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
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BAFTA: Guru LIVE sessions this bank holiday weekend

gb

London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via BAFTA

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is organising a special series of sessions to offer the latest tips and advice for people working in the industries of film, television and game design this month. The academy, well-known for its yearly televised BAFTA Awards honouring the best in British television, has unveiled ‘Guru LIVE’. This is three days of talks and discussion panels with leading lights in the media industry.

The event, which takes place in London over the May Bank Holiday weekend from April 30th to May 2nd, will see attendees receive advice and insights in their chosen industry from BAFTA Award winners, nominees and the Academy’s industrial partners.

BAFTA have also released a YouTube trailer to encourage people starting out in the creative industries to come and bring their ideas and how to get a foot in the door.

Tickets cost only £6 per session, making Guru LIVE ideal for students on a tight budget.

BAFTA is a independent charity that support and nurtures film and TV talent and production in the U.K.,  by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public. It offers training and networking opportunities via workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes, connecting with audiences of all ages and backgrounds across the U.K. and abroad in Los Angeles and New York, U.S.A.

SOURCES:
HEM Businesses, The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-businesses
Film London, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Film_London
BAFTA Guru, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/BAFTAGuru
“Guru LIVE” – Guru, British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) http://guru.bafta.org/live
“About” – British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) http://www.bafta.org/about
VIDEO CREDIT:
“Kick-start your career in film, TV or games with Guru Live!” – BAFTA Guru, YouTube GB (1 March 2016) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FooLCR4nxSw

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

ADVANCED ONLINE RESEARCH TECHNIQUES: New short course by Journalism.co.uk

London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via journalism.co.uk

Journalists and students looking to maximise their newsgathering potential from online sources can now get involved in a special short course on advanced online research techniques organised and promoted by U.K. journalism news and skills website journalism.co.uk, the Half-Eaten Mind exclusively reports today.

Online research is now an essential part of reporting in the technological age, whether it is to gather information on the history of a local pub, archives of older news articles or political speeches, or for factual research for a breaking news story. By widening their own knowledge on a given subject via the treasure trove that is online research, journalists can help pass on the benefits to their readers, stimulating minds, disseminating facts for public discourse and remaining true to the journalistic ethic of informing.

Tutored by expert journalism lecturer Alex Wood and being held at the London offices of MSN, a news and internet services giant, the special bootcamp, which runs for one day, is designed to teach students how to quickly find the information they need, as well as acquire sources online for interviews and quotes. The course will also teach the skillful navigation of social media, which while being an excellent source of breaking stories and technical knowledge, can also be a minefield in sorting the facts from the fiction, spin and lies. This course will help media people sift though the online chatter to find the informational nuggets that to craft that influential front page story.

Wood, the editor-in-chief of The Memo, a newly-launched publication on technology, finance and culture news, who is also a visiting lecturer in journalism at London’s City University, will teach attendees how to get more out of the world’s most popular search engine, Google, how to sift through social media smartly, and show how to organise a ‘toolbox’ of useful technological aids to enable media workers to become better and more effective researchers. He has several years’ experience in training and advising journalists and was previously a founding editor of Tech City News, and is a renowned go-to expert on British technology and innovation.

You will learn how to:

  • Use advanced operators on search engines to source information;
  • Turn the idea of research on its head by making the most of influencers on social;
  • Identify where your community is talking online;
  • Set up alerts to monitor your research areas;
  • Organise and file your search results;
  • Set up a toolbox with the services and platforms you need for the future;

…and more handy search tips! (via Journalism.co.uk)

The bootcamp will take place on the 2nd December 2015, beginning at 10 am and finishing at 5 pm at the MSN UK offices in Victoria, London. It is of particular interest to journalists, public relations staff, communications specialists, fact-checkers and anyone else who wants to unlock the best and most accurate researching potential that the internet has to offer. The training at the course will also focus on the tools and techniques that writers can use to meet their research goals, while emphasising practical hands-on journalism knowledge.

Course attendees will be provided with a buffet lunch and refreshments (tea and coffee). The course fee is £240 (inc. VAT). The location address is: MSN UK, 100 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 5JX United Kingdom.

SOURCES: 
HEM Journalism Portal, The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-journalism-portal
Journalism.co.uk, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/journalismnews
“Advanced online research techniques” – journalism.co.uk – Courses/Mousetrap Media Ltd https://www.journalism.co.uk/vocational-skills-study/advanced-online-research-techniques/s43/a577969/
IMAGE CREDIT:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

ASEF: Journalism event on crisis reporting in November

The Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) is launching a special event for journalists this November to explore and share best practice on reporting global crises. The 10th ASEF Journalists’ Colloquium on Crisis Reporting is being held in Luxembourg over three days from the 4-6 November 2014, according to a source with ASEF’s branch in Singapore.

The colloquium is being organised in conjunction with the 12th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (ASEM FMM12), an important regional political meeting being held at the same time also in Luxembourg. A specially selected number of 25 practicing journalists from Asia and Europe to come together to discuss and learn different approaches, skills and tools used in crisis reporting from Asian and European perspectives.

(c) ASEF via Journalism.co.uk/Mousetrap Media.

From public health crises such as the E. Coli out breakout of 2011 in Germany, to environmental disasters such as the devastating 2013 cyclone Haiyan that struck the Philippines and this weekend’s earthquake in Nepal and India, the attendees will learn and build upon their understanding of the many issues these crises pose for Asian and European media. The recent terror attacks in places like France, and the ongoing war in Iraq and Syria also pose many challenges for reporters.

This colloquium will enable journalists to share their perspectives and best practices regarding international and regional challenges during crisis reporting from the different regional perspectives, as well as definitively understanding the role of the European and Asian media in reporting and witnessing such profound events. Journalists from ASEM countries (members of the Asia-Europe Meeting) can qualify to answer the call for applications. A list of participating ASEM nations can be found at http://www.aseminfoboard.org/members

Participating media professionals will see their recommendations and the event’s highlights published as the ASEF Media Handbook, which will be a ready reference for Asian and European journalists as well as for research and civil society organisations working in the field.

Founded in 1997, ASEF fosters understanding and dialogue between European and Asian countries through intellectual, cultural and people-to-people exchanges. This is with the goal to help encourage the growth of common development and stability, as well as contributing to world peace and prosperity. The Foundation particularly focusses on matters of concern such as war and famine in addition, and offers a range of collaborative events including seminars, workshops, conferences, lecture tours and exhibitions. In the past seventeen years, ASEF has seeded over 650 projects involving 17,000 direct participants over the two continents.

Interested journalists from ASEM countries can apply to take part at the colloquium. Application information can be found here: http://bit.ly/ASEFJC10

Travel (by economy class only) to and from Luxembourg and nearby hotel accommodation will be provided by the organisers for participants selected to attend this unique event. All applications should be submitted online by Tuesday, 12 May 2015, at the link above.

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HEM NEPAL EARTHQUAKE APPEAL

Nepal Quake Emergency Appeal pizap_opt

As many of you are well aware, Nepal was struck yesterday by the worst earthquake to be witnessed in its recent history. More than 1,200 people have lost their lives, mainly in Nepal, but also in India and Bangladesh. Much of the tourism infrastructure in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu has been obliterated, and thousands more are injured and without homes, food, and blankets for the harsh cold nights there.

