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Professional Techniques marks

We have received our marks for the last assessments now and moved on to start new modules.  I was really pleased with my marks and for those of you who read about my experiences you will feel my happiness too!  I worked hard on them, especially radio as it took a while sourcing interviews for me this time!

My marks reflect my interests which is nice.  I gained my highest mark for my TV piece which got a 78!  I am SO pleased with this and was a little shocked to be honest!  Great to have positive feedback on all elements of my filming, scripting, story choice and editing. : )

Then my blog got 73 which again I was very happy with.  I don’t really find blogging that difficult…I just say what I’m thinking most of the time…which is usually a lot!  That approach seems to work though…my tutor liked the detail and ‘chunking’ of my content.  It also paid off to evaluate my piece by using the marking criteria.

Finally my radio piece, I was a little disappointed to see that my production marks were fairly low for this (in the 50s) but understand why.  Evidently it was not the best decision to cut out all pauses and breathes and made it sound very odd??!!  Incidentally no-one who listened to my work said this to me!  Oh well, luckily I gained high on ‘journalism skills’ for the piece as they liked my story and were impressed with the interviews I did get which was good.

Overall I came out with a mark of 71 for the module – a distinction!! : )


Radio assessment criteria: Journalism skills

1. News judgement

I’m hoping I will get some good marks here as initally when I chose this story and after my first interview I wrote the following cue:

Europe is facing a serious public health crisis, with an outbreak of the highly infectious, and vaccine preventable disease – measles.

 A new report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) says there were nearly 26,000 cases across Europe last year and with the high season for transmission of the disease approaching, numbers could increase unless effective control measures are put in place.

After conducting my second interview – that with Denise Antona at the French public health network, I decided to change my top line and angle for the story to focus on France rather than about the general situation across Europe and the surveillance system in place.  I thought this was much more newsworthy as I had found out something new directly from my interview – that the Institut de Veille Sanitaire, does not think that the Ministry of Health has responded appropriately or swiftly enough to deal with the problem in France.  In all of my research I have not found anyone else with this story or information so it’s ‘new’.  I also thought it was much more shocking than the general situation.

2. Research

I think you only need to read my previous blogs on the radio assessment to see how much research I’ve done!  I have consistently been looking for a story that grabs my attention, is newsworthy now, interesting, where I can find someone face to face to speak with and that I can actually get some people to agree to talk to me about!

3. Target audience

I have always had the BBC World Service target audience in mind when looking for stories and considering treatment of them.  For example, when I was trying to cover a story on immigration law in the EU potentially changing due to an Indian request I would have been reaching out to audiences across the world interested in employment/unemployment/migration/cultural issues…etc.

I also conducted a poll in order to find out what stories interested people more.

When changing to a health story I chose measles as I thought that public health scares always interest people and especially when it has implications for spreading across countries and quickly.

4. Balance / impartiality

I made a point of aiming high with my interviewee’s as I thought it important to gain information from experts.  Everything used in the package is factually true and substantiated.

In an ideal world I would have obtained an interview from the French Health Ministry, however due to the late stage in the day for my gaining the interviews and pulling together the package (Friday/Saturday before the Monday deadline!) I was unable to request this.  However – I did put a link to the French Ministry of Health website under related links to allow people visiting the blog to be able to find out what the French government is saying about the epidemic.  This could also be addressed by producing a second follow up package which would be broadcast later to ensure that over a period of time I was balanced and impartial on the topic.

5. Scripting

Once I had all four interviews the script flowed quite well as I was clear on my top line and there were some obvious clips from each interview which I thought would tell the story well, progress the story with relevant, useful information, and be interesting.

I started by stating the problem, backed up with numbers/statistics and by showing that it should be easy to avoid due to the vaccine.  Then I brought in the French angle and the clip chosen backed up my top line from the cue.  Next I related the situation to the rest of Europe by mentioning the 2015 target, and finally spoke of the specific group of people affected in France and what the government is doing to address it.

I am happy with my final script and was very grateful for the round of editor feedback in order to refine it.

Radio assessment criteria: Production skills

1. Planning

I ensured my M-audio was fully charged the night before my live interview. When planning my journey to the live interview I allowed sufficient time for finding the place and setting up.

When organising the phone interviews I took time differences into consideration as well as enlisted help from a French speaking friend in order to get through to the relevant person at the Institut de veille sanitaire. I also contacted many more people than I ended up interviewing in order to make sure I came out with some audio!

2. Recording

I tested the audio levels before all interviews began.  In addition I checked that the settings were correct in both the studio and on my M-Audio.  At the live interview I asked for the equipment in the room to be switched off as it was making a loud humming noise.

