Print & Online Journalism

“I wish to tell stories about real people, to let their voice be heard and to make a difference.” -Gem O’Reilly

Story #1: “Shelter the survivors of Syria”, written by Gem O’Reilly


“Shelter the survivors of Syria”

Norwegian Refugee Council manager communicates the perplexity of his plight to protect the victims of a war that is no way near its end.


The blaring flicker of flames appear diminutive beside the Jahani family tent. Seven-year-old Ibrahim tosses the last scraps of leather into the fire. Nicholas Winn beholds the blaze of desperation as Ibrahim instructs his younger siblings to take off their footwear. Tonight the Jahani family will burn their shoes to keep warm. This is the central heating procedure for a multitude of displaced individuals in Bekaa Valley.

Nicholas Winn, a 42-year-old shelter project manager for the Norwegian Refugee Council, arrived in East Lebanon in October 2013. Proceeding his work in Haiti, Nicholas was appointed the responsibility of securing habitat to the fugitives of the Syrian war. An obligation to provide safe access to water, food and hygiene services is also integrated within his duty.


“A family of four has to deal with impossibility of surviving on $13 per month”


However as the Middle Eastern conflict accelerates, funding is diminishing. Nicholas said: “A family of four has to deal with the impossibility of surviving on $13 per month. Families are implementing negative coping mechanisms to provide for daily needs.” Everyday Nicholas witnesses mothers sparing morsels of dried bread and grains of cold rice for their gaunt children. A portion for half a person to be rationed between four.

“800 Million People still go to bed hungry many of whom are children. Several Countries suffer from a combination of both chronic and acute food insecurity” (Food Security Advisor, Thomas Olholm at the NRC).

Deep despair encompasses Nicholas’s tone of voice as he explains his concern for the winter of 2017. “In 2014 the funding at NRC started to go down, in 2017 the funding will dwindle tremendously.” The harsh winters in Lebanon see the heavy snow blanket over any feeling of optimism for these families. A tenuous mesh of material from a tent certainly doesn’t provide sufficient protection in minus temperatures. The tented settlements also contain little drinking water. “The summer brings flies, the winter brings dampness, and both make living conditions extremely challenging for families.

“There are breakouts of typhoid, hepatitis and people collapsing in the snow.”

An armed protest, which began with anti-government objection, transformed into a colossal, sectarian civil war. The expansion of such ferocity has cultivated into a global migrant movement that far surpasses that of The Second World War. With more than 11 million forced out of their homes, neighbouring countries such as Lebanon are sufferers’ closest chance of existence.

Since the eruption of pro-democracy protests in March 2011, Lebanon has absorbed over 1 million registered refugees from Syria. Contextually, this accounts for a 25 per cent national increase in population in the last 4 years. NRC is the principle provider of shelter to refugees fleeing from the war. The destiny of these horrified voyagers is therefore in the hands of the 440 employees at NRC.


Registered Syrian Refugees in Lebanon 1,168,000
NRC Beneficiaries in 2014 374,000
Funding in 2014 $27 million
Budget in 2015 $25 million
Employees in Lebanon 440


New Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, stated: “Nobody is going to risk their life without good reason.

“These people did not take these death-defying journeys to sit and scrounge benefits.”

The conational distinguishing between a migrant and a refugee, has formulated an internal confusion within the world of war. Economic migrants are collections of aspiring money makers; chasing a better quality of life. Nicholas expressed that he often clambers over the antithesis between the two.

He said: “A migrant is trying to make a better life. A refugee is in fear of their life.

“The families we deal with at NRC, are run by seven-year-old children that have witnessed their parents being murdered and slaughtered.”

A boat load of hopeful faces therefore gradually grows to be a boat load of disappointment as national aid services sink beneath the disaster. Equally, The British Red Cross has writhed in the pain of disappearing funding. This then encourages national critique of party policy, as Tim Farron highlighted: “Our support of Syrian refugees is pitiful in comparison to some of our European neighbours.

“David Cameron’s pledge sees an average of just 12 Syrian refugees coming into the UK each day until the next General Election in 2020.”

As project manager of 2015’s $25 million budget plan at NRC; Nicholas’ combat only increases in pressure. His strive to provide essential commodities for vulnerable people is evident in his words. “Education and career opportunity for many of the Syrian refugees is no longer even an option.

But at NRC we endeavour to maintain an education programme through community centres.” This arrangement is a collaboration with Lebanese and UNRWA schools. Nicholas adds that it feels delusional to attempt normality in the midst of such crisis. Yet it is this normality that is the only attribution keeping simple sanity alive.


If a child can learn the alphabet, it may be one step towards the freedom that Nicholas and his colleagues labour to provide.


If a child can learn the alphabet, it may be one step towards the freedom that Nicholas and his colleagues labour to provide. Five years of lost education and lost lives is nearly impossible to rehabilitate thus NRC remain loyal to their assistance into education.

Complementary to this outlook, in 2014, NRC initiated the WASH programme in Lebanon. The scheme compromised of the promise of access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Principle donors such as UNICEF and ECHO contribute to these fundamental services.

Funding is also beneficial to administer efficient response to mass claims. Nicholas said: “Last year we managed to reach 1,000 families in one week with six workers.

“We aim to work at a rapid pace, as the preservation of lives are on the line.”

Statistically, Bekaa Valley provides shelter to around 2,000 families per year. NRC Sheltering methods include upgrading and rehabilitating existing buildings; ensuring that they are weatherproofed to harbour tragic families. Recounting the ethical sentiment behind his employment, Nicholas said: “We try to target people to improve the lives of individuals who have had literally, everything taken away.”

Despite this, the sheer sorrow in Nicholas’s tribulation has never controlled his mentality. For a man who originally had warmth and richness at his fingertips; he comprehends the risk to his own existence whilst in Lebanon. “Last year Isis were reported to be in Bekaa Valley. The possibility of losing my own life had never been a forefront prospect until that point.” With such proximity of a looming war zone; frostbite is a minor concern to many aid workers.

Nicholas said: “When I visit my family back in Manchester, I can’t feel guilty for the luxuries I possess.

“To open my fridge and reach for an ice, cold beer is not a sin. However, I will never take it for granted.”

“To open my fridge and reach for an ice, cold beer is not a sin. However, I will never take it for granted.”


