Video Report & End of Assignment

My video report was done on Tuesday, and as a result this assignment has been complete.

Very happy with the work I’ve produced and the results I’ve received. 

Radio Reports

I’ve recorded and edited both radio reports over the last few days and both have now been completed. They are on the National Minimum Wage and the culture of binge drinking.

I will burn these to a CD and hand them in with my assignment.

Essay on Journalists’ Responsibilities

This essay deals with all the ethical, legal and professional obligations of modern reporters.

As described on the 5th of March, the evidence for this paper was taken from my own research from various media outlets, and the Dispatches Trilogy on Murdoch. These programs were:

Episode One - Tabloids, Tories and Telephone Hacking

Episode Two - Murdoch: The Mogul Who Screwed the News

Episode Three - How Murdoch Ran Britain

The second show in particular, by journalist Jacques Perretti, was very useful. It gives great insight into the man Rupert Murdoch,  how he runs News Corp and how he goes after people that challenge him or refuse to play ball. The ethics, or lack of them, are there for all to see.

My own sources were:

BBC News - Rupert Murdoch ‘not a fit person’ to lead News Corp - MPs

BBC News - Leveson Inquiry: Rebekah Brooks’s phone ‘hacked weekly’

Timeline of the News Corporation scandal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Leveson Inquiry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Operation Elveden - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Operation Weeting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Duties & Responsibilities of Journalists |

Press Complaints Commission - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

National Union of Journalists: Code of Conduct

Andy Coulson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rebekah Brooks - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Missing Milly Dowler’s voicemail was hacked

Murdoch evidence on For Neville email

Edited Work/Radio Packages

I edited four articles and reports from other trainee journalists today. All four are in my assignment folder and as they are not my work will not be put up on this blog.

I also carried out my remaining interviews today for my two radio reports, and have written scripts as a result.

Over tomorrow and Friday, I will piece together from edited interview and vox pops the finished reports. These will include various jingles and pulses spread throughout the packages.


In the last week, I’ve completed my research for my two radio reports. One will be on the national minimum wage and the other will be on the culture of binge drinking.

I have carried out vox pops today on both, and tomorrow I will interview Gerry Diver, city councillor for Derry and former Mayor of the city.

Following this interview, I will write my scripts for these radio reports, record them and lastly edit the whole packages to put them together.


The video report will be carried out next Tuesday.

Wreck of World War Two Aircraft Found in Donegal

By Chris McGrath

Aviation enthusiasts have found and raised a RAF spitfire which crashed almost 70 years ago to the day. It went down in a deathly quiet peat bog on the north Donegal cost.

Yesterday it was painstakingly raised from those murky depths. As it was slowly elevated in a howling wind and light drizzle, it became clear the remnants of the RAF MK II had been conserved in remarkable condition.

The aircraft had been stationed at what is now City of Derry airport during World War II. After developing engine trouble in November 1941, the fighter plane went down. But not before pilot, Roland ‘Bud’ Wolfe, was able to eject just in time and parachute to safety a mile from the crash site.

Wolfe’s is a story not widely known but as eventful as any tale from fighter-pilots in the early 1940s. A native of Nebraska, USA, he entered the war before his country did to defeat fascism. His plane was donated to him by a Canadian businessman also doing his bit for the War effort. He enlisted in the UK’s Royal Air Force.

Having crashed in the Republic of Ireland, Bud was taken into custody by Irish authorities in order to protect their neutral status. Having escaped from the Curragh, he was later sent back to Co. Kildare by British officials, keen on assisting the Irish in their diplomacy.

As the multitude of layers of peat and bog were stripped from the plane, six machine guns and 1,000 rounds of ammunition was uncovered, as well as Bud’s oxygen mask, helmet and goggles.

Prominent BBC historian Dan Snow said: “The plane itself is obviously kind of wreckage and the big pieces survived. It’s just incredible because it’s just so wet here that the ground just sucked it up and the plane was able to burrow into it and it’s been preserved. It’s in amazing condition.”

The remnants of the fighter jet will be placed on display in the Tower Museum in Derry. They will be the centre piece to the museum’s extensive Second World War collection.

Mood Piece

Story Four.

