News Features- Entertainment

Iron Man 3 (2013)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley, Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Don Cheadle.
Director: Shane Black

Let’s face it, film sequels are never expected to be better than first installments- it’s just a law. So when I sat down in the cinema to watch Iron Man 3, I was just hoping it would be worth the money. (I saw it in 3D, and as I’m sure you’ll know, 3D tickets are really expensive.) With a star-studded cast, including the great Sir Ben Kingsley, I found the film was just merely watchable.

This was because, even though Kingsley’s portrayal of “The Mandarin” (or as we later came to find out, the ditsy Trevor Slattery) was hilariously fantastic, and Robert Downey Jr. consistently delivered throughout the movie as Tony Stark, I found the film lacked a little something that the previous two films left me thinking, “What an awesome film I’ve just watched!” I came to the conclusion that it was because of the disappointing reveal: (SPOILER ALERT) The Mandarin wasn’t really The Mandarin.

As well as that, you could kind of guess that Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) had a role to play in all the unusual attacks, so the whole twist of the film was really quite blatant (unless that was just me? Who knows…)

My main gripe with Iron Man 3: I thought the storyline didn’t really flow- the trailer set it up to be a completely different film to what it ended up being, and that was mainly due to the fact that Sir Ben wasn’t the villain at all. From the trailer, I was hoping Kingsley as The Mandarin would be as brutal as Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) was in Iron Man 2- it just didn’t happen.

Yes, the real villain had a motive to kill Tony Stark, as Stark completely ignored the chance to work with the mastermind thirteen years previously. And yes, the Extremis virus used against Iron Man was great. But it still didn’t live up to my high expectations after watching the trailer (I have to admit, when I watched the trailer I was incredibly excited).

However, I do praise all of the performances by the cast, the chemistry between them was brilliantly displayed onscreen. I loved that Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) finally got to try on a Iron Man suit. A slight annoyance about the film was the limited screen time of Rebecca Hall (as botanist and Tony Stark’s ex-one-night-stand, Dr. Maya Hansen) especially since her character played a vital role in the creation of the Extremis drug. Still, this might just be me doing a little nitpicking.

As much as I have my dislikes about Iron Man 3, the climax of the movie was really superb. The special effects in the battle scenes were first-class, and I really enjoyed when all of the suits worked together to destroy all of the Extremis warriors- it’s one thing I love about superhero movies, and Iron Man 3 didn’t disappoint in that area (thank god). A twist I did enjoy was Ms. Potts becoming one herself- that was a shocker I could appreciate.

Sidenote: I couldn’t have been the only one to expect Thor to show up in the final battle scene, could I? The superhero was mentioned a few times, if not by name, and I had a feeling he’d come to lend a helping hand- again, though, it must’ve just been me.

Overall, I was unhappy with the main storyline, but I do think that I would give it the benefit of the doubt and I’d watch it again… only if I didn’t have to fork out any money.

My rating for this film is 6/10.

News Features- Writing for News

For Task 2 we were challenged to research and analyse 5 news outlets related to a certain genre of writing; sport, fashion, arts and culture etc… I chose to focus on publications that write entertainment features.

The first website/publication I looked into was Empire Online: I chose to analyse Empire Online as the publication is the Internet base for Empire Magazine, which is entertainment based. The house style of the website is uncomplicated as its main hook for its audience is all about the writing, and the colour scheme is relevant (red/black). Since the articles are more or less all reviews, the writing style has to be engaging to the audience, which I personally think it is (as I like to use this website myself). The content of each review is not very substantial in word count, mostly due to the fact their target audience readers would not want to read a lengthy spiel about a certain film- they want a quick review that will help them decide whether the film is worth a watch. The “articles” voice, language, tone are all interesting and enthralling for the reader, using endless adjectives as a way of keeping the audience engaged right until the end of the review, even when the film being reviewed is the worst movie on the face of the planet.