Nicholas knows just how lucky he is and he admits that as a graduate of mechanical engineering, he could have got lost in the ambition for wealth and power. Nonetheless, Nicholas gambled with the uncertainty of his own wellbeing to protect the lives of others: “I wanted to do something that helped people.

“This is the world we have to live in and we can’t ignore the dark terrors of war just because it is across the water.” The aid worker has never worked to produce a personal profit; he has simply actioned to be a small hope in a mass of oppression. Therefore, as he sits and watches a mother’s plight to feed her new born baby; he must maintain a shred of belief in a light at the end of her dim tunnel.

The strongest perplexity for Nicholas Winn, and many other aid workers in Lebanon, however, is the legal system. Embedded within Lebanese national law, is the restriction on legal status for Syrian escapees. The refugees are acknowledged as ‘illegally’ present within the country. This completely blocks any access to protection rights and cooperation during their displacement. An NRC investigation outlined that more than a third of 1,256 case studies failed to gain a residency visa. The issue has ruptured into Syrians breaking the law for mere freedom.

“There are too many opportunities for corruption.”

Nicholas commented on the controversy, he said: “There are too many opportunities for corruption.” He exasperated that the legal complexities of Lebanon are a necessary evil and delay the entire process of responding to people in dire need of help. NRC now undoubtedly aims to conquer the challenges that defenceless people face within the Lebanon law. This involves pursuing resolutions to limited legal status and enhancing access to protection.


Nicholas Winn could quite easily lose motivation when an irrevocable case document meets his desk on a Monday morning. He could forget any sense of hope as he observes Ibrahim scramble for firewood. He could even turn away from his volunteering status at any given second. But he doesn’t. He recollects that, “They will eventually cut the funding. Only when they start seeing deaths will the funding go back up.”

This man, among thousands of others, pays witness to victims of a war that has only just begun. Regardless, he maintains a dignity and passion for his profession that cannot be captured within a photograph or fact file. Nicholas’s plight for change is only just beginning, but without people like Nicholas there would be no prospect of hope in the world. Regardless, Nicholas exposes the intricate reality of such asseveration: “You can throw all the money in the world at this disaster, but it won’t stop until the war stops.”

“You can throw all the money in the world at this disaster, but it won’t stop until the war stops.”


Story #2: “Noma and The Northern Powerhouse”, written by Gem O’Reilly



“NOMA creates The Northern Powerhouse”

The North West’s largest redevelopment project has arrived in Manchester and its plans to revitalise the city are only just beginning.

Dazzling, white light radiates through every inch of glass. The clacking of heels, tapping of keyboards, and constant buzz of business discourse reverberates through all nine floors. The glass high atrium invites every fragment of sunlight into the building; capturing a fluorescence almost heaven-like. Structured and strengthened through steel framing, the property stretches over 327,643 square feet and reaches a height of 72.5 metres. This magnificent construction is the start of the NOMA story; the start of Manchester’s future.

One Angel Square introduced its magic to Manchester in February 2013. The £105 million building is the emblem of the largest redevelopment scheme outside of South-East England. With an expansive budget of £800 million, the NOMA project has been made attainable by a collaboration between The Cooperative Group and Hermes Investment Management. Craig Brownsell, 42, Press and Media Manager of the NOMA scheme, has worked for The Cooperative Group for nine years. He said: “NOMA will capture the soul and enhance one of the world’s greatest cities.

“We want this place to be its own place. We want this place to be unique.”

Individuality is definitely displayed throughout the plans for the 20 acre neighborhood. NOMA takes great pride in its eco-friendly resources and energy efficiency. Carrying the title of one of Europe’s most sustainable properties; One Angel Square utilizes natural sources like never before. Craig identified, “Even the lifts create kinetic energy that is recycled for power

“Just imagine the amount of energy hundreds of workers generate through travelling up and down all day.”

Often described as Manchester’s egg or ship, onlookers are unfamiliar with the purpose behind the unusual architecture. For it is the diagonal slice facing the south that allows passive solar energy to heat the property. The building also manipulates the harvesting of rain water to power its toilets and water system.

Likewise, Craig outlined that: “Through a combined heat and power plant, powered by rapeseed oil, One Angel Square pumps energy back into the national grid.

“This astonishing technique formalizes our work space as one of the largest, most renewable buildings in the world.”

Another noteworthy feature, that curious citizens may not be aware of, is the building’s earth tubes. As nightfall hits, the earth tubes illuminate the entrance and surrounding area. However, during the daytime, this alluring sculpture is manipulated to control heat throughout the property.

“The earth tubes draw in air from the atmosphere and take it under the building. Then dependent on whether it is hot or cold outside they either heat it or cool it to 18 degrees.

“After which it is passed up through the building, through a series of vents. Then combined human temperature and electronic devices cumulate to make the offices around 22 degrees.”

In 2012, One Angel Square, achieved a world record BREEAM score of 95.32 percent. Having surpassed such imperishable expectations, including zero carbon emissions, the NOMA journey certainly commenced with substantial strength. The scheme now plans to incorporate such A grade sustainability to every single redevelopment it delivers.

On the other hand, whilst modern and inventive methods of control within NOMA’s conventions are proving both commercially viable and cost effective; it is vital that NOMA recognizes Manchester’s history. For example, NOMA’s newest enhancement and first office space being renovated back into use is The Hanover building. This particular building has been in the city since the early 1900s and was bombed in the war.

“We have always been absolutely respectful of the heritage in Manchester. The Cooperative Group has been in this part of Manchester in the region of 160 years now and has a rich heritage in and around the city that we are really proud of.

“Whilst we see ourselves as very much innovative in how we want to bring the area forward; we are also really respectful of the past.”

The reconstruction of The Hanover building will adapt an archaic structure into a modernized form that will invite new businesses and trades. In order to preserve such history however, NOMA has formalized a collaboration with English Heritage; a company that realistically advises NOMA on ancestry characteristics. English Heritage will capture Hanover’s stone and brick semblance and exaggerate the aging features to show architectural details in greater detail. This will allow the project of Hanover to retain original features from 1903, whilst creating a space that is sufficient for 2016. With this space in mind, NOMA plans to provide career opportunities for the next generations of Manchester. Describing itself as, “The place where the modern world began”,NOMA prides its utter respect for Manchester’s past and converts such attention to working towards Manchester’s future.

