VIRTUAL TEACHERS: UK university to trial ‘hologram’ lecturers

London – VIJAY SHAH via LEO KELION and BBC News

A university in the United Kingdom will become the first in the world to introduce ‘holographic’ teaching staff for its students, according to a report by national broadcaster BBC News. 

Imperial College London is bringing in 3D projection technology that will emit ‘holograms’ of lecturers who are unable to attend their lectures in person. While the teacher will not be physically present, the futuristic technology will carry across their voice and body movements. Similar technology was used for a Tupac Shakur music concert at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in 2010, and has also been adopted by airports and train stations.

 

The new technology, which was launched officially this past Thursday, will be at first used solely for students learning at Imperial’s Business School, but the university expects the technology to become more commonplace, perhaps eventually superseding video conferencing and Skype. The technology also means lecturers can broadcast to several halls, holding the same lecture simultaneously, which will cut down on teaching hours.

“The alternative is to use video-conferencing software but we believe these holograms have a much greater sense of presence,” Dr David Lefevre, director of Imperial’s Edtech Lab, told the BBC.

“The lecturers have a high-definition monitor in front of them which is calibrated so they can point at people and look them in the eye. They can really interact.”

Unlike previous such projections, more than one person can be included in Imperial’s ‘holograms’. Projected users also do not have to be even in the same country as the lecture hall for the technology to ‘beam’ their image in front of scholars.

The Imperial technology was developed with the Canadian firm, Arht Media. Lecturers using the technology must stand in a special ‘capture studio’ in front of a black background. The university will be able to make use of two such studios in Los Angeles, USA and Toronto in Canada, alongside a portable projection kit for visiting guest speakers.

SOURCES:

HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind

Nicolas Babin, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Nicochan33

Simon Hewitt, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/shewitt_vp

“‘Hologram’ lecturers to teach students at Imperial College London” – Leo Kelion, BBC News/BBC (1 November 2018) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/technology-46060381

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:8oCongresoInnovacion05.JPG” – Thelmadatter, Wikimedia Commons (12 December 2013) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:8oCongresoInnovacion05.JPG

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LOVE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE: Rural matchmaking programme returns to British television

London – VIJAY SHAH via BBC

While city dwellers have many means and places at their disposal to find their special someone, it is more of a challenge for their country cousins. With smaller villages and fewer places to meet up, not to mention the toughness of rural life, people in the country have to work that little bit harder to couple up.

 

The United Kingdom’s public service broadcaster, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been a helping hand to lonely countryside hearts lately, with a difference. They will be meeting their other half via the concrete jungle, with the programme showing how people from the city try to settle down with their rural sweetheart in a world very different from their own. Their hit programme, Love in the Countryside, which helps country singletons find love, is now returning to its channel BBC Two for a second series, reports the BBC’s news division.

Love in the Countryside is presented by Sara Cox, who herself grew up on a farm, returning to the fields to help those who rely on the land for their livelihoods find love with like-minded people. The show has even helped cross boundaries, getting urban people desperate to leave the rat race of city life for a more serene marriage and relationship out in the provinces. The show follows the new couples as they adjust to very different settings and lifestyles. The programme is produced for the BBC by Boundless, an agency owned by international media producer Fremantle.

Speaking with the BBC, Cox said: “I’m so excited about dusting off my wellies and heading back out into beautiful British countryside to help find love for more rural romantics.”

The programme’s controller, Patrick Holland, commented: “Love in the Countryside brought a fresh tone and joy to BBC Two’s evening schedule and with Sara Cox at the helm, we are excited to see how the series can grow and develop.”

The BBC is currently on the lookout for rural singletons looking to bring back an urban significant other, or city types searching for a more tranquil setting for their love story. Interested people can apply via the BBC at http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/takepart/love_countryside or email: LoveInTheCountryside@boundlessproductions.tv

SOURCES:

HEM Journalism Portal, HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-journalism-portal

media.info UK tv, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/minfoUKtv

BBC Press Office, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/bbcpress

“Love in the Countryside returns to BBC Two for a second series to help more country singletons find love” – BBC Media Centre/BBC (7 October 2018) https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2018/love-in-the-countryside

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Free stock photo of countryside, couple, field” – Scott Webb, Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-couple-love-people-136395/

LONDON BRIDGE ATTACK: Van steered into pedestrians, several killed

London – VIJAY SHAH via BBC News

Six people have been murdered and at least 48 have been injured after a terrorist atrocity on the world-famous London Bridge and Borough Market late yesterday, the BBC reports. Police gunned down the three attackers, all men, after a white van was deliberately crashed into pedestrians out and about on the bridge at 10.00 pm. The vehicle was then said to have proceeded to nearby Borough Market, where the three attackers got out and began stabbing random people, including one identified as a police officer.

