Fashion deserves the glossies

When designers create their collections, it takes months of research and preparation before the final vision is made. Once collections are complete, it is a lengthy process to campaign for them, shoot the designs to then send to fashion magazines for them to be published. 

Fashion is an art form, self-expression, a vision that is created by an inspired mind, and so after all this work has gone in behind the clothes, should they deserve anything less than to be published in anything other than a glossy magazine?

Sally Anne Argyle, currently working as a freelance stylist at Zest Magazine, said: “I love holding a magazine in my hands, feeling that paper and turning the page.

“There are amazing online magazines, but there is nothing quite like the real thing. Especially when you’ve done a beautiful shoot, printed on beautiful paper and it looks amazing, but online the images are flat.”

Sally-Anne Argyle spent weeks organising this main fashion story, that was kept under wraps until it was available to buy

Sally-Anne Argyle spent weeks organising this main fashion story, that was kept under wraps until the magazine was available to buy

A survey conducted with 18-25-year-olds found that nearly 60 per cent enjoyed reading magazines the most over newspapers and blogs. 

Untitled

Regardless of content, or whether the readers’ trust who is writing, magazines are seen as a luxury, associated with relaxation and enjoyment, away from the chaos that they can be inundated with online.

Cosmopolitan embraces social media

image_1356910141562926Drenched in social media and with almost 50 per cent of the cover stories having been influenced by blogging, twitter and instagram, it is clear that journalism has entered a stage where a digital cross over is the key to survival.

Fashion assistant at Cosmopolitan, Holly Coopey, believes that the power will always remain in fashion magazines, but it is paramount for print to embrace the internet.

She said: “The digital platform is expanding at a rapid rate and we all need to evolve to produce content which fits on both platforms and has the maximum outreach.”

Though as oppose to fashion bloggers, the idea in print is not to create a reader community but to instead create content to inform, inspire and encourage creativity.

This not only maintains the one to many foundation on which print publications talk to their readers, but it also enforces a hierarchy representative of the research that has gone into making every published article.

“Print features with interviews often take weeks of work, a lot of online content can often be rough summaries of quick vox pops and info found online,” she said. “The authenticity of a lot of digital stories is questionable sometimes.”

Cosmopolitan has handled their digital cross over with great caution, making sure the quality of the magazine is transferred online while maintaining print values.

As with most print publications, the team have had to learn new roles and become multi-platform journalists.

She said: “The whole team takes responsibility for social media from a fashion point of view. We have to be careful we don’t compromise what we are producing though, so we keep shoot images behind closed doors until they are in print and on the shelf.”

Are celebrities the new gatekeepers?

As suggested by Andrew Currah in his work ‘What’s happening to our news?’ due to a 24/7 news real, emphasis has been shifted from news gathering to news processing. This lack of attention to detail within the content because of the speed at which it needs to be produced has damaged the news agenda and the way we gatekeep stories.

But if we are saying that the news is not as good as it used to be, we need to justify whether or not journalism was flawless in the past.

David Broder from the Washington Post describes the newspaper that arrives on your doorstep as “a partial, hasty, incomplete, inevitably somewhat flawed and inaccurate rendering of some of the things we heard in the past 24 hours.”

So was there ever a golden era for journalism?

The news has always been limited by speed and accuracy, only we never had the time to mull over the mistakes in newspapers before they were disposed of and forgotten about. The difference in the digital age is that news can be read time and time again by consumers as they are preserved in the internet archives.

If accuracy has always been an issue, what are the real changes in journalism?

Boris Johnson

Evidence shows that there has been a growing demand for views and comments of the journalists. It’s a fair requirement of the consumer to want to know facts and what the journalists think of the facts themselves. But now comment sections are taking over space where news would originally be, and there has been a visible increase in ‘celebrity’ columnists. The Daily Telegraph pays Boris Johnson £250,000 for his weekly column – an 82 per cent higher pay packet than his Mayor of London salary.

The news agenda is being shaped by consumer demands and need to fill space with no time to go out and find the real news.

