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About Deborah Hobson

Deborah Hobson is a freelance writer and Deputy Editor of The-Latest.com. She specialises in human interest, celebrity and lifestyle features. Deborah has written scoops for The-Latest, using the Freedom of Information Act to uncover official secrets the public have a right to know about. She looks after contributors and if you would like to become one contact her: contribsed@the-latest.com

Here are my most recent posts

Bloggers take legal action over Huffington Post sale

huffingtonpost most popular blog 300x300 How Many Visitors is HuffingtonPost Driving Monthly?

Arianna Huffington, her website and AOL were on the receiving end of a $105m (?64.5m) lawsuit by a group of angry bloggers unhappy that she sold the Huffington Post for $315m without them being paid a penny.

The class action is led by Jonathan Tasini, a writer and trade unionist, who wrote more than 250 posts for Huffington Post on an unpaid basis until he dropped out shortly after the news and comment site was sold to AOL earlier this year.

Read the full story here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/apr/12/arianna-huffington-post-sale

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14

04 2011

Citizen journalists are key source for reports on Syria

interior-ministry-protest2

With well-respected wire journalists expelled by the authorities in Damascus the only on-the-ground reports that are emerging are via mobile phones and YouTube. There’s much room for speculation and rumour according to Syria News Wire.

Read the full story: Citizen Journalists Provide Main Reporting On Syria.

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04

04 2011

UK citizen journalism site exposes hypocrisy of British media over Libya bombings

EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece originally appeared in The-Latest.com and has been republished here with permission.

Marc Wadsworth – Editor at The-Latest.com

Cruise missile image given by US military to lap dog media

Cruise missile image given by US military to lap dog media

Not a single commentator in the British media I have seen today has stated the obvious – that the majority of the world is against the West’s unprovoked bombing of Libya.

Opposed to the massive cruise missiles raining down on Colonel Muammar Gadaffi’s cities are the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China as well the 53 nation-strong African Union. Already, according to the Libyan government, more than 50 people the UN-backed aggression were supposed to be protecting have been killed.

The hypocrisy of the West’s war mongering leaders is only matched by their lap dog propagandists in big media. Bankrupt international politics has been used as a fig leaf. The rigged vote on the United Nation’s “Security Council” went 10-0 in favour of imposing a “no fly zone” over Libyan air space enforced by “all necessary measures to protect civilians”.

(The UN has never done this to protect defenceless Palestinian civilians from Israeli bombardment, on many occasions, because the Americans have always vetoed such a vote.)

Five mighty countries abstained over Libya: China, Russia – two of the five permanent members – India, Brazil and Germany. The UN vote proved that the New York-based world body is broken. Why? It demonstrated how the West, that dominates the all-powerful Security Council, cajole, bully and bribe to get the outcomes they want. Yemen were once punished by the US which withdrew millions of dollars of aid from the impoverished country when it dared to vote against it at the UN.

India, Brazil, Japan or an African nation are glaringly absent among the five  permanent members of the Security Council. And the much more representative General Assembly, that includes all the nations of the world, is ignored politically and in the big media.

What is more, the Arab League that backed the no fly zone ahead of the crucial UN vote, at the behest of US President Barack Obama and the UK’s David Cameron, is packed with the very unelected royals and despots popular uprisings by the people, supposedly backed by the West, oppose. The Arab League sell-outs are dependent on the West to stay in power. And they reward their masters in Washington, London and Paris with oil and billion pound purchases, mainly of hi-tech arms.

Added to this, the slaughter by these Arab dictators of pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain and Yemen has not triggered a Western pushed UN resolution nor military intervention precisely because “they are our allies”.

Like Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who was armed to the teeth by the West in an attempt to defeat Iran and then overthrown and executed, Muammar Gaddafi has now be turned on by his former Western friends. Feisty Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has bluntly denounced the West’s attack on Libya as “a grab for oil by the imperialists”. But you will not see his comment quoted in big media.

The Goebbels machine of Fleet Street has softened up public opinion by portraying Gaddafi as a “Mad Dog” who kills his own people. Is not that what the Western-armed psychopath Suharto did in Indonesia? Gaddafi has been demonised like Saddam Hussein and Robert Mugabe to paralyse rational public debate about a country’s sovereignty and right not to be attacked by foreign powers. And now the British military are in action we are told we must patriotically back them, despite any misgivings.

If concerns were to be genuinely overridden by an international desire to protect civilian populations then why did the West not intervene in Rwanda in 1994 when almost a million people were butchered? Or in Southern Sudan’s Darfur more recently?

