Tag Archives: News

Breaking news

One of the biggest parts of my job is making sure the news bulletin sounds up to date making sure our listeners know about the important things happening right now.

Sometimes the details of a story can change really quickly, like election results or resignations, and this can mean keeping the bulletin up to date is more of a struggle. And to be honest quite exciting as well.

Recently a suspicious package was left outside Lincoln City Hall and the bomb squad had to be brought in as a precaution. We knew through police updates that it was unlikely to be a bomb but it was causing some problems in the city centre. There were traffic problems and people had been evacuated from their homes and offices.

I felt it was important that the scripts weren’t sensationalising what was happening, because we knew most a lot of the police work was precautionary. Instead I wanted to reflect on the disruption, so I sent a reporter to talk to people and send back a voicer describing the scene.

However, just as I started to read my bulletin we heard from the police that traffic restrictions were about to be lifted and the bomb disposal squad were leaving the scene. As I was in the studio I was oblivious to this update so my head of programming started to write an update for me to read.

He walked into my studio with a piece of paper with a couple of lines describing the latest situation which I read completely blind live. I’ve uploaded my bulletin with a big chunk of it that’s not relevant edited out. But you can hear my boss walking in over our creaky floorboards and hand me this piece of paper. It was all quite exciting and a bit unbelievable but hopefully to the listener sounded normal and meant they were being kept up to date.

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The Mariners: Back where we belong

Football definitely becomes more exciting when you’re following teams that are performing well. So it was fantastic to cover Grimsby Town’s promotion which saw them get back into league football in 2016.

As part of the news bulletins for Lincs FM and Compass FM we followed the Mariners story – which ended with a trip to Wembley. It was also fantastic to follow the area’s celebrations which included an open top bus journey and a civic reception at the Town Hall.

As we had so many interviews and talked to so many local people about what had happened I wanted to use these to make a documentary. I also found archive audio from when Grimsby Town were relegated back in 2010.

This helped to tell the story and really capture the sheer delight and also the total disappointment that comes with following a football team. It was also a fun opportunity to work on something longer and be more creative.

This documentary The Mariners: Back where we belong went out on Compass FM just before the new football season kicked off in August 2016.

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Learning to talk again

Some stories it’s clear what the news story is and how you want to tell it to others, sometimes you have to spend a little longer thinking about it.

The other week I was sent to a music workshop for people who’ve had strokes, it’s a new approach helping people in Lincolnshire learn how to speak again. I was introduced to the Sound Lincs group in Navenby while they were still happily singing pop songs. While one of the staff told me about some of the stories behind the people there. I came to realise that all the families had been through a lot.

One of the problems was that people were incredibly keen to share their stories but as they struggled with their speech it was hard for me to include them in my radio package. In fact I spent about an hour talking to all the people in the group and knew I was going to have to cherry pick all the best bits to get the greatest impact.

In a brief amount of time I found out how people coped with learning to speak again, from the sad moments to the everyday moments. For some it meant bringing music into their lives for the first time, and for others it was a good way to bring back something normal back into their lives that they loved before having a stroke.

I also wanted to make sure that someone explained just how people could sing 80s ballads word perfect while still stuggling to talk. It’s all quite complex, but put simply it seems another part of the brain is responsible for singing and another part is used for speech.

It was quite daunting to think that this encounter needed to be summed up to a listener in around about a minute long package. Also people had trusted me with their stories and I wanted to be able to tell them authentically. On top of that I didn’t want it to be gloomy, it is of course a serious subject but the people I’d met where optimistic.

To help make the piece more upbeat I used recordings of the group singing. I always knew I wanted to end with them singing The Proclaimers, as it’s the group’s favourite. I also used the singing as a chance to introduce some of the serious things the group members were explaining about having a stroke. Hopefully this made it both an interesting start to the package but also allowed the listener to reflect on some of the serious aspects of it too.

Basically it was a great opportunity where others were eager to tell me about what they’d been through, and I saw it as a chance to best tell even more people about this remarkable group.

Here’s the package that went out in the Lincs FM news bulletins.

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Princess Anne in Lincoln

It’s a big year for Lincoln as the city celebrates 800 years of the Magna Carta. It’s important for the area as the Cathedral has one of four remaining copies of the historical document. Until recently it was just displayed in part of the castle but a decision was made to invest in these beautiful parts of Lincoln and so started 10 years of work.

There’s now a dedicated vault in the castle grounds for the Magna Carta which opened earlier this year. Then to mark the occaision it was officially opened a few months later by Princess Anne.


As well as being a chance to show the best of Lincolnshire to royalty it was also a chance for lots of people to come together and celebrate the area.

We covered the event throughout the day on our news bulletins on Lincs FM. We started off by having some copy in our bulletins but once I was in the castle grounds recorded a voicer on my smartphone which I sent back to the office. This was then used in the bulletins to help give listeners an idea of how the event was building up.

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I only had about an hour to interview lots of people before the Princess arrived in the grounds and security protocols kicked in. I used this time to vox plenty of people who were at the event to find out the local reaction.

I then spoke to lots of people who had been involved in the project as well as local dignatries. All of these were sent back so the team had lots of different interviews to use and reflect how the event was moving on. I was also making sure to record lots of sounds, clapping and speeches so I had lots of bits of audio to play with to make a package.

Then I had a chance to just enjoy the event and the excitement of Princess Anne arriving. At this point I made sure to take plenty of photos and also tweet the news on the station’s Twitter account.

Then as they were enjoying their tour of the castle I went back to the office to assemble my package. I looked up what the team had already used of my audio. I then built a simple story that I wanted to tell in my package, only using the best bits of my interviews and recordings.