Total Film: The second website I researched was Total Film, another film review site. I found, upon reading the reviews on this site, and comparing them to the reviews I read on Empire Online, the target audience for this site would be the more “movie buff” demographic, not only because of the more detailed description of the films given to the audience by Total Film, but also the length of each review is slightly longer than those on Empire’s website. The language, however, is not dissimilar at all; the way the Total Film writers word their reviews is still engaging, and also packed to the brim with captivating describing words. The house style of the website is basic, again, this is because, in my opinion, the main reason users go to the website is for the main written content; although the colour scheme is appropriate (red/white) and not garish and out of place.

The Hollywood Reporter: The third website that I chose to include in my entertainment category research was The Hollywood Reporter’s website. Not only does this website write reviews for films, TV shows, music, and technology, but it also reports (like its name suggests) on all things entertainment. Unlike the two websites I’ve reviewed above, the articles on this website are extremely extensive in word count, to the point of, if you’re not exactly sold on the review, you could take a power nap in between paragraphs. The house style of the website is appealing to an audience though; the colour scheme may be simple, and the same colours used on Total Film, but the layout of the website would draw in an audience. This is because the website includes many links, adverts, images and videos which are dotted around the web page. If the audiences don’t feel they could make it to the text finish line, there’s always the short summary at the top of the screen and the movie trailers at the bottom.

Guardian Film: The fourth website I decided on researching was The Guardian’s website surrounding entertainment. Very different to all the previous websites I have used in my research, this site is laid out more like a news website (which of course The Guardian’s main site is). This meant that the house style of the website is much more simplistic in its colour scheme and design- again, relating more to its news website relation. However, the articles included in the entertainment area of the website are much more appropriate for their intended target audience, and their film/DVD reviewer (notable film critic Mark Kermode) writes the reviews (packed full of juicy adjectives… again!) in such a way that the audience carries on reading despite the wordy pieces of writing.

The fifth and final website I have researched was EOnline: A website called Entertainment Online was definitely going to be analysed as I chose the entertainment category. The website is possibly the most recognised for all things entertainment thanks to its relationship and link to the E! television channel- it is the official website for said network. Articles written on EOnline are much less descriptive than those I have looked at before, the review articles I went and looked at on the website have short summary reviews from other different review sites and nothing very original, this could be because the website is also an entertainment news site, but a more reliable and much more professional news gossip website. Nevertheless, the design of EOnline is very efficient for the user, and a major competitor for popular sites at the moment.

News Gathering Essay

An Analysis of News Gathering and Distribution

In this essay I will explore the changing way in which news is gathered for broadcast media as well as print based and online publication. In the past 10 years, the Internet has changed the face of journalism and news dramatically. Prior to websites being used as a tool for news distribution, the main outlets were television and newspapers. From 1932, the BBC programmed a news show with a presenter broadcasting news stories to viewers. After this, ITV, CNN, Channel 4, Sky News and other networks launched and established their own syndicated news programmes. [1]

The way broadcasters and other media outlets acquire story information has changed drastically in the past decade. From relying mostly on press releases and police reports, broadcast media now gather information and get their story leads from mediums like websites, social media such as Facebook, emails, telephone and so on. This has effectively reinvented the way the world produces and receives major pieces of news. Television broadcasters, such as BBC and ITV can get information from their viewers via email, telephone and even Twitter. “A consequence of these changes is that information providers … find themselves competing head-on in a new global online news environment.” [2]

In the previous years of news distribution, consumer demand for news in different formats was not as high as it is in today’s society, which is obviously due to the progression of technologies and civilisation moving into the digital era. Since the progression of technologies, especially the invention of smartphones and computer tablets, news is now distributed faster, seamlessly and more conveniently to an audience than the delivery of news from mainstream news outlets. Because of this, news outlets have had to develop new modes of staying up to date with the industry; most newspapers have advanced and established their online presence.

