Category: Ross Hawkes-Online


Ross Hawkes from Lichfield Live discusses Online Journalism and helps decode hyperlocal..as part of the ‘Day in the Life of a Journalist’ documentary…

After that glimpse of the news-day with his students, we’re now ready for the interview with Ross. After five minutes of struggling with the wireless microphone, Amoolya and I have managed to set the frame properly and the interview begins.
The seeds for Ross’s website Lichfield Live were sown when he was washing dishes one day in the kitchen (I’ve been constantly scrubbing plates since then in the hope that I’ll be hit by a light-bulb moment as well) and he saw an ambulance going by. His curiosity got the better of him and he found out what happened and tweeted about it. This then became a a regular ritual. Thus, Lichfield Live was born. Online Jargon was decoded. Hyper local, hyper alliance, digital ruled our conversation.
Ross describes hyper local as the modern day local newspaper. Having a journalist involved in hyper local has its own value, helps retain its objectivity.”We are doing it because we love the community,” says Ross. This is apparent in the posts you can find on the website which range from the big stories like those about the council, theater, the pub, Lichfield Football Club to that of lost pets. “To the person who has lost that pet, that is their biggest story”.
During the conversation, Ross spoke about the Lichfield Half Marathon, where he and his team photographed and identified close to 2000 runners individually. They painstakingly tagged each of the pictures so the people could find themselves online.
Talking about legally regulating the media, Ross says, “My worry for newspapers is that if you regulate them, it’s like asking them to fight with one hand tied at the back. We’ve got to make sure we are not throttling the very industry we are trying to clean up. There is a very thin line between cleaning it up and making it impossible for them to succeed in.”
He discussed the difference between radio, TV and online platforms – whether the medium is the message or message the medium was nicely put by Ross – “Let’s ignore platforms, what does that story want to be? Journalism doesn’t stop having the same rules just because you come to a lower level. The different media need to work together rather than against each other.”
After that brief chat with Ross, I do a quick piece to camera outside the Uni. That’s when we met ‘the Sarah Rowlands’ (yeah, she’s the one who wrote our broadcast journalism textbook, yay!). She gave us some quick journalism tips. Thanks a lot for that, really useful stuff.
The weather may have been a spoilsport but the people were definitely not.
The online world is something I must confess, I fear. I’ve never been (and probably never will be) good at it. But a ‘A Day in the Life of Ross Hawkes’ has definitely made me overcome that fear to a large extent. The most important lesson I learnt from Ross was- fear not to be creative. Thanks a ton, Ross Hawkes for doing ‘A Day in the Life of..!’.

And finally, we are in the right place with the right equipment and right journalist.
Amoolya and me film few shots of Ross at his workplace. The ‘playing-it-cool-with-the-tape -filming’ mantra seems to be working. Shucks! I’m pretty sure Ross has spotted it though. He is posting stuff on his website. Need to learn those skills from him. My posts are getting worse by the day.

He takes us to see his students, who are busy running a ‘Newsday’. For those of you who are new(pun intended) to the concept of news-days, it’s basically the days when journalism students run bulletins by the hour, either on Radio or TV or post news Online. It’s almost like a simulated newsroom. Students go out find stories, interviewees, etc. the entire day.
So Amoolya and I walk-in expecting to see a bunch of students who are ten times more stressed than we are feeling right now -tempers flying, people editing radio and TV clips, clambering for interviews. The sight in front shocks me- these guys are really chilled out. It’s amongst the calmest newsrooms I’ve seen.
There is no greater joy than filming a bunch of journalism students. If anyone is excited to be on camera, it’s them!
As we pan and tilt and get shots of them, these guys put on their best acting shoes. They make fake phone ringing noises, do fake interviews. Suddenly, Ross is being surrounded by a large number of students with ‘genuine’ doubts. Ross plays along. It’s a great atmosphere in the room. Great energy and they’re working hard as well.
With Ross’s help they run StaffsLive  – an online publishing platform. It teaches them about hyper local stuff and how audience, ethics, law and a real journalism environment works. “Being creative is the key”, says Ross.
It’s hard to teach and run the website  at the same time – a lot of  his free time is spent on the website – while the rest of the world watches telly or drinks wine, Ross is tweaking things around on his website.  When he started off, he felt it was consuming him, so now he sets aside time solely for the blog and that helps manage work and website.

It’s time to film the final part of ‘A Day in the Life of a Journalist’. We have with us Ross Hawkes from Lichfield Live. After closely observing the workings of a Radio and TV journalist, we get an opportunity to film an Online Journo. (Whoohoo! My Lecturer, Dave Harte is going to be relieved, I’m actually nearing the completion of my Project, one I thought would never even take off.)
We head off to Staffordshire University. Yes, Ross works as a Lecturer in Online Journalism at the uni. He also runs the Lichfield Live website. The website is an online news delivering platform for the Lichfield and Burntwood community. We leave the multi-tasking to Ross, as only he can do that- I have with me Amoolya (yes, she’s my plus 1 today, thanks Amoolya) to help with the camera.

We board a train from New Street Birmingham to Stafford. Despite the rain (which is not making me too happy), the train journey has been smooth and we have reached Stafford. By now you all think I’m a pro at this whole filming ‘A Day in the Life of’ thingy, since I’ve had so much experience.
Sooo wrong…
Today’s the first day I’m going to do the filming me-self. That too on tape. Of course, Amoolya’s there with me, but when it comes to camera work, we both are often seen praying before hitting the record button. I’ve filmed before, but never on tape, today will be the first (should be similar to the whole card thing right?). I’ll obviously, avoid conveying my anxiety to Ross. Play it cool, is the mantra.
At Stafford station, we try to hire a taxi to the Uni- the taxi guy gives us the ‘you are in the wrong town look’. Okay, panic. Fine don’t. So the Staffordshire University is not in Stafford? It’s apparently in a place called Stoke-on-Trent.
Fifteen minutes of MIB action later (running with all that equipment, booking tickets, re-checking the destination), we are on another train. This is the point where Dave Harte is so not impressed with my Project Management skills. A quick twenty-minute journey later, we finally arrive at the Staffordshire University.
It’s close to 1 pm and Ross has just finished his morning lecture. I assumed this is the time he would be leisurely munching on a sandwich while discussing football with his colleague (I even prepared a shot-list in my head of him and his colleague indulging in an animated conversation). Instead, Ross is sitting at his desk and busily posting stuff on Lichfield Live…