Pen and paper…

Thoughts, ideas, questions, experiences

Wordle fun… April 23, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled,Online journalism — Kellie Maddox @ 2:27 pm
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An interactive tool I thought I’d have a play with seeing as I haven’t before!

My blog as a Wordle:

Birmingham Recycled as a Wordle:

#ashtag as a Wordle:


Mapping CO2 emissions saved by UK airspace closure

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kellie Maddox @ 12:29 pm

You were warned…..things on the mapping front are taking too long but I am working on it! So what do we have so far?

Cait Weston, Deputy Director of the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) sent me some details of how their figures were calculated up until Tuesday 20th (5th day):

IATA’s graph (source seems to be from a PowerPoint?) shows downturn-impacted global aviation CO2 at around 610 MtCO2 for 2009.

Europe is around 33% of this = 203.3 / 365 = .557 MtCO2 per day, broad average

Eurocontrol actual flight figures vary on a daily basis but actual flown against expected schedule can be found here:

So 5 (days) x .557 = 2.8 MtCO2 in normal times but only 48% (of normal flight traffic) = 48% less CO2 = 1.3 MtCO2 less than normal

A statement from Jeff Gazzard, of the Aviation Environment Federation said:

“Air transport’s CO2 emissions have fallen around 48% across Europe in the last 6 days, a total reduction that’s greater just by itself than the entire annual emissions of many nations. On a country-by-country ranking these savings alone would slot in between Fiji and Guyana – our addiction to flying is exposed once again. The use of trains, ferries and video conferencing has sky-rocketed as planes have been grounded. Whilst volcanic eruptions are not an everyday occurrence, surely the take away message from the last few days is: wherever you can in future, please try and fly less!”

I have since spoken to Jeff, who says that these figures were a little ‘conservative’ because they were based on the down-turn impacted aviation CO2 for 2009 and that the price of fuel has obviously changed therefore the figures are not entirely accurate. He’s ‘re-calculating’ and said he would send them on…..

The AEF published the article on Tuesday about the cuts in aviation emissions – their figures were quoted by The Times amongst others.

As for UK figures, specifically Birmingham Airport – I’ve contacted the airport who said roughly 1600 flights were grounded over the 6 day period. I asked how this impacted aviation emissions figures but was told it’s something they’d have to look into with their environment department…….so its looking like Monday at the earliest!

I am also chasing the Environmental Transport Association, who’ve published about the situation and the environmental impact it has had. Again, I wait to get a response from them.

So whether the map will become a reality anytime soon is anyone’s knowledge but I’m trying to get some more accurate, local stats to work with before it all becomes irrelevant!

Check back soon…..there may be a map……there may not…..


You know that volcano….you know the one……

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 11:19 am
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Yep, that’s right – the one in Iceland that’s brought misery to thousands of stranded air passengers across Europe and caused UK airspace to close for 6 whole days. Well, the team at BRInvestigates have seen through the misery and thought GREAT! (well we didn’t exactly say that) What are we interested in? The environment. And what does the airspace closure mean for the environment? Less aviation emissions.

So what? Well as the winding path of Online Journalism continues to weave its complex web – we suddenly come face-to-face with another daunting and mind-boggling concept…….INTERACTIVITY….which I will tackle in another post.

So, in our quest to make our online journalism more interactive, we thought about creating some elements which represented data about the emissions saved during the airspace ban in other ways to writing an article. Mapping the flights that would normally have left the UK to Europe and showing the CO2 emissions that have been saved as a result of the ban would be one way of doing that.

Cue the pitiful efforts so far…..


My Easter at Beacon…

Filed under: News — Kellie Maddox @ 10:40 am
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…and the joys of radio news. So, no need to guess – I spent my Easter holiday with the Beacon radio news team and experienced life as a fully fledged journalist (well, almost). And now I actually have more than a few minutes to myself again, I thought I’d jot down my thoughts, experiences and general reflections on my 3 week placement.

It all started way, way back on Monday, March 29 at approximately 8.50am (well, really it was like 3 hours prior to that when I leapt out of bed in fear that I’d be late on my first day). Anyway, I got to Beacon to be greeted by a big Georgian-period building – that must have been a house at one point – and my first thoughts were ‘hmmm, interesting for a radio station’; not what I was expecting. But it was great for a radio station! Downstairs was the news  and programming teams and the studios for Beacon Black Country, Shropshire and Gold. Upstairs – the sales team and the ‘creative’ folk (that’s what they told me), another studio for live performances and a vending machine that hadn’t worked for at least 6 months. So all in all, a lovely little set-up in a nice period building.

So after the formalities (the show-round, introduction to team, placement guidelines etc) I set about getting stuck in to covering stories. Luckily, I’d got a bit of head start from my Smooth experience, so refreshing the brain on the software Burli wasn’t too difficult (thankfully) and I pretty much did what all news team peeps do – chase stories, interview, write copy and clip audio ready for the bulletins. I got to go out on stories and speak to loads of different people: a media expert at Uni of Wolverhampton, the head of PE at a local school, a youth parliament member, officers from West Mids Police and the lovely people of Wolverhampton (well, not all of them were so nice……)

So, my three weeks with the news team were busy, varied day-to-day and seemed to fly by (ah…..the joys of ‘real’ work) but what did I learn from it?

