Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

What Blackadder can teach you about video journalism

Posted in Journalism, Online Video, studio .fu by Adam Westbrook on November 24, 2010

Some films are just a struggle to bring into this world.

I’ve found you can spot them early on: you can’t quite nail the story, or your character’s not willing to really get involved; or it starts to get runaway-complicated. These problem films affect novice video journalists and film makers more often. It damages morale and we think: ‘this film-making malarky isn’t nearly as fun as it looks.’

What do you do in those situations? 90% of people give up.

But the actual solution, to borrow from the brilliant Steven Pressfield, is to ‘shut up and keep humping’. Keep working away at that film, regardless of how miserable the trench warfare is. Turn up every day until it’s done. It isn’t fun. It’s hard. But don’t you dare give up.

And every film can be rescued. If you don’t believe me, take inspiration from one of the most famous scenes in British television history – which very nearly never happened.

The original footage shot, the producers realised they had a flop on their hands….but through creative thinking, team work and sheer bloody minded determination they worked this last scene until it came kicking and screaming into the world.

And it came out as an iconic piece of television.


Radio news – in rap

Posted in Broadcasting and Media, Journalism by Adam Westbrook on February 13, 2009

Clearly a quiet morning for the staff at IRN, ITN‘s soon-to-close local radio news service.

Well, quiet enough to write a piece of copy about Notorious B.I.G.  – in the style of a rap

The story of one of the world’s greatest rappers is in cinemas today.

Fans thought the Notorious B.I.G. would never go away.

But in 1997 he was shot in the head.

His legacy lives on, even though he’s dead.

The film was co-produced by his mother.

Voletta Wallace says even though he did some bad things – there could be no other.


Hat tip to my colleague Laurence Budd at Radio Aire for spotting it.

And to the journo who wrote it – well done!

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Police seek Hamster murderer

Posted in Uncategorized by Adam Westbrook on February 5, 2009

TV news producers: a good example of why default graphics images are not a wise idea:

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Ross and Russ: what a fuss!

Posted in Broadcasting and Media, News and that by Adam Westbrook on October 29, 2008

Of the 50 or so blog entries which popped up when I opened my Google Reader this evening, there’s one topic which everyone’s got their two cents on. It’s what the Mirror is calling Manuel-gate.

Who’d have thought a prank phone call would shove the Recession, the U.S. elections and an unfolding humanitarian disaster to the sidelines.

But that’s clearly what everyone wants to talk out. I think because it’s something we’ve all got a strong opinion on.

As for me? Well, I’ve found throughout the last couple of days my opinion has swung back and forth. First I found the audio rather funny. Then I revelled in glee at the thought the Jonathan Ross might get his £18m salary decimated (I still hope that happens). Then I felt angry at all the MPs who’ve stuck their nose and their opinions in, and back in favour of Russ and Ross. Then I felt I bit sad for Andrew Sachs who clearly is a bit overwhelmed by it all (he’s also lined himself up for Most Boring Man UK title). And back again feeling annoyed a good radio show has been pulled.

Sachs doesn’t seem that upset, more bemused. He, after all, built his career on what could be seen as a racist stereotype.

In order to have an opinion  on this you first need to listen to the whole thing, something 17,988 of the 18,000 people who complained haven’t done.

(part one)

I’m still undecided. Here’s what some other people think:

Chris Doidge raises some interesting points about what our language limits are.

Rod McKenzie points out the different responses from different generations.

Charlie Beckett at Polis reports on a speech by the shadow culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

Ooooh what av I dun??!

Ooooh what 'av I dun??!

Incidentally, if you’re reading this outside the UK, I’m very sorry. You won’t have a clue what all this is about!

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That Russell Brand speech in full

Posted in News and that by Adam Westbrook on September 8, 2008

So old Russer hosty-wosted the MTV VMA’s last night, despite being a virtual unknown Stateside. Caused a few upsets though, mixing sex and politics, when we know only Sarah Palin’s daughter’s allowed to do that.

Enough wise-cracks from me, here’s what the man with the massive mullet said:

On the US elections:

“As a representative of the global community, a visitor from abroad, I don’t want to come across a little bit biased, but could I please ask of you, people of America, please elect Barack Obama, please, on behalf of the world.

“Some people, I think they’re called racists, say America is not ready for a black president.

“But I know America to be a forward thinking country because otherwise why would you have let that retard and cowboy fella be president for eight years.

“We were very impressed. We thought it was nice of you to let him have a go, because, in England, he wouldn’t be trusted with a pair of scissors.”

On Sarah Palin’s daugher Bristol:

“That is the safe sex message of all time. Use a condom or become a Republican!”

On himself:

“…a little sex once and a while never hurt anybody.”

“I’m famous in the United Kingdom. My persona don’t really work without fame. Without fame, this haircut could be mistaken for mental illness.”

Meanwhile at the other end of the country, another Brit was making a big impression in America. Misery guts Andy Murray got through to the final of the US Open. Very cool. But incidentally I was talking to people on the street in the UK today and the phrase “couldn’t give a toss” was an oft repeated one.

I wonder then, which Brit made the biggest impression on the US of A last night?

