A Critical Reflection
As a journalism student I am constantly having to figure out the best way to do this, and what is best not just for the story but for the readers.
Recently I did two assignment articles on the topic of self-harm and social media.
The one thing I felt went well with both of these projects overall was that I was able to gather enough data. In my first story I looked at why self-harm is rising in young people in the UK. Due to this being a big topic there was countless amounts of statistics and studies for me to look at. This made writing the story much easier.
With the second story, where I looked at social media and its duty of care to its users, I found the data gathering process easy. Using Survey Monkey really helped me plan a survey with questions that would result in both qualitative and quantitative answers. However, getting people to answer a ten question survey was the hard part. My original goal was to get 100 responses but after constantly sharing on different social media platforms and sending it to people to fill in, I decided to change my goal to 50 responses.
If I had to make another survey I would have it include less questions and have more multiply questions as I feel people would have been more willing to fill it out if it was quicker.
In my first story I felt that my interviews with professionals in the mental health care industry and with those who suffer from mental illness were a success. This is because I got different points of views from people in the industry I could quote, but also opinions from those who have experiences self-harm first hand.
However, it was much harder to get any response at all from mental health charities like Mind. They either would not reply to me, or would reply saying that they cannot answer my question but will think about it and that they might write a blog post about it. This happened with my second story as well when I contacted other charities to find out their opinions on whether or not social media has a duty of care to its users.
If I was able to do these interviews again I would have tried to speak to these charities in person instead of emailing their press office.
A technical problem I had was with my video recording equiptment. I decided to use a handy camera from the university stores but after filming my interview I found out that it did not film in full 1080p video which meant the quality was not up to the standard that I wanted. However, due to scheduling issues my interview could not do the video again which mean I had to use the poor quality video. In future I plan to always use a DSLR camera or a full TV camera for any interview as from previous experience, I know they give high quality footage.
One of my main struggles was the content management system Ecenic. I like many other was not used to it and still found it hard to use with the guide. But I do feel that getting my work put on Ecenic early in the deadline week gave me an advantage as I could sort problems out before the system started to slow down due to more people using it.
Finally my social media engagement I felt was high in both pieces as I reached out and tried to find people who were not my follows or friends in order to get different opions. However, I did not get as many responses as I would have liked and all of my embedded tweets had to go towards the end of my pieces due to the structure of the articles. In future I plan to reach out to different people like I did in both pieces, but ask them multiple questions. This way I will be able to have tweets and social media comments that help the story flow more.
Overall I do think that the topic I chose was one that gave me a lot to work with but at the same time not enough. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic it was hard to get people to open up about it. I also had to approach the subject with care, this meant keeping the identities to my interviews who have self-harmed anonymous and ask them questions that would not make them upset. But the subject is one I found interesting and therefore gave me the motivation to find out statistics and people’s opinions.