Little is known about the assailants at this point, but eyewitnesses reported that they were wearing fake bomb vests.

The UK’s prime minister Theresa May described the events as ‘dreadful’, while opposition party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who heads the Labour party, condemned the incident as ‘brutal and shocking’, the BBC reported. London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan said that the attack was a “deliberate and cowardly attack on innocent Londoners”.  The mayor also said that London would always be a safe global city and that Londoners would not be cowed by terrorism.

 

 

The country is still recovering from a suicide attack in Manchester last month that saw 22 people killed by a lone bomber at a Ariana Grande pop music concert at the city’s Manchester Arena. Many of the victims were children. In March this year, six people died in London after a lone wolf terrorist rammed his car into bystanders at Westminster Bridge, before stabbing a brave police officer to death as he tried to attack the UK’s parliament in central London.

London’s Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said it was believed there were only three attackers involved and the explosive vests they were wearing were “hoaxes”.

One of the dead terrorists was reported by an eyewitness lying on the ground near a Borough Market drinking establishment, the vest visible in the body’s vicinity.

The BBC also reported that eighty medics were sent to the scene of the attacks, which were closed off and swarming with police and ambulances, according to television news coverage witnessed by the author of this article at around 11.00 pm last night.

A reporter working for the BBC, named as Holly Jones, saw a van being driven at 50 to 60 miles per hour head across the bridge just before the incident. She told the BBC: “He swerved right round me and then hit about five or six people. He hit about two people in front of me and then three behind”

Another eyewitness, identified only as Robbie, was sitting in a taxi opposite the Barrowboy and Banker pub on London Bridge. He told BBC Radio 5 Live, a national radio station: I saw about 20 or 30 people rushing to get back into the pub and five seconds later a big white van came screeching down the pavement,” 

“Two or three people jumped out. Initially, I thought it was a road traffic incident and the people had jumped out to see if anyone was injured, but I could tell immediately, they looked very aggressive.”

His friend Josh came out of the pub a few seconds later and saw people running up to the bridge from Borough Market.

“A chap (man) ran up and I heard him shout, ‘He’s got a knife, he’s stabbing people.'”

Another witness, Gerard, told the BBC: “They were running up shouting, ‘This is for Allah.’ They stabbed this girl maybe 10 times, 15 times. She was going, ‘Help me, help me.'”

Gerard said he chased the attackers, who were running into pubs and bars, and threw bottles, chairs and other items to try to stop them.

Steven Gibbs, who was drinking in St Christopher’s Inn, just metres from the scene, told the BBC: “A black cab drove past and the driver shouted, ‘Terrorist attack, run!’

“I stood up to take a look and then all of a sudden there were gunshots. Lots of people were screaming.”

Many of the injured, some in ‘critical condition’, have been sent to five nearby hospitals. The city’s police have set up hotlines and a casualty bureau for people to check up on loved ones. The bureau can be reached by calling 0800 096 1233 and 020 7158 0197 (+44 20 7158 0197 from outside the UK).

The area around Borough Market and the bridge was hastily placed on lockdown, with local pubs, bars and restaurants remaining closed. A police bomb disposal team was drafted in for fear the attackers had explosives with them. London Bridge itself and nearby Southwark Bridge are closed, along with major local thoroughfares such as Borough High Street and Lower Thames Street. Trains have been barred from stopping at the nearest Underground station, also called London Bridge.

Police investigations are still ongoing.

SOURCES:

Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/

“London attack: Seven killed in vehicle and stabbing incidents” – BBC News – UK (4 June 2017) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40146916

IMAGE CREDIT:

tabi3live, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/6_basharrdp

POST-BREXIT SCOTLAND: First minister may sign off separate trade deal with EU

gb

London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via BBC News

As the UK decides what to do next after the life-changing EU referendum in June which saw the country vote largely to leave the European Union, and the nation is facing a rocky political climate coupled with a weak pound, there are concerns about whether the UK will still be able to maintain access to the European single market.

