Christian campaign group calls for change

Campaign group, Christian Concern, is calling for change against the level of secrecy that exists surrounding family courts.
Chief executive of the organisation, Andrea Williams, says: “We are seeing a worrying trend whereby Christian parents are being treated with suspicion because of their faith.” 
A Christian couple have had their adopted children taken into care after staying with them for over three years in summer 2014. It is suggested that the couple provided a loving and safe environment for the two young brothers, who had come from a traumatic past. 
In a psychologist report it has been said that: “The judge has ruled that our parenting isn’t appropriate.” The couple were unaware that the investigation was taking place and believe that the accusations made against them are completely blown out of proportion or otherwise simply not true. 
The two Christian parents allege that they were instantly treated with suspicion and social services were not interested in their side of the story. Chief executive of the campaign group continues: “These parents who adopted two boys were treated as if they were not the ‘real’ parents. Their views on disciplining the children and taking them to church were wholly disrespected.”
Both parents claim that two boys have already been through a troubled background and now this has put them both into a state of “high anxiety”. Christian Concern feel strongly about raising awareness on child and family courts and for them to have more of an equal chance to justice.
This is due to increasing amount of cases that are being brought in to Christian Concern, whereby adoptive parents are having their children taken away from them. 
They have found that more and more cases are being covered up. Child and family court cases are being purposely and ‘secretly’ hidden so Christian Concern is treating this with urgency and hope for this to be reviewed and put to a stop.

Publishers Association win High Court Support in battle against copyright

The High Court has granted leading representative voice for books, The Publishers Associations, application for a blocking order under the main internet providers in the UK. 

Within 10 working days they are expected to block customer access to sites containing infringing content, as the Publishers Association has issued almost one million take down requests.

Rights owners have asked Google to remove such websites that contain copyright protected content on these sites as no money is being given to the publisher or author(s) of the works.

This action is being supported by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), who have undergone similar situations with infringed music, film and TV programmes.

Chief executive of Publishers Association, Richard Mollet, says: “A third of publisher revenues now come from digital sales but unfortunately this rise in the digital market has brought with it a growth in on-line infringement.  Our members need to be able to protect their authors’ works from such illegal activity; writers need to be paid and publishers need to be able to continue to innovate and invest in new talent and material.”

The Publisher’s Association is “very pleased” that the High Court has granted the order and recognise the ongoing copyright issue that exists on-line.

They have a Copyright Infringement Portal, which enables members to issue take down notices and they also monitor published works from piracy overseas.

Amsterdam for my 22nd Birthday

What isn’t there to say about the capital of Hollands? The Netherlands, as I learned, is called that as the entire land is sea level and below, which is very fascinating. If I’m perfectly honest, when I first arrived in Amsterdam I was a bit culture shocked. I mean, almost everything is different. Literally. There are bikes absolutely everywhere swarming the city into an appearance of mayhem, and in a peculiar way it’s actually exciting. However at first impressions it would be normal for someone to be anxious as I felt due to fear of the unknown, but all of those emotions soon changed.

Coming out of the airport we had to embark on a ‘one of a kind’ train journey on a double decker. Never in my life have I seen one, so I was pretty blown away in an instant. The country instantly felt relaxing and refreshing, and that’s coming from myself who has lived in the ‘living the dream’ land of Spain where it’s all about the stereotypical life of drinking sangria and sitting on the beach.   So I went to Amsterdam for my birthday and stayed at the 3* Rho Hotel. I was very impressed as it sat in the heart of Dam city, right at the beginning of Damstrat. The hotel was very clean, spacious and reasonably priced. Not only that but the location was perfect and although the Dam Square area is the old part, in my opinion it is by far the most magical. I experienced a lot of interesting things and Amsterdam Museum in particular taught me a lot about the city. It’s amazing how the respect and admiration of a city can rocket once your understanding and knowledge broadens; so this is something I would definitely encourage anyone to schedule in their diary when visiting Amsterdam.

There are coffee shops at almost every corner, so I had to see what it was like with my own eyes; and it was a crazy feeling knowing just how legalised everything is. The city pride themselves on liberation for the people, wiping away all edges of religious differences and boundaries that could have the possibility of preventing people to live a happy life. The sense of freedom is in the air – and I would definitely recommend The Greenhouse coffee shop which is a famous one and will go down a treat in the memories!

My visit to the Ice Bar was a ‘cooling’ experience. It was 17 euros which included entry into the bar made out of ice and two drinks out of an ice glass. As well as that the Sky Lounge right beside Dam station captured a very prestigious vibe, and if you’re visiting for a special occasion, then the pricey drinks will be worth the spectacular views.

Many times I spontaneously stopped to feel the energy from street performances in Dam Square, as there is always something going that can take you by surprise. Lots of couples walk the city in their own little bubble surrounded by beautiful canals; there is literally water everywhere making it very romantic indeed.   The famous Rijks museum is amazing and no wonder why. The area and park surrounding the museum are out of this world – so if you like scenic locations then this is a must see.  By the time it came to coming home on my last day I was pretty upset. I didn’t look forward to returning to the good ol’ rat race of life, fixing myself back into a routine where freedom feels limited, and one element I will miss the most is certainly the canals that fit so perfectly around the streets of Amsterdam; especially when they are lit up at night. The Red Light District is certainly famous for a reason – and the rest I will leave unsaid…

So take a visit to Amsterdam with an open mind and an open heart – you may be surprised by just how much you fall in love with the place. 

