Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Voluntary journalism on the Isle of Wight…

I've been staying with my parents on the Isle of Wight for the past week or so, building up my multimedia skills while applying for jobs. I've produced some charmingly local podcasts for Ventnor Blog, an extraordinary Isle of Wight news website.

Husband and wife team Sal and Simon have dedicated their lives to asking questions. In the time I spent in the office, they were working non-stop, on the phone to readers and councillors, moderating comments, plugged into Isle of Wight radio. I don't know how they sustain these ten-hour-a-day marathons with so little advertising, but they are a lot of fun to work with and had plenty to tell me about multimedia and interactive coverage.

"We're covering the Town Council elections today," said Sal. "We like to treat it like a national event, just to keep ourselves amused."

Outside the polling station with the rooks for company, I had a pleasant time discovering that people in Ventnor really care about roads,and got brief interviews with the voters and candidates.

On Saturday, my boyfriend and I went to a new Isle of Wight club night called Radieux. Read my review here! Island musicians The Shutes proved a thrilling discovery:

I secured an interview with Radieux's organisers Michael Champion (Shutes' frontman) and his mate Michael Yates. Champion invited me round for a cup of tea in a neighbouring village. His place was retro. I noted the vintage typewriter plonked on the coffee table.
"Yeah it's a beauty isn't it?" he said. "It doesn't work yet. I want to fix it up."

Mike's heavy cold made podcasting a bad idea, so I interviewed for a written piece about the pair's ambitions. This led onto sources of inspiration, feelings about the island, and musicians' enduring love affair with the 1960s. That night i wrote the piece up with the cat meowing at me and the wind howling outside. It won't be published until tomorrow though…

I seem to be doing my best work after darkness at the moment! Last night I went to a council meeting for Ventnor Blog. Lots of dusty voices discussing the same subject for four hours in fraught tones, then raising their hands along pre-ordained lines. I wrote about it until 3am.

There's a point at which energy becomes relentless… It had been a busy day and all. A creative friend and I decided to go to the beach in the pouring rain. I'd made the suggestion when it was sunny.

"No,we should go!" he insisted, as the heavens opened.
"You should wear wellies."
"No. No."
"Are you going to regret this?"
"Of course not!"
He didn't:


It seems the sea was lovely, and it wasn't muddy at all…


Actually, we slid through deep mud for at least a mile and I almost got stuck a couple of times. It was an adventure to exit mundanity and find ourselves at THE ENDS OF THE EARTH. The waves were immense… much taller than me. The kind of ferocity that can't be contained in a photograph.

This post has proved quite bitty and complicated - but I have one more piece of news. I'm off to London tomorrow for a weekend including an investigative reporting workshop with Nick Davies and David Leigh, which I'm quite excited about.

1 comment:

  1. Really like the Radieux review, Alex. Jealous of the I.O.W. yoof of