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Jack Bauer: the Facebook 24

Posted in News and that by Adam Westbrook on September 3, 2008

For not  very interesting reasons I’ve been searching Facebook for a Bauer group. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but what I did find was dozens of groups hailing appreciation upon “24” icon Jack Bauer.

More than 160 different groups in fact. Each with at least 100 members.

And some of them are brilliant – so here’s my compilation of the 24 best ones

24.  I am going to be jack bauer when i grow up (150 members) Nice to see people have ambitions in life.

23. If you wake up in the morning, it’s because Jack Bauer spared your life (276 members) A warning to us all.

22.  Jack Bauer- Part man part machine, ultimate legend (38 members) Not so popular this one. Not sure Jack Bauer is part machine either.

21. In God we Trust, but God trusts Jack Bauer (916 members). The first of several religious based groups. Enjoy comedy lines like “curiosity didn’t kill the cat. Jack Bauer did.”

20. If Hilary Clinton becomes president, Jack Bauer will probably kill her (6,919 members) Just as well that’s not going to happen then.

19. Superman Wears Jack Bauer Pyjamas (360 members) Yeah he does.

18.  Jack Bauer is Back and Refuses to Stop Kicking Ass (133 members) I think you really have to believe this one.

17. If Jesus was a CTU agent his name would be Jack Bauer (157 members) …but JB would clearly kick some JC ass

16. In my free time, I pretend to be Jack Bauer (180 members) That’s a lot of people with too much time on their hands…

15. The new facebook helps Jack Bauer protect freedom (138 members) And he also likes the design of the status application.

14. Coalition to change the dictionary definition of ‘Badass’ to ‘Jack Bauer’ (130 members) He is one Jack Bauer Muthafucka afterall.

13. Fuck sending troops to iraq….. send jack bauer (312 members) He can’t have done a worse job in honesty.

12. If Jack Bauer shopped at Tesco, he’d destroy the self-service machines (251 members) Lesson: never tell Jack Bauer there is an unexpected item in the baggage area. This group also claims ‘Jack Bauer has 657 points on his Clubcard, but he’s too hard to redeem them.’

11. I‘ll name my first born son Jack Bauer if this group reaches 500,000 people Sadly this isn’t going to happen. So far it only has 177 members.

And here’s the long awaited top ten….

10.  Don’t ask what Jack Bauer would do for a Klondike bar. (1,447 members) I don’t know what a Klondike bar is, but this is still funny.

9.  1.6 Billion Chinese are angry with Jack Bauer. Sounds like a fair fight. (258 members)

8.  If Jack Bauer Were Real, Iran Would be Nuc-Free in 24 Hours (174 members)

7.  I would gladly take a bullet for Jack Bauer (230 members) Also claims “if it looks like chicken, walks like a chicken, tastes like chicken, but Jack Bauer says it’s beef…then it’s fucking beef.”

6.  Guns Don’t Kill People… Jack Bauer Does (2,837) And rappers, obviously.

5. Your attraction to Jack Bauer in no way affects your sexual orientation. (267 members) Thank God for that.

4. All men are created equal. They are all vastly inferior to Jack Bauer. (20,148 members) The most popular group here by far.

3. Every mathematical inequality officially ends with “< Jack Bauer” (154 members)

2.  …and on the seventh day Jack Bauer said, “I’ll take it from here.” (758 members) The last of the many, many religious piss takes…

…and the numero uno group is…

1. Jack Bauer Could Strangle You With a Cordless Phone (3,334 members) Yes, he’s that good.

Book titles I never thought I’d see #87

Posted in News and that by Adam Westbrook on August 31, 2008

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Posted in News and that by Adam Westbrook on August 2, 2007

I think this might be the strangest thing I’ve ever found on the internet.

And somehow the most beautiful…

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A sad ending to one of the internet’s weirdest stories

Posted in News and that by Adam Westbrook on May 3, 2007

It was one of the world wide web’s first true love stories. A love between the public and a story. The love between one man – and his goat.

a goatYes, in what I once described as a reason never to get rid of news editors ever, way back in September, the story of a Sudanese man marrying a goat after being caught doing a little more than milking it, became a big internet hit.

Sudanese man ‘forced to marry’ goat was published on BBC News Online well over a year ago. And naturally it became a regular feature on the site’s “most read” and “most emailed” section – an argument, in my eyes, that people shouldn’t really be allowed to decide the news.

And today, rather sadly, the news broke that the newly married goat has died, apparently after choking on a plastic bag.

In recent weeks the original story had shot back onto the “most read” section in what I thought was maybe a spamming website trying to piss the beeb off. But apparently not – it’s genuinely been a popular story. What impression people take away of Sudan, God only knows.

But suitably, to end this bizarre tale, todays news has held steady on the “most read” and “most emailed” chart. I think it will be there for a long time come.

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Brooker’s back

Posted in Adam, News and that by Adam Westbrook on February 6, 2007

I wrote about how ball droppingly funny Charlie Brooker was. You laughed. Then I told you to watch his Christmas special. It was barn storming.

Charlie Brooker's ScreenwipeAnd again, I return in a triumphant beam of my own smugness to command you to watch his brand new series on Monday nights, BBC Four. Last night he tackled OFCOM, Celeb Big Brother and TV Psychics and I’ve since spent the past 18 hours reattaching my testicles to my body with chicken wire.


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