And while consumers want to read what celebrities have to say, celebrities are also controlling what is said about them. PR stunts conveniently timed with album release dates or film premiers consistently make the news. Shifting the power of the journalist as a gatekeeper, to the power of the celebrities who have influence over consumers.

In drastic cost cutting measures, newsrooms often rely on unpaid interns to produce the work of those who they could not afford to pay any more. This lack of staffing and time is having a serious effect on the quality and accuracy of the news being produced. The PCC’s data shows that volumes of complaints have increased by 70 per cent in the past 16 years.

These are just a selection of alternative ways in which the digital revolution has impacted journalism, other than the well debated issues of time, money, quality and accuracy.

How do you think journalism has changed in the digital age?

What makes news local?

Buying a newspaper in a certain area, makes news local. Watching the news on TV in a certain area, makes news local. But what happens when local news can be found online, accessed by anyone, anywhere in the world? Is this still local?

As argued by Ross Hawkes in ‘What do we mean by local?’ The idea of “community” cannot even be described as a purely geographic phenomenon, with many people having a greater empathy and connection to an online social group than to their physical neighbours.

But how many people, who have no connections with a particular area, actually interact on local news sites with comments that mean something? An online local community could still be around, only we assume that because anyone can comment, anyone does.

Interaction has inevitably become a huge part of the news production, and has clearly been a reason for raising debate over whether news can still be local.

But something we need to remember is that interaction is nothing new. Letters to the editor have been in practice for years and there is arguably little difference in the two types of communication.

Of course, writing a letter is a longer process that requires time and effort to think of content worth sending, and online comments can be a result of impulse. But the main thing they have in common is that anyone can contribute.

People are less likely to read a local paper if they are not in the area, but the point is, they still can.

Local news is about creating a community and community shouldn’t be invite only. We have arrived at a stage in journalism where discourse is created on a many to many framework and people want to be involved in the discussion. It is the readers that are arguably maintaining the buzz in journalism and this is something that should be celebrated, no matter what their postcode.

Beauty and the brain: the fashion youtube sensations

Yesterday I went to a Beauty and the Brain event in East London, which celebrated four of the top UK fashion and beauty youtube sensations.

Attendees were greeted with champagne and cupcakes and seated before a stage, where the online style gurus were inundated with questions about how they reached their success with just a laptop, camera and a passion to share, talk and write.

Once the bloggers had exhausted their wisdom, we were all treated to manicures, makeovers and a free photobooth to serve as a’memory of the day’.

No doubt these youtubers work hard, filming, editing and publishing videos every three days, and blogging throughout the week. But the extravagant event that was laid out for these girls, who began blogging for enjoyment, only made me more excited about my project.

They are extremely opinionated, have posts filled with self expression, with content ranging from personal to factual and as a result, have worked with huge brands like ASOS and one had interviewed Pixie Lott after blogging for just two years.

I managed to have many of my questions answered, which will be published in a later post. But to give you an idea of the work that they produce, here are a few examples of fashion videos from their YouTube channels.

Patricia at Brit Pop Princess

Suzi at Style Suzi

Rhiannon Ashlee at Fashion Rocks My Socks

Wande Alugo at Wande’s World

My research proposal explained

This blog started off as a place where I could debate the current readings and investigations into the impact of the online revolution. Now, I want to create some research of my own.

Not only does the issue of quality, trust and accuracy arise in online journalism on a daily basis. But also whether or not blogs that are saturated in self-expression should be treated professionally by, in particular, fashion brands and PR companies.

During an internship at New Look PR I arranged goodie bags filled with expensive gifts ranging from iPad cases to jewellery for a fashion blogger event. During the event, the fashion bloggers could pick their favourite item and talk about how they would wear it on a promotional video:

Knowing full well that most blogs start off as chatty outlets in the bloggers’ bedroom, it made me wonder, why do brands put their trust in, and rely on fashion bloggers?

