Capturing Cardiff: Sport Matters

December 11, 2009 Leave a comment

At Cardiff central youth club on a dreary Saturday morning, a 60 year old man puts himself through his exercises. However, the man isn’t part of a pensioner’s keep-fit programme – he is taking the lesson.

Roy Court leads his disparate group of men, women and children through their paces in the two hours he has with them. A black belt in Judo with over 30 years experience, Roy has been a delegate on three world championships, one European championship and has helped organise many British and Welsh events in his distinguished career.

Despite these achievements, Roy is best known for one thing – special needs judo. He has spent the last 30 years developing the rules and coaching people with learning difficulties to participate in the sport.

He established sitting and kneeling judo, meaning those in wheelchairs or those who could not stand were able to participate and amended the rules for those with learning difficulties. The sport is nearly identical to that of its mainstream counterpart, with only a few moves such as holds, arm locks and neck moves removed for safety purposes.

After setting up the WISP (Welsh Intergrated Sports Plan) judo club in the early 1990s, Roy has seen the sport grow and grow, with schools instigating the initial popularity.

He said: “A lot of disabled schools came to Cardiff looking to participate in the classes and it grew from there.”

He has help set up clubs in the United States, Australia and Brazil and recently returned from New York where he and a few members of the club took part in displays and competitive events.

Roy on about how he developed special needs judo by robgood4

One of the people who went with Roy to New York is 27 year old Craig Edwards. Craig, who lives at home with his mum and dad, has been training with Roy for 12 years.

Such is Craig’s dedication to his sport that he catches the train from Bridgend to Cardiff four days a week to be coached by Roy.

However, Craig, who works as a caretaker for Bridgend County Council, is not trained by Roy just to enjoy himself. He achieved his black belt status in 2008 and won a silver medal in the Welsh Special Needs Judo tournament, held in Sofia Gardens in November, and in July, was on the podium again as he achieved silver at the Special Olympics in Leicester.

From spending just 10 minutes with Craig, who has an intellectual disability, it is clear how he revels being involved with the club at Cardiff and how much love he has for the sport.

He said: “Judo is awesome. I love everything to do with it. When we went to New York we trained children with down’s syndrome and I love teaching other people to do it. I am very proud to represent Wales at tournaments and the Special Olympics and hope to be part of the Great Britain team too.”

The most interesting aspect of the sessions Roy runs is that it caters for everybody. There are the juniors, the able-bodied and those with special needs all being taught as one group. It is this inclusivity and lack of prejudice that is the key to success the WISP club has had over the years.

He said: “The only way I discriminate in class is with the belts those with learning difficulties wear and that is only so if they are fighting away from Wales, it is clear that they have learning difficulties.”

The judokai at Cardiff central youth club is promoted – though not funded – by Disability Sport Wales. The Cardiff area offers more than 40 clubs which people can get involved with. Established in 2000, Disabilty Sport Wales aims to support the development of new community sporting based activities.

Dr Catherine Bright, 47, is a consultant psychiatrist in learning disability psychiatry. She works in the Caerphilly county borough, but on a Saturday she takes herself and her seven year old twins, Emily and William, along to Roy’s sessions.

As someone whose profession is dealing with learning difficulties, Dr Bright is in a good position to judge the impact of Roy’s work and sport in general on those with special needs.

She said: “The main thing I think is that the physicality of Judo combined with the discipline of the sport can have a hugely beneficial effect on a person’s self esteem. Young men with learning difficulties in particular often do not have good life experience, so belonging to a club like this gives them that. The style of teaching is so important and Roy is unique – he treats them all, including myself, exactly the same.”

Away from her professional opinion, Dr Bright also finds the club is beneficial to her children aswell.

She said: “Children do not get much interaction with those with learning difficulties unless they have a member of the family, or if they know someone from school. It’s so important if you believe in a tolerant society that people and children get a positive experience of being with those with learning difficulties.”

Roy, who has just won a special recognition award at the Wales Coach of the Year Awards hopes to oversee yet more success with his athletes participation in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

He said: “Everything in Judo is disciplined and it’s very technical – perhaps that is why it appeals – I am proud of them all.”