In a sign of the complexity of the situation, and with EU leaders hitting back hard at the UK’s pick-and-choose approach to negotiations, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has hinted that her country may go it alone in seeking a separate trade deal with the Continent, the BBC reports.

 

 

Around 62 per cent of eligible Scottish voters were in favour of Remain, and in the aftermath of the highly divisive referendum, some members of Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party pushed for another plebiscite on Scotland quitting the UK and rejoining Europe. In a recent interview with the BBC, the First Minister said that she believed a deal could be struck which will preserve Scotland’s own access to the single market, saving the country millions of pounds in tariffs and other fees for importing European goods.

Speaking on videolink with the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Sturgeon said that Brexit should not come in the way of Scotland establishing its own and separate trade deal that will not be affected by the rest of the union’s departure from the EU.

“I think that is possible,” she said.

Sturgeon also added that her government are examining the technicalities of a separate trade deal and mentioned We will publish proposals over the next few weeks.”

In recent days, EU leaders have warned the UK that continued access to the single market is dependent on it continuing to allow free movement of EU citizens. Concerns over the UK being a magnet to EU arrivals was one of the issues vocalised by supporters of Leave.

SOURCES:
Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind
Ace News Services, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/AceNewsServices
“Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland may seek separate EU trade deal” – BBC News – UK – Scotland – Scotland politics (16 October 2016) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-37671236?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
IMAGE CREDIT:
“Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland” – First Minister of Scotland, Flickr (29 November 2014) https://www.flickr.com/photos/firstministerofscotland/15805899567

BBC DIVERSITY: Radio DJ claims he was sacked for being a white male

gb
London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via PressGazette

The diversity policies of UK public broadcaster the BBC have come under scrutiny after a presenter for its Radio 4 service made a controversial claim he was dropped from his role to make more room for women and ethnic minority candidates, the Press Gazette reports.

Radio host Jon Holmes, a journalist who has also written travel pieces for the Sunday Times paper, tweeted this week “Sad to announce I’ve been axed from @BBCNowShow as ‘we want to recast with more women and diversity’ Tsk. And I didn’t even punch a producer”. He made reference to an infamous incident where another former BBC employee, Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson was sacked after assaulting the show’s producer after not receiving a steak dinner at a hotel whilst filming.

 

The BBC Now Show is a programme consisting of comedy sketches and satire. After his dismissal and tweet, Holmes vented his frustration further in an opinion article written for the Mail on Sunday and alleged he was the victim of reverse discrimination, racism and sexism. He wrote “Should I, as a white man (through no fault of my own), be fired from my job because I am a white man? Arguably, yes. You may well think I’m crap on The Now Show, and that’s fine, but to be told it’s because I’m the wrong sex and colour? I’m just not sure that’s helpful to anyone’s cause.”

Holmes added he “understands and agrees with all things BAME [Black Asian and minority ethnic]” and said speaking out about losing his job was not “sour grapes”.

He also claimed that after his dismissal he spoke to several presenters, actors and others involved in the broadcasting industry, who also claimed they were turned down for auditions and jobs because the hirers were looking to give the role to an ‘Asian person’.

Holmes added: “I love the BBC and everyone I’ve ever met and worked with – whatever their sex, creed or colour – is doing the best they can and just trying to get on and do the right thing. But even they are all privately saying it’s all got a bit out of hand.”

However the BBC claimed Holmes was not dismissed because of his background or gender. They state that he was let go as he had been a presenter for 18 years at the broadcaster and they wanted to offer a chance for a newer comic.

A BBC spokesperson said: “While the Government’s new charter for the BBC does set us diversity targets, we always hire presenters on merit.

“We’d like to thank both Jon Holmes and Mitch Benn for their contributions, but – as we explained almost a week ago when the story first appeared in newspapers – our comedy shows are constantly evolving and it was simply time to create opportunities for new regulars when The Now Show returns this autumn.”

The BBC has been criticised in the past for not doing enough to represent non-majority voices in both its programming and its workforce, although to its credit, it runs several stations geared towards different regions, cultures and age groups.

In April 2016, the BBC launched a new diversity plan, with its aim of having “a workforce at least as diverse, if not more so, than any other in the industry” by 2020. The BBC has said it wants to make sure 15 per cent of on-screen staff are BAME, that women make up 50 per cent its workforce and that LGBT people are 8 per cent.