The project focuses on a new chapter within the Manchester story by encouraging businesses of all sectors. Craig expressed that NOMA will not cultivate its aims around specific business types; but rather expand to all types of business; big or small.

“We want to stimulate young entrepreneurs by emboldening their start offs into potential successes. We want people to come in to spark a digital revolution.”

Such instigation of the next generation is equally supported by the development of Manchester transport systems; allowing instant accessibility to workers commuting from city suburbs. Major developments within Manchester’s Metro link has extended its original circumference to 57 miles. This December, Transport for Greater Manchester opened its 93rd stop; marking it as the largest light rail system in the United Kingdom.

Joanne Sheppard, communications officer for Transport for Greater Manchester, said: “We expect 40 million passenger journeys to be made on the Metro link each year by 2020.

“Services are continuing to invite further flexibility and frequency.”

This concept greatly contributes to Manchester’s objectivity surrounding “The Northern Power House”. The improvement of transport facilities means that internal opportunities such as the NOMA project, become accessibly external to people from all breadths of the city.

Joanne outlined that, “Almost a third of Greater Manchester residents have no access to private car, meaning public transport provision increases access to jobs; strengthening the connection between the city and its outskirts.”

“Our mission is to essentially make travel easier in Manchester, not just through transport services themselves, but also through improved walking and cycling infrastructure and better connectivity between different transport modes.”

Complementary to the NOMA outlook, Transport for Greater Manchester equally serves to effectively remain environmentally friendly. As well as connecting people with businesses and jobs, improving public transport will result in fewer car journeys. Positive repercussions of such outcomes mean that Manchester will have better air quality and a significant reduction in carbon emission.

“Reducing congestion is a key element of our 2040 vision. Travel will be a crucial part of Manchester’s future economy.

The 2040 vision suggests that by 2040 we would expect private car use to be limited in the central areas of the city. Vehicles entering the city should be either zero or low emission.”

Such attention to eco smart prospects provide Manchester with commendable advantages that exceed that of London and Birmingham. This may effectively mean that such infrastructures in both travel and business could contribute to dominating the country; a dominance that uses history and technology to create a powerhouse. Additionally, Transport for Greater Manchester also predicts further expansion to aggregate regeneration and growth.

“We are currently in the process of building the Second City Crossing. This is a new line across Manchester city Centre which will enable intermittent travel and monotonous journeys in and out of the city.

“The first stop opened in December 2015 and the rest of Second City Crossing will open in 2017. We do not aim to limit ourselves in any way shape or form; as businesses continue to flourish; so will the transport in Manchester.”

With such prospects of Manchester’s quality of infrastructure and travel, political arguments have slowly become more prominent. For example, conservative chancellor, George Osbourne has evoked encouragement of “The Northern Power House.”

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has since formalized the movement as “North shoring”; meaning Manchester City Council will have more say in taxation. He expresses that whilst he is from London, he wishes to enlighten the potential of Northern cities, such as Manchester. “I grew up with the cliché that if it wasn’t happening in London, it wasn’t happening at all.

I’d like to try to escape both clichés today, and get closer to the truth”.

Osbourne highlights the necessity to combine the strengths of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield to embody “The Northern Powerhouse”.

“Not one city, but a collection of northern cities – sufficiently close to each other that combined they can take on the world.

These will be able to provide jobs and opportunities and security to the many, many people who live here, and for whom this is all about.”

Reciprocal to this view, solicitor of Manchester City Council, Michelle Brice, described an interesting expansion in her clientele for properties being acquired or sold. Within the last two years the property solicitor has witnessed significant augmentation in the level of companies shifting headquarters to Manchester. For instance, as the largest employer in the North West, The Cooperative has manipulated the NOMA project to reinvent itself.

Michelle said: “As the city is developing there is a knock on effect, creating more demand for development: new hotel development, new entertainment areas and new business opportunities.

“Just wander round Spinning fields or the newly completed renovation of The Triangle into the Corn exchange. Such expansion is attracting businesses previously without a Northern Base.”

With this in mind, In December 2015, NOMA invited further entertainment to Manchester. European Regional Development assisted the scheme to deliver Sadler’s Yard with Manchester City Council. The construction for Sadler’s Yard began in January 2014. Partners and architects conspired to decimate a 1960s building, Redfern Annexe, and transform it into Manchester’s newest public square.

Craig Brownsell defined the square as a completely foreign concept to Manchester, he said: “We want this place to be very unique.

“Creating somewhere where people want to live, work and play.”

The novelty of a public realm will encourage localized restaurants and bars to situate themselves exclusively within the square. Likewise, Manchester musicianship and art will be captured and celebrated throughout the square; with regular concerts and exhibitions. This supported investment is situated next to Hanover Street, behind Manchester’s notorious Printworks building. The danger however, for Sadler’s Yard is of course replicating Manchester’s Arndale Centre. Craig clarified such competition by identifying that NOMA will entice individual retailers rather than commercial duplicates of the stores within the Arndale shopping mall.

“We don’t have a target retailer. It is important to bring shops and services that aren’t in any other area of Manchester.

“We want Sadler’s Yard to encompass lots of different and one-of-a-kind retail offerings. If this is not a positive thing we would not do it. It identifies Manchester.”

Originally, when The Cooperative Group were venturing the relocation of their existing estate, into new premises, the company observed varied areas throughout The North West of England. Despite this exploration, the settlement choice was placed in central Manchester. Since such decision, the company has configured such reasoning behind the transport infrastructure within the city Centre. The combination of Victoria Station’s £44 million refit, Shudehill bus station, greater connectivity of the trams and electrification of railway lines means that projects such as NOMA are allowed to widen their talent pool.

“We can now employ people in NOMA that possibly wouldn’t have been able to work within the centre before because of the difficulty in distance.

“Everything begins with an initiative, everything begins with a place.”

Conclusively, the advancement of transport and businesses correlate to form a chrysalis that many cities within the United Kingdom can only imagine. Manchester created the Britain that was the economic powerhouse of the world a century ago; thus with evolutions like NOMA; Manchester can be capable of such powers once again.


Story #3: “Miracle Maya”, written by Gem O’Reilly

Miracle Maya: The first baby to be born in 2015 in the UK

By Gemma O’Reilly for the Manchester Evening News


A COUPLE who were refused IVF treatment under the NHS, celebrated the start of 2015 with the birth of their baby girl, with the assistance of CARE Fertility Manchester.