Smart Car

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”false” link=”term=news+computers&iid=6068552″ src=”0/d/5/3/The_American_Council_d0a8.JPG?adImageId=9622303&imageId=6068552″ width=”380″ height=”261″ /]
While most of us who have done work experience on our local paper have been sent to report on the big news stories such as the local school who are exceeding expectations or, from my own experience, a well-known food chain competing in a best pizza competiton, I must admit this isn’t what attracted me to journalism in the first place.

As crazy as it may seem, I have an attraction to stories which, for want of a better phrase, I can ‘get my teeth into’. Stories which require patience and thought, stories which take weeks to develop and research – it is these articles that really whet my journalistic appetite.

So then, it was an enjoyable lecture to learn about Computer Assisted Reporting – CAR – and freedom of information requests – FOI’s. By adding these to our skills set we will be able to – financial and editorial restrictions permitting – carry out investigative journalism which can have an impact.

CAR, which is much more established in American journalism than it is in the UK, can allow us to not take numbers and information at face value – a fundamental skill that all journalists should have.

By using programmes like SPSS and Excel, we can draw our on conclusions on Government figures and spending. Providing we ask the programmes the right questions, we can evaluate the figures ourselves.

The key to using systems like this is that we ask the right questions and, like anything we do, give those in question the right to reply. This not only will make a better story, but also give us a safety net, so we can make sure our figures and conclusions are correct.

The freedom of information act will be something we increasingly use in our profession. Used in the correct way, we can get information which otherwise would not be in the public domain and can lead us to make our stories more informative and more in depth. FOI’s and CAR is all about increasing the depth, breadth and quality of our reporting.

That however, is not to say that the figures we have got should be the entire story. It should be there to underpin our reporting – not be the story itself. David Donald, Training Director for Investigative Reporters and Editors, has said there should be no more than three statistics in a story, in order to give it its full impact.

To get the most out of FOI request, we have to ask the right question. There is no point in asking a direct question as the chances are it will be refused. Best practice is to ask for all the data relating to a certain subject, so you would ask for all data relating to restaurant inspections in Cardiff, not what restaurants have received the worse inspections in the Cardiff area.

The work of Stephen Grey in his book Ghost Plane, which exposed the scandal of extraordinary rendition, all came from FOI requests. Heather Brooke, an American journalist now based in the UK, is something of a campaigner of freedom of information in this country. She was locked in a battle with the Government over Parliamentary expenses for two and half years before the Daily Telegraph broke the story.

With the help of CAR and FOI’s, we can create original, insightful journalism – Journalism that matters. It can be a time consuming and laborious process, analysing data and using figures to complement our stories – but the end result will be worth it.

It will be interesting to see, in a time of unprecedented trouble in the media industry, whether newspapers, still allow reporters to indulge their investiagative side. Time and financial pressures obviously play apart, but surely, if we do not have an investigative side, with a desire to question what we are told, then perhaps we should not be in journalism at all?

Arcade Fire – Funeral

November 30, 2009 2 comments

Following on from our recent sporting icon debate, our attention has now turned to music. What is the best album of the horribly christened ‘noughties’?

Forget the boring Strokes and the many other identikit, skinny jeaned indie bands. Forget even the remarkable come back by Take That. The album of the decade is the peerless and without comparison, Arcade Fire’s Funeral.

Released in the UK in early 2005, the album is all at once euphoric, empowering, mournful and joyful. As the title suggests, the album will take you through all the emotions – from the pain of losing a loved one, to the joyful feeling of celebrating someone’s life.

From the haunting piano keys and angular guitars of album opener, Neighborhood1 (tunnels), to the albums biggest single and most joyous 5 minutes, Rebellion (lies), ‘funeral’ takes the listener on an oral odyssey which reaffirmed the idea that indie can actually be quite interesting when it wants to be. Organs, xylophones, synths, accordions and mandolins are all thrown in to create the bands sonic soundscapes. The record sounds massive.