The Half-Eaten Mind has joined forces with the international development charity Oxfam to support them in their Emergency Appeal. The top of the sidebar has a special link to Oxfam Great Britain’s giving page, where you can make donations securely via credit and debit card or PayPal. I am not aware if givers from outside the U.K. can donate via this link, but if you cannot, then please support any charities helping Nepal in your country.

Please donate what you can. Every little helps.

Thanks for reading.

Vijay Shah,

Editor and Blogger – the Half-Eaten Mind.

HEM 3rd anniversary banner pizap.com14293560242241

SOURCES:
“Call for Journalists: 10th ASEF Journalists’ Colloquium on Crisis Reporting” – Debasmita Dasgupta, Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) via Journalism.co.uk/Mousetrap Media Ltd (24 April 2015) https://www.journalism.co.uk/press-releases/call-for-journalists-10th-asef-journalists-colloquium-on-crisis-reporting/s66/a564889/
“Project Updates” – Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) http://asef.org/projects/themes/sustainable-development/3412-10th-asef-journalists-colloquium#3511-call-for-applications-10th-asef-journalists-colloquium
“Upcoming Events 10th ASEF Journalists’ Colloquium 4-7 November 2015 (tbc)” – Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) http://asef.org/projects/themes/sustainable-development/3412-10th-asef-journalists-colloquium
“The History” – Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) http://www.asef.org/about/history
“What We Do” – Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) http://www.asef.org/about/what-we-do
IMAGE CREDIT:
“Call for Journalists: 10th ASEF Journalists’ Colloquium on Crisis Reporting” – Debasmita Dasgupta, Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) via Journalism.co.uk/Mousetrap Media Ltd (24 April 2015) https://www.journalism.co.uk/press-releases/call-for-journalists-10th-asef-journalists-colloquium-on-crisis-reporting/s66/a564889/

THE HALF-EATEN TIMES: The blog’s very own e-newspaper

While being the next Rupert Murdoch or Lord Northcliffe is probably a very unlikely event for me any time soon – a lack of a gold-plated triple-password protected Swiss bank account not withstanding – it is however, stupidly possible for me, or indeed anyone, to have their own newspaper with content that interests them and their friends. No messy printing ink, whiny subeditors, or pleading with newsagents required. Just an invisible, hands-free, fuss-free ‘editor-bot’ who will pull off a carefully-ish curated selection of tweets, website links etc. to make that virtual front page.

Thanks to the internet, the Half-Eaten Mind now has an accompanying online rag, the Half-Eaten Times.

(c) HEM/paper.li via Pagepeeker.com
(c) HEM/paper.li via Pagepeeker.com
(c) HEM/paper.li
(c) HEM/paper.li

This special newspaper was launched on the 4th April 2015, just before its parent blog’s third anniversary. Created with the help and hosting of the Swiss curated newspaper site paper.li, the Half-Eaten Times draws on the sharing activity of lists and followers on the blog’s Twitter social account @halfeatenmind and curates interesting and newsworthy content, presented in a New York Times format for easy accessibility and browsing.

Like any good broadsheet, The Half-Eaten Times has a respectable and diverse selection of categories for our readers. Updated every 12 hours (twice daily), our e-paper features the latest picks of the current headlines in the HEM world, as well as subtopics covering leisure, entertainment, technology, sciences and business matters. Every contributor is a blogging citizen journalist (excusing the ones who are already journalists, of course) and every follower has the potential to make the news. News media at probably its most democratic.

In addition, there will be also plenty of news from all the world, supplied by our media partners.

Although I own the e-paper, I am not responsible for the content, which is picked up automatically by the curation technology that paper.li makes available to its users.

You can subscribe to the newsletter via email or social media, and special tweets and posts will be sent out every time a new edition of the Half-Eaten Times goes on the newsstand.

Have a leaf-through the Half-Eaten Times at the link below.

https://paper.li/halfeatenmind/1428178623

In other words….. “Read all about it!!”

I’ve also produced a banner advert for this new feature which may be included in the sidebar of this blog for maximum visibility, however my final decision is still pending. Using the now familiar HEM street sign logo, I was lucky enough to find the right visual elements to make this advert tie in with HEM’s header design (the original sunrise one with the silhouetted buildings) in the same way the e-newspaper’s name ties in with the blog’s name. Smart thinking eh?

(c) V.Shah/HEM/piZap and others.
(c) V.Shah/HEM/piZap and others.

The Half-Eaten Times….out now at your local PC screen and at all good tablets….for the cover price of £0.00 ($0.00 US/Canada; Rs 0.00 Mauritius, ₹00/= India)…you get my drift…Get your copy today! 🙂

Let me know what you think. I can also help you set one up if you need.

(c) paper.li
(c) paper.li
(c) V. Shah/HEM/paper.li
(c) V. Shah/HEM/paper.li

 

 

 

 

 

 

(c) V. Shah/HEM/paper.li
(c) V. Shah/HEM/paper.li
Vijay Shah
Paper.li http://paper.li/
piZap http://pizap.com/
pagepeeker, pagepeeker SRL. http://pagepeeker.com/
“Showing (19) Pics For (Click Here To Learn More Button Png)…” – pixshark.com http://pixshark.com/click-here-to-learn-more-button-png.htm

CHARLIE HEBDO: Protesters torch churches in Niger riots, five people killed

Protesters angered by the publishing of satirical cartoons of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad by French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo have reportedly gone on the rampage and set fire to local churches, while five people have been killed, the Huffington Post and Reuters news agency have stated.

In the second day of violence in the French-speaking West African nation, five people were killed yesterday as Niger was gripped by religious violence stirred up by the publication of the cartoons in France, which have seen widespread condemnation by Muslim communities across the globe. Charlie Hebdo, a well-known satirical publication that frequently mocks politicians and religions, was the victim of an atrocity last week in which seventeen people, including the editor, Stephane Charbonnier alias Charb, several members of his cartoonists team and three police officers were gunned down by two brothers, the Kouachis, said to have links to Islamic State in Syria. Four shoppers were also taken hostage by another militant at a kosher supermarket, also in Paris, and were killed along with the militant, identified as Amedy Coulibaly, when police raided the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Vincennes on the 9th of January.

The magazine defied the militants by publishing a ‘survivors’ edition’ featuring a cartoon depiction of the founder of Islam crying under the words “Tout est pardonné” (“All is forgiven“). This edition led to numerous protests across the world by Muslims offended by the depiction of their prophet. Islam forbids the depiction of living things, especially Muhammad, as it can be seen as encouraging the unpardonable sin of idolatry. The Charlie Hebdo killings were roundly condemned by leaders of France’s 5 million-strong Muslim minority, many who have become the victims of Islamophobic revenge attacks in the wake of the militant attack last week.

Niamey, Niger's capital and economic hub
Niamey, Niger’s capital and economic hub (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reporting from the Niger capital Niamey, Reuters journalists say the country has been rocked by two days of violence, and that the death toll has already reached ten. Gangs of youths were reported to have set fire to shops, businesses and places of worship belonging to Niger’s Christian community after a meeting of local Muslim community leaders was allegedly banned by the authorities. Police attempted to battle the rampage and contain the youths by using tear gas. The youths retaliated by throwing stones, before attacking a police station and torching two squad cars in the vicinity.