Maya Jokic was born at 12.01am on Thursday, January 1 through a new, revolutionary IVF technique called EmbryoScope. She weighed 8.14lbs.

Giani and Zeljko Jokic from Withington were struggling to conceive children for four years due to Giani’s lack of follicle production and Zeljko’s low sperm count.

Self-employed, Zeljko, 47, said: “We were considering adopting or fostering because we knew IVF was so expensive.

“When we chose a private care clinic for IVF we were frightened of how many cycles it would take to be successful.”

The concerned couple were introduced to the EmbryoScope program to improve their chances of conceiving from 22 per cent to 75 per cent.

The extraordinary system utilizes CCTV-based incubators to monitor the initial growth of embryos. This device snaps images of the fertilised eggs every 10 minutes, as opposed to regular IVF checks, which monitor embryo growth once every 24 hours.

Care Fertility Manchester was the first ever establishment to exhibit EmbryoScope time lapse imaging in 2011 and are now celebrating over 1000 births with this pioneering technology.

Professor Simon Fishel, CEO of Care Fertility Group, said: “With older patients, egg quality is more likely to be compromised, most commonly due to chromosomal errors.

“Time lapse images give us compelling knowledge on the health of an embryo and helps identify which embryo is likely to lead to pregnancy.”

The £100,000 machine uses morphokinetic algorithms (MAPS) to oversee how the embryos divide. This eliminates the laboratory staff from having to remove the cells from the incubator, which can disadvantage their growth.

Office manager, Giani, 40, said: “We always had hope, but the financial side was difficult. The moment we heard the first heartbeat, every penny was worth it.

“EmbryoScope gave us the chance to achieve a dream we never thought was attainable.”

EmbryoScope is now being introduced across hundreds of private clinics across the UK, giving aspiring parents the chance to have their own little miracle.


Story #4: “The Last Race Home”, written by Gem O’Reilly


Waltzing through the lustrous studio, flaunting their scuffed, brown brogues, and carefree expressions; it becomes easy to condemn The Last Race Home, deposit them into the ‘indie’ box and lock away the key. A five piece collaboration that wishes to compete their quirkiness above every other alternative group, becomes ironic in itself, as the word ‘indie’ soon loses its purpose; becoming generic and overused.

A detachment however, is established from this over exhausted genre as The Last Race Home utilise their debut EP, One Girl, to master an innovative sound; that sways from both rules and structure. The sustained, arrangement of notes on the trumpet invites such idea instantly with “Angie”, the first track of the EP. The simplistic intro of brass triad chords sets a strange mystery about how the song will develop, teasing the ear. Light, interweaving of acoustic guitar and muted percussion then opens the track into a much more complex texture.

Harmonising his chorus line in thirds, songwriter, John Mackie, allows an emphasis to be placed on the lyrics. Interestingly, the middle 8 is manipulated to highlight a level of desperation in the track. The vulnerability of lines such as “She found my soul along the way” is replicated with the delicate trumpet solo; isolating itself from the other instruments. Further unpredictability is outlined with the outro, as the instruments sliver away, fading into silence.

The subtle, muted kick drum in “One Girl”, swerves the tone of the EP into a much more acoustic sentiment for the second track, using glissando scaling on the acoustic guitar to decorate and colour the song. A call and response interaction between the guitar and string section evokes a relationship between the instruments. Trumpeter, Steven, reintroduces a consistency throughout the EP as he imitates the melodic structure of the vocal line.

Despite this concept, the band attempt to retain variety with “Only you, Only me”, preluding the track with a high pitched harmonica. Combined with an andante paced 4/4 tempo, there is classic, melancholy attitude about the song. Regardless, there is a definite danger of Mackie’s northern twang slipping into a lazy, Brit-pop characteristic that opposes the rest of the EP thus far. The brass is again responsible for pulling the track back to a form of originality; avoiding any cliché features. A swift key change equally provides a spontaneity, removing the song from any deemed predictability.

Critically, “The Wake” may invite disappointment when used as a cross comparison to the other three songs. A dramatic detachment from the busyness of the EP is evident throughout the entire track; meaning the EP loses its sense of cohesion and fluency. The rustic, acoustic chords circle around the melody, entwined in a laziness that is unfamiliar within the previous tracks. One may suggest that this offers an element of juxtaposition, yet, I feel this distinction is too elaborate for a debut EP. A refusal to dissuade from their initial style would have been a much more effective method of announcing themselves as both musicians and artists.


Story #5: “King Kartel” written by Gem O’Reilly

From their rooted ancestry of County Newry, to the vivid dynamics of Manchester: King Kartel are certainly “Not Done Fighting”.

To bundle all of your belongings, venture across unchartered waters, and pursue a foreign urbanisation; inevitably belies fearful prospects. Yet for King Kartel, the anticipation of trading their Irish soil for Manchester gravel, remained enticing. The concept of the Manchester music scene tugged at every string of the trio’s ambitions.


Credited for its quaint traditions and folk-like charm; the band’s formation may have seemed a contradictory product of their upbringing in Ireland. It was in this small town of Newry that brothers, Hugh and Maurice McCreesh, merged a collaboration with Micky McGuigan. Within mere months their indie-rock notion sparked admiration with local listeners. Their rebellious tone set a bug of dedication in Newry, that lead to King Kartel winning Battle of the Bands. In reflection, the band’s initial breaks appear a naïve point in their journey. Lead singer, Hugh said:

“We played an outdoor festival in front of 10,000 people back home at such a tender point, I remember being that nervous I played the wrong chords all the way through one song. If I could go back to that now, my nerves would be morphed by experience.”

An abundance of confidence and belief in their fate accumulated to introduce the concept of a new territory, a new adventure. The trio had quickly realised that their home town had a level of compression that would suppress any peak in their career. The idea of Manchester, therefore, compelled opportunity the three longed to grasp with all six hands.

The band’s guitarist, Maurice, chuckled at the swiftness of their dispatch, he said: “We just crammed all of our music equipment into the car, and got on the boat. You couldn’t even see out of the car windows.

“We didn’t want to wake up in 10 years and think what if.”