Critical Report on Advanced Online Journalism

Advanced Online, BA Journalism, Gemma

Critical Report

The Advanced Online module has been an interesting area of study, as I really wanted to understand the online medium at great length, so this module enabled me to explore this community real-time and then be assessed on it. The sessions were divided up very well, as at the start they were quite generic and focused on the online world as a whole, and then as the module progressed it became a lot more specific and personal to the student. I really enjoyed the blogging and multimedia workshops, as I wanted to understand how multimedia could be combined into one long-form piece to then tell an interesting narrative to readers.

At the start of the module I was really in two minds as to whether or not I had made the wrong decision. I knew that I loved online but I really felt unsure whether this was the right decision for me or not as I already knew (or thought I did) a great deal about using online journalism to my advantage. As the module worked through and the assessments summoned I realised that actually having an idea on how an app is created and all the work it entails is actually very insightful and not so boring after all, so this module surprised me at a number of times.

Studying about big data was very interesting and how mobile technology is adopted and appreciated. I found out that I like data more than I had imagined, as well as visuals/sound to compliment a piece. The podcast part toward the beginning of the module was one of my favourite lessons, as I learned a lot about using audio to tell a story and how different they can be. I understood just how conversational they are too, which is kind of obvious but it amazed me just how much can be taught and obtained. I enjoyed sharing my group’s ideas with the other groups in the class on the day too, and it was funny how what one group considered as an ‘original podcast’, actually got dismissed by other groups.

Adding to this, at the early stages I didn’t really enjoy learning about apps, as it felt a bit too techy for me. But as I got more into it I found parts to it that I really benefited on. For example, I learned a lot of new useful apps like Medium and others. Info graphics was another area I felt unsure about as I found it quite monotone and bland. However, after blogging about my experience in class and the different pieces of research I had picked up on the way, externals began to notice me. This led to an opportunity to write for the News Hub with a premise on info graphic creation, which is what I now do from time-to-time. This really highlighted how something can start as meaningless with not focus, but because the elements of difficulty and enjoyment as well as research processes are then posted online, different groups of people, including employers, pick it up. If I had never shared this blog post when I did I probably wouldn’t have been headhunted by the Editor at News Hub, thus reinforcing the importance of utilising the online community.

For the first assessment, the Individual Project, I had a different approach to what I would usually do. Normally I love to get inspired by other people’s thoughts on their projects, to see which directions their project lean towards. However this time I went with my instinct and with my passion and decided to focus on the theme of love and portrayals of men and women in lengthy, popular narratives. At the time the new release of Fifty Shades of Grey had just come out in cinema that then had sparked a research craving. After going home and looking online about the similarities this film has to its fan-fiction Twilight, I didn’t want to stop at that. I decided to have my say on it and to develop a personal response, which I wanted to do through the perspectives of other people from different groups all over the world. I decided to combine my favourite parts of this module into one space as a multimedia package for my Individual Project, by collaborating a Storify narrative with an info graphic as well as a blogging piece of informative, educative and entertaining information packaging out this piece. This worked really well, and at the start I didn’t think it would end up as such an in-depth study, but there was a surplus of research that came from all angles proving to me just how much of a mass of material actually does exist. In this module I learned that there is an abundance of knowledge ready to be shared, appreciated and adopted by different people for a vast range of purposes.

The Individual Project was probably one of my favourite assessments that I have done this year, as it gave me a huge level of freedom to be creative and to do whatever it was that I wanted to tell my story in my way. In my opinion, it really demonstrated the definition of university and how assignments should be given to students, as this degree of independence can really be enjoyed, much more than if I had been confined to a certain area or influenced in any way.

The second assessment was something I felt a little different about, however. Although I realised the importance of pitching in the Journalism industry, I really didn’t feel comfortable with the whole idea. This gave me much more ammunition and drive to give this assessment my all, as it pushed me out of my comfort zone which could only mean one thing: this allowed me space to grow as a person. I then began researching the importance of pitching in the media industry and concluded it was very relevant indeed, and although I was nervous about it, I was pleased I was being put under this type of pressure. The pitch definitely built up a lot of adrenaline and I watched numerous episodes of Dragons Den to inspire me of the way it runs and should be conducted.

A problem that I encountered on the day was how the investors accepted my approach. I thought the idea of a pitch was to not merely explain the product but to focus on the return of investment for the investors. However I found the two people assessing my pitch didn’t really mind too much about the money side of it and just wanted to know more about the details of the app creation. This taught me to just stay open minded and prepare for any sort of response and to not let criticism knock me as a person. As I have a sensitive nature, doing assessments of this kind really took a lot out of me, made me quite stressed at times but I utilised the Internet to my advantage to collate informative research and to build my pitch in the best way I could.