One of the protesters, named by Reuters as Amadou Abdoul Ouahab, was quoted as saying “They offended our Prophet Mohammad, that’s what we didn’t like,”

Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou announced that the five killed on Saturday (17 January 2014) were all civilians. Four were burned to death inside blazing churches and bars selling alcoholic drinks. The Niger president said that an inquiry into the killings would take place and organisers of the riots would be apprehended and punished. “Those who pillage religious sites and profane them, those who persecute and kill their Christian compatriots or foreigners who live on our soil, have understood nothing of Islam,” he said in a televised address.

President Issoufou, himself a Muslim, however disagreed with the publication of the Charlie Hebdo survivors’ issue saying that he shared the disgust and outrage of Muslims at the caricatures of their beloved prophet and that freedom of expression should be accountable of the need to respect religious beliefs. Charlie Hebdo has long attracted flak for lampooning Jews, Catholics and Muslims, but since the killings of its staff last week, the small Paris-based magazine has become a popular bastion of journalistic freedom of expression, including the controversial right to offend. Hundreds of thousands have identified themselves with the trending slogan “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie“) in solidarity with the slain journalists and protecting freedom of speech.

Issoufou was one of the participants last week of a march held in Paris against the atrocity, alongside many world politicians from opposing sides. Yesterday though, he said his participation in that march was to demonstrate his opposition to terrorism and not in support of the magazine itself.

Niamey, Niger
Niamey, Niger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the riots, calm returned to the streets of Niamey by yesterday afternoon, but another planned march by the city’s Muslim community is feared to possibly re-ignite tensions. The civic authorities put a block on the march going ahead, but organisers have said they will defy the ruling and proceed anyway, possibly risking confrontation with local police and members of the Christian community.

Demonstrations were also reported in regional towns across Niger, including Maradi, 600 km (375 miles) east of Niamey, where two churches were burned. Another church and a residence of the foreign minister were burned in the eastern town of Goure.

The foreign minister of France, which once ruled Niger as an overseas colony, Laurent Fabius, roundly condemned the weekend violence in the country, stating “France expresses its solidarity with the authorities in Niger,” France currently maintains a battery of troops and defences in co-operation with Niger to battle against Islamist insurgencies in the neighbouring state of Mali as part of a regional counter-terrorism operation.

Four preachers of Islam who organised the meeting were arrested on Saturday as tensions began to flare, according to local police. The French government has warned its citizens living as expatriates in Niamey to exercise caution and avoid unnecessary travel.

Residents in Niger’s second largest city of Zinder said that a burned corpse was discovered in the remains of a Catholic church torched by rioters there, bringing the death toll to five from Friday’s clashes. Locals also claimed that wholesale attacks against Zinder’s Christians were instigated, with religious books, churches and minority-owned shops ransacked and set on fire.  A French cultural centre was also set alight, and a police officer is among the dead, the rest are civilians, according to sources from the police.

In contrast with Niger, demonstrators in other Francophone west African nations, including Mali, Senegal and Mauritania, and in Algeria in North Africa, made peaceful protests against the Charlie Hebdo controversy after leaving their mosques after they finished Juma’a (Friday) prayers, Reuters reports.

Niger’s 17 million people are almost all Muslims, though its government remains secular. About 94% profess Islam, mostly of the Sunni branch. There are also communities professing Nigerien animism and Christianity.

SOURCES:
Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/
“Niger Protesters Burn Churches On Second Day Of Anti-Charlie Hebdo Violence” – Abdoulaye Massalaki, Daniel Flynn & Andrew Roche, Reuters & The World Post, The Huffington Post & Berggruen Institute on Governance (17 January 2015) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/17/niger-charlie-hebdo_n_6492054.html
IMAGE CREDITS:
“File:Niamey night.jpg” – diasUndKompott via FlickreviewR, Wikimedia Commons (4 January 2007) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Niamey_night.jpg
“File:Niamey-Moschee.jpg” – Dominik Schwarz, Wikimedia Commons (17 December 2009) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Niamey-Moschee.jpg

 

BBC GENOME PROJECT: What was on the telly when you was born

The British public service broadcaster the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has launched the beta version of a new online project that will enable people to find out what programmes were broadcast on UK television and radio on the date they were born. The BBC Genome Project is a fascinating new online archive of the BBC’s flagship publication, Radio Times, a radio and television listings magazine that has been published continuously since the 1920s.

The Genome Project, which despite its name has no connection to the Human Genome Project or to any organisation in the field of scientific research, was set up by the BBC  to encourage its viewers and listeners to search their homes and garages for any old recordings or VCR tapes of BBC and other shows which they are then invited to submit. It is hoped that donations of TV shows from times long gone past will help the BBC preserve older programmes for future generations. The Project’s archives extend from the years 1923 to 2009.

(c) BBC via J. Stone

The website enables you to choose individual editions of the Radio Times, as well as search through the magazine archive via year, people’s names, particular programmes and key dates. A virtual gallery of actual Radio Times covers means the Genome Project’s users can witness the changing face of one of the United Kingdom’s most recognisable entertainment magazines – which has been a fixture of the country’s living rooms for over ninety years and is still running. The actual schedule information is presented as plain, easy-to-read text.

According to the Metro newspaper, the BBC claims that the project currently has a total of 4,423,654 programmes incorporated into the archive from 4,469 issues of its magazine.

The hope is that the project will lead to programmes being recovered if the public realises they have audio or video recordings of their own.

Hilary Bishop, editor of archive development at the BBC, said: “Genome is the closest we currently have to a comprehensive broadcast history of the BBC.

`It is highly likely that somewhere out there, in lofts, sheds and basements across the world, many of these “missing” programmes will have been recorded and kept by generations of TV and radio fans.

‘So, we’re hoping to use Genome as a way of bringing copies of those lost programmes back in to the BBC archives too.

The Genome Project will not only be of benefit to media studies and journalism students and historians of public life in the 20th century, but will also be valuable to people who are curious as to what programmes and services were shown on the day they were born.

As part of the celebration of the unveiling of this unique archive, the Half-Eaten Mind’s blogger-in-chief Vijay Shah tried out the BBC’s Genome Project for himself. His aim was to see if he could discover what was broadcast on the day of his birth thirty years ago, Thursday the 4th of October, 1984.

******

My first impression of the BBC’s new Genome Project website was how much it was like many of the other online arms of the BBC in the internet world. Its slick and minimalist design, a hallmark of the public broadcaster, was reassuringly familiar, yet seemed to understate the vast quantity of publicly-accessible data stored inside. I quickly read through the site’s blurb, while distracted by the strapping image taken from a BBC studio filming from the Sixties or Seventies. A camera operative holding an angular relic with the BBC logo from that time splashed on the side sits precariously on the far right, while a slightly dour-faced audience await the show to begin and the cameras to start rolling.

(c) E.F. Baumgardner/National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons

I scrolled down the page to reach a chapter entitled “Browse the issue archive” which gives you all of the years shown in the archive arranged as a table with the columns set aside for different decades. If you scroll further down, there is a selection of thumbnails of front covers from the Radio Times, arranged by decade. Underneath that is a list of up-to-date schedules from the post-digital BBC stable of channels.

