It’s a no brainer. No, really.

I sat in a meeting at work the other day. Friday in fact. I was late to that meeting. It was the team meeting I have to attend every Friday morning. I’ve never made it to the start once in nearly the nearly two months it’s been a requirement for me to be there.

In fairness, I was late because I had to deal with a difficult matter beforehand. That in itself made me late to the next meeting. But, despite being late, what struck me was how quickly I dropped into the rhythm of the get together. And how I reckoned I had the easy solution to the problem being chewed over around the table.

How do we get more people to swing by the BBC’s College of Production website? I found it difficult not to wade in. Get more people to blog about it. Get more people to blog on it. Get more people – us, quite possibly – to blog about the very thing we want the audience to enthuse about.

My point in the meeting – the same point I’ll make in my interview for the Senior Content Producer role at the BBC Academy role I’ve applied for and hope to get an interview for soon – was exactly the same point I made in my Digital Surrey presentation to the assembled rather bemused looking audience.

If you’re not passionate about your subject – if you can’t demonstrate your passion – then you are, frankly, a bit fucked. Because anything else other than raw passion will look to your audience as nothing but contrived nonsense. Be genuine. Be sincere. Be honest.

So long as you remain true to yourself, those very passions will shine through. And if people don’t engage with someone who’s passionate about what they speak or write about then the chances are their heart isn’t in it anyway. And really, who’d want to chase after someone whose heart wasn’t in a relationship, for example? There’s nothing quite so demoralising.

So, with that in mind I reckon I’ve no problem revealing my intentions for that SCP role I’ve applied for. Because it’s my genuine hope that the thoughts, feelings and views I have on production and journalism and the BBC are what I would really like to share with other people. Maybe even people I work with.

And if I can’t do that at work – and as I’ve written before I’ve got a fairly good hunch I won’t be called upon to do that anyway – then there’s always this blog. Because if I caught the bug about genuinely fantastic live radio from Sandi Toksvig, isn’t it possible I might be able to communicate the same enthusiasm with a bunch of people to inspire others to make similarly exciting stuff?

It’s not that I’m someone who’s full of hot air. I’m not someone who’s lack of practical experience makes me someone who should be ignored.

Quite the opposite. Yes, people with editorial vision have the weight of their considerable careers to elevate them amongst their peers. But what about the audience? What about those people who sit in front of the TV, radio or constantly browse the interweb? Isn’t there a possibility that the audience actually knows what works and what doesn’t?

And isn’t it about time that the audience felt empowered instead of dismissed? Isn’t there something that production people (regardless of their status or the point they are in their careers) could learn from the audience to better the product we all want to churn out? Maybe that gaping chasm between production people and their audience isn’t quite so wide as we all thought?

That’s why I reckon there’s value in sharing why for example I enjoy a television or radio programme and why I don’t. There’s no point in saying ‘it’s just shit’ – that doesn’t help anyone. And it’s rude and offensive. Instead, there’s surely value in flagging up WHY something works for ME. Because maybe there’s a secret to be unearthed there. And if there is, maybe that secret is of value to someone else. Someone who needs to come up with a cracking idea. One that works.

So keep an eye out over the next few weeks (and – if things completely fail with that job application – beyond) for more stuff about great stuff I hear on TV and radio. Not just because I like the content, but instead with tentative illustrations as to why its good content too.

That all sounds quite pompous, doesn’t it? Maybe, I’m just a freak. A freak who should keep his precious opinions to himself?

You be the judge. Along with those assessing my job application right now.

If there’s an editorial proposition for this blog – my God I’ve been struggling to find one for years now – it’s reflecting my own interests. The things which get me annoyed. The things which make me reach for my keyboard and bash out some copy. And it appears that those things might just coincide with the very things the BBC is interested in. The very things which the division I work finds its raison d’etre.

One hand washes the other, doesn’t it? The moment I hear about the interview, I’ll let you know.

Eurovision 2011: More reaction to UK’s Blue

Such close scrutiny of media reaction to the UK’s Eurovision announcement at the weekend isn’t going to be a daily exercise.

What with yesterday’s effort and now today’s, if I’m not careful, I’ll blow myself out. The final isn’t until 14 May, after all.

Even so, following on from yesterday’s round-up of press and blogs about the UK’s Eurovision chances for 2011, here’s a few more choice comments peppered over the internet.

Aside from the initial supposed ‘fury’ at UK TV audiences not being able to select this year’s act and song, a seemingly consistent message does appear to be emerging about Blue’s involvement in the project. Read More

Go on, cut it

Personally, I reckon it’s a bit of a shame that BBC Three and Four aren’t going to be cut (as announced in Mark Thompson’s rally from the Media Cafe at New Broadcasting House this morning) despite Sir Michael Lyons warning yesterday that they might be.