It’s a mood piece written after the discovery of a downed World War Two spitfire was found in a bog in County Donegal. 

Not only did I research spitfires and the use of them from an old RAF base in Derry, but also the pilot of this particular spitfire, who had a remarkable career.

The following sources were used:

The Eurozone Financial Crisis For Dummies

What caused it and is there a way out?

The late 2000s global recession is the worst economic crisis since the Wall Street Crash on 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression of the 1930’s.

It was triggered when the housing bubble burst in the US in 2007. This was when the value of property kept rising to unrealistic levels and people were unable to keep up with their huge mortgages – loans from banks to people so they could buy homes.

US banks had been - until this point - ready to lend huge sums to people (credit) even though these people may not have been able to keep up repayments. Banks, which also had ties to other countries, were damaged as they weren’t getting their money back from these loans. Worse was to come. Stock markets across the world began crashing as investors questioned these banks solvency (owning more wealth than owed).

Banks tightened the credit they would give dramatically. This meant it was extremely difficult to get a loan. As a result people had less money to spend. Businesses (and thus economies) around the world began to suffer.

However this crisis was ended in 2009 by governments around the globe taking on the debt. They did this by lowering VAT (tax paid on goods) and bailing out financial institutions, like Northern Bank in the UK and all Irish banks.

Confidence returned to the market’s as it appeared governments were getting to grips with the credit crunch.


A second blow was to come. Soon the Eurozone crisis began in late 2009 and is currently on-going. This was caused by a number of factors in addition to huge government debts.

These include:

*Globalisation of finance – like in the US, huge companies had ties to many other countries, so if one was affected, all were affected

*Easy credit conditions, meaning extremely low interest rates – this meant people had a lot of money as they didn’t have to pay so much back on their loans. But it also meant increased inflation, driving the prices of all goods and services unsustainably high

*International trade imbalances – governments setting different import and export taxes for different countries

*Continued bailouts by governments of financial institutions – more debt was taken on by states and thus the losses were spread among the people through increases in income tax

Government borrowing off global banks got worse. Thus the Eurozone Crisis is a continuation and a worsening of the global financial crisis of 2007-2009.

But why have countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy been affected more?

Greece, Spain and Italy’s financial problems are actually nothing to do with a terrible borrowing record. The reason they have bigger debts than the likes of the Germany – who borrowed more – is because the problem of their private sectors. Companies and mortgage borrowers were taking out bigger loans than they could afford to pay back. Interest rates were criminally low. Therefore to pay back their debt, they began exporting more and more. Even to countries with financial issues of their own. 

Germany on the other hand borrowed more. But since World War Two their interest rates have been lower so they could rebuild their country. As they had a tight grip on private sector debt, they have emerged once more as a European economic powerhouse.

Greece, Spain and Italy meanwhile soon found that the countries they were trading with couldn’t afford to pay them back for their exports. To make matters worse, during better economic times, wages in these three countries (but particularly in Greece) rose incredibly high. 

This put them at a massive competitive disadvantage from the rest of Europe. Why would any company want to set up in these countries when they would have to pay much higher wages to employees?

As a result, Greece is in the worst position out of any country in the Eurozone. Spain and Italy aren’t far behind and face brutal recessions.

So what’s the answer….?

There only seems to be three answers being contemplated by the Eurozone. But all three have huge drawbacks.

They could cut public spending (on services like the Civil Services) to retain money. But then the recession could deepen as unemployment rises and wages are frozen or become lower. The market could become more competitive as investor confidence increases and other companies may come in to take over the lost services. But people will have even less money to pay off their debt and to spend money on goods and services.

Option two is to not cut spending and risk a financial collapse. Investor confidence would remain non-existent as they would fear economies would be too weak to support the crippling debt-load. Other European countries don’t have the finances to bail another country out. And the European and World Banks say their mandate won’t allow such a bailout either.

The third option is they could reach an agreement whereby those with the most (such as Germany and France) could lend substantially to those with the least. In turn those lending, like Greece, would have to sign up to an agreement of harsh austerity measures on their people (high taxes and low spending with lower welfare benefits).

But this has caused major political problems.

