.

Looks like I am definitely going to have to take a trip to London!

Interview with British Soul Singer Midé

Screenshot 22:01:2013 21:06-2After releasing a string of EPs, British singer-songwriter Midé has released his long-awaited debut album ‘E.G.’

After listening to the 14-track project, I find it has a unique sound of jazzy-soul. The take your homework to the park-layout that comfy blanket-and chill type of sound. Every track is perfectly placed, and you can press play and not have to worry about skipping a song. Oh, and did I mention the band? Yes, Midé plays with a live band. And I don’t know about you, but my ears enjoy a good live performance. No matter how advanced technology becomes, there is nothing like the real thing.  It touches the soul.

On The Come Up TV writer Craig Abs describes Midé as a “vocal interpretation of Muhammad Ali, floating like a butterfly through the verses and (mildly) stinging like a bee on the hooks.”

Intense right? I thought so too. Paired with his sound, incorporation of live instruments and a description like that, I had to learn a little more about the rising artist.

Latisha Hickem: Midé, tell me about yourself; where are you from, and how old are you?

Mide: I am a Nigerian-born Brit in my 20s.

How would you describe your sound? You call it ‘Alternative Soul”, explain…

I actually went with Alternative Soul because I thought the having Alternative before the “Soul” kept the door open for some of the other influences I was putting into the music. I feel like people have a solid idea sometimes of what they expect soul music to sound like. But with me I find sometimes I lean in other directions while still maintaining a soulful element. Like I might have Folk Soul, Neo Soul, Soft Rock Soul (If such a things exists), etc. So it’s really a kind of disclaimer.

Many may be surprised to know you started out as a rapper, tell me about the change of heart…

This is a funny story. When I say I started out rapping, I meant more just reciting other rappers verses in college [and] high school… nothing too serious. But out of that came a love of words and poetry, which later evolved to become songs written to music. So maybe I wasn’t worthy of being called a rapper but it was one of the roads I travelled to get here.

Where are you right now with your music career?

I’m at a point I’ve never been before. I have just released my first full-length project and I’m going on a national tour to play live in front of audiences across the UK. I love the adventure of it and I’m also humbled to be able to do that for a living.

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 1.30.28 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 1.37.53 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 1.38.28 PM

How do American soul singers differ from those in London?

I find that in London, most times, it seems that Soul music comes from the outside in. We hear about a lot of American soul artists and we even support them when they come to town.  America, being the birthplace of that sound, is no doubt a kind of Mecca and we look to American Soul artists as a kind of pioneer. Of course no one can really have a monopoly on a style or genre, so there seems to be an emerging Soul collective in London.

Tell me about your debut album E.G. — the inspirations, the influence, and so forth, think: “E.G, decoded.”

The new album came about as a collection of songs I’d been working on for some years. I released a couple of EP’s to broach the subject of me as a solo artist and then I decided I wanted to be known as an album artist or a concept artist.

The inspiration for the songs varies quite a bit. Sometimes from something as mundane as people who gossip (Hilda), to a watered down expression of my feelings when I lost my dad (Holding On).

I wanted the album name to be something that showed the different styles and concepts I was capable of and thats where the name came from: “E.G” – For Example.

Where can we find you on the web, and hear more of you?

I really love to meet new people so hit me up. You can listen to me and find out more about me online here:

Website

Twitter

Soundcloud

A Change Brewing?

Tea is as synonymous with the United Kingdom as the Queen of England herself. However, new figures show that Britain’s love affair with tea may soon be going the way of the dinosaur. Every year since 2011, the amount of tea sold in British supermarkets has declined. Not only has it declined, but the amount of decline has roughly doubled every year. The amount of tea sold in 2013 was down over 6% compared to 2012.

Closing the gap. Google searches for coffee (blue) in the United Kindgom have grown to match searches for tea over the past 7 years.

Closing the gap. Google searches for coffee (blue) in the United Kindgom have grown to rival searches for tea over the past 7 years.

At first glance, it would seem crazy that Britain could turn its back on its most prized export. After all, in 1773 Boston patriots organized the Boston Tea Party and not the Boston Coffee Party. But this is 2014, not 1773. The worldwide expansion of American fast food chains (I’m looking at you, Starbucks) as well as a global society that’s increasingly always on the go has caused a sea change in British caffeine consumption habits.

Starbucks is fueling Britain's growing love for a cup of joe. The company now has over 730 stores and 12,000 employees since opening the first British cafe in 1998.

Starbucks is fueling Britain’s growing love for a cup of joe. The company now has over 730 stores and 12,000 employees since opening their first British cafe in 1998.

As tea sales have plunged at the supermarket and tea rooms, coffee sales have increased at a proportional rate in general and at a nearly exponential rate in public. The change is most dramatic on Britain high streets, where coffee sales hit the £1 billion mark in 2013 compared to only £480 million for tea. In fact, the coffee sector in the United Kingdom is growing at a rate 7 to 8 times faster than the British economy itself.