Vocalist Win Butler, with his yearning, heart-felt yelp, sounds as if he is a man on the edge of an emotional precipice. For evidence see the epic, gospel like, life affirming, emotional wreck that is Wake Up, the albums tour de force. An ode to children’s innocence, hear Butler wail as if his life depends on it : “If the children don’t grow up, our bodies get bigger but our heart’s get torn up, Were just a million little gods causin’ rain storms turnin’ ever good thing to dust.”

The album went gold by November 2005 in the UK and the band would receive even more success with the release of their second album ‘Neon Bible’ in 2007, but it is ‘Funeral’ that still remains their most potent work. Have you ever heard a more uplifting song than Rebellion or a song as stripped back, beautiful and lullaby-like as anne sans lumiere?

An indie album which is interesting and dangerous, celebratory and joyous, emotional and mournful, ‘Funeral’ is an album made up of many juxtapositions and contrasts, both musically and lyrically. It is by far and away the best album of the noughties and far more exciting than ‘ New York City Cops’.

Categories: Uncategorized

Arcade Fire – Funeral

November 30, 2009 2 comments

Following on from our recent sporting icon debate, our attention has now turned to music. What is the best album of the horribly christened ‘noughties’?

Forget the boring Strokes and many other identikit, skinny jeaned indie bands. Forget even the remarkable come back by Take That. The album of the decade is the peerless and without comparison, Arcade Fire’s Funeral.

Released in the UK in early 2005, the album is all at once euphoric, empowering, mournful and joyful. As the title suggests, the album will take you through all the emotions – from the pain of losing a loved one, to the joyful feeling of celebrating someone’s life.

From the haunting piano keys and angular guitars of album opener, Neighborhood1 (tunnels), to the albums biggest single and most joyous 5 minutes, Rebellion (lies), ‘funeral’ takes the listener on an oral odyssey which reaffirmed the idea that indie can actually be quite interesting when it wants to be. Organs, xylophones, synths, accordions and mandolins are all thrown in to create the bands sonic soundscapes. The record sounds massive.

Vocalist Win Butler, with his yearning, heart-felt yelp, sounds as if he is a man on the edge of an emotional precipice. For evidence see the epic, gospel like, life affirming, emotional wreck that is Wake Up, the albums tour de force. An ode to children’s innocence, hear Butler wail as if his life depends on it : “If the children don’t grow up, our bodies get bigger but our heart’s get torn up, Were just a million little gods causin’ rain storms turnin’ ever good thing to dust.”

The album went gold by November 2005 in the UK and the band would receive even more success with the release of their second album ‘Neon Bible’ in 2007, but it is ‘Funeral’ that still remains their most potent work. Have you ever heard a more uplifting song than Rebellion or a song as stripped back, beautiful and lullaby-like as anne sans lumiere?

An indie album which is interesting and dangerous, celebratory and joyous, emotional and mournful, ‘Funeral’ is an album made up of many juxtapositions and contrasts, both musically and lyrically. It is by far and away the best album of the noughties and far more exciting than ‘ New York City Cops’.

Arsenal 0 Chelsea 3

November 30, 2009 1 comment

So that’s it for another year. Arsenal’s title challenge is over before December, after a comprehensive mauling at the hands of the all-powerful Chelsea.

Where do they go from here? Before the game, Wenger was clear that it was time for the team to deliver. A young team, they are no more. And, in the absence of Robin Van Persie, they failed to deliver in every way.

After the defeats in the FA cup semi final and the 1-4 home defeat in May, this was a chance to lay a marker, to show that the team were good enough to compete over an entire league season, to be competitive up till the end of April. They were founding wanting in every department.

Eduardo’s inability to take a good first touch was only bettered by Andrei Arshavin’s ability to look disinterested and lazy. It was a typical Arsenal performance – plenty of possession in midfield, plenty of nice little touches, but all counting for nothing as they were undone by two, near identical goals.

Why cant the Arsenal defence deal with Drogba? Senderos wasn’t even playing yesterday and the man from Ivory Coast still bullied them.

Why was Alex Song, the only Arsenal player who provided a bit of ‘muscle’ in the centre of the park taken off at half time?