Below is my project proposal for my research:

Hypothesis for research

Authority in fashion journalism has shifted from mainstream print magazines to fashion bloggers. A critical study of the new power bloggers in the fashion industry

Research questions that arise from this hypothesis

  • If journalists consistently question the ability of bloggers, why do PR companies treat them like royalty?
  • Do readers trust people that they can identify with?
  • Do readers enjoy the blur between professionalism and personalisation?
  • Do readers like to be a part of reader communities?
  • How do bloggers gain trust?
  • Is the ‘many to many’ interaction online favourable over the ‘one to many’ interaction with magazines?
  • What would be the equivalent print publication to fashion blogs targeted at a market of aged 16- 25 year olds?
  • Are fashion bloggers filling a gap in the market?
  • Do bloggers call themselves journalists?
  • How do magazine journalists view fashion bloggers?
  • Why do magazines now have blogs?

Method

  • Interviews with:

–          Fashion bloggers and youtubers

–          Magazine journalists to create a fair and balanced argument

–          Fashion PR companies who rely on bloggers to promote their brands.

–          Readers of both magazines and blogs

  • Literature review to create arguments for and against my hypothesis by debating current research
  • Vox pops
  • Surveys
  • Sparking debate on my blog

Practical project

Create my own fashion blog…

Article ideas

  • Transcripts of interviews with bloggers
  • Debates and my take on readings and findings
  • Articles of statistics from my surveys
  • Video, images, multimedia
  • Comparisons between blogs and magazines

How my project fits in with my research

  • Will help to test the idea of reader communities

–          e.g. if a interviewee blogger with loyal readers retweets my article, how many hits will I get?

  • Will open doors to interaction with other fashion bloggers so I can create more accurate research and recieve more honest answers
  • Gain an understanding of how bloggers earn trust
  • Analyse the view that bloggers have authority over magazines

How it fits in with my hypothesis

Debates from readings have shown that quality, trust and accuracy are major issues related with blogs. I want to challenge this shared belief and show that all of these things can be found within fashion blogs in order to test the idea that they have gained authority.

By blogging myself I will be able to test the truth in the view that the internet generation are more interested in “self-expression than learning about the outside world; anonymous blogs and user-generated content is deafening today’s youth to the voices of informed experts and professional journalists.” (Keen,2007)

And compare them to the opposing view that “technology has become a whole new artistic medium for self-expression” (Schwartzmann, 2011) and debate whether or not if the subject matter is creative and subjective, should self-expression be an issue?

Should professionals rely on social media?

A definitive point for modern politics was during the 2010 elections when social media dramatically changed voting trends. As discussed by Nic Newman in “Mainstream media and the role of the internet,” these were the first elections to receive unprecedented participation online.

Following the shocking stats that 90% of 18-24 year olds do not read a newspaper, political campaigns took to TV, radio and facebook in an attempt to reach younger audiences, and it worked. In particular, an increase in activity could be seen among this age group whose activity increased by 7% between 2005 and 2010.

And why wouldn’t it? At least 1 in 4 of us Brits spend more time online than we do sleeping according to a poll created by Sky Broadband. The survey revealed that 51 per cent of us are suffering from ‘e-anxiety’ if we are unable to check our emails or Facebook page for any extended period of time.

Head of Digital engagement at The Guardian, Meg Pickard, suggests that online enrichment of different views is where social media shines. She said “Where we have seen social media come alive in this campaign is where it has been able to add extra perspective and community or social discovery and fun in the case of posters and playfulness.”

Participation in influential elections and enriching an online community is enviably so important, but what are the downsides to reliance on social media?

Twitter contains information from official and unofficial sources where messages arrive in the order that they are received. Perfect for keeping up-to-date with what people are doing all around the world, but not so perfect in terms of filtering the fact from fiction.

Alfred Herminda in “Twittering the news” suggests that as a result of this, journalists should be open to gate keeping the twitter feed. He describes journalists as a “node in a complex environment between technology and society, between news and analysis between annotation and selection, between orientation and investigation.”

If social media is going to be used by influential professionals, should we expect journalists to filter and gate keep what comes up in our news feed? And if they did, would that take away from the freedom we have as individuals to express ourselves online?

