Monthly Archives: August 2013

A View from the Streets of London: Syria

Should we go to war with Assad? Or should we stay out of Syria?

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This WorldBytes production interviews people on the streets of London, to see what we the people have to say about military intervention in the sovereign state.

As the western hemisphere prepares to go to war with Assad, we at Worldbytes think the views of us, the citizens of this nation, ought to be taken into consideration. FInd out what the people we met in London had to say about military intervention in Syria.

About WorldBytes

If you live in London, please consider volunteering or donating to Worldbytes, the charity behind this production. Worldbytes provide free vocational training in producing media to anyone. Find out more, and watch the rest of their clips by heading to the website.

I’m going back to college…

So today I got some great news

Journalism Diversity Fund training bursaries awarded
Posted on 

Nine aspiring journalists have been awarded bursaries by the Journalism Diversity Fund to complete NCTJ-accredited training courses.

Colin Cowan; Samson Dada; Ese Erheriene; Christopher Gage; Joshua Hammond; Ana Hine; Neil Kingston; Rebecca Koncienzcy and Suhail Patel were successful in securing bursaries to help them complete their journalism training.

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Trials, tribulations, and a shitload of cake

So yup. if you hadn’t guessed it already, I’ve been trying to become a journalist for quite some time now, and let me tell ya’, it ain’t been easy friends. You can read about my life as a wannabe in a previous blog post. But if you can’t be bothered looking up the specifics, just know this – there have been plenty of obstacles on the journey so far, and needless to say, I’m sure there are many more to come.

But despite all the cockups, regardless of all the times I fucked up, to put it bluntly, today I have taken a monumental step in the right direction. Today I found out that I’ve been given the funding I need to pursue my dream.

Time to do my victory dance!

The lovely guys n’ gals down at the Journalism Diversity Fund (JDF) have been kind enough (and crazy enough) to give me the money I need to finance a trip back to college. There I plan to get my NCTJ accredited qualification in Multimedia Journalism. To get into journalism these days you tend to need this kind of qualification, or similarly a masters in Journalism. I’ll now be able enroll at Lambeth College, and intend to start in the coming days. I will be embarking on a year long journey into the wonders of writing, shorthand and media law. How very exciting…

About the Diversity Fund

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The JDF are a charity that aims to bring diversity to the news. Established in 2005, so far they’ve helped a huge number of people like myself realise their ambitions. The fund is financed predominantly by working journalists and various news outlets  – professionals who want to create a more representative news room.

While there are some conditions you must meet before you can apply, the fund is open to anyone like me, who would otherwise be unable to finance the cost of attaining the qualification.

If you’d be interested in donating, take a look at their current sponsors and supporters, and if you’re already a professional journalist, you can even help by volunteering for the charity.

My sincerest thanks

Thanks all, much love.

Yes YOU! Much love guys

So a big thank you is in order, to all those persons who have assisted in one way or another so far. From the wonderful Deborah Hall, who so kindly gave me advice when I first started this journey, and her friend Jan Jacqueline, who also helped me when I needed it most. The people at Just Change UK and Giving What We Can, who let me volunteer for them, and the awesome bunch in Hackney running WorldBytes – Ceri and Andi, I thank you.

Amanda Nunn, Lizzie Dearden, Zjan Shirinian, along the rest of the team at the Ilford Recorder, I couldn’t have got here without your patience and guidance. To the wonderful digital team at Medicins Sans Frontieres – Ben Holt, Clare Storry, Nick Owen and Lee Butler – you guys are awesome, and I hope I haven’t let you down by having to leave so soon (well, partially at least). And of course my friends, family, and all those who have supported me so far, especially those of you who wrote for MyOpenLetter.info, I am indebted to you all. I shall never forget your kindness, patience and generosity during this very difficult year. (so basically, sorry for being so broke all the time).

So I guess, what I’m getting at is…

You’ve dun’ me proud son

Last but not least, I want to thank the team at the JDF who gave me this chance – Dave, Shevon, Alice and Lisa; I am truly grateful for this opportunity and I feel sincerely privileged to be representing the charity. I one day hope to continue the good work you guys have done to date.

So thanks for reading all, and stay tuned for my next big story…onwards and upwards!

“Move it turtle! I’m gonna be late for my first day of school, innit” – Me riding my mighty steed to Lambeth College.

Peace or War?

 

Two very strange tweets I saw today. Of course separately, they’re perfectly normal. The UNDP posted an article about Indonesia, a country that was rife with sectarian violence not to long ago.

The Maluku conflict began in early 1999 and lasted three years, finally ended in February 2002, when a settlement was signed between warring parties (Malino II Accord).