In recent elections, the people of Greece voted for no clear victor with the election run solely between pro-austerity and anti-austerity parties. But the major party holding the balance of power is an anti-austerity group.

And in France, the pro-austerity President Nicolas Sarkozy, was defeated by the more socialist, less austerity minded Francois Hollande.

This has thrown all bailout plans up in the air again. And whatever the outcome, it won’t be painless.

 By Chris McGrath

Article on Financial Crisis

The following is Story Three.

It’s a piece on the current Eurozone Crisis, with emphasis on Greece and possibible solutions. 

I’ve written it in such a way that even those with little understanding of world economics can see why there are such problems with finance in European states.

My material came from the following sources:

Super Smyth On Course For London 2012

Derry sprinter just 0.04 seconds short of qualifying

Jason Smyth, the double Paralympic gold medallist from four years ago, is well on his way to achieving a special piece of sporting history.

Eglinton native Smyth is on the verge of becoming the joint-first Paralympic athlete to compete in the able-bodied Olympics, alongside South African Oscar ‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius. It would be another remarkable feat for the 24 year old, having already smashed world records in Paralympic competition.

Now Smyth is close to his ultimate goal – qualification for the Olympic Games in London this year. This is despite suffering from Stargardt’s Disease, an inherited degeneration disorder that causes progressive visual loss to the point of virtual blindness. Smyth has said that in comparison to his competitors for Olympic selection, he only has 10% of his sight.

But this hasn’t stopped him in his pursuit of athletic excellence.

He started running in 2004 and quickly progressed through the Irish ranks. In 2006 he became the European Paralympic champion in his chosen distances of 100 metres and 200 metres. He first hit the headlines in 2008 at the Paralympic Games in Beijing. Smyth surprised everyone in taking the 100m and 200m gold, producing world records in both events. He amazed 90,000 spectators by besting previous times by a distance, running 100m in 10.62 seconds and 200m in 21.43 seconds.

In fact he was so impressive, world renowned coach Lance Brauman invited Smyth and his mentor Steve Maguire to relocate to Florida in the US. The offer was accepted and Smyth has since trained alongside Tyson Gay, the second fastest man in the world and chief rival to superstar Usain Bolt.

As a result, the Derry sprinter’s performances improved again. He won another gold medal at the Paralympic World Cup in May 2010. He ran another world record of 10.41 seconds, gaining him qualification to the able-bodied European Championships in Barcelona in July of the same year. He was the first Paralympian to do this. Here he came through his heat and finished a very creditable fourth in the semi-final, just missing out on a place in the final.

Still, he emerged not only with great credit but also an entry to the 2011 World Championships in Deagu, South Korea. For the first time, Smyth would race against the very best able-bodied sprinters in the world. In his preparation for the event, he suffered a back injury and skin rash that badly affected his sleep. He ran below his best and failed to come through his heat, but was not too disappointed.

He again relied on a great source of strength in his life – his Mormon religion. He said:

“I have a good sense of who I am, where I’m going and a good sense of the talent that I’ve been given and the opportunity not only to do well but maybe inspire others to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve.

"It’s a big part of who I am in terms of how grounded I am and not getting carried away with how things are."

With this attitude and recovery from injury, Smyth has found form again in the last few months. At a track meeting in Florida he ran a new personal best and a new world Paralympic record of 10.22 seconds. This is just four hundredths of a second off the time set to qualify for the London Games – 10.18. He has until July 8 to run this time in competition. The 2012 Olympics begin on July 27.

Smyth said: “I am just where I want to be. Things are going pretty well – gym, track….everything. I’ve been back out in Florida since the start of November and I’ve had no real niggles and hopefully that will continue over the next number of months.”

With Smyth still improving year on year, everyone in Irish athletics and in his hometown of Eglinton are hopeful he can improve the 0.04 to qualify for the Olympics.

"Yes I want to qualify. But it’s more about being the best I can be, achieving my potential.

“Another thing, I suppose, especially for people with disabilities, is that it shows that nothing’s impossible, that if you want to do something, if you put in the work, it’s very much achievable.”

Smyth proves this every time he steps out on to the track.


By Chris McGrath

Sports Piece

The following is Story Two for my assignment.

