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Why I love my media degree

It’s a funny little word ‘media’. A simple term that is usually thrown around without a second thought, but as an undergraduate of media and communications I have learnt a key message, that it’s inevitable and undeniable complexity cannot be ignored by any one of us.

Each and every consumer across the world experiences the ‘media’ in a unique way and makes it their very own, and that is why I am in complete and unequivocal love with it.

Traditional forms of media, television, radio and newspaper (the big players of the olden days) didn’t have much competition as the platforms were limited. Everybody used to watch those few channels, listen to those few stations and read those few sheets. That was all they had… no breadth or depth of wonderful technology.

Now have a think about what you have at your fingertips. Every morning from waking up until bedtime…What apps do you check? Who do you speak to and how? Do you listen? Watch? Share, like or play? How do you record your life?

Everybody, everything and every taste has a producer to cater for it. For every gap in the market there is someone working on it, it’s this exciting fact that creates the desire to be that person figuring it out and creating the next big thing.

I have realised my previous obliviousness, my juvenile understanding and lack of consciousness about pretty much everything going on around me which generally involves the some form of the media. Studying this degree has opened up  my understanding of the past, present and future of the media, and within that the future of communications, something that us humans must all do to survive.

Two years in and it is now second nature for me to question it all. Why is Coca Cola putting names on bottles? How does Justin Bieber deal with bad press (let’s face it there’s a lot of it….)? How is skin perfected on that picture? How are the people behind each company, however small, building  Each media student has a completely different experience and asks completely different questions. I’m making my degree mine, moulding my own end result that nobody else will have.

The beauty is the choice and freedom. Learn and try photography, music industries, events or journalism and find your passion. The sheer volume of things you can experiment with will give you the drive to show the world what you can create, write and achieve. You will speak in front of people and sell yourself and your work.

Theory isn’t ‘war and peace’…it’s around my interests and the things I want to research. I can delve in to the representation of celebrity in David LaChappelle’s work or compare two public relations campaigns and their messages.

Adaptation and evolution are two words I associate with my media degree, not a mickey mouse subject or an easy ride, technical and practical industry focused development is what we learn, its hardly easy! As well as embracing the constant change and keeping up with the fastest paced sector of our age.

I get to meet the people that have succeeded before me and be one of the people behind the next phase of the biggest creative sector of our century. I’m using my weird creativity to fuel the next generation because it’s not just about becoming employable and spending £8,500 each year on a piece of paper. You learn to love what you do and put your signature into your work.

Not only that but being in the second city, known for its industrial and technical development and with an increasingly up and coming future is more than a little bit exciting.

Innovation. You could wait for it or you could be a part of it. 

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Into the Future 2014

On Friday 9th May, Birmingham City University’s second year media students conducted their Into the Future event.

On the same day as the Birmingham Made Me Job Fair, over 200 students (including myself) presented themselves and their media skills to the public and professionals at Millennium Point. The media careers and networking event also included talks from industry professionals who discussed the future of the media landscape. 

After taking a selfie of herself with all of the students, Beverley Nielsen, Director of employer engagement at Birmingham City University and the lady behind Idea Birmingham and Birmingham Made Me, opened the event by talking about the history of the city, its industrial roots and the concepts behind the first ever Birmingham Made Me Jobs Fair.

Her speech focused upon encouraging the knowledge of Birmingham and its business assets and helping to find ways that people in Birmingham can showcase the different sectors across the city.

Beverley then excitingly introduced the first of four guest speakers, Phil Riley from Orion Media. Orion Media are the company behind Gem Radio and Free Radio across the midlands.

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Phil Riley – Orion Media

Phil talked about three things, the things that he believes to be of huge importance, the wider issues facing radio and the future of radio:

1. Platforms

2. Regulations

3. Talent and content

“The need to be a multi media professional is there, you can’t just sit behind a mic now, you’ve got to do more than just be a presenter”

The main message that I took from Phil’s speech was that the rate of change in the industry is very high, that adaptation is vital to the success of the media.

The next guest speaker was Selena Brown from Little Miss Creative. As a former media (BA and MA) student at Birmingham City University, Selina spoke on a level that all people in the audience would understand and presenter the highlights of her wonderful journey to where she is today, Founder and CEO of Little Miss Creative, a company that  provides creative workshops and events to young women in Birmingham. 

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Selina Brown – LMC

Selina was inspiring, full of energy and really captured the minds of the people in the room – creativity and being yourself being at the heart of her messages.

“Aim for excellence”

Throughout the day there were slots for students to showcase themselves through the presentation of their individually designed portfolio poster. This gave them a chance to talk to people about their theoretical ideas for their third year dissertation, and also to discuss their skills and work experience.

Sophie Drake and professional portfolio

Sophie Drake – Professional portfolio poster

Download my poster here: My professional portfolio poster

Another feature of the event saw 9 student speakers, including myself, and we were all tasked with discussing ourselves and our personal development, as well as touching upon topics. My topics were social media, consultancy and public relations.

Speaking at the event

Myself and fellow speakers Emily Brammeier and Jodie Neville

Download my presentation for my speech here: Sophie Drake presentation for speaking

Guest speakers for the afternoon included: Jason MacKenzie from We Are Liquid, Richard Battye from River Studio, and Annette Naudin and Caroline Thorley from Birmingham City University.

