Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Education & Crime

It is often argued that poor education leads to higher crime rates. First of all, that's false - they correlate.

Anyway, I actually think this is inaccurate for another reason. Poor education leads to more arrests, not more crime. Better education would lead to fewer arrests, as the criminals would be better prepared to get away with it...

Possibly not the best advertisement for a university degree, "Get away with stuff!". Well, maybe it would be in DC...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Journalism Careers

If you go into journalism with only work experience, you have to start at the bottom.

If you go into journalism with a postgraduate degree, you have to start at the bottom with £5~k debt.

What's wrong with this picture?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

23 AS

23rd Year Anno Stefani

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Google-whacking

Am I the only person who thinks the world's favourite search engine has done nothing wrong? Certainly, nothing to warrant the vitriol that has been targetted at them over the past couple of months.

It's all about their decision to create www.google.cn, a China-based version of their ubiquitous search site. Where lefties are getting their knickers in a twist is the fact that Google agreed to Chinese Governmental demands for censorship of key words such as "democracy".

"Don't Be Evil!" is the company's motto, and many people think that this acceptance of censorship is the company being as evil as a company can possibly be. Of course, there are a lot of people who will immediately pounce on tidbits of news that might suggest a great corporation of the world has done something wrong and have conniptions of glee (Gary, this means you...).

Unlike the Chinese language Google.com that was available previously, Google.cn is run off servers based in China, which provides users with faster access to information. Now, the Chinese government censored Google.com, using their snappily named “Great Firewall Of China” (the wags), so surely this move is beneficial to Chinese netizens?

The fact that there are approximately 100 million of them, with ever increasing numbers each year, and the potential ad revenue boosts this will create merely shows that Google are finally accepting the fact that they’re a company who are in the business of pleasing shareholders (more on this, later).
Also, and far more straight-forward, Google has to obey the law. Just like any other company wishing to set up in any country, the local laws have to be obeyed, regardless of what they might be, and regardless of how wildly they might differ from your own country's laws. This, I believe, is why Google agreed to censor. They've been better behaved than Microsoft and Yahoo, too - the latter of which provided information to the Chinese authorities that resulted in a Chinese netizen being incarcerated.

Every left-wing, chattering article projects the idea that all Chinese people want to do, day in and day out, on the internet, is search for censored material. As if they have no other possible needs for a search engine. This is absurd! If a Chinese netizen really wanted to access this forbidden knowledge, they’d be able to find a way around the firewall – as they have been for years. Google.com is still accessible in China. Google.cn merely provides faster access to day-to-day information, very similar to the usual stuff we in the West search for every day (services, retail, entertainment of varying natures, and so forth).

Google have been giving off mixed signals, though. One minute, they’re allowing a foreign government to censor information, but the next minute they’re refusing to help their own government (more on that here). It’s not difficult to see how some people will think that Google are fudging their own motto to suit their monetary wants.

So, I think I’m one of the few people who actually supports Google on this issue.

As for the drubbing Google has received from Wall Street… well, what’s going on there? They’re posting 80%+ profits, and still their share price drops! 80%! That’s so far above the average that it’s insane to consider this a sign of the company underperforming.

Anyway, enough of this.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Fluffy

Who wants to be a journalist?!

To tell you the truth, not me.
I've been subbing for the course magazine, and I've come across a website that has some truly disturbing facts: in the past decade, 337 journalists have been killed on-the-job. 337! My image of a peaceful existence as portrayed by Clark Kent (when not saving the world) and other literary journalists, feet up on my desk, drinking coffee and eating doughnuts, waiting for the latest scoop to fall in my lap, has been completely destroyed!
True, the Iraq War has created its fair share of journalists in bodybags (60), but even without this, 277 journalists died in other countries! This includes radio journalists (62) and hapless photographers and cameramen (67).
These deaths aren't the results of accidents: 237 are confirmed murders! Of theses, 202 were murdered with impunity.
However, crossfire claimed 67, and natural disasters and "other dangerous circumstances" (such as street demonstrations) claimed the lives of 33 others.
Do you think they give hazard pay...?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Labour: A new shade of Green?

It was brought to my attention, today, that the Labour government was offered a choice of Toyota Prius or Jaguar, for their official cars. All but one MP chose the Jaguar.

This from a government proclaiming to be green, and eco-friendly? Not only that, the Jaguar is more than double the price of the Prius!

Is it a sense of style, that persuaded MPs to go for the ever-so-chic and desirable Jaguars - giving in to their poser mentalities? Or is it simply that they chose it because they didn't have to pay for it?

Either way, "Labour is not so much green as (Gordon) Brown"

(Thanks to my classmate for that quote)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

"Run for the hills!"

While researching a recent feature for uni, I've come across a very gloomy perspective in journalism today.
The feature was intended to provide some perspectives and advice on the benefits of work experience and university journalism courses. Out of everyone I interviewed, only two did not warn me against becoming a journalist. Some were jesting, others were dead serious. "Go into PR, there's more money in it!" some said. "Become an accountant," others recommended.
A retired City University journalism professor told me that "unless you have a driving urge to become a journalist - in which case go for it with rat-like cunning - you should think at once of some more respectable, profitable, or worthwhile career!"
It's true, journalism doesn't pay much (see later), unless you are a celebrity columnist, and it's also true that journalists aren't exactly the most loved public servants in the world.
John Humphrys, when asked if he had any advice for prospective journalists, told our editor "I don't believe in giving advice to would-be journalists... except, possibly, to consider another career. There are too many people trying to make a living in the game these days..."
All very glum and uninsperational, really.
As for the level of pay... Well, judging by recent criticisms of my work, the reason journalists aren't paid much, is because they're not actually recquired to write anything! Whenever I hand in a piece for checking, if a paragraph isn't 100% built around a quote, then I'm asked to cut it, even if it's actually a worthy point!
"No one's going to pick up [the magazine] and say, 'I wonder what Stefan thinks about this issue'," I was told. Well, fair enough, but that's not what I was writing at all! (For that, I have this blog.)
Instead of using a quote, I pooled stuff from conversations I've had with many journalists and turned it into a paragraph of advice, without attributing it to one person over another. Not a single personal pronoun in sight!
It's really beyond me, because the piece was already about 60% quotation, which is far more than you see anywhere else. To me, that's lazy journalism - there's no point in having reams of quotation, and nothing else. It's a feature, after all, so there should be analysis and commentary. None of it was about what I personally thought, without any outside input. It read better without a quote.
As for the columnists that are pulling in £300k (or whatever), good for them, but stop writing about yourselves! I really do pick up a paper and not think I want to hear what sort of party someone went to last night. I'd much rather read a commentary on a news story - personal opinions more than welcome - but the sort of diary columns that you find in The New Statesman are completely... useless.
Articles about a serious issue that are peppered with personal pronouns annoy the hell out of me - I want to read about the story or the news, not the author. If I wanted to, I would read their autobiography or their blogs.