The silent majority in the world must loudly protest at the murderous aggression in our name against Libya – a country that has not attacked us – otherwise who will be next? Hugo Chavez, Robert Mugabe, Evo Morales and Daniel Ortega are democratically-elected leaders the US wants rid of because they refuse to fall into line. So, if the dangerous precedent of Libya is allowed then why not oil-rich Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Bolivia or Nicaragua?

And now British military are in action we are told we must patriotically back them, despite any misgivings.
If concerns were to be genuinely overridden by an international desire to protect civilian populations then why did the West not intervene in Rwanda in 1994 when almost a million people were killed? Or in Southern Sudan’s Darfur more recently?
The silent majority in the world must loudly protest at the murderous aggression in our name against Libya – a country that has not attacked us – otherwise who will be next? Hugo Chavez, Robert Mugabe, Evo Morales and Daniel Ortega, are democratically-elected leaders the US wants rid of because they refuse to fall in line. So, if the dangerous precedent of Libya is allowed then why not oil-rich Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Bolivia or Nicaragua?

* Gaddafi ally Louis Farrakhan, leader of America’s Nation of Islam that supported Barrack Obama’s campaign to become US president, has spoken powerfully about his opposition to the military attack on Libya.

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21

03 2011

How to get stories as a citizen journalist

Research for news or feature stories is very different to academic study. Time limits or  ’deadlines’ are usually more critical and the depth of information required is much less. In journalism, research will be for background information and for the purposes of finding people you can interview for expert comment or analysis. These are called  ’sources’. In news journalism, a single source is often used in an article but feature writers use several sources.

Most organisations have designated employees who deal with media enquiries. They are usually called a press officer and work in the press office. But they may be a marketing person or even staff at a public relations company. The press office will supply you with news releases, brochures and leaflets, known as  ’hand-out’ material. Press officers are usually helpful, all too aware that today’s journalism student or writing enthusiast may be tomorrow’s Fleet Street staffer. They will answer your questions and may assist you to arrange an interview with a source which, in television, is called unflatteringly a  ’talking head’. Adding your contact details to a press officer’s mailing list can result in invitations to potentially valuable sources of stories like product launches and news conferences. Potential interviewees can be found using publications including:

The Directory of British Associations, available in most reference libraries.

The Hollis Press and Public Relations Annual

The Writers and Artists Yearbook

The Guardian Media Guide which lists a range of media contacts and the names, telephone numbers and websites for local councils, government departments, hospitals, police services, courts, prisons, museums, theatres and embassies.

A good reference library will have a variety of specialist directories as well CD-ROMS containing back issues of newspapers and journals. It is worthwhile joining more than one library. London has a number of these, for instance Westminster Reference Library, the British Library and the Royal Institute for International Affairs, which researchers can use by prior appointment.

The internet is now an easy and standard source for research. There are a number of major search engines on the net and a few like Ask Jeeves at askjeeves.co.uk and Answers.com are particularly user-friendly because you can enter a question. All the major newspapers have searchable archives, for example guardian.co.uk. Though the internet is a great resource, for accuracy, be careful to use authoritative sites and double check facts when not doing this. For example, though the online encyclopaedic resource wikipedia.org is a boon, remember that it is written by volunteers who are not necessarily experts (anybody who wants to contribute can) and therefore information on it needs to be cross-referenced with other sources.

It is not uncommon for people who are new to journalism to spend an inordinate amount of effort on research and then leave little time for the writing of an article. The important consideration in the first stage of constructing your piece is the topicality of the story, its relevance to a target audience and interesting angle. This will provide the necessary focus for your research, saving precious time and labour. The UK’s citizen journalism website The-Latest.com is rich with resources for would-be journalists.

The following should give you some story ideas.

Updates

What was really behind President George W. Bush’s ‘war on terror’, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere and why did Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and other leaders support it?

What’ was the true casualty total after a ‘terrorist bombing’? Who was really behind these earth-shattering events?

What’s the latest on official probes like the investigations into the controversial death of Princess Diana?

What’s happening in a court case, crime or other investigation you’re interested in, but suddenly the news media stops reporting or doesn’t cover at all?

You can submit Freedom of Information Act inquiries to public bodies for you and get important questions answered. See: http://www.the-latest.com/freedom-of-information-advice

Travel and Health

In today’s uncertain world, to what places is it safe to travel? And, with the advent of new pandemics like bird flu, what’s the latest health advice? Tell us about your transport experiences or treatment at the hands of the health service or other official bodies. Be a whistle-blower on information being kept secret by the powers-that-be when the public have the right to know.

