Wednesday, 16 September 2009


Before writing a mission statement, I have deemed it necessary to write a list of possible stories I could include in my final newspaper, before deciding upon the target audience and genre etc. From this, I can gather a range of audience feedback to help me improve these stories, as the constructive criticism I will recieve will enable me to do this.

Here is a list of events and stories which are currently taking place in my local area, Harrogate:

- New school canteen for The Harrogate Grammar School
- Brilliant A level results throughout the Harrogate area - Harrogate High achieved 99% in A-C's
- River Island is opening in Harrogate - Apparently Primark too?
- School Admissions are set to change
- Newly renevated buildings collapse onto road into middle of town
- Boots has moved stores - bigger and better

Story for main article:

Schools Adjudicator Rules Admissions Unfair
A SCHOOLS adjudicator has ruled that admissions arrangements amongst secondary schools are unfair.

Infuriation filtered through many homes in the Harrogate and Knaresborough area just yesterday, as many children were refused a place at their chosen school.
Secondary schools such as Harrogate Grammar, Rossett, St. Aidans/St.John Fishers and King James of Knaresborough were limited in the amount students they could initially take on to Year 7, meaning that hundreds of parents and children would potentially be denied a place. Hundreds of parents have blamed admissions arrangements for "unfair dismissal" with complaints of up to 60, but the schools reason for doing this is still because student numbers should be limited.

In the event that a child would be denied a place at their chosen or preferred school, an appeal would have to take place in which a parent would plead for their child to be accepted into the school. There has been controversy about this process, as parents feel that that the given reason for their child to be denied is unreasonable and somewhat unacceptable.
All secondary schools stated that the preferences of children from rural areas were met before any youngsters living in the town area. In August, the Office of the Schools Adjudicator deemed the priority for children living in rural areas unfair, and many parents agree with the adjudicator's decision.

In September last year, the council threatened legal action against admissions decisions, but the OSA ruled this unnecessary to do so. Although the council also agreed to withstand a petition on behalf of denied placements, the OSA fails to cooperate.
Due to the lack of cooperation given by the OSA, the local authority has rightly tried to ensure that rural applicants are not disadvantaged, as well as applicants who may not have a sibling as the acquired school(s). However, authorities have said that the priority given to rural applicants places them at an "unfair advantage compared to town applicants in securing a place at an oversubscribed school", says Dr Ian Craig the new adjudicator.
Thus, there is a vicious circle of denied applicants which carries on this somewhat unfair denial.

A recent investigation took place to research into the controversial decisions made by school Head Masters and the admissions board. Headmaster from the Harrogate Grammar School, Mr Richard Sheriff, took this opportunity to demonstrate the reason why children are denied a place at local schools.
"I understand that there are hundreds of parents out there who are saddened by schools admissions, and I agree fully with the argument given by the adjudicator. I understand that admissions choices are unequivocally unfair, however, I understand that there is a need for this process as it is my job and the admissions board to keep the school in good order, and thus not let it become too over crowded in the number of students attending.
"A large number of the admissions reasons for denying a child a placement local schools are subject to confusion as many children should be suitable for that placement, however, I do understand that children entering from a rural area a lesser advantage.
"Sadly there is nothing I can potentially do to stop this "unfair dismissal", but I am willing to give my full hearted support to any parent or child who feels for this issue."

I have gathered a series of audience feedback to help me make this newspaper article a lot more conventional. I feel strongly on the subject of admissions, however, the article itself lacks structure and this is what I must improve on to make the article itself, strong and understandable.

The feedback consists of:

- "You have to include the typical newspaper conventions such as short direct quotes to back up your point, and one sentence per paragraph. It's too long!" (Teacher)
- "The quotes are a bit too long to be included in a newspaper. Shorten these and structure your article a little better." (Student)

I also gathered feedback from a member in my class, who pointed out the features which are not conventions of a newspaper:

- No images
- Needs a bolder headline
- Paragraphs need shortening
- No use of puns
- No use of columns

From this feedback, it has become clear that my article is a little too long and the structure of it is a too complex. I aim to include:
shorter direct/indirect quotes, smaller paragraphs, and more valid evidence to back up any point I am trying to make.
Here is a chart of 6 possible articles I could write about:

1) The £250,000 School Project

A BRAND new canteen named "The Hub" had its grand opening at The Harrogate Grammar School just yesterday.