I clicked on the year ‘1984’ and that took me to a list of all the Radio Times editions, or issues, for that year, starting from Issue 3139, which came out across England only on the 5th January of that year. The 1984 archive solemnly ends with Issue 3189, published solely for the London TV region on the 20th of December. My birthday issue was numbered 3178, and was published exactly on the 4th October, much to my relief.

Another click of the mouse brought me to some listings of several BBC stations but these only began from the 6th October, which was a Saturday. I then rewound back and tried the previous issue, No. 3177, released on the 27th September 1984. I found TV and radio listings for the following stations: BBC One London, BBC Two England, BBC Radio 1 England, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 4 FM. There is no mention of any schedules for ITV and Channel 4, which probably was not mentioned as these channels are independent of the Beeb and the Radio Times is a publication funded by the BBC’s print media division. C4 had been founded just two years before my birth and satellite, cable, digital and internet TV and radio was not to appear for a couple of decades yet. BBC One, or BBC1 as it was then called, tends towards popular and light entertainment programming, while BBC Two (BBC2) at that time was more geared to educational and political programming, as well as documentaries. I was fascinated by how many shows from my later childhood, such as Blue Peter, Henry’s Cat, Grange Hill (a soap set in an urban secondary school) and the Six O’Clock News with Moira Stewart were already well established on TV, considering that my memories of these shows are from the late 1980s at the earliest. It was a great trip down memory lane.

While the simple layout of the TV schedules was a bit of a mood killer, I liked the way that information from the pages of the Radio Times was presented in a clear and accessible format, while keeping faithful to the original text, as far as I could see. Even the mention of Ceefax subtitles was retained, showing just how far technology in television had gone since all those years ago.

(c) BBC via Wikimedia Commons

Here are the TV schedules for BBC1 and BBC2 as they were presented in the Radio Times on 4/10/1984:

BBC1

6.00: Ceefax AM

6.30Breakfast Time

with Frank Bough , Selina Scott Including today: medical advice from the Breakfast Time doctor in his weekly phone-in between 8.30 and 9.0

9.00: Under Sail

2: Pascual Flores
Pascual Flores was built 60 years ago in southern Spain as a fast schooner, but she very nearly ended her days as a scruffy little motor coaster. Now she’s restored.
Narrator Tom Salmon Director JENNI BURROWS Producer ROBIN DRAKE
BBC Bristol. (Part 3 tomorrow at 9.0 am)

9.15: Labour Party Conference 1984

Live coverage of the fourth day’s debates in Blackpool

10.30: * Play School

10.50: * Labour Party Conference 1984

Further live coverage

12.30: * News After Noon

with Moira Stuart and Frances Coverdale including a special report on the Labour Party Conference Weather BILL GILES
12.57 Regional News (London and SE: Financial Report, and News Headlines with subtitles)

13.00: Pebble Mill at One

13.45: Fingerbobs

A See -Saw programme

14.00: Labour Party Conference 1984

Coverage of today’s debates
3.48 Regional News

15.50: Play School: It’s Thursday

Presenter lain Lauchlan Guest Sarah Long
Story: The Luckiest One of All by BILL PEET

16.10: Bananaman

Mystery at the Old Mine
Eric Twinge is just another schoolboy-but when danger calls, a few mouthfuls of his special bananas and Eric is Bananaman. With the voices Of TIM BROOKE-TAYLOR , BILL ODDIE, GRAEME GARDEN, JILL SHILLING Written by BERNIE KAY Music by DAVID COOKE Produced by TREVOR BOND Directed by TERRY WARD

16.15: Beat the Teacher

with Howard Stableford Round 3 of this week’s quiz featuring the most amazing brain-teasers in the world.
THE KING DAVID HIGH SCHOOL, LIVERPOOL V ST BERNADETTE ‘S RC
SCHOOL, BRISTOL
Devised by CLIVE DOIG Designers VIC MEREDITH , LES MCCALLUM Producer IAN OLIVER
(Part 4 tomorrow at 4.15)

16.30: Godzilla

Godzilla, the 600-ton monster who has been asleep for a thousand years, rises from the depths of the Pacific to come to the aid of mankind. In this new series he continues his role as guardian to the crew of the research ship Calico. The Golden Guardians The Golden Guardian attacks Godzilla and turns him into a golden statue.

16.55: John Craven’s Newsround

17.00: Blue Peter

with Simon Groom Janet Ellis and Michael Sundin Flood Alert!
After the summer drought, the villagers of Topsham in Devon were faced with floods when the River Exe produced its highest tide since 1966.
Michael helped to build the barricades to protect the centuries-old houses and joined the men of the Devon Fire Brigade keeping anxious watch on the rising waters. Assistant editor LEWIS BRONZE Editor BIDDY BAXTER *CEEFAX SUBTITLES

17.25: Henry’s Cat

by BOB GODFREY and STAN HAYWARD The Explorer
Narration BOB GODFREY Music PETER SHADE Production BOB GODFREY FILMS

17.30: Grange Hill

A series of 18 programmes
Episode 5 by MARGARET SIMPSON Jimmy McClaren , the ‘Godfather’ of Grange Hill, begins to take a ‘friendly interest’ in Pogo’s chain-letter enterprise.
Devised by PHIL REDMOND Producer KENNY MCBAIN Director CAROL WILKS * CEEFAX SUBTITLES

17.58: Weatherman

18.00: The Six O’Clock News

with Sue Lawley and Jeremy Paxman, including a report by David Coss from the Labour Party Conference.

18.30Regional news magazines

London Plus, Spotlight South Today, Points West Look East, North West Tonight Look North, Midlands Today

18.55: Tomorrow’s World

Presented by Kieran Prendiville Peter McCann , Maggie Philbin and Judith Hann Producers DANA PURVIS , MICHAEL COYLE HENRY CAMPION , CYNTHIA PAGE Studio director STUART MCDONALD Editor MARTIN MORTIMORE

19.20Top of The Pops

Introduced by Simon Bates and Richard Skinner
Sound GRAHAM WILKINSON Lighting KEN MACGREGOR Designer ROD MCLEAN Executive producer MICHAEL HURLL Production BRIAN WHITEHOUSE

20.00The Magnificent Evans

by ROY CLARKE starring Ronnie Barker with Sharon Morgan and Myfanwy Talog William Thomas , Dickie Arnold
Film cameraman REX MAIDMENT Film editor DON CANDLIN Studio lighting RON BRISTOW Designer TIM GLEESON Produced and directed by SYDNEY LOTTERBY *CEEFAX SUBTITLES

20.30Checkpoint

Written and presented by Roger Cook
Radio 4’s award-winning programme comes to television for a short series to investigate cases raised by viewers which can include unfair dealing, bureaucratic bungling, injustice or even fraud.
Video cameraman LAURIE RUSH Researcher DINA GOLD Television producers DAVID BOWEN-JONES and DAVID HANINGTON Editor JOHN EDWARDS
Roger Cook’s Checkpoint. A BBC Aerial Book £2.95 from booksellers

21.00The Nine O’Clock News

with Julia Somerville and the BBC’s reporters and correspondents around the world including a special report on the Labour Party Conference at Blackpool Weatherman

21.25The Horse of the Year Show

from Wembley Arena featuring The Norwich Union Championship
Puissance mght at Wembley when all eyes are focussed on the big red wall in the centre of the arena. Plus horses racing against each other in the Knock-Out Stakes, and a look at some of the other entertainment.

