ALERT ALERT ALERT!!! FINAL BLOG!!!

This is the final blog as the term has now ended and I thought I’d give you a bit of me… Sounds a bit weird, but hey ho!

I’ve uploaded a video (at the bottom of this post) which shows you a little bit of my life at the moment, as hectic as it is. When you watch it you’ll gather that I think it’s pretty fun, because I think I said that about three times. I did ask for permission to film and everyone’s consent, apart from one person who you hear me ask. I’m pretty sure I already asked him, but I was just making sure… Also, I apologise now for the changing of the camera angle or whatever it is you want to call it. I suggest just tilting your head!

I was walking around just before one of our shows, which was fantastic as everyone is in costume and in a really hyped up mood. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get the Goose in it, although I have added a cast picture which does have it in it.

This year the school is doing Mother Goose. There are only two teachers involved in this year’s performance, one of those is in the Goose “skin” (musical theatre term for that type of costume) and the rest of the cast and dancers are students. There are three students in the band, two volunteers, including myself and the music teacher.

Around this time of year the panto becomes one of the most important things for me. I act as a teacher’s assistant for the students during show week which is a fantastic opportunity and something I wouldn’t miss for the world.

You may have catch the little bit of law which I put into the video which is about the licensing of the show. As ever the copyright for the show is licenced out and normally the licence for allowing recording of a show costs a lot more. Therefore the school does not usually obtain the licence that includes recording. This was why I couldn’t show you any of the show… Although, having said all of this, the Drama teacher actually wrote the script, so I probably could have asked him for permission to record a small section of the performance. However, this does not cover any musical numbers.

Other bits of law which were not mentioned in this video include media coverage of children. Although this seems slightly odd mentioning it as all of them are at the age where they broadcast every move they make on social media it is still an important part working with children.

There was a report released in 2013 by Ofcom which showed how children and parents have changed how they use or are allowed to use the internet. The internet is something that is so normal in their lives that most of today’s children don’t even bat an eye lid when you mention putting a picture of them on facebook or something along those lines.Most children would state that they are confident using the internet, although not as many would say that they are very confident depending on what they are doing. Interestingly there has been no difference in whether children know how to stay safe online, which is probably one of the most important things to know. Whilst not every person on the internet is a weirdo, creep, pedophile, murder so on and so forth, there is still a risk. the price of instant connectivity. There are other good points highlighted in this report, such as the use of search engines, personal advertising and how much trust children place in the information that they find online.

There are a few guidelines which have been released by UNICEF in an aim to protect children when they are portrayed in media.The guidelines themselves focus a lot on protecting children in the sense of stigmatisation instead of just protecting their identity. Whilst this is all and well, I do feel that sometimes the children themselves negate any protection they may have been given through their excessive use of social media. But hey, kids will be kids, right?

It won’t be until next time, so farewell internet people!

R

One Great Masquerade Ball

How shrouded in mystery are our politicians? How much of a role does the media play in covering up their faces in one great masquerade?

Well that was a bit of a sinister start to things… But, doesn’t it make you wonder what really goes on? The blog I uploaded yesterday (which was meant to be last weeks but I never quite got around to it…) got me thinking about media and politics and how closely intertwined they are.

For instance we could go through the obvious bits like which newspapers are linked to which political parties. We can remember from last week that printed and online news can be biased whereas broadcasters have to be impartial. The Telegraph or the Daily Mail are both Conservative. Other papers tend to move their support a little more regularly and in the last general election Labour lost its support from most of the tabloid newspapers such as the Sun and also lost their support of The Guardian, which became Liberal Democrat. Equally the Lib Dems lost the support of the Independent, who are now probably the most notable unaligned newspaper within the UK currently.

These newspaper endorsements will most likely change in next year’s election and will probably change quite dramatically due to the current political and social climate within the country. One of the reasons I say this is because of the rise of UKIP, whom I hope are only a protest party, though I may be proved wrong next year. Whilst it is duly noted that broadcasters have to try and keep impartial during elections and this task becomes harder and harder as the amount of political parties expand within the UK, some feel (and with whom I am in agreement with) that recently a certain political party has been given more airtime than any other. It could be said that this parties presence would not be as great as it is if they were not so present on the TV. Or equally it could be said that they are only so present because that is what the public demands.

But is it really what the public wants? Ignoring, for a moment, which political party we are talking about, is this constant political bombardment from the media what the public really want? From my own experience, I was recently (for want of a better word) attacked by media coverage over the Rochester and Strood by-election.Although, having said this, I could not tell you any of the candidates names, bar one. I probably couldn’t even tell you the top five! Personally, I’m feeling a little voter fatigue at the moment… and I don’t think I’m the only one.