  • Speaking to members of the general public and asking opinions is not easy – most think you’re selling something, make their excuses and walk on; others don’t understand what you’re asking and give you a one word answer (great…thanks for that) and then some think its an excuse to ramble on for 5 minutes about everything under the sun (great…..all I wanted was a 15 second clip!)
  • Equally – reading a news bulletin really isn’t easy but maybe that’s because I’m not so well practiced at the pro’s. You have to read accurately and sound authoritative (so people think you know what you’re talking about) but you also need to sound natural and avoid the common mistake of putting on a ‘newsreader’ voice (yes….that happened to me aswell). Not only that, you need to read ahead so you know what’s coming, emphasise all the right words and remember to breathe in between………erm….anything else?
  • Election time is a stressful time for all journalists – 1. because lots of the people who would normally comment for stories suddenly aren’t able to comment on certain things (e.g. councils, NHS etc) because they are all obviously connected to the government (not great for broadcast media). 2. Whenever a ‘political’ story is run – all parties have to be equally represented so there’s no getting away with ‘Gordon Brown said……’ without ‘But Cameron said this…….and Clegg thinks their both wrong……..’ (you get the drift)
  • Despite all the above – radio news can be fun and exciting when a story breaks and you need to get there. Everything’s much more immediate and you feel you’re constantly on the watch for the ‘latest’ on anything. Also web has become a much greater part of radio news output and the importance of keeping content fresh and up-to-date and also using the online content as a place to experiment with other forms that you wouldn’t broadcast (i.e. videos, pic galleries, polls etc)

Highlight of the placement – the daily ‘why I’m late’ excuses of one of the team (which included ‘I saw signs for the M6 Toll and thought I don’t want to go on there so I followed a road and I ended up on the M6 Toll, then I realised I had no money to get off it’ and ‘today’s is simple; I had to get petrol and blow my nose because I’ve got a ****ing cold!’) Genius!

Not-so-highlight – getting up at 5am, standing outside a train station and asking commuters in the Black Country what they thought of the first leader’s debate. Getting ignored and receiving death stares at 6am is not great when the 8am bulletin is calling – to be honest though I don’t blame them….I wouldn’t talk to me either at that hour……about anything let alone politics…..

Great three weeks, great people and a good insight into the world of radio news = well worth the early mornings!


Better late than never: a quick update….

To cut a long story short (sorry for the old cliché there) – my general absence here and elsewhere across the social media ‘waves’ over the last few weeks was because I was on work placement at a well-known Black Country radio station. But I will eventually blog about that whole experience – it is on the to-do list.

So I’m back – if not in mind but in general physical presence – and I’m trying to get back into the swing of things, especially on the Online Journalism front now we have the Birmingham Recycled Investigates team up and running. I did blog here before the Easter break about what we were up to but here’s a quick note about where I’m at:

  • Birmingham allotments and bees – published initial story about BCC changing their rules (updates to follow once council agrees new terms)
  • Trying to figure out and experiment with interactive tools to help support online work and offer alternatives for presenting data in text form (blog post on this to follow shortly)
  • Initial team idea to experiment with interactive tools such as Wordle, audio slideshows and mapping to represent how the recent airspace closure has impacted on the environment (focusing on Birmingham Airport’s CO2 emissions saved)

That last point is still something we’re working on, but obviously now the ban has passed, we’re conscious that it’s becoming less relevant. Hopefully, we’ll use the data we’ve got so far to do something even if it’s not what we originally wanted (again I will blog about this). So, that’s where I’m at and maybe by the end of the week – I’ll be back to normal…….whatever that is…..


Response from Birmingham City Council re: bee-keeping March 31, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 6:40 pm
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Adrian Stagg  – Allotments Finance & Records Officer at Birmingham City Council – responded to my query regarding changes to council’s bee-keeping on allotments policy:

We intend to change the Allotment Rules to accommodate bee keeping but are waiting for approval to the new terms. In the meantime we allow bees subject to the following conditions :

the siting of hives must be agreed with the Association and the Allotment Liaison Officer in advance

anyone keeping bees must have Public Liability insurance and must be a member of the British Beekeepers Association or affiliated society.

I’ve asked him to let me know when the new terms are approved – not sure on the time-scale for this so might run an initial story to talk about changes ‘in the pipeline’.

He also gave me details for Allotment Liaison Officer, Mohammed Riaz – who apparently knows more about specific arrangements for hives so I will be approaching him for further clarification in the next few days.


Actually, bees are allowed in Brum (I think…) March 28, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 3:17 pm
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It seems that things are already changing on the bee-keeping in Brum front. Having posted yesterday about the comments I got from Lisa Nelder – who’s from Walkers Heath Allotments – I’ve found out some more info courtesy of Dave Harte.

He kindly forwarded a copy of Birmingham City Council Allotment Rules, which clearly state:

These rules are made under Section 28 of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 and apply to all Allotments including any let before these rules came into force. They come into force on the date they are sealed.

7.4           Beehives are not allowed on the Allotment.

He also commented on my previous post:

You can have bee hotels on your allotment. There’s a few on ours. We need bees to pollinate stuff like pumpkins which is why you often see flowers planted on allotment plots. It’s beehives you can’t have which are a different order of things altogether.

So, the first question appears to have been answered but it’s still not that clear if and where you can keep bees. Then I received another email from Lisa saying:

Further to my email, I thought you might like to know that having attended the BDAC AGM today, the subject of bee keeping came up and the subsequent council rule. It now appears that the council have backtracked on this particular rule and bees will once again be allowed on site, with certain restrictions in place. Mainly, the beekeeper will have to be a member of the beekeepers association, who will in turn, ensure the bees are looked after properly, sited correctly on the allotment and appropriate insurance is taken out.

For more clarification may I suggest you speak with Adrian Stagg of Birmingham Council’s Allotments Section.

A U-turn decision by the council? Or something that wasn’t that clear in the first place – bee hotels = yes vs bee hives = no/allotments = no vs gardens = yes?

Anyway, whatever the decision/change of heart/clarity of the issue – I’m hoping to speak to Adrian Stagg sometime this week to see exactly what’s going on and what the situation with bee-keeping is now.

More posts to follow…