Introduced by DAVID VINE Commentators RAYMOND BROOKS-WARD, STEPHEN HADLEY Producer JOHNNIE WATHERSTON

22.45: * Heart of the Matter

with David Jessel
At the heart of the actions that make the news lie decisions and dilemmas, prejudices and passions, that are defined by our sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. Each week David Jessel takes issue with a major story of concern or conscience, and looks for what can be found at the Heart of the Matter.

Film editor MICHAEL ALOOF
Series producer COLIN CAMERON

23.20* Out of the Undertow

Fay Weldon and Richard Hoggart look at working lives and tides of change in Britain: 3: Sweet Dreams with Miriam Margolyes
Managing a small business is a dream to which many people aspire but it’s a dream that doesn’t often come true. A women’s fashion company, a hairdressing salon and an engineering works are three dreams that have come true – but with a struggle.

Film editor HELEN COOK
Producer JULIAN STENHOUSE

23.50: * News Headlines; Weatherman

(c) Wikipedia

BBC2

6.55: Open University

6.55 The Search for Minerals
7.20 History of Mathematics

9.00: Pages from Ceefax

9.20: Daytime on Two

9.20 Tout compris
Everyday life and language of French teenagers. Au college; Au café bar; Chez Claire ; A une boom
9.38 La maree et ses secrets
A five-part adventure serial in French by CHRISTOPHER RUSSELL and JANE COTTAVE 3: Une ombre du passé
9.55 Thinkabout
See How they Grow
It’s hard to believe that Frank was once a baby.
10.12 Science Workshop Paper ‘A’
10.34 Scene
Troubled Minds – What a Lousy Title!
11.5 Near and Far Concrete
The look of many towns and cities owes much to the use of concrete. However the extraction of its raw materials – limestone, clay, sand and gravel has had a dramatic effect on rural areas Producer ROBIN GWYN
11.30 Home Ground
Towns of Wales 2: Just Down the Road
A town is largely composed of buildings – private houses and public edifices. What can these patterns of brick and stone. tile and slate, glass and paint, tell of a town’s history?
Presenter STEPHEN BOTCHER Producer J. PHILIP DAVIES BBC Wales
11.55 Swim

ANDREW HARVEY introduces a series for swimmers and non-swimmers of all ages. 3: Breaststroke

12.20 pm Illusions of Reality An examination of newsreels of the 1930s
3: Once a Hun….
Discussion notes from [address removed] 8QT. (Please enclose 12″ x 9″ sae and 33p postage)
12.45 Letting Go 3: Sex Education
How parents prepare teenagers for this important part of adult life.
1.10 Mind How You Go
Ten programmes about road accident prevention presented by JIMMY SAVILE OBE
3: Think Child
1.20 Encounter: Germany 3: Communications
By train from Hamelin to Braunschweig – and the work of the railways. A police car chase; a waterways patrol; an island waterway harbour; and life on a canal barge.
1.38 Around Scotland The Great Glen 1: The Ancient Corridor JOHN CARMICHAEL explains how the Great Glen was formed and shows how man has made use of the landscape for forestry and the production of hydro-electricity.
Producer ROBERT CLARK Director PETER LEGGE

15.00Dallas

My Brother’s Keeper
As J.R. drives the final wedge between Pam and Bobby, his masterplan to oust his brother from Ewing Oil gathers momentum. Donna meets an old admirer and Sue Ellen finds she has a new one …
Written by ARTHUR BERNARD LEWIS Directed by LEONARD KATZMAN (For cast see Monday. Continued tomorrow at 3.0 pm. Repeat) * CEEFAX SUBTITLES

15.45Labour Party Conference 1984

Further coverage.

17.05Handicapped in the Community

The Centre for Independent Living in Berkeley, California, was founded to help disabled people achieve independence and self-respect.
Producer ANN POINTON
A BBC/Open University production

17.25News Summary

with subtitles, followed by Weather

17.30Fred

3: Uncalled-for Distractions Fred Dibnah’s holiday at Blackpool
Narrator Deryck Guyler

Delightfully comic filming (Sunday Times)
Photography MARTIN LIGHTENING Written and produced by DON HAWORTH. BBC Manchester

18.00Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles

The last of a three part series starring
The Martians
November 2006: Earth is an amber cinder, all life annihilated by total nuclear war. A handful of settlers left on Mars are the sole survivors of the human race. They face a desolate future, cut off and isolated even from each other. Sam Parkhill holds a land grant to half of Mars, handed to him by the original inhabitants of the planet.
Teleplay by RICHARD MATHESON Produced by ANDREW DONALLY and MILTON SUBOTSKY Directed by MICHAEL ANDERSON A CHARLES FRIES production

19.30: Open Space

Breaking the Mould?
For the bulk of production line workers throughout British industry tomorrow’s work will be just like today’s. Mindless…. repetitive…. demoralising. But deep in the ‘pot bank’ they’re trying to reshape working lives. Staffordshire Potteries, Britain’s major mug producers, have adopted a new Japanese style of management. They are aiming to increase the motivation and job satisfaction of their employees by giving them more say in the company’s decisions. But will this really improve work and conditions on the shopfloor, or is it just subtle psychology designed to boost productivity? Open Space goes to the Potteries to find out how shopfloor and management approach the new tomorrow. Producer JEREMY GIBSON COMMUNITY PROGRAMME UNIT

20.00Commercial Breaks

A series that follows the fortunes of entrepreneurs around the world as their stories unfold. Who Dares, Wins Readers? The inside story of this summer’s bizarre circulation war between Fleet Street’s tabloids. Last week’s Commercial Breaks showed how multi-millionnaire Robert Maxwell bought the Daily Mirror. He immediately vowed to topple the Sun as Britain’s top-selling tabloid. This programme goes behind the scenes as Maxwell controls every detail of his campaign, from directing his own commercials to cross-examining his circulation managers.
Narrator Hugh Sykes
Film editor PETER DELFGOU Research ROBERT THIRKELL Executive producer JONATHAN CRANE
Producer DAVID DUGAN

20.30Do They Mean Us?

Our sense of humour baffles them, our politics bother them, our preoccupation with tradition bemuses them. Apparently we don’t wash, and we are morose and miserable even on holiday. On the other hand we are polite and kind to animals, and we would be great in a crisis – if we knew one when we saw one. Each week Derek Jameson looks at the way foreign television reports this country. Tonight he looks at foreign interest in the Royal Family and discovers that, in some ways, they are even more obsessed with them than are the natives.
Research MARK ROGERS Producer LAURENCE REES

21.00A Kick Up the 80s

with Ron Bain, Robbie Coltrane. Miriam Margolyes, Roger Sloman, Tracey Ullman. Also featuring Kevin Turvey
Special weight-watchers edition: non-fattening sketches, low-calorie situations, semi-skimmed jokes and a protein-packed song.