I researched a lot on the competition and target audience for a Professional Development app for my pitch, which highlighted the niche gap for such an existence. Evidently there is heaps of information on self-development online, including websites, forums and other channels of communications, but when I studied apps available, only specific ones could be purchased or downloaded for free. I then felt inclined to introduce an app that had many different platforms that allowed a user to generate their own UGC as well as making the most out of shared content; from confidence building to overcoming anxiousness, and being delivered in different ways; from audio podcasts to Ted Talks and inspirational quotes online.

By using my creative capacity in this way I realised just how much there is to and how lucky we are to exploit all of this in the 21st Century. It really allows a person to learn on a daily basis, 24 hours of the day, and this is an amazing thing that most probably over-sees.

In the context of online business both assessments helped to expand my mind-frame of online, and to really exploit the links and resources that are so accessible to us. Just at the end of our fingertips we have a world full of opportunity that is transferred to us in numerous ways; in a written, visual, audio and video form. And what touches more is just how much creativity tends to be wiped out from university modules in general – many focus purely on the academia of topics, going direct from the book as a way of learning, whereas with this module we had a chance to create, innovate and deliver our ideas in our own individual style. So now I feel ready to exploit the online community to a new height and enter the industry with much more confidence and awareness.

The pitch on the day

On the day of the pitch I felt that everything went to plan, except for my nerves getting in the way a little bit. There is nothing more that I love than writing and when it comes to public speaking, it never fails to get my adrenaline pumping.

Even though I was scared I managed to deliver my points across clearly, in an idea that I thoroughly believe in. That’s what I’ve learned about this module is that even if others aren’t initially fond of something, as long as you have the passion and driving force behind the idea, others will believe in you. And the online community has helped me to do that to a high capacity.

As I started with the original idea of developing a wide-scale Professional Development app, the internet allowed me to research across different websites about competition, target audiences and the industry today, as well as different business models and funding strategies. There is an abundance of information online which I why I think it’s even more important I publish consistently on my blog, to share my ideas, thoughts and creative outbursts with other people. Sharing information has definitely stood out to me, especially as the pitch assessment developed. By me sharing my idea with the investors, this taught me that anything is possible and it can start from nothing but the moment an idea is shared, the potential of that idea spreading is enormous. So I will always feel encouraged to share my knowledge and ideas with my online community much more than before.

My pitch update on research

For my pitch I have decided to carry out in-depth research of business models that would suit my particular app. I decided to have the app free for download, and to generate income via advertisers. I am looking to get £80,000 investment in return for 15% of the business, and through selling 5 adverts a day, each advertiser will pay £180 per day for £5/6 charge per 1,000 impressions.

Here are some snippets of research I have collated while researching for my pitch:

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I found this website that explained the Freemium business model in detail, which seemed to link nicely to my idea and intention of having in-app advertising revenue generated for my app, and offering the app for free to users.

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The above image highlights an example of how much a complex app would be to fund. There are many costs entailed, from design costs, to initial start up costs, for knowledge, to build a team of staff and money to build a marketing team; pushing and promoting the app in the right directions.

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This piece of research shows how the money generated for revenue by a company is high via in-app advertising, and this consistently has only been predicted to increase even more by 2017. All of this helped me to prove my ideas and make them thorough and reliable, to then be able to pitch to my investors.

I have been looking at official statistics of people who suffer with depression, to see how big of a need there is for a Professional Development app. I also learned online that so many people are using social media sites and their mobile phones, that an app would be much better than a website: social media information.

Another part that helped me to develop my pitch was an online article that showed one in five people in the UK suffer with anxiety or depression, showing that there really is a great deal of fear installed into the British culture that needs to be addressed.

My Pitch research process

I came up with an app called ‘Keep It Bright’ as I have been thinking and feeling for a while that the British people often look so gloomy and down that I have an initial urge to brighten people’s days up. This inspired me to think of an idea that can be appreciated by the mass of the population, as it focuses on positive material to shift negative emotions out of the way (or abolish them for a short while). The sort of material is encompassed in Professional Development, which is a huge market and is currently one of the highest earners in business all over the world.

So I began to research the market and I found that a lot of apps exist such as the Gratitude Journal, The Habit Factor, BreakkUp, My Instant Coach, Live Happy, MyThoughts+ and iStress. All of these apps aim to help people to improve in their lives in areas that they feel necessary. However, one of the reasons why I felt so inclined to introduce such an app is because it has so many sections. This means that users will no longer have to roam around the net and use different resources to learn and utilise the platforms that they wish. It will all be in one place, so there was a gap.

I looked at a number of sources online that demonstrated competitors information. I looked at Educators Technology. Another website showed the top ten apps for iPhone and Android, as another comparison, as well as another Professional Development list highlighting more apps in this same industry, so I could then find out who my competitors are. This allowed me to be different and think more carefully about how I would market Keep It Bright and stand out (as explained in my next post).

I have appreciated that this app would fit being a website, but I think that most people prefer to use the things that are at the end of their fingertips, both quick and accessible. Users will not have to rely on the internet too, as different platforms will work without the internet while people have no signal, travelling or doing whatever in life pleases them.