Such momentum concluded in an accelerating introductory within the North West for King Kartel. The band rapidly scored noteworthy gigs and accolades, gracing the stages of the Manchester Academies and the 02 Academy in Liverpool. In January 2014, the BBC Introducing DJ, Michelle Hussey, played the band’s single, ‘All Talk No Trousers’ claiming it was “Simply made for riotous singalong!”

With expanding audience engagement and industry recognition; the band composed and released their fourth EP, ‘Not Done Fighting’. The short album, combined with an innovative collection of music videos, was the band’s new investment into a much more elaborate sound. Micky, the band’s drummer, explained: “We wanted a much more serious, heavier style than before.”

This sentiment is certainly identifiable throughout ‘Artillery’. The dramatic blare of fire alarms, preceded by the up tempo percussion, marks a prominent intro for the track. The juxtaposition of percussive crescendo’s and repeated guitar hooks adds audible variety to the song. Scales and triad-chords on guitar add to the song’s individuality; forming a motif-like melody. Likewise, Hugh’s repetitive chorus line of: ‘This love is your artillery’, makes the song almost chant-like and easily imitated by any crowd.

Hugh commented on such structure by outlining, “We aim for the utmost energy when we gig, it is important that our songs are memorable for our audience.”

A similar outlook is reflected with, ‘She’s Got Me’, utilising the repetition of the main vocal line to accentuate the song’s impact on a crowd. The distorted hammer on and glissando technique on electric guitar characterizes this track. Equally Hugh’s snarl-like vocal tone resonates a grungy effect; adding an element of darkness to the music. Combined with a syncopated drum pattern however, the band never fail to maintain a rhythmic pace throughout the song; the same rhythmic pace that fuels their fans with adrenaline. The black and white music video complements the aura of the track; exposing a form of disposition throughout Hugh’s lyrics.

Despite the objective to generate an intense stamina and vitality from their crowds; King Kartel also recognise the necessity for variety throughout their set list. Hugh said: “I think that our music has matured with us, and with that comes new formations for songs.

“We have been writing several ballads recently, there is even some ukulele ones. We would like to approach the acoustic guitar and soft piano sort of sounds too.”

It is often a trap that many musicians fall into when writing for A&R record label recognition; the search to be commercial. Streaming their compositional choices towards making a merchandise product, rather than a piece of art. Yet for King Kartel, the requirement to be a retailer within the music market is tempered by their inner passion for creation. When questioned about his perspective on this aspect of the industry, Hugh said:

“I write for myself, I write what I feel, and I do understand that you to have to dip your toes in commercial waters, but I will never let that control our music.”

As well as not succumbing to the standard of constraints of the music industry, the trio have not forfeited their music for relationship constraints. The three recounted their difficulty in meeting their music with their love lives. Maurice expressed that there is a level of torment when chasing both a dream and a love. He said: “I’ve had girlfriends attempt to make me civilised, it is at that point of civilisation, when you lose grip of your ambitions.”

Interestingly, it is this deadlock of personal obstacles that inspired the title track of the EP, ‘Not Done Fighting’. Throughout the track, the ultimate detachment between music and love is depicted. The clashing of discords and overlapping of lyrics, illustrates this concept of partition. Equally, the band implement this sensibility throughout the music video. The actors are used to demonstrate the severing between relationships and career. The pedal note of harmonised chants bedding the top vocal line of, “I’ll not give up the fight”, familiarises the song, giving it a distinct strength, with a subtle fragility.

To completely contrast this, ‘All Talk No Trousers’ pumps an anger back into the trio’s repertoire. Hugh said: “All talk no trousers was about people who sit on the fence as critics, but never take any action.

I used distortion and high gain on my vocals to show the frustration behind the song’s motive.” Likewise, the music video emphasises the motions of the depth behind the track; taking the viewers through a journey. The timbre on this particular track identifies an Oasis or Foals style influence. An evident attitude conveyed is a reflection of the Liam Gallagher, ‘bad boy’, indie that Manchester is famous for. Hugh challenged such view by saying:

“I never aim to imitate. That’s the last thing I want. But every band needs their influences, it helps to construct your own identity.”

Retaining a loyalty that appears reciprocal to their lyrics; the band explained their endurance behind their goals. Micky outlined: “Sometimes it can be easy to get lazy, but if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Such perseverance behind their final motivation is honourable, as the three complete editing their next track in SSR studios. Sitting by an abundance of high quality equipment, the band do not appear lost or disguised. Instead they embody a contentment that places them as fixtures within the studio; belonging to the environment. Their casual attire of skinny jeans and checked shirts exaggerates such view. The last eight years for King Kartel have been spent exploring an industry that remains prosperous for the trio; a land that belies much more to be found. “I’ve jumped from a plane and I’ve never felt adrenaline like I have on a stage. We aren’t done fighting just yet.”


Story #6: “Social media’s impact on journalism” written by Gem O’Reilly

Journalism is rapidly morphing into an accessible profession for any individual. The development in digital resources has culminated into a metamorphosis for the media industry. Within the last decade our technological advances have introduced a new method of publishing and distributing content. Social media is now received as a primary source for both the discovery and the creation of stories. The impact of such modification however, has introduced a revolutionary effect on the world of news and its dedicated contributors.

Newsrooms are no longer solo platforms; they are a singular ingredient that contribute to a mass field of news convergence. A company no longer judge a journalist solely by writing capability; they expect significant knowledge of technology, social media and online strategies. For example, Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times said, “We want to make sure we have the best possible working relationship between technology, product and the newsroom” (Paul & Liisa, 2011). Publishers emphasise now that print and online behold equal importance; convergence systems allow news to be delivered via varied forms of multimedia. Therefore it is essential that journalists comprehend the power of social media and its role within a newsroom.

Social media marketing (SMM) is quickly becoming a key tool for journalists and their organisations to manipulate. Analytics is a fundamental element involved within the process of Social Media Optimisation (SMO). Analytics gives an overview of the hits on a news website; monitoring the traffic of visitors to the site and highlighting the source of traffic. From this information a company can identify where to concentrate their distribution efforts. For example, popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter may be the main source of their traffic; thus an organisation can filter their content through sharing links on these social media sites. This form of marketing requires sufficient knowledge of components such as SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and aggregation; proving that social media is shaping the skills a journalist must possess.