Newspaper circulation has been greatly affected by the shift in the way news is distributed; sales of printed publications have dramatically reduced in the last 5-10 years. This is primarily due to the rise in number of previous newspaper readers now using the Internet and online news sites/app equivalents to keep updated on major news stories, rather than having to venture to the shops to buy the regular newspaper. This is also because these papers are expanding to online content as well as keeping the printed versions; this is because information and stories can be updated much more easily and efficiently, giving more immediate information to their audiences. Readers can now download newspaper applications on their smartphones and iPad tablets for free, negating their need to buy a printed copy of a daily news publication. [1]

Social media is one of the biggest tools in journalism today. It is one of the first mediums, of both online and broadcasting, to break news stories and can be used as a way for journalists to hint for stories to expand on and publish on their online sites. Twitter is the main social networking site, which garners the most attention from not only the general public but also the journalists who work in the industry to publish links to stories or to break a news story. Not only that, but also when a major happening occurs anywhere in the world, Twitter is usually the first place that reports it. This is because of the popularity of the site and the ordinary day-to-day users can update their status simply and efficiently.

Before the Internet really took hold and social media became a leading form of news distribution, stories were first broken on the television news channels; mainly using sources like police press releases, a limited amount of information, enough to cover the basics of a story, given to the media outlets so that they can broadcast the details. The first to do so were usually the television channels like BBC News and ITV News. The immediacy of social media even beats mainstream media’s ability to get the news out first; possibly due to the amount of users of social networking sites, as Twitter now has more than 200 million active users, and Facebook has a staggering 1.11 billion users. [3]

Nowadays, news is still gathered from these types of sources, but they can also get celebrity exclusives from social media sites, and stories that would be published online in the view of public interest- for example, the Ryan Giggs super-injunction against being named in a cheating scandal was broken on Twitter by a user, as a result of taking legal action against the social networking site, the news spread faster because of Twitter’s colossal impact and influence on news distribution in society today. “A journalist shall do nothing which entails intrusion into anybody’s private life, grief or distress, subject to justification by overriding considerations of the public interest.” [4]

Processes of newsgathering in mainstream media has grown and developed substantially because of the impact of social media. Broadcasting networks now use the Internet as a vital tool to distribute news to an audience, but also for newsgathering. Social and mainstream outlets work hand in hand to distribute news in the most suitable manner; for today’s audience, that means the quickest form of news reporting, which is broadcast media via television and radio, and linking website articles to social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Newspapers come second to the outlets including technologies, although there is still a demand for printed publishing, the number of readers for local and national papers is rapidly declining.

Distributing web only news journalism is carried out in many ways, like search engines such as Google and Bing, but also, again, by social media sites- mainly Twitter. This is because websites and online articles get more hits when the stories are spread to a wider audience, which Twitter has, and can give the web-based outlets more exposure to many different audiences. Gathering news for website articles is a lot easier compared to mainstream media, primarily because the content does not have to follow strict guidelines like that of radio and television- which is mostly main, hard-hitting stories that have a great impact. Depending on what the online source is known for, the sites can get information and leads for articles from Twitter, word-of-mouth, other gossip sites, mainstream media, email and telephone, and so on.

In terms of gathering news for social media use, Twitter can get stories from everyday users, especially if it is a breaking news story, an example of this was the Boston Marathon bombings- users of the social networking site first heard of the devastating happening on Twitter, before it made it to website articles and mainstream media on news programmes. As well as giving original leads for news, news websites can post their stories to Twitter, and if they get lots of retweets, or the story becomes very popular with the social media users, the story can be featured on the “Discover” page on Twitter, which is a great source for users to catch up on news they might’ve missed.

The quality of news gathered and distributed by each of the examples: mainstream media, web only news, and social media, differs substantially from each other. Social media is the least reliable as most of the users of the networking sites are everyday people, so the “facts” stated there are merely opinions, unless news accounts such as BBC Breaking, CNN News, E! Online, and/or celebrities involved in a story either Tweet, post a comment or an article on their selected social media site with a story that is heavily backed by evidence from reliable sources. These news companies have to check this and have 100% fact before publishing statements, quotes, and facts and figures. [1]