3. Editing

There was slight popping on one interview which I reduced in the editing stage.  I trimmed ‘ums’ and long silences to keep pace to the story and to meet the time requirement of the brief.

4. Creativity

I made my package interesting by spreading out the interviews and using clips from each person, rather than returning to one person twice.

Measles radio package: evaluation

So…my radio package is finished and uploaded! Hooorayyyy!!! : )

Now for the tricky bit…evaluating!  I’m happy with my final piece, especially for finding a new angle on the story.  I haven’t heard anything on the radio on my story this week to make a direct comparison to, but I believe the piece fits the style used on BBC World Service, and Radio 4.

I’m going to break it down by going back over the initial brief and marking criteria.

Package requirements

  • I produced a radio package that was the correct duration – 2’30
  • I included clips from at least two interviews that I researched, recorded and edited myself. In fact I included 4 clips from 4 separate interviews.
  • At least one of my interviews was conducted face to face – James Bolt, from the Sedgemoor Centre, St Austell
  • The other three interviews were all overseas and relevant to the story (World Health Organisation, UN Foundation (also a lead player for the Measles Initative) and the French public health network – Institut de veille sanitaire
  • I wrote a studio cue with technical instructions and sent an mp3 file of the package
  • I had a standard out cue at the end of the package
  • I considered sound effects/wildtrack but decided it was not appropriate or necessary for the story

To read evaluation on the assessment criteria click on the following links:

French measles crisis – is enough being done?

The French Ministry of Health has not responded quickly or effectively enough to control the ongoing measles epidemic, according to the French public health network.

Over twenty six-thousand cases of the disease were reported across Europe last year, with over half of these being in France.

Catherine Feltham reports.

Useful links:

French public health network – Institut de veille sanitaire 

French Ministry of Health          World Health Organisation

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

UN Foundation          Measles Initiative          Sedgemoor Centre

Radio result!

So since changing my story AGAIN to measles things have been looking up.

  • To start with I spoke to lots of friendly people on the phone who were helpful and didn’t try to make me feel small!
  • I got a FACE TO FACE interview in CORNWALL!  James Bolt – Associate Public Health Specialist at the Sedgemoor Centre – AND it is a really great interview – relevant, knowledgable and nice person (the only frustration was that I had to travel to St Austell…however I like seeing news places so wasn’t so bad – Oh, except for the getting lost and soaked and cold in the rain before hand and having to wait over an hour afterwards for a train back to Truro!)
  • At the last moment I was offered 3 phone interviews outside of the UK with the World Health Organisation, the Executive Director of Children’s Health at the UN Foundation, and a lead on the Measles Initiative and an epidemiologist at the Institut de Veille Sanitaire

So tomorrow I have 3 phone interviews, and then I need to script and put together the whole package!  I have read a lot today as well as transcribed and clipped my interview with James Bolt.  I have learnt a lot and am really finding it interesting so I’m glad that this story has come about and worked – just a shame it was such last minute!

Wish me luck for tomorrow!

A bad day for radio…


Ok – just needed to get that out!  After speaking with Charlotte Barry and getting some really useful tips on how to approach the radio package I realised I needed to try and think of more of a human/personal angle on the Indian migration/unemployment story.  I followed this up for trying to get interviews with:

  • HR at the University
  • HR at Truro Hospital
  • An Indian restaurant manager

and am still waiting to hear on these…but sounds unlikely.

After this I called back the contact in India at the Ministry and after a phone call with a really helpful guy (which took 10 minutes for us to tell each other our emails – lost in translation!) I realised it was probably time that I ditch this story!  I still have 0 interviews, 0 lined up and not really any promising leads.

SO – thinking I shouldn’t waste any more time I went back to the drawing board to look for new stories.  A chat with a course mate – Row Booker , made me start to think about health and diseases!  Partly due to a contact on campus who I may be able to speak with this week.  So – after looking on the website for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) I quickly identified an interesting story.

Measles – a new report shows that the vaccine-preventable disease is re-emerging in Europe and with particularly alarming numbers in France.

A quick news search showed that is has been covered in the press too:

Telegraph    The Huffington Post    The Guardian

The Falmouth Packet    Boating Cornwall    BBC

So I contacted as many people as I could to try to line up interviews and tomorrow will hopefully deliver positive news on this front!  Contacts range from the World Health Organisation and the ECDC, to the Institut de veille sanitare, and Director of Public Health, Cornwall, a practice nurse in Falmouth and lecturer specialising in disease at the University of Exeter….fingers crossed!