On paper, BBC Four (and Three) are good things. Fans may have felt angry about the potential impact of cutting both. They serve distinct audiences. They satisfy niche appetites, if you will. They are truly public service. Certainly, BBC Four is a haven for me. True, it’s not quite as convincing a proposition as Sky’s two arts channels (and they’re in HD), but Four at least does still demonstrate the BBC at its best.

Mind you, if it had turned out that Sir Michael Lyons’ ominous words had turned out to be the case, then there could have been an entirely different way of looking at the possibility of cutting two digital TV channels.

It wouldn’t have been about ‘cutting’. It could have been about amending the editorial proposition of the BBC’s main channels One and Two. Taking that back to what they were. And that alone could have dealt with quite a lot of the dross we shake our heads slowly at whenever we stumble on it from time to time.

Harry Hill illustrated the following point during Richard Bacon’s Five Live show a few months back. TV channels have been realigning themselves,ves over the past few years. The stuff we used to perceive as being ‘very BBC Two’ are now on BBC Four. BBC Two has turned into what BBC One used to be years ago. BBC One is now what ITV used to be. Only, the problem for BBC One is that the more and more ITV improves it’s primetime big-hitting output so BBC One looks a bit weird.

Against that backdrop, the idea of cutting BBC Four and BBC Three isn’t such a tall order in my mind. It’s less about cutting. It’s about changing the editorial scope of each brand (remember, we’re just talking ‘brand identity’ here – that’s all it is), bring BBC One back to what it was (present day BBC Two) and put all the stuff you used to put on BBC Four back on BBC Two – like it used to be.

Admittedly, such a bold editorial vision fails to do anything about BBC Three. To be honest, I don’t watch it much. In fact, i cant remember the last time I did watch it (apart from the Eurovision semis). So seeing as the only things I can remember going out on that part of the spectrum are Being Human and the EastEnders repeat, then I’m sure we can find a slot for the former on BBC One. And obviously, we won’t need the latter.

It’s simple really.

GayTimes on iPad

In my continuing quest to piss off most of the media industry such that in the event of an emergency search for work I’ll find I’ve royally shot myself in the foot, I’ve turned my attentions to Gaytimes recently launched iPad version of the magazine.

If as I reckon might be the case, that the lucrative writing opportunities for journalists in the future are going to be found in digital magazine sales, then securing sales on the likes of the iPad won’t be solely down to the amount of flesh to gawp at, nor the words to pore over. A lot will be down to visual and user experience to be had.

Subscribing to GayTimes via the iPad is a slightly different experience from their competitors Attitude Magazine. Downloading the Zinio app (Zinio are providing the digital platform for Gaytimes) provides access to all the other titles on their slate. The sight of National Geographic (even if it is in a foreign language) is tempting and at £1.32 its an attractive price too. The app comes bundled with a handful of articles from other publications including Hello Magazine and Wallpaper giving the would-be purchaser at last a legitimate opportunity to browse at least. Subscription demands leaving the Zinio app to input card details via the browser. It’s hardly an inconvenience – just different from other services.

Browsing the magazine once it’s been downloaded, the first thing which delights is the considerably more responsive and faster-moving navigation. The blurred thumbnails preferred by Attitude Magazine’s app aren’t copied by Gaytimes. And because the graphics are flatter in the navigation panel, the movement is swifter too. In general, navigating around the magazine is a whole lot easier too using the magazine wide thumbnail screen or jumping too and from the contents page.

What jars however is the use of graphical boxes around the elements on the page highlighting where the links are. As petty as this observation might seem, it is that visual signposting of links across the digital magazine which give off a whiff of old school, slightly cheap web development. It’s not meant that way – I can see why its been implemented like that and the inclusion of links on a page is a real boon – but on one level, the joy of reading something digitally on a tablet device is lessened by the linking graphics. That will definitely have an impact on the perceived quality of the product.

Where GayTimes benefits in terms of navigation and response time, it does lose out in terms of image quality. Some of the page images lack the crystal clear quality of Attitude Magazine’s pictures. On some pages for example it looks a little like the office intern has just put the freshly printed magazine through the HP scanner. A good example is the cover of the magazine. Areas of the image look a little degraded. Given that the iPad is rated for its image rendition, this seems like an easy hit for the magazine (or indeed the app) and a shame when its missed.

Both publications include adverts in their online digital mags, but scrolling through the back pages of GayTimes for example I don’t quite follow why so much of the premium rate phoneline and escort adverts still need to be included. Maybe there’s a contract which still needs to be adhered to.