Broadcast/mainstream media is the most factual based news outlet, mainly because the stories reported on news channels is the news that is mostly in view of the public interest. As well as this, news reports on television are usually very serious and as a result need the most research and hard evidence behind them before they are broken via the news networks. “On television there are current affairs slots that – sometimes, at least – tell us things we don’t already know.” More often than not, though, the most political stories are first covered by television and radio. This is because, using the BBC as an example, the broadcast networks have a higher level of journalism stories compared to glossy magazines and news websites- they even have specialist Parliament news channels that specifically cover news from the government, House of Commons, and House of Lords. [4]

Web only reporting is significantly less factual than broadcast media. News channels do have their website counterparts, but essentially, more web based news sites are more celebrity gossip based, and consequently rarely publish their stories, or focus them for that matter, on reports including evidence. More often than not, website based news outlets create made up stories, with made up sources, to create a scandalous buzz about a certain public figure- fundamentally giving themselves a lower quality of journalism compared to the mainstream media channels. [4]

Twitter is a source of news gathering and distribution in itself; a feature that journalists can use to their full advantage to acquire stories that would be in the public interest, as well as publishing their stories on the site so that it gets more hits and reaches a wider audience through sharing the story or “retweeting”. Nonetheless, a downside to Twitter as a form of delivering news is that, unless the information has come from a source that is recognised in journalism, or unless the information being reported is backed up by evidential support- which can include videos and photographs, it should not be taken as real news, except Twitter users can mistake the information as fact, when it could merely be a hoax.

Journalists need a broad range of skills in today’s media environment to report the news; being socially conscious of the networking sites to publish a story is key, as posting on Twitter could spread a story faster than any other media source today. A clear writing style needs to be made so that the public will find it easy to read a story. Knowing what an audience wants to read about, and aiming it to the right group of people on the right journalistic platform- if the journalist is writing for a fashion magazine, it will be published on the magazine website/blog, and a link would be posted to the official magazine Twitter account, as well as the journalist’s Twitter page.

A journalist must know when not to publish a story, for example, when a story could cause great offence to a certain group of people, or it includes a statement that is not true. When reporting the news on any media platform, a journalist must know how a story should be told based on the context of said story, this can be applicable to broadcast presenters and newspaper/online reporters. [4]

In conclusion, from the vast importance of networking sites as a tool for journalism, most news is gathered from the Internet, as opposed to previously being reliant on the police, press releases, the council, and other further techniques such as door-knocking and vox populi for stories. However, the most factual based form of news distribution is that of the mainstream media, including broadcast formats such as television and radio; the reason for this is, before broadcasting the news, solid evidence needs to be collected so that the report is fair and accurate.

The progression of gathering and distributing news will carry on because of the continuous creation of new formats of journalism. Newspapers will still have an audience of readers, even though the online market is growing exponentially. Websites, mainstream media outlets, and social media have a huge input in how breaking news and public interest stories are delivered and circulated to the general public. Journalism will continue to expand into the different mediums, and as a result, journalists have to accommodate them into their career skills; this will include web sense, photography and video knowledge, the ability to use social media, broadcasting, and creating a individual and recognisable writing style.

Harvard Referencing

1. Adrienne Russell (2011). Networked: A Contemporary History of News in Transition. Cambridge: Polity Press. P1-2.

2. OECD (2010). News in the Internet Age: New Trends in News Publishing. England: OECD Publishing. P14.

3. Craig Smith. (2013). (May 2013) How Many People Use the Top Social Media, Apps & Services?. Available: Last accessed 8th May 2013.

4. Tony Harcup (2007). The Ethical Journalist. London: Sage Publications Ltd. P. 4-5 and P. 149-152.

News Day Story Scenario

Police arrest two men after kidnapping a man and holding a family hostage in an attempt to steal £500,000 worth of diamonds.

Two men kidnapped jewellery store owner Peter Brandt, 55, from his home and held his family hostage in a senseless attack in West Hull at 8pm on Sunday night. “It was just a regular Sunday night at home, it was our family night,” says Peter Brandt of that night

“My family was taken to the back of the house by one of the men, and I was restrained by the two others,” says Mr. Brandt. He was taken to an abandoned farmhouse in the East Riding of Yorkshire, handcuffed to a chair and left overnight. “I was blindfolded in my home and shoved into the back of a car, I was terrified.”