SOURCES:
HEM Journalism Portal, The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-journalism-portal
Press Gazette, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/pressgazette
“Radio 4 presenter Jon Holmes told he was sacked to ‘allow more women and diversity’ ” – Dominic Ponsford, Press Gazette (3 October 2016) http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/radio-4-presenter-jon-holmes-told-he-was-sacked-to-allow-more-women-and-diversity/
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:BBC Manchester, Oxford Road.jpg” – Coffee Lover, Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (7 January 2009) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BBC_Manchester,_Oxford_Road.jpg

BBC RADIO ULSTER: Northern Ireland radio station celebrates its 40th anniversary

Belfast, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via media.info and RadioToday

BBC Radio Ulster, which provides public radio broadcasting services from the BBC to the whole of Northern Ireland, will celebrate its 40th birthday in style with a special gala concert for its presenters and friends this coming Monday, radio magazine RadioToday Industry News reports today.

English: BBC Radio Ulster. The local offices o...
English: BBC Radio Ulster. The local offices of the BBC located at Mountjoy Road, Omagh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The radio station’s television counterpart, BBC1 NI will also air a documentary on the life and history of BBC Radio Ulster to tie in with the anniversary celebrations at 10.35 pm on the same day. The programme, entitled Radio Days is narrated by Stephen Nolan, will also feature never-seen-before footage of life behind the scenes at the BBC radio station, along with interviews. Some of the greatest names to have worked in the Radio Ulster studios during its four decades of service to the Northern Irish people who will appear on Radio Days include veteran presenter Walter Love. Also on the programme will be Wendy Austin, Hugo Duncan, Cherrie McIlwaine and Linda McAuley, Stephen Nolan, Rigsy and Vinny Hurrell. Actor and author Simon Callow and broadcaster and writer Anita Robinson will also make an appearance, paying their tributes to the forty-year-old station.

The concert will be attended by both keen listeners and staff, with a schedule of two and a half hours of fine music and entertainment with the Ulster Orchestra as well as speeches and presentations by BBC Radio staff. There will also be arts and comedy on display at the event. Known officially as the ‘BBC Radio Ulster 40th Birthday Gala’, the party will be braodcast live on BBC from 8:00 pm on Monday 14th December 2015 at the Ulster Hall in Belfast, and is hosted by Wendy Austin and John Toal. Presenters John Bennett and Lynette Fay will present the red carpet watch at half-an-hour before the gala begins and guests arrive. There will also be specially broadcast interviews with Radio Ulster presenters past and present as they share their fondest memories and stories with the public.

Fergus Keeling, the head of radio at BBC Northern Ireland said: “We hope what we have in store will be our way of giving our listeners something special back. They’ve joined in our birthday broadcasts, they have helped make this year special and they are the reason we do what we do. This birthday event is shaping up to be something quite special and I would like to thank our fantastic talent and great friends for taking the time to help us celebrate in this way. Most of all though, I’d like to thank our listeners old and new. This night is for them.”

BBC Radio Ulster, one of two PBS radio stations in Northern Ireland, broadcasts over both traditional radio frequencies as well as online and via digital radio and  is located at Broadcasting House in the Ormeau Avenue area of Belfast city centre. It first went on air in January 1975 and broadcasts a mix of news, music, talk shows and sports coverage.

SOURCES:
HEM Journalism Portal, The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-journalism-portal
media.info radionews, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/minfoUKradio
RadioToday UK, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/RadioToday
“BBC Radio Ulster celebrates its 40th birthday” – media.info UK – media.info – Radio – News/Not At All Bad Ltd
(13 December 2015) https://media.info/radio/news/bbc-radio-ulster-celebrates-its-40th-birthday
“BBC Radio Ulster celebrates its 40th birthday” – Roy Martin, RadioToday Industry News (13 December 2015) http://radiotoday.co.uk/2015/12/bbc-radio-ulster-celebrates-its-40th-birthday/
“BBC Radio Ulster” – Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Radio_Ulster
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:BBC Radio Ulster – geograph.org.uk – 119220.jpg” – Kenneth Allen,  geograph.org.uk via Wikimedia Commons (8 February 2006) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BBC_Radio_Ulster_-_geograph.org.uk_-_119220.jpg

PHOTO MOMENT: Happy Hallowe’en from Bottom’s Richie and Eddie

 

A scene from the Ninetie’s BBC comedy series ‘Bottom’ that starred the late Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson. In the Hallowe’en special, titled “Terror” and first broadcast on the 13th January 1995, scuzzy but hilarious flatmates Eddie Hitler (Edmondson) and Richard Richard (Mayall) decide to go out trick-or-treating to make some extra cash. In the above scene, they dress as a banana and devil to strike fear into the locals. Poor old Richie however falls victim to the laxative effects of an electric cattle prod they plan to use to extort Hammersmith‘s residents for a few spooky pennies. A highly amusing comedy gem that will have you reaching for a fresh new pair of tights in no time.