In terms of devices, social media has also determined an incline in mobile phone use within journalism. “Many news organisations such as BBC, Reuters and CNN are specifically tailoring their output for the mobile market” (Paul & Liisa, 2011). The ever growing world of Apps such as Storify, Instagram and Vine means that all types of news are accessible from a personal handheld. As a result, social media may be seen to contribute to globalisation within journalism by bringing the events of the world together on a pocket-sized computer.

Equally, social media on mobile phones has shifted journalism as a profession. The question as to who is the journalist has changed because a mobile phone can provide a normal person with the opportunity to be a journalist. This revolutionary development is known as Citizen Journalism. Dan Gillmor, Citizen Journalism advocate states: “We are all creating media. Any one of us can, and many of us will commit an act of journalism”. Despite the positive influence this may have on everyday people, it is vital to consider the negative impact this could have on professional journalists.

There are a number of ethical and legal issues that are introduced through non-professional journalism. For example, “PR professionals believe that news is becoming less reliable as journalistic practice involves less fact checking” (ING, 2014). The social media impact survey revealed that “One third of journalists said social media posts are not a reliable source of information” (ING, 2014). Due to a non-professional’s lack of knowledge of ethical standards within journalism, Citizen Journalism is in danger of breaching press regulation (IPSO). There is a risk of blog owners and social media members not verifying the information they declare online which may lead to misinterpretation and unjustified content.

A prime example of poorly presented journalism on social media is the dead hoax of Macaulay Culkin. The Mirror online outlined that: “The rumour originated online with a mock tribute page making the rounds on Facebook for people to show their respect” (Roberts, 2014). The false death announcement resulted in a serious repercussion on other social media sites such as Twitter. One fan tweeted “Why do people think it’s hilarious to spread these type of rumours?” (Roberts, 2014). If a journalist consumed such information due to relying on Facebook for new stories and reported on ‘Macaulay’s death’ they would be guilty of defamation. Thus misuse of journalistic practice on social media sites can potentially lead to financial loss if the victim of defamation wishes to sue. Nonetheless, ING’s Social Media impact survey disclosed that “78% of journalists use social media on a daily basis” and “56% of journalists are no longer able to perform duties without social media” (ING, 2014). Consequently, this imposes a serious threat to the media industry as user-generated content is “expected to grow” (ING,2014). It is evidently crucial therefore, that a journalist demonstrates standards complimentary to The Editor’s Code of Practice when utilising social media feeds for potential stories.

On the other hand, social media has introduced an abundance of valuable attributions. For example, the interactivity social media websites offer allows readers to engage with journalists. The feedback and reaction of readers has spilled into the creation of online communities. This introduces passion to online news; paving the way for conversation and instant involvement in stories. Likewise non-linear storytelling via social media further authorises reader involvement; assisting them to determine how and when they consume content (via links). ING’s Social Media Impact Survey highlighted that “1/2 of journalists said that they consider consumer opinion more reliable that statement by organisation” (ING, 2014). Social Media has provided journalists a form of intimacy with their readers. Online communication largely contributes to publication; allowing journalists to understand their recipients of news.

A negative factor however, is the progression of ‘speed journalism’. Social Media may be deemed to encourage fast content delivery, which of course imposes potential issues in terms of quality. The phrase “Publish first, correct if necessary” (ING, 2014) has become more prominent within online publication. BBC Global News’ Richard Sambrook advises that “Journalism needs discipline, analysis, explanation and context”. The field of the industry has become much broader as a journalist must now decide what medium to use to tell a story (e.g. text, audio, video), however it is imperative that the pace of social media does not interfere with the standards within a publication. Journalists may feel that they’re racing with competitors on content, which is supported by ING’s discovery that “20% of journalists check facts before publishing” (ING, 2014). A respectable journalist should not allow the rapidity of social media to tarnish their ethics and values.

Despite this, there is no greater diversity of journalistic platforms than on social media pages. Social media has implemented a more creative and inventive way to tell a story. From showing a dance move on Vine to curating a political debate on Storify; social media opens an arena of story-telling mediums to journalism. For example, in 2011 a meteorologist from Alabama used Facebook and Twitter to reveal the Alabama tornadoes. He manipulated visual journalism through photographs and videos to fully portray the effect of the tornadoes. Equally, Anthony Derosa famously covered the London riots via Storify; gaining him thousands of followers and readers of his work. These are just two examples of successful practices of varied forms of journalism. However without the use of social media, these mediums of journalism would not be acknowledged. Subsequently, social media accommodates all types of journalism.

The main acknowledgement that can be interpreted is that social media aligns journalism with the rest of the world. Whilst there are equal negative contributions involved in the likes of citizen journalism and speed journalism, the positive elements far out way the imperfections of social media. Social media has not only resulted in more competitive journalism, it has introduced much more complex journalism. A large majority believe that journalists “need to use social media to engage their audiences in new and inventive ways, while also maintaining ethics” (Asough, 2012). Undoubtedly this places further responsibility onto the shoulders of a journalist.

Likewise, the establishment of new professional statuses online have been formulated via social media. A journalist nowadays has larger opportunity and choice as to what role they adopt. Many journalists have adapted to a personal business route; becoming bloggers for a living; streaming their career over the World Wide Web. The Guardian declared that “There is a transformation for the journalist being the gatekeeper” (Guardian, 2014). This theory is clearly evident when surfing the internet, where everyday people are formalising and producing new website and blog content. Social media is the contributor that has assisted bloggers and website hosts in becoming the “gatekeeper” of the news. The possibilities of gaining access for information and easily distributing content is an ever-growing prospect in the social media industry. “The impact of social media was overestimated short term and underestimated long term” (Richard Sambrook, BBC Local News). The future of journalism may even behold further opportunities as the combination of developing technology and social media has only just begun.


Story #7: “To what extent do communication technologies shape international politics?” written by Gem O’Reilly

Where communication was originally reliant on the speed of sound, transmission is now equivalent to the speed of light. Such development in technology has propelled a global interconnectedness. The chrysalis that strengthens an interdependence between states worldwide. As the world’s technology continues to advance, the once standardised network of international control becomes fragmented, restructured and reinvented. This essay will examine the ramifications of technology within a globalised system; underpinning the complexities that new information technologies are responsible for within the world of politics. By incorporating a critical outlook and relevant cases studies, an assessment into the “implications for the central concerns of study of international relations” (Hanson, 2008: 3) will be made. These fields of operation entail: war, peace, distribution of wealth, the global economy, national identity and nation state power. A venture into just how much dominance communication technologies have over each area of concern within the international system.