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It was really interesting to cover this event, not only was it an important day for Lincoln it was also a chance to be creative. More importantly it was good to work with the rest of the team, providing them with good quality interviews to help them out with news bulletins whilst out reporting. It was also great to think of the story beyond just what was going out on the station and remember the importance of social media too.

VE Day anniversary bulletin on Lincs FM

In amongst the news of the results of the 2015 General Election the country paid their respects to the end of World War Two.

A two minute silence was held across the nation at 3 o’clock. We observed this across Lincs FM, Compass FM and Rutland Radio as part of our news bulletin.

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Writing for online

Earlier this year I presented a lecture about ‘Writing for online’ at the University of Lincoln. This is the next step on from ‘Tips for blogging and tweeting’ and looks more specifically at how websites for newspapers and magazines work.

Design is important to consider for newspaper and magazine layout, and the same applies to their websites. It’s a useful tool to attract readers, demonstrate that you are a trustworthy source of information and get people picking up your publication or visiting your title again.


Print publications have a front page whereas online you have a homepage. They both act as a welcome page to your publication and should encourage people to read on as well as demonstrating the main points of your brand. All that means is when people look at it they should understand who you are writing for and what you are writing about.


Online homepages used to be the first page people would visit, but more readers are now coming in through the side door. This means more people are discovering articles through Google searches or social media. As a result every page now has to act as a homepage to attract readers and keep them interested.

Homepages are also important for advertising as it gives them something polished to show what your title is about, even if the rest of the website isn’t as organised. One good example of this is The Huffington Post. They use a tactic called ‘the mullet strategy‘ which means they are an established name because they cover serious stories but most people visit them for their lighter, viral stories. It’s called ‘the mullet strategy’ because they are “business upfront, party in the back”.

What makes a good website?

A good website needs to be easy to read and use. This means you need to figure out what you want to showcase to readers and what you think is important for them to see. Then consider the best way to show that to them. Also consider ways to share content as that can help get your articles and website read by more people.

It also helps to understand the technical side of running a website. If your website is appearing broken then you will know how to fix it rather than wait for someone else to fix it and lose visitors. It also means you can be prepared, as your intention is to get more people looking at your website then you will know how you to cope when there is a large amount of traffic visiting your site.

A site for sore eyes

It is hard to keep people’s attention online as there is so much to compete with. There will be some people who will read articles properly from beginning to end and others who will just scan read pieces. So think of ways to make your site appeal to a variety of people with some simple design and journalism skills.

The easiest way is to make sure your content is interesting is to write good articles. Write well, get good interviews and make sure you tell it in the best way.

There are a few other tips as well including using sub headings breaks up long articles into simple chunks. It will also allow people to scan your article and find the bit that they want to read. Think about using pictures, video, audio and depending on your audience maybe gifs or structure the story as a list.

However, don’t feel pressured to use them all at once think which skills help to tell your story best and concentrate on them. Just because people have clicked on your story doesn’t mean they will watch a video too, unless you give them a reason.

There’s also plenty of room for experimentation online. Snowfall by the New York Times was one of the first interactive features which told the story of a US avalanche with lots of different visuals, videos and text and all the reader had to do was scroll down the website. The piece won a a Pullitzer prize but some see the New York Times’ work as a bit over the top so it depends what you are wanting to tell people.

There’s also the option to be quite simple online, as demonstrated by Trinity Mirror’s UsVsTh3m. It’s an interesting site and idea anyway but they wanted to focus on visual rather than articles. So when the Mars Rover accidentally drew a penis shape on the planet UsVsTh3m could just post a picture when other news sources were writing 200 words about the event and padding it out with irrelevant details.

Mobile websites

mobile websites and apps

A mobile website is a scaled down version of the normal website that works best on a smartphone. These type of sites are very important as a number of readers are getting their news first. In fact in the UK one in five read the news only on their mobile according to a survey from September 2013.

Some sites could have a mobile app as well, but they need to be different from the mobile site. Generally people would already be loyal readers of the website and decide to download the app as well. They include features you don’t get on the mobile website for example the BBC News app sends out alerts for breaking news and the Guardian app allows you to customise which categories you would prefer to read.


SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and it helps more people to find your website. There are a lot of SEO techniques that are a lot of hard work and not particularly worth it. However, there are a few tips that you should pay attention to when writing online and will get you noticed:

  • Tagging
  • Strong headlines
  • Useful links
  • Good stories
  • Regularly update your site

News is different nowadays

You need to be able to write your story in a variety of ways. There’s the article but also consider tweets and Facebook updates. When it comes to social media you need to be able to tell your whole story in about a sentence. And how would you approach a video or just an audio interview? If you are going to do them think about how you would do them well.

There’s also more sources of information to compete with — social media accounts and communities, blogs, hyperlocal websites, radio stations and TV channels. They will all have a different approach but they will have a competing online profile.

This is a summary of the full lecture, if you would like to find out more all the slides are below.

Behind the Headlines

Last Friday I was a guest on Peter Smith’s Behind the Headlines on Siren FM. His show looks at what’s in the papers as well as looking at the ways the papers cover the news.

On the show we discussed the latest in the Edward Snowden story, the missing Doctor Who episodes and possible changes to driving licences for those aged under 18-years-old.

It was fantastic to talk about news on the radio and analyse the stories, as well as accidentally teaching the host and the other guests the phrase ‘tramp stamp’. Honestly it was relevant, as you will find out if you listen to the Behind the Headlines podcast.