The rest of his family, his wife Melissa Brandt, 54, and their two children, Stephen, 16 and Sonja, 14, were held in their home by a third captor. “It was so terrifying I didn’t even think about trying to escape, I just went along with it.

“I didn’t hear either of them talking, and I couldn’t sleep because I was so worried about Melissa and the kids,” Mr. Brandt reveals. “The next morning I agreed to take them to the jewellery shop because I was expecting an important delivery, we were on the way there when the police surrounded the car.”

One of the men arrested on Orchard Street accidentally shot himself in the buttocks after police surrounded the car; he is now being treated at Hull Royal Infirmary, is in a stable condition and has a police guard. “I heard a gun shot and I was dragged out into the street,” Mr. Brandt recalls.

After the arrests the family was taken to Hull Royal Infirmary to get checked over but no injuries were suffered.  Mr. Brandt emotionally adds, “The important thing is we’re all safe now.”

Jeweller Mr. Brandt is well known in Kingston upon Hull for his shop ‘Shiny Things’ down Spring Bank, which he set up almost 30 years ago. He and his wife Melissa are also well known on East Yorkshire’s charity circuit for their fundraising efforts.

Detective Inspector David Smith said, “Police officers detained two men on suspicion of conspiracy to rob and possession of fire arms after a tip off from the police in Amsterdam.”

It is thought that Mr. Brandt was the robbers target because of his diamond business, and that his diamonds being delivered from Holland on Monday morning being the reason for his capture

The press office reported that there had never been any evidence of any prior attacks on Mr. Brandt, his family, or his jewellery shop. A police press officer was unable to disclose if any of the captors had any previous convictions.

The three men are to appear in court together once the third captor is discharged from Hull Royal Infirmary hospital.

Journalism Day

At the Hull Truck Theatre HSAD put on a journalism day featuring speakers from different areas of the profession. The speakers ranged from Jamie Macaskill, from the Hull Daily Mail, who also kicked things off, to Martin Bell OBE, former journalist for the BBC and war reporter.

Introductions by James Hoggarth, BBC Humberside reporter.

Lawyer Alastair Brett, court reporter Sian Harrison, Eddie Coates-Madden from the Hull City Council, political journalist David Torrance, web editor Paul Johnson, and David Betts from BskyB also spoke.

Martin Bell quoted his grandmother: “Journalists are a shady lot and seldom the sons of gentlemen.”

Then went on to say: “Journalism has the responsibility to be truthful,” following the comments about the censorship of war reporting.

“If you’re in it for the money you’ve chosen the wrong career.”

“You cannot be a good journalist if you live in a moral vacuum.”

Alastair Brett mentioned the Leveson Inquiry and the laws of journalism, called it, “complete bollocks.”

Paul Johnson talked about Internet trolls, and how journalists need to be the leaders of online journalism, including social media.

David Betts asked the audience whether they would pay a police officer for an exclusive story if they were given the opportunity, said if yes you would be sent to prison for 10 years for bribery. Talked about his most embarrassing moments in reporting, included reporting on 9/11 and Princess Diana’s visit to Hull.

Searching for News Stories

As a little task we were asked to find three news stories from different mediums that would make a BBC Look North news story.

My first story was something I read on the Humberside Police website about a house robbery in the area of Cottingham, East Yorkshire. The story was that two people had been arrested in connection to a burglary of car keys, and the stealing of a car.

Emma Massey, Video Journalist at Look North, gave feedback on this story find, saying that it would be likely this story would make a byline in the local paper, but not on Look North. The story would only make television news if there had been a series of similar burglaries in the area; that is when it really becomes a story.

Emma then went on to explain a story that would have made headline news, like the story about barns being set on fire, and how because many incidents had occurred in a small area in a small space of time, it would make the news.