I think the wealth of information available to us should remain exactly that. If we want to learn the facts it should be up to us to decipher what is worth spending our precious 9 hours of internet time giving hits to.

We wouldn’t sacrifice our precious sleep over it if this was the case..

The social media effect

The convergence from print to online, advances in technology and citizen journalists have all impacted mainstream journalism. But how much has social media in particular made a difference? Based on my own naivety and closed mind to journalism before the internet, I rarely considered the effects of twitter, facebook and other social networking sites on hard journalism.

As suggested by Nic Newman in his social media study (2009), there are three main ways that social media have changed journalism:

  1. Telling better stories: there is always someone who knows more than you do, news organisations are crowd sourcing comments, pictures, videos insights and ideas.
  2. Making better relationships: Engaged users tend to be more loyal and spend more time, making them more valuable to advertisers or for promoting and selling other company services.
  3. Getting new users in: With audiences spending more and more time with social networks, these have become the obvious place to look for the ‘hard to reach’ or reconnect with former loyalists.

All of which paint a promising future for mainstream journalism. The Evening Standard website is home to many regulars in the comment sections, ASHLEY BOGLE-FRIMPONG being one of many who frequently comments on the site. I would however argue that regulars would have an adverse effect on anyone new to commenting – as if to protect their online territory. I would also add that although broadened debates are positive on a surface level, they can cause legal problems for the paper, require strict regulation and anonymous comments can encourage readers to be abusive.

Selection of regular and anonymous comments on a story about knife crime

Newspapers have room for these diverse voices, opinions and arguments. But what about the BBC? If impartiality is their core value, can they ever be compatible with social media? Former BBC chief news correspondent, Kate Adie, famously described blogs to be ‘amateurish, filled with errors and not credible,’ ‘egotistical nonsense’ and that ‘journalists shouldn’t have time to blog, there are too many stories waiting to be told.’

In some respects I understand her anger with bloggers, stereotypically faking it until they make it. But in an industry so saturated in competition, those who want to make it don’t have a choice but to get themselves out there. The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about after all.

In spite of Adie’s views, an overwhelming majority of the BBC and its audiences encouraged User Generated Content (UGC). Over 70 per cent believed it improved quality and authenticity and 61 per cent felt it was good for the public to be involved.

The media savvy Guardian newspaper agreed:

“For the last 10 years or so we lived with this notion that we knew everything and handed out the pearls of wisdom to the people lucky enough to receive them. If you can invert that and actually say that the expertise lives outside the newspaper, on some many subjects they know more than we do. The moment you can get that thought in your head, then you realise that there is great treasure in these commentaries.” Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian.

Do you think social media is an important development for mainstream journalism? Newman explains that high profile changes are being made to standards, guidelines and training, so could this mean a change to the way the BBC is run? Let me know your views in the comment section below.

Voices need to be heard

In 2007, a 57-year-old man named John Darwin reported himself to a police station as a missing person. Not only had this man been reported as missing five years earlier, but he was also officially ‘dead’. Darwin disappeared after a kayaking trip in the North Sea, and his wife was given a £25,000 life insurance settlement. The story was researched on google by a non-journalist and she found a photograph of Darwin and his wife that had been taken in 2006, four years after he had ‘died’, proving that he had faked his own death for money. Similarly, in 2009, Ian Tomlinson was killed after a police officer knocked him to the ground. Footage of the ordeal was caught on camera by an onlooker, who was filming the protests. PC Simon Harwood was found guilty of gross misconduct.

These are just a couple of examples of how crime cases have been brought to justice by non-journalists. Technology has given people the tools to make vital contributions to the work of journalism, but is this always a good thing?

Readers have been given a taste of what it is like to practice journalism and they don’t want to stop. ‘Today’s journalists are not sloppier than yesterday’s. Rather, readers are more demanding’, something that was suggested by John Kelly in Red Kayaks and Hidden Gold.  As I discussed in a previous post, citizen journalists are not in it for the money. They are in it for the satisfaction they gain from their voices being heard, reputations being created and exposure of their writing.