If I had to choose? I’d want the user experience of the Zinio app (Gaytimes) combined with the editorial of the Attitude Magazine. But you know, you can’t always get exactly what you want. I’m certainly not subscribing to both and until I’ve finished reading Attitude Magazine I may not subscribe to that either.

Attitude on iPad

Attitude Magazine has been uppermost in my mind today.

This is partly due to how I became aware of the recently released iPad version of the magazine – a testament to the power of social networks. A media acquaintance drew my attention to the magazine’s new issue which this month concentrated on “the issues” for gay men. A quick scan of the comments underneath his posting about the fact that Attitude magazine would be mentioned on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme drew my attention not only to the fact that my acquaintance was Facebook friends with the magazine’s editor Matthew Todd but also two three other friends were too. Suddenly my heart was pounding. I started recalling a never-ending nightmare.

A few months ago, I wrote a fairly personal post on this blog. It’s my blog, obviously. It’s going to be personal. It’s going to be driven by my own personal feelings. Those personal feelings will – inevitably – permeate into what might be loosely described (and usually dismissed) as meaningless, pointless drivel. But this particular post dared to push the envelope a little bit further, even for me. It kind of criticised Attitude magazine and it’s decision to include cheeky chappy weatherman Tomascz Schafernaker posing in a pair of Aussie Bums.

I got a little up myself – borderline judgmental. I whined about how I didn’t want to be reminded about how I hadn’t got the body beautiful Schafernaker sported on the back-cover of the magazine. I complained about the coverage of rugby player Gareth Thomas, deriding the photo shoot which accompanied the copy, dismissing it as pandering to the lowest-common denominator and insodoing guaranteeing a revenue stream for the publishers.

I didn’t put it quite so succinctly as that at the time. I was considerably more verbose. So verbose in fact that only the other day, someone commented on that post that I might want to consider “getting a life”.

As it is, that particular post does still haunt. It is the only blog post which consistently does well every single day. Even when I pulled the pictures of Tomascz Schafernaker from the post, the statistics still showed that it seemed rather popular on the internet. Who was searching for it? Who ON EARTH wanted to read what I thought about his appearance in the magazine? Who really cared? My opinion counted for little. Such high statistics – ridiculous, in fact – caused me to doubt the authenticity of those blog visits. I’ve pulled it a few times, most recently on Sunday. It’s a pain in the arse. I was just being honest about my own reaction to something which happened around me and since then its performance has outstripped anything.

Whilst I’m not suggesting for a moment that Attitude Magazine might be behind anything approaching spamming of blog posts, the truth is that I’ve often felt like I’ve burnt my bridges. In the journalism world burning bridges is a big no-no. People shouldn’t do it if they know what’s good for them. They’ll suffer for it in the years to come. And, in their darkest hour they’ll only succeed in ensuring that a massive heavy door is closed off just when they need the bugger to be unlocked and fully open.

So, having laid all of that bare, I feel considerably more comfortable about providing a comment on Attitude’s big launch with the internet version of the magazine.

The app itself takes a bit of time to load on my iPad. It’s crashed on two separate occasions. Creating a login for the subscription service also resulted in the app crashing as well. Was I deterred ? No. Possibly because I’m a magazines-on-an-iPad are the way forward kind of bloke. I don’t want to carry multiple magazines in my bag. I want all my reading material in one central location. I’m a convert. People tease me about this at work. I’m used to it now.

The resulting user-demands are considerable however. If I’m going to subscribe or pay for a download, the layout has to be cracking. The copy has to be engaging. I want to feel like I’m being challenged. Provoke me. Make me want to argue the toss. Make me turn the page.

The app does – pretty much – make me want to do all of these things, even if the page-turning animation makes me feel a bit frustrated. I just want to slide. And I certainly don’t want to watch each page flip by when I’ve nominated a specific thing to go to. There’s no need. Truly.

But the big thing for me is this. And I’m happy to say this online.

I want something to hook into every day which makes me feel part of a clan. I want something which flags up gay issues via some punchy writing and good, balanced journalism. I don’t want to have to scroll past naked chests although I appreciate that some others might. I make no judgment about them nor about those who feel it needs to be included. And, with that in mind – and given that I would like to feel comfortable scrolling past pages whilst reading my copy of the mag on my iPad – it would be really handy if the page thumbnails weren’t quite so blurry. Whilst I don’t have any issues about my sexuality nor about what others think of me, I don’t necessarily want to draw attention to what I’m reading on the train on my way home. Reading is a personal thing.

So. Truce?