Where are they now?

Tell is what’s happened to a favourite soap star no longer in the show? A politician, pop star, sports personality, actor or model – where are they now?

New Products

Write a sneak preview of the latest products like mobile phones, electrical and other goods as a consumer.

Copyright  © 2008 The-Latest.com

Republished with permission.



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Citizen journalism key to eyewitness accounts of student fees protests in UK

Campaigners have announced two days of direct action to oppose the British government’s unpopular education funding cuts and plans to treble university fees to £9,000 a year writes Marc Wadsworth.

To support the magnificent struggles mounted by students The-Latest.Com, the UK’s first dedicated citizen journalism website, is planning extensive coverage of the protests at universities across the country on Wednesday and Thursday that include a mass lobby of Members of Parliament and candlelit vigil on Thursday when MPs will stage a crucial vote.

We encourage members and supporters of the website to attend the events, that include a march on parliament, and submit to us your eyewitness accounts, images and video of the protest directly to The-Latest or by email to editor@the-latest.com. This is the best way to upload content to the site. But we also have an emergency mobile hotline: 07950 241795.

It is worth noting that The-Latest was the first news media organisation to question police brutality and the killing of innocent bystander Ian Tomlinson at the G20 event of April last year. Until our scoop, big media had happily peddled police propaganda about what happened.

We urge our female members and supporters to join the National Union of Students Women’s Campaign on Wednesday and demonstrate outside the office of Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament Lynne Featherstone. She is Minister for Women and Equalities in the coalition government and MP for Hornsey and Wood Green in London.  She should be persuaded to join other Lib Dem MPs and leading Conservative David Davis, a former Home Secretary, to vote against the government’s proposals on December 9.

Any increase in fees will hit women, minorities and poor people hardest and shut the door to education for thousands of them.

In advance of the crucial House of Commons vote, ministers have said universities that want to charge students up to £9,000 a year in fees will face fresh targets on widening access to applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds. Yet admissions data from Oxford and Cambridge, Britain’s top two universities, has revealed a whitewash.

It confirms that only one Black Briton of Caribbean descent was accepted for undergraduate study at Oxford last year. And white students were more likely to be successful than Black applicants at every Cambridge college except St Catharine’s.

The National Union of Students (NUS), University and College Union (UCU) and National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) is organising rallies, a candle lit vigil, march and mass lobby of parliament. Please attend and send your reports, images and video to The-Latest.

On the day of the vote lobbyists will join protestors on Victoria Embankment, London, for a rally from 3pm.

After it gets dark, the demonstrators will hold up 9,000 Glo-sticks in a candlelit vigil with the stunning Thames backdrop to symbolise the potential new annual fee students could face.

A news release from the NCAFC said: “We call on the police to allow our march to reach Parliament, and to refrain from the harassment and kettling tactics that they have shamefully deployed in the past few weeks. We will not stand for our civil liberties being trampled week after week by the authorities.”

It added: “We call on all students, education workers and sympathisers to join us on the streets on Thursday to show this Government that they can’t get away with their ideological assault on education and our public services.”

Since the NUS and UCU joint 50,000-strong demonstration on November 10 there there has been an unprecedented level of student activism against devastating cuts to education, the axing of the education maintenance allowance (EMA) to help poor students, the proposed trebling of tuition fees and now the proposed abolition of AimHigher.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt, said: “These proposals, if they go through, will change the entire landscape of education in this country and we must continue to oppose them.  We need to expose the damage they will do to our universities, colleges and communities.

“MPs must be left in no doubt of the strength of opposition to these plans and the consequences of voting for them. We have been overwhelmed by support from people across the country against these plans and we hope they will all join us in making their voice heard this week.”

NUS president Aaron Porter, said: “The joint NUS and UCU march that brought together 50,0000 people on 10 November has provided the spur to a new wave of activism and lobbying, placing the Government’s policy on fees and student support policy under huge pressure.

“This week we must keep that pressure up as the vote approaches. MPs can be left in no doubt as to the widespread public opposition to these plans or of the consequences of steamrollering them through Parliament.”

If you take part in any of the protests on Wednesday and Thursday we hope that you keep warm, alert and safe.

Huge protests planned to oppose government attack on students:http://www.the-latest.com/huge-protests-planned-oppose-government-attack-students

*Marc Wadsworth is Editor at UK citizen journalism website The-Latest.com.

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