Music DAVID MCNIVEN DirectorBRIAN JOBSON Producer COLIN GILBERT BBC Scotland

21.25: Life of an Orchestra

3: On Tour
The third documentary in the informal four-part series on the London Symphony Orchestra follows the 107 musicians and their £350,000’s worth of instruments on tour to Paris, Vienna and Frankfurt. The film goes behind the scenes with the orchestra and their conductor Claudio Abbado as they rehearse, relax, worry about the Vienna concert and celebrate their successes. There’s music from WEBERN. MAHLER and SCHUBERT, an appearance by Zubin Mehta and more unexpected glimpses into the habits and attitudes of orchestral musicians.
Film cameraman JOHN GOODYER Sound STAN NIGHTINGALE Film editor PETER HARRIS Produced and directed by JENNY BARRACLOUGH

22.15: A Hot Summer Night with Donna

The second part of the spectacular concert featuring the queen of disco, Donna Summer.

22.50: Newsnight

John Tusa and Vincent Hanna with a full report on the day’s events at the Labour Party Conference in Blackpool, with Donald MacCormick and Jenni Murray in London to assess the news at home and abroad. Producer DAVE STANFORD Editor DAVID DICKINSON

23.45Open University

Discussion: Alan Plater ‘s ‘Reunion’ The play concerns two men who meet again many years after their schooldays together. It explores the risks involved in personal relationships, and is followed by a discussion with the author and actors.

*****

For our readers and bloggers from the HEM Community, especially those from the UK, you can see what the BBC played on your birthday and reminisce while you’re doing so. Visit the BBC’s Genome project at this link

SOURCES:
“The BBC Genome Project lets you see what was on TV on the day you were born” – Sarah Deen, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (16 October 2014) http://metro.co.uk/2014/10/16/the-bbc-genome-project-lets-you-see-what-was-on-tv-on-the-day-you-were-born-4908844/?ito=facebook
“Welcome to the BBC Genome Project” – BBC Genome Beta – Radio Times 1923 – 2009, BBC http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/
“1984” – BBC Genome Beta – Radio Times 1923 – 2009, BBC http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/years/1984
“Listings” – BBC Genome Beta – Radio Times 1923 – 2009, BBC http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/schedules/bbcone/london/1984-10-04
IMAGE CREDITS:
Creative Commons CC Search http://search.creativecommons.org/
“Radio Times, Doctor Who, Nov 2003, McCoy” – Jem Stone, Flickr (17 June 2005) https://www.flickr.com/photos/jemstone/19864460/
“File:Family watching television 1958.jpg” – Evert F. Baumgardner, National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons (original 1958, uploaded 22 January 2007) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Family_watching_television_1958.jpg
“File:Bbc logo before 1986.png” – BBC, Briantist & John Bot II, Wikimedia Commons (5 May 2009) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bbc_logo_before_1986.png
“BBC Television Centre” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Television_Centre

DEAL GURU’S DANCING SAGE: Indian retail advert accused of defamation towards Hindus

Indian online retailer AskMeBazaar.com has been condemned for religious insensitivity by Hindu groups after it recently broadcast a video advertisement on YouTube that depicts a Hindu sage (clergyman) dancing with a scantily-clad woman.

The thirty-second advert depicts an actor dressed as the sage, wearing sacred rudraksha beads and saffron coloured garments associated with religious figureheads of India’s largest faith, levitating over a CGI building buried mostly in the ground while Bollywood actress and ‘item girl Kangana Ranaut is perched on the edge of the building dressed in modern Western clothes, including a short red skirt. As the clip begins, the sage seated in a traditional meditational posture floats towards Ms. Ranaut and asks her why she is so busy. As she peers at the screen of her mobile phone, the actress, who plays the role of a ‘shopping queen’, begins to excitedly talk about the cheap shopping she can do on the AskMeBazaar.com site. The building rises from the ground to show the figure ‘70%’ – an allusion to the savings the company is offering. The clip ends with the sage and Kangana dancing in a comical carefree manner. The bilingual English and Hindi advert, entitled “Kangana Ranaut shops at Deal Guru” was made to promote the Deal Guru service, which aims to help the site’s buyers and sellers maximise their savings.

AskMeBazaar.com is an online shop selling a wide variety of goods for the Indian market, ranging from fashion accessories and jewellery to medicines and footwear, at often heavily discounted prices. Like eBay, the site enables sellers to set up shop and offer customers popular good and designer brands in one centralised location. The site’s information page describes AskMeBazaar.com as “an effort to recreate the great Indian shopping experience online“.

The AskMeBazaar advert has attracted numerous complaints over its portrayal of a Hindu priest.

While many have seen the advert as light-hearted fun, harmlessly exploiting Indian consumers’ passion for shopping and Bollywood movies, religious Hindus have registered complaints with AskMeBazaar’s owner, Noida-based Getit Stores Pvt. Ltd., for offending their religious sentiments in what they perceive as a disrespectful portrayal of a sacred figurehead, and in particular his accompanying a character wearing what many regard as inappropriate clothing. Many Hindu sages are married, but some take vows of austerity and celibacy in order to maintain a close relationship with God and to steer their souls away from earthly illusions and temptations. Many women in India‘s cities have taken to adopting Western-influenced fashions, including the wearing of miniskirts and other ‘revealing’ attire. Many argue that these new modern women are exercising their freedom to wear what they want in an increasingly globalised environment, but opponents say such clothing, often inspired by the raunchy costumes of Bollywood actresses such as Rangana Kanaut, is an affront to general Indian culture, with its emphasis on modesty in dress and actions. The resultant culture clash of two very different cultures in India’s big cities, or ‘metros’ such as Mumbai and Delhi, have seen tensions between secular and religious groups and societies – which have occasionally turned violent.

The protests are being spearheaded by the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, an organisation campaigning for worldwide Hindu rights. The Samiti also registered a complaint with Getit Stores, who have so far refused to pull the advert offline. A spokesperson for the company denied that any intentional denigration of the Hindu faith was intended, and the advert is still available for viewing, on both the AskMeBazaar site and on their YouTube channel. HJS however insists that the advert is clearly disrespectful of Hindu religion and of its saints and sages, who are held in high esteem by Hindus globally. They pointed out the irony of AskMeBazaar using Hindu religious personalities as figures of comical fun, yet they had no history of using clergy from other religions in India in the same manner. In addition to criticising the company’s perceived intentions in using the dancing sage, the HJS also warned the company that they stood to lose valuable business and customers due to the video.

An HJS activist, Shivaji Vatkar, wrote to the Noida offices of Getit Stores on the 15th August, which is India’s Independence Day. He also called in; where an office worker there denied that the advert was insulting. Vatkar’s letter has yet to be replied to by Getit Stores.