HAPPY HALLOWE’EN!!

SOURCES:
BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/
Bottom, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/HammersmithHardmen/?fref=nf

MITCHAM GANG ASSAULT: Elderly dogwalker hurt after attack by animal abuser

An OAP dog owner out walking his companion on a green in Mitcham, south London suffered a fractured wrist and rib after being shoved to the ground by a group of youths as he tried to protect his dog from being attacked by one of them, the BBC reports today.

The unidentified 76-year-old victim had been walking his dog in Mitcham’s Cricket Green yesterday (Friday 6 March) at about 4 pm GMT when the attack occurred. Local police said that the man got into a confrontation with four other park users, one of whom pushed him to the ground. The younger man had first attempted to kick the victim’s dog, before turning on the victim as he stood up for his pet. The elder’s injuries required hospital treatment, the BBC says.

Local police officer Det Con Jamie McIntosh said: “This was an unprovoked and cowardly attack on an elderly man who was out walking his dog alone.

As a result of the incident the victim has been left frightened and confused.

It would have been very busy around the Cricket Green at the time of the attack and there would have been a significant amount of traffic along the A239 (motorway/highway). I am appealing to anyone who may have witnessed the attack or anyone with any information to come forward and assist us with our investigating.

Police said that the victim described the gang as being made up of two men and two women, all described as of ‘black’ ethnicity and in their early twenties. All of the group were said to be wearing dark clothing. The man who assaulted the pensioner was described as being 5 foot 11 inches (1.80 metres) tall with short black hair.

The Mitcham dogwalker has now been discharged from medical treatment. Police are appealing for witnesses to the attack. Anyone with information on the attackers or the crime can call the Merton CID (police criminal investigations team) on 0208 649 3057 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

 

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Lost in London, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/UKNewsTweets687
“Pensioner hurt after dog trying to stop dog attack” – BBC News London, BBC (7 March 2015) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-31779042
“Pensioner attacked by gang of thugs as he walked his dog in south London” – Rachel Blundy, London Evening Standard (7 March 2015) http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/pensioner-attacked-by-gang-of-thugs-as-he-walked-his-dog-in-south-london-10092819.html
IMAGE CREDITS:
Google Maps and Street View.

 

BORIS NEMTSOV: Russian opposition leader gunned down

The politician Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader serving in Russia’s parliament, the Duma, has been shot dead in Moscow, the European news division of the BBC reports.

The country’s officials say that Nemtsov, who once served as deputy prime minister, was killed yesterday in Moscow while travelling around the city by foot. The BBC reports that unidentified attackers passing by in a car shot four times into Nemtsov’s back as he crossed a bridge near the Kremlin, police in Moscow said.

According to the BBC, Nemtsov was with a friend, and was crossing the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge when the drive-by shooting took place at 11:40 pm local time (8:40 pm GMT) yesterday (27 February 2015), said the Interior Ministry. He was shot with a pistol from a white car of unknown make and model. The attackers then promptly fled the scene, a police source told Russia’s Interfax news agency. Meduza, a news website, added that several people left the vehicle to gun down Nemtsov. His death was formally confirmed by a colleague of his RPR-Parnassus party, Ilya Yashin. Flowers were left at the site of his killing on the bridge and tributes to the slain politician were coming in via social media since yesterday night’s incident. 

He was murdered only hours after giving a speech offering his support for a march in Moscow against the conflict in Ukraine which was due to take place tomorrow. In his last tweet, Mr Nemtsov sent out an appeal for Russia’s divided opposition to unite at an anti-war march he was organising for Sunday.

If you support stopping Russia’s war with Ukraine, if you support stopping Putin’s aggression, come to the Spring March in Maryino on 1 March,” he wrote.

Russia’s controversial President, Vladimir Putin, expressed outrage at the killing of Boris Nemtsov, and condemned his murder, according to a source associated with the Kremlin. President Putin is said to have taken ‘personal control’ of the investigation into the killing, said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov to news outlets.