The £250,000 project took an incredible 2 months to build, and was conjoined with the previous school canteen to make it even bigger and better.

Teachers and students witnessed the opening on the first day back from summer term.

Mr Richard Sheriff, head teacher at The Grammar School, said it was "a great investment."

Jade, 14, a student at the school, described the new food area as a "complete success."

Jade also said "The Hub is just brilliant. It's so much bigger and more spacious than the previous canteen. Even the new chairs and tables are great, and the layout just looks so much more attractive."

The school is currently working on a £1 million project to extend the sixth form building. The renovation will take place January next year.

2) Is Primark Coming To Town?

RUMOUR has it that Primark is coming to Harrogate since Sports Direct has been bought out and closed down.

Harrogate was always said to be "too up town for Primark", but finally the price-cutting phenomenon may be coming soon.

Sally Warnell, 22, from Harrogate said, "I'm so excited for Primark to finally arrive in Harrogate. I've been waiting for this day for so long. I always have to travel to Leeds to visit the store, and if Primark really does set sail and come to Harrogate, it will be so great."

And if that isn't already good news for the retail therapists, River Island is also set to open this weekend.

Banners outside the store which is currently being renovated feature River Island's website and the date it is set to arrive in the town.

3) (The Mount On Cheltenham

A NEWLY renovated building collapsed onto Cheltenham Mount, near ASDA on Tuesday.
The tenants currently living in the property moved into the top apartment just last week.

Estate Agent Mr J Harrison, of Feather Smales and Scailes said "It's a complete devastation. The property had been deemed ready in order for the tenants to move in, and the renovation looked absolutely brilliant."

Mr Harrison also stated that the brick work was unstable and that the agents will take the matter into their own hands.

"We will take immediate action in ensuring the building's security. This will never happen again."

Luckily, the tenants were not in the building when the brickwork collapsed and there were no tenants in any other of the apartments below.

"No one was hurt" said one of the tenants, Miss Langley.

"And thank the Lord. One of us could have been killed. It's an absolute outrage. The builders have obviously not taken any safety procedures before agreeing to let the estate agents put the property on the market.”

The brickwork on Cheltenham Mount has blocked the top of the road, and therefore caused another problem for oncoming vehicles.

The road is now blocked off and will be open to vehicles within the next few weeks when the brickwork is removed and cleared for safety reasons.

4) Leave The Vehicle – Get Green

HUNDREDS of residents are planning to leave their cars at home on Friday this week, as Harrogate prepares for its second annual Car Free Day.

Dozens of towns are also participating in the event, and Harrogate is just one of many. The event is also part of European Mobility Week, ensuring a healthier environment.

The aim is to encourage towns to make safer and “greener” places to live. This will initially help the environment and educate fellow participators on how to do their bit in the local area.

The event will involve numerous activities and sights to encourage residents to consider leaving their vehicle(s) at home on a regular basis. An exhibition will also be hosted by the police and fire service later on in the day.

Residents who are not used to leaving their vehicle at home also have the option to rent a bike free of charge in association with The Ride and Pedal event. These bicycles will be on offer between the hours 7:00am and 7:00pm, outside The Harrogate Railway Station.

For those who are not quite fond of bike riding, the Harrogate Bus company, Transdev, are also offering free transport for the day. Although this type of transport appears on the road, this is also a “greener” way to move as more people can take the bus route. Those taking advantage of the offer, can also receive a free breakfast on arrival.

Residents can also join in with the group bike ride, which commences at 5:30pm from Harrogate College (Hornbeam Park). The ride will finish at St. Peters Church near the town centre, where residents will also be greeted by St. Aidan’s School Swing band.

Last year’s bicycle ride participator, Linda, 44, said: “It’s such a brilliant idea. It’s so motivating and it does the environment so well. I will continue to leave the car at home on a regular basis.”

Linda also said that she saw a great change to the congestion of road last year when Harrogate’s annual Car Free Day took place. She said that the events were also “a delight to experience” and that she will continue to encourage people to do the same.

Organiser, Neil Jameson said: “Last year saw a great improvement in traffic congestion. We hope to see that same result this year. It’s so beneficial for the environment, and even leaving your car at home to catch the bus round the corner carries minimal effort. It really does make a difference.”

Neil Jameson also said that “traffic congestion raises problems for health” as fumes and toxins can harm elderly residents as well as the environment.