Getit Stores Pvt. Ltd. GYS Heights, Plot 10 and 11, 2nd and 3rd floor, C tower, Sector 125, Noida (Gautam Buddha Nagar), Uttar Pradesh – 201301

Dear Sirs,
Sub:Request to stop the advertisement of Kangana Ranaut shops at Deal Guru- askme bazaar denigratiing Hindu Saint/Saadhu
Hindu Janajagruti Samiti is an NGO doing social, religious and Nation building work. For details please refer our website http://www.hindujagruti.org where we have successfully campaigned and stopped denigrating advertisements.
Thousands of Hindus are customers of askmebazaar.com. We appreciate and buy your quality products. However we have received lot of complaints against you for hurting religious sentiments as you are showing Hindu Sadhu/Saint dancing and singing with a lady for advertising your shopping. Ref Link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYupvWgnDVA&feature=youtu.be
As per Hindu religion we should worship and get blessings from Sadhus-Saints. There spiritual teachings and knowledge is highest gift to the world. Due to their culture, sacrifice and Chaitanya millions of people have changed their lives to lead a blissful life. Walmiki, Vashisht, Naarad are some of the examples whom we respect and worship. However you have shown a Hindu Sadhu/Saint in saffron dress & a Kamandlu in hand dancing with a lady with jokes.
Thus there is insult and denigration of our Saints. This is hurting religious sentiments of Hindus which is an offense as per Indian Penal Code section 295A.
Further please note that you will not dare to show Jesus, Mohammad Paigambr, a Moulavi or Father dancing with a lady in your advertisement. You are purposely and intentionally denigrating Hindu Dharma with malafide intentions for which millions of Hindus will protest against you. Many Hindus will boycott your shopping products.
In view of above we earnestly request you to stop the advertisement and give unconditional apology for hurting religious sentiments of Hindus.
Yours faithfully,
( Shivaji Vatkar , Tel : [redacted])
For Hindu Janajagruti Samiti

A reproduction of the protest letter sent by Mr. Vatkar to Getit Stores. The retail company has not yet furnished a reply, according to Hindu religious rights group HJS.

Several companies, big and small, Indian and international, have been condemned by Hindu religious organisations in recent years for producing goods and advertisements that use Hindu symbols in a controversial manner. An American clothes and furnishing retailer was twice complained against after selling clothing items depicting Hindu deities. Several Indian advertisers and Bollywood movies have also been slated for their depiction of gods and goddesses for commercial gain.

SOURCES/VIDEO CREDIT:
Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/
“Ask me bazaar.com remains adamant against HJS’ appeal to stop Hindu sage’s denigration !” – Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (21 August 2014) http://www.hindujagruti.org/news/20389.html
askmebazaar.com, AskMeBazaar http://www.askmebazaar.com/
“ABOUT US” – askmebazaar.com, AskMeBazaar http://www.askmebazaar.com/about.php

 

 

CONSISTENCY IN NEWSWRITING: The house style

This Sunday’s article will be the last blogpost based on the notes given to me by former university lecturer and journalist Alan Geere. As mentioned in previous articles in the series, these notes were picked up from my career as an undergraduate at the School of Media, Arts and Design in the University of Westminster‘s Harrow campus. It has been interesting to uncover these notes and expand upon them, as I have hopefully produced a helpful and accessible journalism resource for the ‘roving reporters’ of the future. It has also been a wonderful trip down memory lane. Though this is definitely the last article influenced by Prof. Geere, it may not be the last journalistic blast from the recent past. I have plans to go through the entire two binders that are packed full of notes and hopefully find something else that will fit into this series.

Today we are taking a look at what journalists and editors call ‘house style‘. The Free Dictionary by Farlex defines house style as “a set of rules concerning spellings, typography, etc, observed by editorial and printing staff in a particular publishing or printing company“. Essentially ‘house style’ is a loose term for a uniform set of regulations used by a newspaper, magazine or media group to keep the output of its journalistic staff consistent as it would otherwise be confusing for journalists and editors to operate by their own individual writing and spelling rules.

Style guides are common for both general and specialised purposes, for the general reading and writing audience, and for students and scholars of various academic disciplines, medicine, journalism, the law, government, business, and industry. However, in the vein of this article, I will be focusing on the newswriting species of these handy rulebooks.

Cover of "The Associated Press Stylebook ...
Cover via Amazon

An organisation’s house style is usually codified in a handbook, called a ‘style guide’ or ‘style manual’ which sets out in black and white the stylistic rules that the news organisation adheres to. Most major news organisations have one. In the UK, the public broadcaster BBC maintains a style guide for its news department. The BBC Style Guide, which is a staple of its inbuilt College of Journalism where many of its staffers are drawn from, was established by radio newsroom editor John Allen over a decade ago, and is available to the public online. Allen’s work helped the BBC train its reporting staff in its ideas in the defining of “the craft of writing, the flow of words, the potential ambiguity of language, and why writing for broadcast is a skill of its own“, according to the corporation’s blogger and style editor, Ian Jolly. The style guide also helped the BBC to further its long-standing aims of offering high-quality services in its role as a public service broadcaster, as listeners and viewers have long come to expect. Several of the British broadsheets also swear by the style bible, with the centre-left leaning paper The Guardian being a particularly cited example in journalism study circles. Indeed, the Guardian and its sister paper, The Observer have made their style guide completely accessible to the public by sharing new rules in grammar, language and news style on Twitter and through a website. Internally, The Guardian group emphasises the importance of using correct language among its journalists. All its editorial staff are encouraged to take an active interest in the language they write, and to read books on words to not only sharpen their professional skills, but also as educational and useful entertainment. The Guardian’s tome of reporting convention is one of the oldest in existence. The first edition was published in 1928, with frequent revisions since then.

In the United States, the news agency Associated Press (AP) has long maintained a very influential style guide. It is well-regarded enough that it has transcended its original corporate setting and is now the go-to linguistic manual for thousands of students at America’s journalism colleges. Its hallowed pages are also regularly consulted by journalists from many other news organisations far removed from the style guide’s parent. Officially known as the “Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law“, the stylebook is a comprehensive guide to the news agency’s usage of American English. It is regularly updated by the company’s editors, usually in June every year. Its eminence and history alongside the development of US newswriting in its modern form means that it is considered as an essential guide for American newspaper journalism as a whole, although it is not compulsory to use it. The guide’s current form was crystallised by AP in 1953. The hard copy of the stylebook has sold around two million copies via bookstores and distribution since 1977. Like its British counterpart The Guardian, AP’s book has also been reconfigured for the digital age, with its own webpage and Twitter account.

STYLE GUIDES
STYLE GUIDES (Photo credit: Terry Freedman)

So why do news organisations invest so much time in studying language and then setting the rules in stone to make a workable style guide. The following paragraphs sum up why style guides are needed:

CONSISTENCY: English is a language replete with thousands of words. The English language has always borrowed heavily from other languages as well as creating new words (neologisms), and there are several dialects used by this now international tongue, many of which are also written. Additionally, the language’s grammar is a study all of its own. Having a style guide means a news organisation can make sure that spellings, names, titles and grammatical rules remain constant across the board and provides uniformity to that company’s news output. Inconsistent writing between one reporter and the next would only lead to a confusing situation and much uncertainty in the newsroom. Journalists would be constantly badgering each other across cubicles on how this word could be spelled, or whether that other phrase sounds right. Editors would have a minefield to run through when editing and subbing their staff’s copy and it can also be infuriating for the consumers. A style guide sets the rules for everyone, a standard that not only keeps the newsroom in synchronisation, but also makes everyone’s lives easier.