Investigators charged with uncovering the motive for Nemtsov’s shooting have said that the perpetrators may have been attempting to create instability inside Russia. The investigative committee said in a freshly-released report that a number of possibilities are being considered, including that the former deputy prime minister was murdered on the orders of Islamist extremists, but there is no evidence to support any theory at the current time.

Putin’s equivalent in the United States, President Barack Obama also condemned the “brutal murder” and asked Russian lawmakers to conduct a “prompt, impartial and transparent investigation“. The President of UkrainePetro Poroshenko, whose country is currently battling pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Luhansk (Lugansk) and Donetsk regions of Ukraine, described Mr. Nemtsov as a “bridge between Ukraine and Russia“, according to the BBC.

The murderers’ shot has destroyed it. I think it is not by accident,” Poroshenko commented in a statement published on his administration’s Facebook page.

While there is no suggestion that the Putin administration has anything to do with Nemtsov’s murder, the politician himself, who had served under President Boris Yeltsin‘s administration in the 1990s, had recently given an interview where he voiced that Putin would have him killed for speaking out against the Ukrainian war, which Russia is accused of secretly funding and arming. Nemtsov’s lawyer claimed the politician was receiving death threats via social media for his opposition of Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict and for its annexation of Crimea last year, which brought the country international condemnation. 

Nemtsov’s career also included working in economics and serving as governor of the city of Nizhny Novgorod. He fell out of favour with Vladimir Putin soon after the latter was elected and subsequently Nemtsov became an opposition politician.

Fully known as Boris Yefimovich Nemtsov, was born in the Olympic city of Sochi in Russia’s Caucasus region in 1959. He graduated from the State University of Gorky in the field of physics in 1985. After earning his PhD, Nemtsov worked as a research fellow at the Gorky Radio-Physics Research Institute (NIRFI) until entering politics in 1989 as the Soviet era was drawing to a close. He allied himself with fellow reformists in the Russian parliament and soon became a confidante of reformist president Boris Yeltsin. By 2004, and marginalised by the new Putin government, Nemtsov began to speak out against what he saw as the increasing clampdown on newly-won freedoms by the President, and that ‘Putinists’, the president’s loyalists, were leading Russia towards a dictatorship. Nemtsov made his opposition to Putin and his politics very clear. He was arrested by police in November 2007 during one such protest against Putin. 

The Russian president himself had accused Nemtsov of being involved with corruption. During Nemtsov’s tenure as director and chairman of a small Russian financial institution, Neftyanoi Bank, which was involved with the country’s burgeoning oil industry, investigators were called in following allegations of fraud and money laundering, which forced Nemtsov to step down from his positions at Neftyanoi. On 16 December 2010, Putin stated, in a live television broadcast, that during the 1990s, Nemtsov was friendly with the billionaire oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who had been sent to prison and who later fled Russia. Putin accused him of ‘dragging around billions’ of Russian oil money.

Nemtsov was just fifty-five years of age at the time of his killing. He was married with four children.

SOURCES:
Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/
“Russia opposition politician Boris Nemtsov shot dead” – Sarah Rainsford and contributors, BBC News Europe/BBC (28 February 2015) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-31669061
“Boris Nemtsov” – Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Nemtsov
IMAGE CREDIT:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

 

JOURNALISM APPRENTICESHIP: Editors, NCTJ to develop higher on-the-job journalist training

Britain‘s National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) reports that it is currently working with journalism employers from several newspapers and TV channels to develop a programme of higher apprenticeships for journalists to acquire news-writing skills on the job. Their plans were formally announced in a news release published on the council’s website this past Thursday (23 October 2014). The NCTJ along with selected employers had recently pitched their idea of a higher apprenticeship to the British government. Ministers there have now given the new qualification system the green light of approval in their efforts to tackle rising youth unemployment in the country.

A group of journalism representatives from a variety of national and regional media organisations including Archant, the BBC; BSkyB; i; The IndependentIndependent on SundayJohnston Press; the KM GroupLondon Evening Standard; the Mark Allen Group; Newsquest; MNA Media and the Telegraph Media Group, jointly submitted an application to Whitehall which has been approved as part of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition‘s ‘phase three’ trailblazer apprenticeship scheme to help unemployed and undecided youngsters obtain valuable skills that will prepare them for future careers in the media. Traditionally, British journalists were taken on as junior reporters after completing their formal education. They received on-the-job training from senior news workers and editors, but in the past fifteen years an increasing emphasis by the U.K. jobs market on university qualifications universally has seen the journalism apprenticeships of several decades ago become almost obsolete. Newer cohorts of media hopefuls tend to be university graduates who pick up training via often unpaid or expenses only work experience. Media organisations have lately been criticised for not being inclusive enough in their intake of new employees and several major news providers have reinstated internships and apprentice training courses to attract new recruits from less well-represented sections of society.

