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Posts tagged ‘print’

Taking stock and snapping smiles

Photo credit: Richard Bolam Digital Media http://richardbolam.com/

Even though I’ve built my career on writing, thirteen years on from my first paid work as a journalist I remain fascinated by the process of getting the words which start somewhere in your head down onto paper (or, more often than not these days, laptop screen).

At the risk of sounding as though I have a mild, somewhat geeky super-power, I can usually hear the text spoken somewhere in my grey matter before the words work down to my fingers. So I put this question to the other wordsmiths out there (just because I’m interested to know): How do you work your magic? Do the fingers start moving before you know how you’re going to finish the sentence? All comments most welcome!

I’m taking stock of this text-based creative process because, as from next week, I’ve been knocking out these weekly blog posts for your enlightment and entertainment for five uninterrupted months.

In the grand expanse of the bloggarati world, this represents a mere click of a mouse. In my world though, steeped in the grand old tradition of print media, this small personal challenge has loomed pretty large. You could say, dear reader, it’s been a case of no pain, no gain.

I’m glad I’ve stuck with blogging – without a doubt it’s paid off and breathed new life into my professional world. And as someone who’s worked solo for a long time, it’s been a fantastic boost to receive supportive feedback from contacts old and new, so thank you – and please keep them coming!

A great blog needs an authentic voice. For some who are further immersed in the techy/online world than myself, this translates to simply posting a series of links they found interesting/useful. The voice for stellamedia speaks is still organically forming but from the outset I’ve treated my postings in the same way a newspaper columnist gets their day job done. The constant question has been: ‘What do I write about this week?’

So that’s why I got to pondering the process of what happens to me when I’m faced with a blank screen every week. There I sit, fingers poised over keyboard, waiting for my super-power to kick in. Sometimes this happens fast, sometimes the ‘voice’ comes through as faint whisper.

This week I had a screamer. ‘Why not tell everyone about your Facebook group about smiley faces?’ So I’m telling you about it. It’s called ‘The first time I ever saw your face’ and was sparked by the rather odd but harmless habit I started forming of taking photos of ‘faces’ everywhere I went. Suddenly I found myself capturing visages in buildings, trees, gadgets, food…and so the list went on.

I soon discovered I wasn’t the only snapper who did this. Once I created the group and started posting my (mostly) smiley snaps, others soon followed suit. Today I’m proud to say there’s 115 members from many corners of the globe. If you fancy joining, please feel free: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=49347870969&ref=ts

Keep on smiling!

Surviving the advertising jungle is simples!

There’s no physical obstacles to stop us all giving TV adverts the big brush off. Maybe you’re the kind of person who opts for the classic ‘I’ll just nip off to make some tea,’ trick. Or do you reach for your remote with Olympic-speed, flicking channel after channel until those jaunty singing bankers or odd felt people are no more(well at least for the next fifteen minutes)?

And now, there’s another anti-armchair selling weapon. On-demand TV has arrived in a bright HD-ready dawn, to save us all from the good, bad and downright ugly little slices of screen sell that we can readily skip…

Well, guess what? When it comes to the new darling of the advertising world, it seems the Great British public don’t want to run a mile. On the contrary, they can’t get enough of one particular meerkat with an exotic accent.

Everyone knows advertising revenue – except online which seems to bucking the trend – has been struggling long before the latest drop. So I was as surprised as the next animal-loving media-savvy commentator to read how Aleksander Orlov – the furry public face of price comparison website, comparethemarket.com – has thrown an almighty curve ball into the ring and shaken up the marketing world by becoming a money-spinning sensation.

Someone somewhere hit on a magic formula but few seem to fully understand how the wizards who crafted this ad have worked such wonders. Buying into the brand is one thing, but Orlov’s appeal has extended far beyond the company he’s representing. I’m all for sharing interests on social networking sites but really don’t twig why hundreds of thousands of people are avidly following Orlov on Facebook and Twitter!

Maybe this is another flash in the pan(remember Flat Eric?) but guesstimating your business model is proving to be popular. In these uncertain times, I can think of at least three micro-economies off the top of my head who continually seem to be obsessing over what’s going to be the ‘next big thing’ – the motor industry(more rumblings over the electric car this week), the press/media(will future consumers pay for either print or online content?) and book publishing(latest projections about the e-reading market seem upbeat).

One thing’s for sure, if advertising’s a jungle, right now it’s the meerkat who’s got the lion’s share of the market.

Read all about the Orlov effect: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jan/16/aleksander-orlov-price-comparison-ads

Here’s a couple of other topical items which interested me over the last seven days.

Sheffield’s female steel army of WW2 are finally officially honoured:
http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/article6985651.ece

Debate surrounding the white working class:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/womanshour/01/2010_02_fri.shtml

Have a great channel-hopping week!

Small ripples are the new(s)-splash

There was a radical shift in the course of the history of the British newspapers last Friday. But when I heard about London’s Evening Standard morphing into a free newspaper, there seemed to be little in the way of big fanfares or ‘where were you when…’ sentimental posturings running through the majority of reports and commentary.

Instead, the tone was practical and forward-thinking. The old tried-and-tested newspaper model, which relied on people buying news in hard copy format, was on its last ink-smudged legs. Your crystal ball is as accurate as mine, but I still believe there will be survivors once this cull has run its course, especially amongst local papers who tap into the essentially-human instinct to feel part of a community.

Despite this possible kiss of life, who wouldn’t argue the death of the printed news has been hastened by a new breed of free commuter-friendly papers? But it’s our ever-increasing love affair with the internet which threatens to consign the once mighty bastions of Fleet Street to history.

It’s a prospect I feel torn over. As a devourer of hard copy national and local broadsheets and tabloids, part of me can’t imagine a world without them. Then again, I have to confess I’m as smitten with clicking and sharing news online, as the rest of the country – make that the world – seem to be. Confession: Where did I first get wind of the Evening Standard story? Via an online news alert message, of course. The news is dead, long live the news.com!

Citizen journalism and the rise of blogging has created a world where everyone’s free to make their individual unique ripples vibrate through the great rising wave of online communication. This print-eroding tide is anything but virtual – it’s become ingrained in the beating hearts and real Wi-Fi habits of the nation.

In this ever-changing multi-media world, a good splash will always be a good splash…even if you can’t read all about it in the bath.

Where does that leave me? Well, I’m swimming with the tide. My own ripples began with the creation of this blog. And now, after cataloging a wide range of articles I’ve written over the last 12 years, for a variety of magazines and newspapers, I’m now focusing on posting them online.

Check out the first examples by clicking on the link Published Work. More to follow in future posts.