This news hasn’t gone over well with at least one person in the UK’s blogosphere. Emma Sturgess, in the Word of Mouth blog with The Guardian stated that it was “hard to swallow” Britain’s growing love for coffee.

The Americans may have had a big hand in introducing espresso to the Brits, but it is now a new wave of British entrepreneurs that are cultivating a distinctly British coffee culture. In much the same manner that happened in the United States in the 2000s, independent cafes are popping up all over the country. Not only do Brits want coffee. They want good coffee that’s just as meticulously prepared for them as their beloved tea. Urban blogger Peter Thomson has taken advantage of Britain’s growing coffee scene as a way to explore new parts of London. Other coffee aficionados have turned into teachers as interest in the art of making a latte has grown.

Perhaps Britain’s growing love affair with coffee is the final revenge of the Boston revolutionaries that gathered at the Old South Meeting House and planned the Boston Tea Party. One thing that is certain, however, is that the interconnectivity of today’s world will continue to alter traditional cultural values and tastes. We are becoming one giant, global melting pot.

Europeans and Trains: A Love Affair

High Speed Train

 

Europeans are all about traveling by trains. If the sheer number of train tracks criss-crossing the continent isn’t enough proof, all one has to do is look at hashtags for any of the major European train lines. Take #Eurostar for example:

 

 

 

That is a lot of train love… and it isn’t just a fling.

Eurostar Patrons are feelin' the love at one of the many Eurostar stations. Photo courtesy of @ppparis.

Eurostar Patrons are feelin’ the love at one of the many Eurostar stations

Contrary to popular belief, trains were not solely popularized by their role in the Harry Potter series. Locomotives choo-chooed into the scene roughly 171 years before Harry met Ron on that fateful September day. The first mechanized railways appeared in England in the 1820s, and kick-started the industrial revolution across the world.

 

While the metropolitan rail system was being developed rapidly in London, continental Europe began to expand their rail services, starting in Belgium. For many countries, the development of the railways was a tool used to improve their economic and social systems. The French hoped that their rail system would bring about social modernization in some of the more rural areas. Germany’s aims were to strengthen the nation as well as promote industrialization.

 

Although the industrial revolution has come and gone, trains continue to rule the tracks. With the advent of high-speed trains, one minute you can be French kissing a stranger under the Eiffel Tower, and ogling Prince Harry at a polo match only two hours later. All this, without ever having to leave the ground. In fact, 81% of travelers prefer to ride the rails rather than take to the air when going from Paris to London. Millions of Europeans take advantage of this and journey billions of kilometers every year. France alone carries 54.72 billion passenger miles per year.

 

By choosing to take the train, passengers can choose when and where they want to depart from, similar to air travel. Although unlike air travel, passengers do not have to deal with as many rigid restrictions and can enjoy amenities like sleeping cabins and dining areas. Yet neither planes nor trains have developed an effective system for ejecting crying babies from the vehicle, a problem that consistently plagues both types of transportation.

 

There are a lot of miles of high speed rails in Europe... and the number is only growing.

The number of high-speed rails zooming across Europe continues to grow faster and faster, just like the trains that ride them.

Despite the fact that the last time many Americans rode a train it was in the mall, 10 or 20 Christmases ago, the United States is actually ranked first in the world in railroad miles. In the United States, trains are most commonly used for cargo transport, rather than human moving.

 

The widespread nature of the US  just doesn’t operate the same way that it does in condensed Europe. Its not surprising that most people would rather take a two-hour train ride from Paris to London than bear the 37-hour journey from Minneapolis to Seattle. Having cities closer together and numerous high-speed trains that connect them make travel seem a little less daunting and a lot more doable.

 

 

Throughout the years and numerous technological innovations, trains have stood the test of time. They have successfully connected a continent and its people, and will continue to do so, with over 11,000 miles of high-speed rails in the works. Trains have made it clear that they are to stay in Europe, and not only because the tracks are made of steel and are very difficult to erode, but because the continental pastime is one that Europeans can’t, and have no desire to shake.

 

The death of Wikileaks?

Courtesy of Flickr creative commons

The controversial founder of Wikileaks — an organization responsible for releasing several classified documents — has been embroiled in a sexual assault controversy for several months.

The transparent-skinned leader for corporate and government transparency lost his appeal, on Nov. 2, of extradition to Sweden to answer questions about the alleged rape of one woman and the molestation of another in Stockholm last year.

Mastercard, Visa, Paypal and others have blocked support to Wikileaks, and Assange has said himself that it would be impossible for him to run Wikileaks from prison.

So, is Wikileaks toast?

The success of Wikileaks has become both a positive and a negative for the organization. It’s positive because they’ve drawn attention to various issues through people viewing their leaked documents, and it’s negative because with more attention to their illegal activities comes punishment by law; Assange has made a lot of powerful enemies.