According to the piece,

The fishermen in Halmahera Island’s Kao Bay are amongst thousands of people in eastern Indonesia who have benefited from a peace and conflict prevention project supported by the Government of Indonesia and UNDP.

Yes, all very good work, and I commend those persons involved in these efforts, which are reportedly the “Governments of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).”

It irks me however, to see developed nations, one’s that are part of the UNDP doing things like selling weapons to known authoritarian regimes. Read the following tweet:

So it seems, on the one hand we promote peace through organisations such as the UNDP, but on the other, we facilitate violence in other regions by selling weapons to known dictatorships.

In fact, Britain has supplied £12bn of arms to some of the world’s most brutal dictatorships, with half of its imports going to Israel alone. While I concede the latter is not an authoritarian regime, Israel’s occupations of the West Bank and Gaza have been received by widespread criticism and condemnation by the International community.

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There are a great deal many more examples I could find of this strange conception of morality we have in the developed world. We give aid and steal oil. We promote human rights then torture prisoners. We argue for fair trade but then subsidize domestic agriculture. We commend those who speak the truth, but then actively silence and imprison whistleblowers.

Am I missing something here? You can’t arm the world on the one hand, and then claim to be the bastions of peace on the other. At some point we must collectively decide what it is that is important – peace or war?

Feeding the trolls – Brendan O’Neill on Unpaid internships

Another response to Brendan O’Neill.

Masterful troll that he is, the Spiked editor has spurred me to retort once more. Seeing as this is a topical issue, one very relevant to me, I thought I’d post my response here for further discussion.

Original Article –
Why interns don’t deserve pay – by Brendan O’Niell

My response…

“Is there anything worse than when middle-class campaigners use grubby-kneed poor folk as a Trojan horse for the pursuit of their own self-enriching escapades? Resilient working-class kids have for years topped up their internships with Saturday jobs or evening work, while kipping on a friend’s couch to cut outgoings.”

Oh Brendan, how utterly contrived your argument is. As an intern who comes from a low income family, and as an aspiring journalist, I think you’re just a bit out of touch with what obstacles people like me face these days.

I intern 5 days a week, and work weekends when I can. I am on the books of three different temping agencies. I think this is neither fair nor just, namely, that people with wealthy parents have significantly easier circumstances than me. Life would be considerably easier if I was even just paid a menial sum of money for my efforts, rather than next to nothing.

I agree that an internship is an opportunity to learn; I do not contend that interns are “work” for the company “employing” them. But the fact that I can’t claim jobseekers while interning, that I am given no state support is simply ridiculous. I can’t even afford to pay my phone bill, the interest on my student account overdraft, and more and more this just makes internships very unappealing. But without doing unpaid work, the simple fact is, it would be near on impossible for me to become a successful journalist.

Oh yes, but we mustn’t forget the middle-class campaigners now, right Brendan? The people who can actually afford to finance their children’s internships. But I suppose there are plenty of middle class campaigners to argue for the importance of unpaid internships, ones such as, editors of small online magazines perhaps? The same small magazines that quite frequently use and abuse unpaid interns. Now for me at least, this is “easily the most grating argument” used by a greedy businessman such as yourself Brendan.

While I do not disagree that internships are very useful and if not more so to the intern, the fact remains, is they ultimately make the business employing them money. I can find several articles written by interns on Spiked alone that are more successful than a lot of your own articles Brendan. And a lot of your posts are simply written to irk the far left wing, and thereby garner you views and comments. I’ve been following your articles for some time now, and it is my opinion that you’re nothing more than just a glorified troll Brendan.

Interns deserve to be paid for their efforts, even if it is below minimum wage. But you ride off their success; you don’t give them the monetary value their efforts deserve, however small it may be. As someone who has worked for Living Marxism, I’m sure you must understand why this is wrong?

 

Fellow interns, what are your thoughts on unpaid internships?

In response to Brendan O’Neil – The Royal Birth

Note: This is a response to an article written by Brendan O’Neil, Editor of spiked. Often I’ll write out a lengthy and researched reply but never recieve a reply from the author. Rather then let the discussion be lost as it so often is, I’m hoping this new feature will help bring them to a wider audience.

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

Kate’s baby and the myth of the monarchist masses
by Brendan O’Niel

My Response…

You make a fair point Brendan, it is wrong of those who oppose the broad coverage of this event to look down upon those who do enjoy it. Arrogance is a terrible thing, regardless of if you are right or not. Another criticism you could make is that by writing about the royal birth these critics are increasing media coverage of the topic, and thereby directly attributing to what they supposedly despise. Both sides are playing to their readership. The birth is a hot topic, equally if you venerate or vindicate the royal family.