Throughout history, nation state alliances have been consolidated and maintained through trade and ministries. The connections made between multiple governmental organisations across the globe were established and maintained through formal commerce and negotiation. However, as systems exchange aging methods of control for the internet; the concept of real time news is an everyday commodity. In modern society, the impact of technology may be seen to be “so profound that it is no exaggeration to claim that an information revolution is taking place.” (Hanson, 2008: 3). A rapid process of delivering, receiving and exchanging information has become a standard asset within the majority of Western lifestyles. With such an abundance of resources, international relations are subject to both positive and negative outcomes. A definite threat is imposed upon, “the traditional conduct of international relations” (Potter, 2002: 3).

Forming the conduct of relations over global conflict, it may be construed that communications surrounding war, is an area of immense transformation within the system. With the accumulation of communication outlets, governments can now output information faster than ever before. From a positive perspective, this may offer a harness for those of authority to provide interstate protection. A recent case study of such safeguarding was evident throughout the Brussels attacks. For instance, on the 22nd March 2016, at 8am, bombs were reported to have exploded in Brussels airport. By 10am, public transport was shut down, the country’s terror threat level peaked to maximum and prime minister, Charles Michel, tweeted “asking Belgian residents to stay where they were and not move around the city” (Whitehead, Samuel & Morgan, 2016). Equally, Eurostar utilised the internet to declare that, “No trains are currently running to or from Brussels Midi. Brussels customers are advised to postpone, and not come to station” (Whitehead, Samuel & Morgan, 2016). Within mere minutes the story was broadcasted, tweeted, printed and shared all over the world, through the acceleration of one “common denominator” (Potter, 2002: 3); technology. In this disaster, therefore, it was social media that provided a level of universal communication, to warn not just interstate citizens but international citizens. It is this exact driving force that has led mass communication throughout both war and peace. Social media has been integrated into governmental control as a tool during times of despair and disaster; forming a networked web that can operate on a global scale.

Despite such advancement in new information technology, a definite threat is imposed upon, “The traditional conduct of international relations” (Potter, 2002: 3). The challenge belies between two fundamental issues; authority and territory. With the combination of social media outlets and smart devices, the contemporary depiction of war is much more diverse than ever before. For instance, the Syrian conflict “can indisputably be called the first ‘YouTube War’, fueled by the proliferation of Internet connectivity and mobile technology” (Koettl, 2014, para. 2). There is a prominent dispute as to whether “faster, better channels of communication increase or decrease the probability of war” (Hanson, 2008: 3). The prospect of a photo taken on a mobile phone and being transmitted within seconds, nationally, on social media is not an unfamiliar concept. The power of the ‘citizen journalist’ not only invades news outlet territory, but also governmental territory. “Information is distributed less through official media outlets, such as TV broadcasts and newspapers, and more through online social networks in real-time, thus—more than ever—putting reporting beyond the control of governments” (Koettl, 2014, para. 2). There is a danger that if the standardization of journalism throughout war is jeopardized by mass communications; so is the standardization of government. The ability to control therefore, may become much more obscure.

To explore this perception, there are many instances in which global activism groups and organizations have operated social media to influence government decisions during conflict. In August, 2006 a website called Ana al Muslim encouraged, “The people of Jihad to carry out a media war that is parallel to the military war” in order to “observe the effect that the media have on nations to make them either support or reject an issue” (Hanson, 2008: 1). This may indicate that the manipulation of communications surrounding the media are utilized to destruct international agendas. Global pressure organizations may adopt information technology as a litmus test; to shape and interrupt authority in times of national strife. In the age where “live global media, which broadcast news of events as they happen in multiple regions of the world” (Hanson, 2008: 2), it becomes conceivable that even war within the international system is being molded by technological resources. “Satellites make possible a global mass audience to witness simultaneously live events” (Hanson, 2008: 2); providing a strong platform for groups like Ana al Muslim, to communicate their own version of war through the media. With this in mind, new media fuels political activism; making it more accessible. Likewise, bonds may be formed between activism groups as identities become fluid in such an interactive, virtual world. Such affinity between pressure groups however, may pose a direct threat towards the nation state. As activists form coalitions, there is a vulnerability added to the state’s government; spurring the growth of anti-statism and to some extent, anarchism.

Inevitably, mass source of communication provides individuals with a canvas in which to paint their opinion on. This in turn increases the possibility for instrumental power; the public’s capacity to affect outcomes. With an enlarged ability to affect international decisions, comes a shift in authority. There is a suggestion that the idea of government supremacy may succumb to communication technologies. “Hierarchy is giving way to networking” and technology may be proving to be “a catalyst for the forces of both fragmentation and integration in the current international system” (Potter, 2002: 3). Electronic resources evoke openness, freedom and equality, yet it is this democratic tranquillity that proves to be an immediate torment to government regimes. Potter outlines the “increased availability of, access to, and speed of delivery of large quantities of news and information”, as the primary generator in hierarchal subservience (Potter, 2002: 4). New information technologies introduce the battle of freedom versus control within society. “One of the consequences of the democratization of mass broadcasting unleashed by the world wide web, is that anyone can present his or her views, however hastily conceived, to a potentially global audience” (Potter, 2002).

Despite this, critics may outline that the devolution in state discipline is a positive contribution to the role of the watchdog. As alternative journalism organisations increase in functionality through technology; consumer boycotts are able to hold governments to account. “Network technologies are the medium for this new social structure” (Castells, 2013: 1). The expanse of communication channels modifies our individual impact within international relations. An abundance of technical sources results in a fluctuation in “the way we perceive and interact within the rest of the world” (Hanson, 2012: 2). In exercising our assets in communication, citizens gain control, morphing them from recipients of political conclusion to participants of political conclusion. Therefore, the more outlets of communication; the harder the power constriction becomes for governments.                “More people have access to more diverse sources of information than ever before, as well as a greater capacity to influence national and international agendas. The most optimistic are enthusiastic about the potential for increased empowerment of individuals and other non-state actors” (Hanson, 2012: 4).