“These fumes can also be a major participator to asthma in young children. This is where it needs to stop”.

This year, the event has had huge support from the business sector, local government, schools, colleges and community organisations.

“Some people will do everything they can to make the environment healthier,” said Jane Auden, another participator of the event.

I feel that the following articles are valid and interesting subjects, which vary from news based on education, to the environment and travesties in the Harrogate area.
The following articles can be categorised into the following news values:

- Admissions article: social significance and proximity and human interest
- The Hub article: social significance and proximity
- Primark article: social significance and proximity and human interest
- Cheltenham article: human interest and proximity
- Car Free Day article: social significance and proximity and numbers


I began research into the generic conventions of a local newspaper; the Harrogate advertiser.

Here are the main aspects and conventions of the Harrogate Advertiser's layout:
- Main story always central
- Conventional house style - e.g. colours
- Local advertisements throughout the newspaper
- Columns of text either side of the main story
- Large image for main story
- Captions
- All columns are aligned (same width)
- Large masthead and headlines/cover lines
- "Dead Donkey"/ Fillers
- Website, date and price featured below masthead of front page
- Cover lines and images in header

I then analysed The Harrogate Advertiser in great detail in order to learn more about the conventions of a local newspaper...

Firstly, the early June Advertiser appears approachable and well organised in terms of the front page, due to the large masthead and columns of text. The masthead is also striking due to the use of a blue background contrasting against a white font, immediately identifying the newspaper by name and obviously status in terms of the local area, Harrogate. This is the house style of the newspaper; blue and white.

The Harrogate Advertiser contains advertisements of a vast majority, using at least 1/5th of the page space. The main story is central, with a font that dominates the whole page so that this becomes the centre point for the reader. Other minor stories (fillers) are added around this central news story which are continued inside. This really tempts the reader to want to read on and buy the newspaper due to the “cliffhanger” news. It is also evident that this newspaper targets the older generation due to not only the size of the paper, but the small print and superior use of text. There is also at least one image per main story featured in The Harrogate Advertiser, and smaller story with lesser detail and information are bordered and inserted to the corner or side of the newspaper. There is also an index on the third page of the newspaper, separating letters, sport, weather and other entertainment features such as the crossword.

There is also a significant number of advertisements, promoting products ranging from food to technology as these adverts are a sponser of the newspaper company. Coupons are also included within the newspaper near the middle, so the reader has the opportunity to take advantage of discount offers - this also tempts the reader to purchase the newspaper again.

I can easily categorise the Harrogate Advertiser into four main sections such as Human Interest, Hard News, Entertainment and Sport:

- Hard News: the front page suggests that school admissions are unfair, as previously explained in this blog, and this is the first story associating with negative or hard news which immeditely concerns the reader. This forms an emotional attatchment between the reader and the story, as they are involving themselves within the actual content. Writers use the hard news concept to shock and awe the audience as well as educate them in what is happening in their local area.

- Entertainment: there are many adult puzzles such as crosswords and tricky number sequences. These are inserted as they tend to entertain their audience and are present in most newspapers whether it may be a tabloid or broadsheet. Cryptic crosswords are aimed towards the mature target audience - this being the older generation as these puzzles are so tricky. This again expresses that the Harrogate Advertiser targets the older generation. Advertisements are also added at an entertainment value, but also to attract the reader into buying their product.

- Sport: there is a sports section towards the end of the newspaper, informing any sports fan about weekly events that have been happening in Harrogate. Sports range from snooker, to cricket, to football, and the house style compliments the blues and whites of the font cover making clear consistency.

Human interest: Apart from each story relating to human interest, there is a weekend weather chart to inform the reader even more about the local area in terms of weather and future forecast.

The first thing I noticed about The Knaresborough post, is that it appears to be somewhat identical to the Harrogate Advertiser.
I researched into the publisher of the paper as well as looking at the insert, and both newspapers are published by the Ackrill Media Group. Both papers follow the same house style in terms of the main headline being central and columns of other news follow around the centrepiece. The font for the masthead is exactly the same as the masthead belonging to the Harrogate Advertiser, and the only real significant difference is the change in colour; from blue to burgundy/maroon. The layout is identical to the Advertiser.
Both newspapers have share similar generic conventions:

- Advertisements at the bottom of the front page
- Cover lines and images above the masthead
- A large and bold font for headline
- An organised structure with columns
- Page numbers and website links
- A colourful image to support headline story