How public-service strikes can be good news

News always used to have a negative touch. And so did the headlines today: Across the UK millions of workers went on strike to protest agains the proposed pension cuts. Newspapers described the event as the “biggest strike since 30 years” and more than three quarters of England’s schools were closed as well as museums, libraries, hospitals and police stations.

Anyway, even if our teachers supported the union strike and stayed at home today, the Journalism students at the University of Westminster turned up to prepare a 15-minute news bulletin – not only because we are well-behaved (at least most of the time) but simply because radio news days mean loads of fun.

And that’s why I want to show you now how to turn bad news into good news:

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Olympic Games to be shown on public screens around London

The BBC will provide 21 Big Screens across the UK to watch the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in public.

The Games will be shown for free with a series of special events and activities to go alongside them. The locations across the country will become live showplaces with sports coverage and interactive entertainment for everyone.

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Together we can do great things: The MAJI news project

During the last two days the journalism students at Westminster University experience a real news room feeling. Our mission: To produce two live news shows in two days. Sounds like a tough challenge, and it is!

Each day starts with a morning editorial meeting, where we discuss the news stories and arrange the tasks for the day. The atmosphere is like in a real news room. We choose chief editors, subeditors, floor managers and presenters.

While the chief editors Wendy and Patrick organize the schedule, the rest of the team goes out to shoot new stories, live reports and vox pops.

The deadline for the stories is 2.30pm. Until then we have to write the scripts, do voice overs and cut the material. The subeditors help us and check the scripts before we start editing.

At 3pm we are ready to prepare the show. Sara practises her script and I do the sound check with the production team.

4 o’clock: On Air! Our news anchor Sara is presenting the news stories of the day about the Euro-crisis, UCAS, the government’s crime mapping site and UK’s language program for immigrants. Weathergirl Wendy reads the weather forecast and Patrick informs about current sport news.

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Occupy London: The solidarity movement is getting organised

The Occupy London movement, which protests against the extremes of global capitalism, prepares to become a permanent spot of resistance at London’s St.Paul’s Cathedral.

Today it’s been already the 4th day of protest and assumptions, that the silent stand-off would break up on the first day of work after the weekend, were disproved.

Activists already organised a canteen, toilet blocks and a first aid tent with medical care. Even a recycling can is deployed to keep the square clean. Others arranged a library next to their tent to share knowledge and exchange thoughts with everyone who comes by.

Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York, people plan to keep the peaceful protest going on as long as possible.

People I met today were from all ages and professions – mostly going back to work during the week, but returning in their lunch break or on the weekends to support the assembly.

Watch our report about the community life behind the protest after the click: Continue reading

“Pray for Big Ben”: How Londoners feel for the leaning tower of Westminster

Big Ben is officially tilting towards the Thames. And the tower is already leaning so much towards the river that it can now be seen with the naked eye.

Londoners feel for their famous city tower and use social media to show their compassion: Tweets such as “PRAY FOR BIG BEN” circulate in the networks and the sinking landmark also has an own twitter page with over 130.000 followers, capturing the tilting with constant “bong bong bong”-tweets.

The top of the clock tower is already leaning one-and-a-half feet off a level position and getting worse each year. If Big Ben would seriously fall, it would crash into the MP’s offices in the Portcullis House. Partly reasons for the tilting are decades of underground excavations, such as an underground car park and the tunnelling for the Jubilee tube line in the 1990s.

However, at the moment Big Ben is leaning at an angle of 0,26 degrees, Pisa leans by around 4 degrees. Therefore it would take about 4,000 years until the tower is as slanted as the leaning tower of Pisa and even longer to hit the tipping-point.

Sightseeing at the Big Ben in 2008, when everything seemed to be straight