Participation crisis. Supposedly something that has been lurking in the corners for quite a while. A report brought out in 2004 weighed up the reasons behind why the UK may be facing a potential participation crisis, although it concluded that the word ‘crisis’ was perhaps too strong a word for the time being. The report did show interesting differences between tabloid and broadsheet readers when it came to their trust behind their government and politicians in general. Does this not show that the media, and more specifically the type of media and how the content is portrayed, can increasingly effect our politically views. If lack of trust in our government is to blame for this participation crisis, where does this lack of trust stem from if not from what we find out about these politicians through the media? Perhaps I am being too hard on the newspapers, or perhaps not. It is all down to interpretation in the end. Whilst not British, these articles do give an good read into how much the media influences our political, and other, views.

So is voter dis-engagement or participation crisis the blame of the media? Or is it really just the fault of the politicians who are seemingly out of touch with the electorate? In all fairness it is probably a bit of both and something that is not likely to change for a little while yet.

Until next time,

R

Election Reporting and the Counseling Need Afterwards…

So maybe you won’t need counseling after, or well I hope you won’t! But you might be reporting on councils afterwards (get the really poor play on words there… Sorry I couldn’t resist!).

Elections are the most important times in a democratic society. In the UK, they decided the political and legal landscape for the next five years. Reporting on this is an extremely crucial part, especially in today’s life, of informing the public about the parties and candidates that are in the running.

During election periods all offences concerning libel etc. remain the same. However, there is an offence that rears it’s head… It becomes an offence to make or publish a false statement of fact about the personal character or conduct of a candidate with the purpose of affecting the voting, under s.106 Representation of the People Act 1983. Therefore, no matter how much you dislike a politician or candidate you can’t go making things up about them. But there is no qualified privilege in relation to candidates’ addresses (cue evil laugh). I may point out here that this offence only covers that which was specifically portrayed as a statement of fact. Consequently, if you are just stating your opinion you should be fine. This section also covers statements which are not classed as defamatory but are damaging to the individual it is aimed at. A good example, taken from this site, is where it is stated that a candidate is homosexual. Whilst this is not defamatory, it could lose the individual votes as personal and moral conduct is heavily criticised during elections. Some of the voters who were considering voting for that candidate may no longer vote for them because, perhaps for religious reasons, they are anti-gay or homophobic. Qualified privilege continues during this period, thus things said in Parliament continue to be covered and will not lead to anyone being sued for defamation.

Interestingly, and something that had never occurred to me before i started looking into this, there is a legal ban on publishing exit polls whilst people are voting. This is covered, again, by the Representation of the People Act 1983, amended by the 2002 Act, s.66A. This is all and well for the reasons of not swaying people’s votes, but what about those people who do postal voting? It begs the question whether it would actually change peoples opinions. I mean, does it change the opinions of those who use postal voting? This I do not know the answer to, but it does bring up an interesting point.

During election periods broadcasters, such as the BBC and ITV etc. cannot be biased. You have probably heard the BBC go on about impartiality at some point or other. Here is the most important reason for impartiality: they cannot be biased about political parties and/or candidates. The BBC have and, as far as I am aware, always do publish guidelines for reporting on elections. Another interesting point (I seem to be finding this whole topic quite interesting, but then again I do like politics) is that all parties should have an opportunity to participate in debates and programmes. This point is interesting because, if some of you have been paying attention to the news lately, there has been some backlash aimed at the BBC due to the fact that the Green Party, the SNP and Plaid Cymru were not allowed in their election debate programmes in the run up to the elections. Amusingly, UKIP have been allowed air time even though they have only recently gained MPs, unlike all three other parties who have had MPs since the last election and much longer for the SNP and Plaid Cymru. Not that I am suggesting that the BBC have broken the law here, but it is another interesting point to ponder on.

Moving on the other topic for the day… Council meetings. We shall start with a little bit of history for you. On the 5th February 1960 a young politician made her maiden speech in the House of Commons. This maiden speech was not only important because the politician who gave it would go on to be our first female Prime Minister, as well as the longest serving PM of the century, but it was also important (and impressive as maiden speeches aren’t often used like this) because she introduced a bill which later became the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960. This Act allowed media and the public into the meetings and more importantly allowed then to make written reports of these meetings. Whilst being legally significant it was also a political blow to the Labour Party who had been holding council meetings in private throughout industrial disputes taking place in the printing industry in the late 1950’s. Now specific reasons must be given if a meeting is to be held in private and a resolution must be made in regard to the exclusion of the public and the press. Within these meetings, defamatory statements are to be covered under qualified privilege unless it can be proved that these statements were made with malice, as per s.1(5) of the Act. The Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 has recently been updated and now allows filming, blogging and tweeting within public meetings, such as town and parish councils.

Whilst this is all an well, here is a rather amusing article which describes the experiences of trying to report on council meetings. It doesn’t appear to be as easy as one would hope, but well, isn’t that life?

And the picture is from a concert I recently took my mother too =D Because I’m cool like that. It was to Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, formerly The Beautiful South. I feared I would be the youngest person in the room when we went there, but I wasn’t which is all good. I grew up listening to these two and some of the Housemartins stuff… I’m sure some of the older readers know who I’m talking about!

Until next time,

R