Wikileaks has been forced into inactivity due to a lack of funding and I think it’s likely to remain that way. However, I think the concept of releasing classified documents as a means to creating transparency is far from toast. There will be another Wikileaks. Whether you think Julian Assange is a dirt bag or you’re against everything Wikileaks stands for, it’s impossible to deny the impact it has had.

Our world culture has shifted to being a more open culture — much of this has to do with the massive popularity of social media. Since people are becoming used to being so open, they are beginning to expect the same openness from their governments and corporations.

If governments and corporations remain resistant to this type of transparency, the concept of Wikileaks will not die. If there’s a demand for another Wikileaks-type website, someone will fill the void — it just might not be Assange.

Anon & Iran Mixing With Tor vs. the Panopticon:: Interesting Implications

18th century England,  through its social theorist Jeremy Bentham , manifested the European notion of the Panopticon.

The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without them being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. The design comprises a circular structure with an “inspection house” at its centre, from which the managers or staff of the institution are able to watch the inmates, who are stationed around the perimeter.”

–comment from Wikipedia’s Panopticon Article

Now take a jump from the 18th century to current times.  If we were to take a look at current European censorship laws would find that there is a long history dealing with the idea of limited information and now-a-days we find that the UK itself is counted amoung the strictest censorship laws (being centered upon the ideas of censorship of motion pictures, video games and Internet sites).

The hope is that you the readers, will help to insist that strong safeguards for the privacy of the individual are implemented, especially in these times of increased alert over possible terrorist or criminal activity. If the systems which should help to protect us can be easily abused to suppress our freedoms, then the terrorists will have won.”

–Courtesy of the UK based SpyBlog

It was once written that…

Any fair-minded person with journalistic experience will admit that during this war official censorship has not been particularly irksome. We have not been subjected to the kind of totalitarian ‘co-ordination’ that it might have been reasonable to expect. The press has some justified grievances, but on the whole the Government has behaved well and has been surprisingly tolerant of minority opinions. The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary.”

-– George Orwell

This notion of the panopticon has steadily taken effect and is being realized as we speak through the use of the internet, credit cards, and other such ventures.  With sites such as Facebook monitoring all our likes and dislikes, what we do and who we do it with are being cataloged by programs trying to discern patterns out of human lives. We are essentially facing the idea of a virtual prison where we must always assume we are being watched.  This is not something we should condition ourselves with, and programs like Tor are helping stem the pan-optical growth, but without a mass of individuals fighting against this injustice cohesively freedom and privacy  will eventually be filtered out of the human experience.  There is a global understanding that people in this society are feeling powerless and trapped within the developing internet panopticon and a call is being made for the need of the…

“assistance of external, detailed, informed, public scrutiny to help them to resist deliberate or unthinking policies, which erode our freedoms and liberties.”

–(comment courtesy of spyblog.org.uk)

Coupling this notion with the example of political instability of Iran, there should be no question that the government or other governing systems rule the media.  For example, in a country such as Iran the media can only report what their superiors let them report. With this in mind, here is some information on the Inform Iran movement and the projects that they are pursuing along with some insights pertaining to new character archetypes developing in this global world such as that of the new archetypal figure of “Anon.”

For one thing, Iranian people and their supporters are using a computer program dubbed the Tor Project. This is essentially how they have been communicating and connecting to rally those who are unhappy with the current regime of government. Imagine if you would, a secondary layer of internet that is secure and can go past sites that have censors on them. With a simple installation of Tor, your computer becomes part of a greater internet consciousness allowing this new layer more bandwidth by sharing your own. This project is a node of connection that allows more and more information to flow in and out of different revolutionary groups. All you have to do is essentially set the program up and keep it on or in hibernate mode and you will be doing your part in helping such political reactionary groups or simply being anonymous in your own internet dealings. So if you have ever felt the need to have privacy on the internet, downloading programs such as Tor or freegate this is step one.

An interesting implication to the idea of a Tor network is that it works based of creating different connected nodes which spread the overall network out in a free and without corporate sponsorship, internet connection. Why might people not want such a thing? For starters it would take money away from the corporations selling internet as a resource. We must ask ourselves in such unique times, why is free information being sold, and why haven’t we been just doing this ourselves? With a constant bridge between each computer that is on, we could have global internet for free.

Another funny idea that comes along with the advent of a global, free internet is the idea of the anonymous character archetype. The virtual bully, the villain without a form to attack. We see such identities on websites that have been censored such as 4chan with their /b (or random channel) which is made of individual beings that come together to form the idea of Anon. The anonymous god of the internet, blessing those it chooses to with information, while at the time time tearing down religious groups such as Scientology.

–image via Flickr

With these thoughts in mind we must ask ourselves how we feel about the fact that there are anonymous presences on the internet, actively working in real life to overthrow governments, or simply just to have privacy.  In a day and age where privacy has succumbed to the vast machine’s virtual panopticon (the grid), shall we do our part to ensure ourselves privacy?  OR is all information simply there to be filtered through by programs and people alike, searching for your patterns and your essential identity?

Just things to think about.