But should newspapers be pleased about this?

Jane Singer argued that website interactivity ‘beefs up local coverage and boost website traffic’ in her research of Quality Control (2010). It also adds public interest to their stories – I know that I always have a nose at comments (which are often more entertaining than the article itself).

In addition to this, one of the most important factor of citizen journalists is that when they are at the ‘wrong place’ at the ‘right time’, they now have the tools to report. Almost 50% of journalists surveyed in Singer’s research agreed that on-the-scene reporting from users has proved to be extremely useful in the newsroom. Other uses that were agreed upon included coverage of local events (40%) and traffic and travel updates (46%), all of which need someone to be there at all times, a requirement that simply cannot be met by professional journalists.

However, user generated content (UGC) creates a chance for ‘insults, libel and downright rudeness.’ Websites are responsible for paying up, should any libellous comments be published. Newspapers also need to consider gatekeeping values that the professional journalists follow; the process of deciding what makes news. The internet obliterates this gatekeeping process, which is a procedure that arguably defines the origins of journalism.

This makes me wonder not what the future of journalism is, but what the new generation of journalists look like. If the values of gatekeeping continue to be lost online, will the origins of journalism be lost altogether? Gatekeeping ensures quality and legal news which is the least you would expect from the profession.  It seems that everyone can be a publisher, but not everyone can be a journalist.

The revolution that never happened

When the online convergence began, newspapers were faced with a difficult task of creating a strategy that would allow their paper to work successfully online.

Online strategies from newspapers in Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Liverpool were revealed in a study, carried out by Cardiff Trinity University. From their findings, three problems consistently arose within the newsroom:

Too much work

Because of…

Lack of time

Because of…

Shrinking workforce

All of which, stem from the same problem of lack of money.

As suggested by Steen Steenson in his blog, technology ‘might not be the main driving force behind changes in journalism’. He argues that newspapers are just publishing the same written text, only they are doing it online, and that interactivity, multimedia and hyperlinking is still rare. I agree that many other aspects are having an influence on changes in journalism, including money, time, and skills. However, large news websites are flooded with multimedia. So whether he is only accounting for local news websites, or he believes the changes have happened so slowly that they cannot be revolutionary, is open to interpretation.

Screen shot of the Guardian’s website, filled with multimedia videos, hyperlinks and interactivity

Newspapers could converge efficiently if they had the money to provide training in online journalism, recruit a sufficient amount of journalists to support the work load and combat the unofficial expectation for workers to exceed contracted hours.

Technology may be causing problems for print, but it is also providing a platform on which journalism as a whole can develop and excel.

Television is a prime example of medium that has been welcomed into journalism. As discussed by Steenson, TV took off much quicker (8 years in US), compared with the internet, which took more than double this time.

But I don’t believe this happened because the internet is less revolutionary. Television is a very straight forward concept, especially when it was first available; it had four channels and you could watch programmes on it. Whereas, the internet…how exactly do you explain internet to a novice? The internet provides is a tool that gives you the ability to do and learn so much, it can be intimidating for many people – especially those who have not been brought up using it.

In contrast to this, radio has been largely unaffected throughout the online revolution:

“Who would have thought in the 1950s and 1960s that radio would still be a powerful technological platform several decades later? Imagine the argument: who would want only sound, when you could have both sound and vision?” Steen Steenson.

Is this because we as receivers do not always wish to be fully immersed in journalism? If so, can the same be said for journalists themselves?

The high demand for copy on now multiplatform journalism, forcing many journalists to work over-time for no extra pay, were amoung the main findings in Cardiff Trinity’s study. Being fully immersed in online newspapers that are active 24/7  proved overwhelming for many journalists who were struggling to switch off.

As with all forms of creativity, it helps to take a step back and let the work (and the journalist) breathe. It is only when you have time to research the facts that high quality work can be created. No-one has the ability to compete with the internet that never sleeps, so why are we trying to?