The trailblazer scheme aims to give employers more say and freedom to develop apprenticeship standards in their industry which will help deliver the practical skills needed by vocational trainees for a particular business sector.

The new journalism apprenticeship was announced the day Skills Minister Nick Boles visited the offices of international media outlet Sky, home of Sky News and Sky Television, to meet with Bella Vuillermoz, director of their training school, the Sky Academy, to discuss training opportunities for young and new journalists moving into the career away from the university pathway favoured by most recruiters in the current media environment. Boles also conversed with Nicola Hart, Sky’s head of future talent; Andy Cairns, its executive editor, and Laurie Tucker, head of training at Sky Sports News; and Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the NCTJ, who is co-ordinating the industry’s apprenticeship trailblazer projects.

In a discussion on the government’s trailblazer scheme and its wider changes to the national apprenticeship and employment programme, the NCTJ chief executive lauded the improvements to the initiative, saying that the old system had now been made more streamlined and simplified and that she was encouraged to see  greater responsibility and autonomy allocated to employers and the NCTJ in attracting more learners to the UK media industry’s training courses. She did however criticise the ongoing reliance on jargon within the programme, which may put off potential apprentices from signing up. Meanwhile, Sky’s head of training apparently joked that at a recent meeting he had struggled with the shorthand outline for ‘synoptic assessment’. Boles also had the opportunity to meet Britain’s first journalism apprentice undergoing training thanks to the trailblazer scheme, James Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick is now interning at Sky Sports News and is one of 18 apprentices on the second NCTJ apprenticeship day release course at Lambeth College in south London. James will experience all aspects of the Sky Sports News operation, starting with the digital media team, with an aim to give him and his fellow apprentices a well-rounded experience of the day-to-day life as a Sky journalist.

The higher apprenticeship by the NCTJ is following in the path of an existing standard for junior apprenticeships in journalism set up by the council in league with employers. This standard, although complete, will not come into force in England until 2015. It will be an update of the current apprenticeship qualification offered by the NCTJ to trainee reporters who wish to forego the usual graduation route. The proposed senior journalist apprenticeship will also now be written to an industry standard to be decided by the NCTJ with consultations from the media industry expected to commence  in the New Year.

Chairman of the journalism apprenticeship group, David Rowell said: “This is an exciting new development in our apprenticeship training scheme and will provide an opportunity for school leavers to progress to more senior roles.

Skills minister Nick Boles said: “I congratulate the journalism employers for the key role they are playing in developing new top-quality apprenticeships. Through the trailblazers initiative companies, in collaboration with their industry partners, will give people the skills they need to thrive and our businesses need to compete.

The full guidance document for the British government’s phase three of the trailblazer scheme for apprentices can be viewed here.

Several media organisations in the United Kingdom already run their own training programmes and apprenticeships for students, including the BBC, Sky and ITV, offering training with actual journalists in fields such as broadcasting, public relations, digital/new media and radio. The BBC’s Academy of Journalism attracts thousands of applications from would-be trainees every year, with only a small number successfully securing places. The NCTJ, which is the official body for journalism training in the U.K., offers its own qualifications and accreditations which are highly respected and sought after by journalism employers. The council currently offers a Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Journalism enabling students to combine learning at sixth-form college or further education institutions with on-the-job training. It has been supported by media industry leaders for opening doors to a competitive industry for local young people as well as those who come from ethnic minority backgrounds.

SOURCES:
“Useful Sites” – Vijay Shah, The Half-Eaten Mind https://halfeatenmind.wordpress.com/useful-sites/
“Government accepts proposal to develop higher-level journalism apprenticeship” – National Council for the Training of Journalists (23 October 2014) http://www.nctj.com/latestnews/Governmentacceptsproposaltodevelophigher-leveljournalismapprenticeship
“Apprenticeships” – National Council for the Training of Journalists http://www.nctj.com/journalism-qualifications/apprenticeships
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