The case study of Edward Snowden is a principal model behind this outlook. His investigation underpinned a conversion in power between the individual and the government. Described as both a spy and a whistle blower, The Guardian claim that he is “Responsible for the biggest intelligence breach in recent US history” (MacAskill, 2013, para. 2). In fact, Snowden’s inspection into secret, classified information in 2013 from the National Security Agency led to an international paranoia over cyber spatial components penetrating into private documents. “A much needed debate on the balance between security and privacy in the modern world” (MacAskill, 2013, para.4). In his findings, Snowden disclosed an affluence of detail to The Guardian’s, Glen Greenwald. “From a court order showing that the US government had forced the telecoms giant, Verizon, to hand over the phone records of millions of Americans, to the previously undisclosed programme, Prism” (MacAskill, 2013, para. 18). Snowden’s revelations stimulated a distinct fear of communication technology: “You cannot have 100% security, then also have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience” (Obama, 2013). The juxtaposition of freedom versus control is prevalent in technological advancement. Snowden’s discoveries epitomise the scepticism that ICTs introduce within international relations. If a single investigation can lead to the unveiling of global surveillance; what outcome could multiple revelations have. Whilst theorists describe such accessibility as “a long evolutionary process” (Hanson, 2012: 2), it becomes plausible that communication technologies contain the mechanisms to sculpting the breakdown of the international system.

In order to prevent this disruption to global coordination and structure, governments may opt to implement hard power within their domain. The necessity to apply discipline through threat of violence is an uncertain prospect within many societies. However, it may be evident that as people increase in their capacity to impact politics; the leaders of politics must become ruthless; combatting any obstacle that invades their power over state control. Take American Republican leader, Donald Trump, and the national accusations over his manipulation of power. For example, the frontrunner was criticised for his abusive behaviour during a campaign in Burlington, Vermont in January 2016. “When he was interrupted by a series of protestors who raised their voices against him, he asked security to remove the disruptive audience members, asserting his power in a legitimate manner so that he could continue with his remarks” (Friedersdorf, 2016, para. 1). This characteristic has become prominent throughout Trump’s campaigning, not only in America, but on a global scale; proving that the sharing of information filtrates opinions internationally. Whilst American politics have been engaged on an international level throughout history; it is modern day ICTs that provide a rapid, global output. “He was not content to restore order. He went a step further, using power vindictively, whether to satisfy his own desire or to play to the worst impulses of the crowd” (Friedersdorf, 2016, para. 5). Trumps treatment of power may be viewed as a counteraction; to prevent the soft power diplomacy, within the digital age, which has previously been advocated by Obama. This accentuates the potential of political transformation within our modernized society of mass communication and technology. World leaders are reacting to the new communications environment and making different choices about how they believe their section of the world should be governed.

China’s new phase of even tighter internet censorship also follows this authoritarian backlash. “Manipulation of information continues to hide the truth from citizens” (Castells, 2013: 1). By imposing ICT restriction through filtering and blocking information, the government is attempting to maintain confidence both in territory and authority. “Chinese censorship still often manages to succeed by either pushing the agenda of authorities or silencing critical stories” (Huffington Post, 2014, para. 2). Over time, this same resilience to loss of identity and control has been exemplified throughout international relations. For example, the Basque in Spain, the Irish in the United Kingdom, the Kurds in Iran, Turkey and Iraq. “The evidence of the desire to maintain a sense of nationhood strongly manifests itself over generations” (Mazaar, 2002: 11). China’s security measures illustrate the necessity to dominate within a government’s geographical boundaries. The choice of territorial power may be viewed as more crucial as ICTS activate a global society. Mazaar outlines that there is a determination to maintain a status quo within existing states.

On the other hand, the influence of mass communications remains an irrefutable contribution on economic globalization. Since the Second World War, new ICTS have resulted in a major shift in the international economy. “These include an increase in the volume and scope of cross-border economic activities” (Hanson, 2008: 140); making it easier to facilitate trade between states. This transformation of the world’s economy has led to countries “becoming more dependent upon trade as a source of economic growth” (Hanson, 2008: 140). This great expansion in trade can be identified when comparing The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and The World Trade Organization. Originally established in 1947, GATT comprised of 23 states within their membership. However, GATT’s successor, WTO, now contains a membership of 148 states. David Held defines the world trading system as “an intensive network of trading relations embracing virtually all economies and by evolving global markets for many goods and some services” (Hanson, 2008:140).

Critics may outline that trading growth is a repercussion of the type of trading that now takes place in modern society. A deviation from agricultural materials to diverse services means that international trading serves larger purposes. The world’s economy is no longer determined by copper, oil or gold, but through: “transportation, telecommunications, financial services, distribution and computer enabled business services” (Hanson, 2008: 3). Through the use of ICTS, the progression of international trading has been accelerated. This progression has equally benefitted third world countries, as their primary source of value is no longer dependent on raw materials. “ICTs are crucially important for sustainable development in developing countries” (Ogbomo, 2008, para. 1). Hanson highlights that in third world countries, “Half of their exports today are manufactured goods, in contrast to only 10 percent in 1960” (Hanson, 2008: 142). Many commend ICT services for providing a stronger structure throughout production. Telecommunications in particular, provide developing countries with a bridge to foreign lands; diminishing the barriers between states. As a result, original restrictions on foreign investment are no longer an issue as production can be expanded “beyond territorial boundaries” (Hanson, 2008: 143).

Despite such elevation with mass communications, there is also a risk of manipulating foreign economies to enhance personal finance. ICT development in international relations has made it easy for international companies such as Google to maneuver tax; ironically using their international site as fuel to disservice foreign economies. “Even the internet universe is constructed around the power of major business conglomerates” (Castells, 2013: 1). CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, was deemed responsible for similar action. After claiming that the site’s headquarters are situated in Ireland, Facebook “paid a mere £238,000 in tax after scooping in more than £20 million last year” (Timmins, 2016, para. 1).

In conclusion, communication technologies have influenced international relations both positively and negatively. A definite impact on economics, nationality, state governance, and war, has not only meant that ICTS have “reproduced social order” but “crystallized domination” on a global scale (Castells, 2013: 1). Whilst the prospect of individual power still remains a novel concept, as communication resources become more attainable, as does the capacity of the individual. The outstanding concern may remain that as technologies continue to develop, will the extent of technological capabilities undermine governmental capabilities. Will such relentless movement in global society result in a world we no longer recognise. A world that is no longer functioned by nation state leaders.