PERCEIVED QUALITY: Even in this more cynical media age, where the media have often been derided as liars with hidden agendas, and quite rightly in some cases, news consumers still innately respect news organisations and the craft of journalism itself. However, like any company, news outlets need to turn a profit, and it is advertisers, subscribers, casual readers on sites and the old men who pick up the morning paper who keep a news outlet breathing and sustainable. As they are paying customers, they expect quality. Likewise, outlets such as the BBC have built solid reputations on the assumed quality of their reporting. A style guide is a yardstick for that quality. By sticking to its rules, the quality of the news articles, TV reports etc. is bolstered and maintained. Deviating from the rules set out in the style guide would probably lead to a decline in the reportage, and would ultimately a decline in sales figures or viewer ratings. In the cutthroat world of a  free-market media economy, this is a fatal outcome

EASE OF READING AND UNDERSTANDING: Style guides are often based on the accepted linguistic norm, using rules that most people would consider correct. This means that if a story is written according to style standards, that makes it easier for the average person to digest, without any confusion or ambiguity. The last thing a reporter wants is for their story to be ‘lost in translation’. The style guide ensures that journalists are using clear understandable language which will not put off readers. This is is less likely to be a sticking point for pedants, langauge purists or anyone who wants to read a story with a familiar and correct-sounding style.

IDENTITY: These days, ‘branding’ is the big corporate buzzword of choice for boardroom executives. It does not matter whether you sell newspapers or fridges, having a company brand and identity is what will draw customers to you and make you distinguishable from your rivals. News media need to make money, even the BBC and other public service broadcasters, which are usually funded by licence fees, still need to justify their existence via public consumption in order to justify continuous receipt of those licensing revenues. Those news outlets that rely on paying customers and paying advertisers need to continue that custom as as well as attracting new ones. A style guide can not only act as quality control for the news product, but also can be incorporated into the media company’s identity. Many companies who trade on their reputation as solid and respected news brands have found the style guide they edit not only reinforces that perception among customers and peers, it can even take that identity to places where it might not have otherwise penetrated. Not many people outside of the American media industry are familiar with Associated Press, but their style guide, branded with AP’s logo and name has helped the agency build an enviable reputation even among staffers at rival agencies and the newspapers that rely on its newswire and imaging services. The Internet has also really helped AP, The Guardian and others build upon their media prestige. Anyone with a passing interest in grammar, news or journalism can now read their style guides from the comfort of their armchair, and free of charge as well. Making their style guides public for all the world to see rather than pinning a dog-eared copy to the editor’s noticeboard means AP and others can cement their reputations as providers of quality content –  and their finances in the black. Some news outlets with formidable reputations, such as the New York Times, however keep their guides for internal use only, and trade only on their news production and advertising via more traditional tried and tested means.

EASE OF PRODUCTION: Editors are busy people. They have to constantly select stories for the front page and decide in split-second timing where stories have to go. They need to check their reporter’s copy to make sure everything looks perfect and that it fits. Without the presence of a style guide to set the rules, an editor would have to proofread everything twice as much. Dealing with three journalists using six different spellings of the same word would be mentally taxing for even the strongest of editors. If every reporter on the newsdesk is following the same stylistic beat then the editor can be a good enough conductor, rather than some flustered guy in a suit exasperatedly waving his or hands around trying to figure out if Glenmorangie is a  ‘whisky’ or ‘whiskey’.

Polski: Newsroom Gazety Lubuskiej
Polski: Newsroom Gazety Lubuskiej

Some examples of questions that can be solved with a style guide

– Government: singular or plural, capital or lower case G?

– Spelling. Judgement or judgment? Targeting or targetting? Marketer or marketeer?

– Possessives: the Williams’ house or the Williams’s house?

– Figures: ten or 10, five million, 5 million or 5m?

– Case. Minister, minister; managing director, Managing Director, md or MD?

– Accents: cafe or café?

Who has style? – tips on setting up a style guide…and using it.

These are some tips for fledgling news organisations (or those who are rapidly expanding and are hiring new employees) on setting up a style guide and regulations and making sure its use becomes common practice in the newsroom or office.

– Set up ‘style sheets’ in the office. Have hard copy and online versions.

– Give them to all staff (including support staff/interns).

– Also make copies available to freelancers and contractors.

– Insist everyone uses them.

– Add to them as company decisions and linguistic changes are made.

– Revise them regularly. Once or twice a year is fine once the guide is fully established and entrenched.

– Include special spellings and banned words.

Style guide links. 

Talking about style guides is one thing, but to really understanding the biology and usefulness of guides, it is a good idea to see some living, breathing examples for yourself. Here are a list of famous style guides and reference links to get a feel for them.

Guardian and Observer’s Style Guide (online edition)

The Guardian Style Guide (PDF version, July 2004)

Associated Press Stylebook (website/Twitter account inclusive)

BuzzFeed Style Guide

BBC Journalism Academy news style guide (searchable website)

Wikinews style guide

Telegraph style book (online A-Z version)

The Economist Style Guide

Europa Interinstitutional style guide (Publications Office) – for EU media publications.

Channel 4 style guide site

Reuters Handbook of Journalism

Oxford English Dictionary (OED) – for UK English speakers,  a subscription required.

Merriam-Webster dictionary and thesaurus – OED’s counterpart for US English speakers.

These links were curated from Google UK search and are current and correct as of March 2014.

The Half-Eaten Mind also has its own style guide. Our style guide is more concerned with editing and layout than grammar and word usage, but the unofficial policy is that this blog reports using the linguistic norms of British English, with spellings consistent with this dialect. It is not that I think the British version is better than other standards. It is simply practical for a UK-based news blog to use the accepted standard for newswriting on par with its location. This is also the dialect that I was brought up speaking and was educated in.

The HEM Style Guide was produced in its inaugural edition in December 2012. It was published in Stratford, east London – the site of our previous ‘office’-slash-rented room –  and presented as a Microsoft Word document. The guide covers spelling and grammar in news articles and with direct quotes before moving onto language registers, copyright, obscene materials, stylistic procedures, blogpost layout and our likes and comments. As the Half-Eaten Mind is usually a one-man operation, our style guide does not necessarily need to be as comprehensive and even in existence as much as those of the major news providers. Nevertheless I have found it handy. A copy is available on request, although I will need to be revising the first edition in due course as the blog and its host WordPress develop.

SOURCES:
“house style” – The Free Dictionary by Farlex, Farlex, Inc. LINK
“BBC News style guide goes public” – Ian Jolly, BBC Academy, BBC (19 June 2013) LINK
“Guardian and Observer style guide: A” – The Guardian/Guardian News and Media Limited LINK
“The Guardian style guide” – David Marsh & Nicki Marshall (editors), The Guardian/Guardian News and Media Limited (July 2004) LINK
“AP Stylebook” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. LINK
“HOUSE STYLE” – Alan Geere, BAMS Newswriting and Reporting, University of Westminster – class handout/information sheet.
“Style guide” – The Free Dictionary by Farlex, Farlex, Inc. LINK
“STYLE GUIDE” – Vijay Shah, The Half-Eaten Mind (12 December 2012)
IMAGE CREDITS:
“The Associated Press Stylebook 2009 (Associated Press Stylebook & Briefing on Media Law) [Paperback]” – Amazon/Amazon.com, Inc. LINK
“STYLE GUIDES” – Terry Freedman, Flickr (14 August 2013) LINK
“File:Gazeta Lubuska newsroom.jpg” – Paweł Janczaruk, Wikimedia Commons (8 June 2011) LINK
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