Jason MacKenzie, from public relations company We Are Liquid, outlined the confusion surrounding the definition of public relations and tried to make some sense of it.

Jason MacKenzie, We Are Liquid

Jason MacKenzie, We Are Liquid

“PR professionals, we want to be respected professionally” – Jason believes that as public relations professionals, we are insecure about our field and this is one of the main problems facing the industry.

He captured the audience, even those who are not focused on public relations, with his enthusiasm and interesting insights on the public relations field.

His main prediction and suggestion for the future of the field would be the increased leading from the industry bodies, giving them more of an influence on the practices and the changes set to happen.

Richard Battye, the photographer behind River Studio, “shoots people for a living”. His presentation highlighted some key developments in the industry of photography and as he has been a photographer for 24 years he has been there throughout each one of them and emerged out of the other side.

“If I could hear myself talking about photography now, my old self would have no idea what I was talking about, it’s another language”

- Move from dark room/film to digital

- Improvements in post processing software

- Freelance photographers – demands on certain equipment and restraints on the practice that can be a huge task during shoots.

Annette Naudin talked about the Future of Media Entrepreneurship, developments in the approaches to the media industry and opportunities available to students to do so. Followed by Caroline Thorley, who discussed the Job Prospects and Careers Events that occur at Birmingham City University for students to get involved in.

Into the Future closed with a final slot for the remaining students to showcase their poster presentations.

 

The event was a great success, a thriving environment at which all of the students had the opportunity to present themselves in a professional way. If the skills and professionalism is anything to go by, the future of the media world looks hugely promising, and I cannot wait to be a part of it.

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I’ve been published! Hoorah!

Last month I worked on a piece of work for the website Contributoria. This is a site, set up and currently funded by The Guardian, for journalists to pitch an idea to their peers. If the story they are proposing to write is popular with people then they will back it and the work is commissioned.

Once you pitch an article plan (this will include vague details of your investigation, your fee, the article length etc), you have to gain a certain amount of points – which other users can award to you if they like your idea – and if you reach your allocated points target then you are fully ‘backed’ and can now write your article for the next issue.

Last month I proposed an article which will follow a case study of a young pregnant lady who was struggling to cope with pressure from her local council to pay the bedroom tax.

I won’t give away too much on here…but the article was fully backed and so I got to carry out the investigation and complete the story for the May 2014 Contributoria issue!

This also means that I will receive payment for the article at the end of the month, and there is nothing wrong with more P’s in the bank.

But it was great to know that the work I was proposing was backed by professional journalists, and that these people also helped support the drafting process of the article as it came along made a huge difference.

The article can be found here.

Professional media practice

This week I had to create a professional poster to ‘sell myself’ to the outside media world. The poster has to be focused on my theoretical approaches to the industry and show relations between theory and practical work I have carried out.

Specifically I have included the topics and research methods I have used for analysis on photography and public relations so far. These relate to and will support my dissertation.

 

View my poster

 

Ben Cooper for BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra – In pure awe

Yesterday I attended the annual ReThinkMedia conference held by Birmingham City University in the shiny new Parkside Building. I was lucky enough to watch the speech by Ben Cooper, the controller for the Radio 1 and 1Xtra and if I’m honest I had goosebumps for the whole time that he was stood up.

Although I’m not involved with radio production, and do not know the slightest thing about radio at all, I don’t think I could have enjoyed the talk any more than I did. Ben spoke about the station with such passion and used some incredible facts of life that really made the audience consider and question their media consumption.

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Day to day media consumption explained by Ben Cooper

Every day we get up and the cycle begins there:

1.check phone in bed

2.watch tv/laptop whilst getting ready or eating breakfast

3.check phone on travels to uni/work/plans for the day

4.sit using laptop or screen at work

5.check phone leaving work and travelling home

6.watch tv/laptop eating dinner and getting ready for bed

7.check phone just before you turn out the light

It scares me to know how predictable and programmed that we, as media consumers have become when living our day to day lives. We are married to our phones and we sometimes interact more by using devices than we do by F2F (face to face, for those who don’t understand a non-technology related abbreviation) communication.

Post to be continued….

 

Preview: Housing benefit in Budget 2014

The housing buzz before the Budget 2014

The Budget for 2014 will be announced on Wednesday 19th March. Councillor Osbourne will be picking up his red briefcase tomorrow and producing plans for the Government’s funding for 2014 to the nation, and the world.

Britain is now in a so called ‘housing crisis’. The bedroom tax, reductions in discretionary housing payments, shortages of affordable and available housing and the governments plans to improve the system have all put a large strain on the housing industry.

Dissertation for the nation

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Ok, so next week is the deadline for the dissertation proposal. Scary stuff.

As you can see from the picture I’m not too enthralled about the whole thing. Not because I don’t want to do a dissertation, its all just a little overwhelming to be thinking of these ideas half way through second year. I get the fact that preparation is key here and it will help to make life a lot easier in my third year, but now the D word has been mentioned it feels as if university is beginning to slip through my fingers.

Obviously it’s not, because we still have over a year left. It is challenging trying to narrow your ideas to one topic, but also not to get too caught up in thinking that its definitive once you have picked it.

My mind wanders so easily from idea to idea, so I know there is going to be some wiggle room before the actual dissertation is written.

Lets see how it goes.