Why does Theo Walcott think the best way to beat a man is too run straight at them, with his head down? Then there is unique ability to delay the final ball untill the last possible moment, so the opportunity goes begging. Admittedly, he provided a spark for 10 minutes, and was at least successful in pining back a marauding Ashley Cole.

Arsenal are the footballing equivalent of the prettiest girl in school – nice to look at but no substance and lacking in the brain area.

Where do they go from here? A Carling cup tie on Wednesday against Man City and a difficult third round tie against West ham in the FA Cup, means the season may well be all ready over. For Wednesday, I would play the strongest team possible – it’ll give them a chance to redeem themselves.

Where does Wenger’s dream of building a team with kids go now? Has the experiment failed? It’s clear they cannot compete with the best. Chelsea were barley out of second gear – they swatted us away like the annoying teenagers we are.

Nevermind – next year they will be another year older – there’s always next year.

Rob Andrew

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

How can we make money from the news? How can we make money from digital media? These difficult questions, were attempted to be answered by former Cardiff student, Rob Andrew.

UK editor for http://paidcontent.org/,a website formed in 2002 by New York based journalist, Rafat Ali, Rob explored some of the business models that media organisations might attempt to use in order to make profit from putting their content online.

After outlining the impact of the recession on advertising revenue in newspapers and TV- Northcliffe lost 2/3 rds of its profit in the last year alone – Rob addressed the most pressing issue regarding business models at the moment – that of pay walls.

It was quite appropriate that the week we had Rob come and talk to us, it was announced Johnson Press were to put pay walls up around six of their regional newspapers. While pay walls have been with us for some time now, the ones that have been successful have concentrated on providing unique, niche information. Newspapers such as The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal, and business to business magazines (such as the ones which Adam Tinworth spoke to us about) provide information which is not readily available, and as consequence, people will pay for it.

This, however doesn’t mean that people will pay for general ‘consumer’ news and certainly not for local regional news. ‘Media abundance’ Rob termed it, means that if people can find their general, non specialised news, for free, and online, then they will not bother paying for it. People have become use to free online news and as a result, what faces people like Rupert Murdoch and his ilk, is the not insignificant problem of getting the ‘genie back into the bottle.’

The worrying aspect from the media’s point of you, is that the general public do not seem willing to pay for their news online. Research company Harris Interactive found that 74 per cent of people would find another free website for their news if one was thrown behind a pay wall. Only 5 per cent said they would pay.

A subscription service may well be a business model which may become the standard. 48 per cent of people questioned said they were willing to pay if it meant they had free access to a paper copy, or access to the internet site. However, even this seems to be problematic with the money being talked about no where it needs to be to make up fo the whole in the companies’ finances. 72 percent of people said they would pay less than £10 a year for a year subscription, and only 20 per cent said they would pay between £10 and £20. A year subscription to The Guardian costs over £300. This disparity in figures shows just how much people are not willing to contribute significantly to pay for their news and journalism.

Rob also touched upon some alternative business models as well. Something like My Times which was set up earlier this year, and gives access to concert tickets for a subscription fee, can be seen an example of News International trying to cultivate a community feel as well reinforcing the Times brand. The article on paid content.org about what news organisations can learn from World of Warcraft was a bit silly, but the idea that people will pay for community and interaction is something which may well be looked at as papers try to make profit from ‘free’ news.

And that is the crux of the issue, ‘news’ isn’t and never has been free. You need journalists to find and report the stories, to give context to the situation. All this costs and these business models are what the industry are grappling with at the moment.

The answer? As Rob said, and was reinforced by ex guardian editor and thoroughly interesting chap, Peter Preston the following day – no one knows. No one has any idea what business model will be successful or whether even papers will exist in 20 years time – but there will still be news and there will still be journalists to report it. This unknown, while daunting, will also be very exciting, and is something as trainees, we have to embrace.

http://paidcontent.org/

Categories: Uncategorized

Greatest Sportsman Poll

November 26, 2009 Leave a comment

After discussions about who is the greatest sportsman of the noughties, here is a poll for you to decide who is the best.

Categories: Uncategorized