But by claiming that you know what “true” Republicanism means you are committing the same fallacy as those who you claim are “public-allergic republicans”. Namely, that you know better than those who should dare to mock the royal birth. A lot of these persons however are lower working class themselves. Your image of those who support the royal family and those who don’t is grossly inaccurate. Likewise, those who oppose the broad coverage of the royal birth have an equal right to share their reasons to why they oppose it, as those who follow it should be able to without obstruction. As you rightly stated, true republicanism is about what the people have to say. By standing up for one side, you ultimately do not stand for all people.

You also make the case that the royal family are nothing but celebrities, describing Kate as a “posh” Kim Kardashian. I must contend this notion. Queen Elizabeth II is a “constitutional monarch” meaning that she acts as head of state within the boundaries of a constitution. The royal family therefore have powers still enshrined in law, and are obligated to perform certain civic duties. If people enjoy them as celebrities, then they ought not to take any money from The Crown Estate and rescind these official duties. They should find ways to earn an income through the means that celebrities do, and not depend on profits from land passed down since the 11th century, land their ancestors claimed by supposed divine right.

These issues are increasingly important and unjustifiable in this age of austerity. If the average Joe has to incur cuts to the welfare estate, then so ought to the royal family, who increased their expenditure for three years in a row now. The royal’s use around £35 million of public money a year, profits from The Crown estate. This is excluding security services, which would put this total a lot higher. For instance, in 2012 The British government spent a grand total of $52 million on property upkeep, communication, security and travel expenses for The Queen.

This seems ludicrous when we consider that the cost of the controversial “Health Tourism” issue was estimated at only £30 million a year. What do you think brings more benefit to society; financing the royal family, or providing healthcare to those who need it? The government waged a successful war against providing free medical care to Non-EU citizens, an issue that is arguably incredibly important to tourism. Yet that same government argues the monarchy are necessary to tourism, hence we mustn’t stop funding them? What an utterly ridiculous and hypocritical contention.

The important question here is do we need an official constitutional monarchy? Honestly, probably not. Do I think people ought to be follow the lives of people that interest them? Of course, I’m not here to tell people what they can and cannot do with their free time. But this is under the condition that the royal family should be treated like normal celebrities and therefore normal citizens. They should not expect any special treatment from the government in the terms of financial assistance, and should rescind their official civic duties, titles, whilst operate using only their own income that is not from The Crown Estate.

WorldBytes: The Home of Citizen TV

Please take a look at these films I am very proud to have taken part in for WorldBytes as a Volunteer

The Wide Angle: Eco films & Emotionalism

Movie chat has rarely captured what’s at stake so effectively as this bar room banter. In a discussion on three well known apocalyptic eco-films, An Inconvenient truth, The Day after Tomorrow and Age of Stupid, a trio of guest experts take us beyond the usual finger pointing at doom-mongers. A palette of emotions: fear; loss and regret, are used to shortcut politics and convince us to change our behaviour or be seen as morally circumspect. Worse still, we learn, these films portray us as unable to deal with problems altogether. This is environmental determinism summed up; what matters to ecologists is what the climate or science will make us do, not what we decide we want to do about our future. Our options to think big, take control and develop what we need to manage climate change should we want to, are closed down. Given their hysterical claims of looming catastrophe, planetary extinction and ice ages it’s revealing that all we are advised to do is change a light bulb. Treating us like children consigned to the ‘naughty step’, as a scourge on the planet and ultimately ‘stupid’, these films are profoundly anti-human. While these films resemble ‘the rant you’d get from an eco-warrior in a pub’ we’re told, they nonetheless represent ‘the full download of prevailing perceptions’. These films are worth discussing because they represent a political culture that needs to be challenged if we are serious about reclaiming the idea of destiny as something we should control.

 

Alternative lectures: What is Humanism? (Part 1)

Professor of Sociology Frank Furedi answers the question ‘What is Humanism?’ in this short lecture filmed in the WORLDbytes studio. Whilst humanist ideas have been around for a long time, he observes, they have never been more weakly affirmed than at present. In ancient as well as renaissance times thinkers struggled with questions around what forces determine our destiny and began to formulate ideas that human beings themselves, rather than God or nature had a responsibility for making the world. Humanism, we learn, begins to flourish in renaissance Italy and finds more mature expression in the 17th and 18th centuries. Modern determinisms such as 19th century economic determinism or today’s eco-determinism, biological determinism or psychological determinism are all really evasions or excuses that diminish our own sense of taking responsibility for what happens. A Humanist outlook should equip us with an orientation towards reason, problem-solving and a healthy scepticism towards determinisms (or the fates) in the present day. Professor Furedi doesn’t overcomplicate the issue or use mystifying jargon in this refreshing and enlightening lecture.