It’s a piece on Jason Smyth, a paralympic athlete and olympic hopeful from Eglinton in County Derry.

The research I carried out was extensive, both in terms of looking into Jason Smyth as a person and Jason Smyth as a world champion runner.

My material came from the following sources:

The article will be in my next post.

Remaining Print or On-line Stories

Having completed research on my remaining three stories - the first piece being the help for gambling addicts story - I’ve now written all three.

I will post these soon, as well as the research used for them.

Assignment Update

Updating the blog has been slow due to problems accessing it in college because of my article on gambling addiction - all gambling and anything to do with it being banned on all NWRC premises.

In the last few weeks, I have:

- Finished 1000 word essay on journalistic responsibilities

- Collected material in log books for research on my remaining three print or on-line stories

- Chose my stories for radio reports, as well as relevant interview figures

- Collected material in log books for research on these stories and figures

1,000 Word Essay

Finished the notes for the 1,000 word essay today, having watched the third and final part of the Dispatches trilogy on Murdoch and the News Corp scandals.

I took notes from all three video’s as well as my own research on the same topics from various media outlets.

Now I need to write up the essay, in which the focus will be the legal, ethical and professional responsibilities of journalists.

Way Out For Gambling Addicts

While for most, gambling is nothing more than an enjoyable pastime. But for a minority it can spiral out of control. An addiction to gambling can ruin a person’s life as easily as a drug or alcohol addiction. But now more than ever there is a way out for gambling addicts.

It has only recently been discovered that scientifically, there is no difference between the destructive neural responses to drugs, alcohol and gambling among addicts.

In 2001, scientists at Harvard Medical School turned to MRI machines to monitor the brains of gamblers while they played. They looked at several areas of the brain that process dopamine, a pleasure-inducing chemical released during drug and alcohol use. Results showed the same areas lit up when test subjects gambled, becoming active not only when they won but also when they only expected to win - precisely the pattern of anticipation and reward that drug and alcohol users’ display.

Yet those addicted to gambling have not received as much attention as those dependent on alcohol or drugs. For years, problem gamblers were castigated by society and abandoned without any support network. Thankfully this is no longer the case. But many addicts may not be aware of the help available to them.

A survey conducted by the Department of Social Development revealed that 2.2% of the adult population in Northern Ireland have a gambling problem. This is in comparison to just 0.6% in the rest of the UK. With the explosion of internet gambling in the last five years, addiction to gambling has risen drastically. There are now over 37,000 problem gamblers in Northern Ireland, as well as over 360,000 in the rest of the United Kingdom. Not enough has been made of these numbers to make problem gamblers aware they are most certainly not alone. Unfortunately, statistics also show that only around 8% of gambling addicts come forward.

As has always been the case, the majority of addicts are male and aged between 18-34. But today women are becoming as susceptible to developing a compulsion to gamble. With the increasingly easy access to internet sites such as online poker and roulette, those who would ordinarily never think about entering a bookmakers or casino, are becoming more vulnerable to addiction.

There have been numerous stories of problem gamblers in the news over the last couple of years.

The story of Eamonn McGirr made many headlines. McGirr is an addict from Tyrone who stole £330,000 from his employer by fraudulently writing company cheques. He did this to bet on blackjack online. In court, his councillor spoke on his behalf. Sister Consilio, a nun who runs the Cuan Mhuire addiction centre, told the judge that gambling was the worst addiction they dealt with.

The highest profile case is that of Armagh gaelic football legend Oisin McConville.

It wasn’t long after he was a star in Armagh’s first ever All-Ireland winning team in 2002 that his addiction spiralled out of control. McConville detailed in his autobiography ‘The Gambler’ how he lost up to £10,000 on occasions and how unmanageable his life had become.

“This just shows this illness could reach anyone at any level in society,” said a reformed addict and spokesman for Gamblers Anonymous (GA). He did not wish to be identified so I will call him Joe.

Joe told me he has attended GA for 3 years having been a gambling addict for 6 years. He talks with up to 12 people a week, some individually and some in groups, twice a week for an hour. Although he no longer gambles, he is wary of a relapse.

“This disorder can happen to anyone, and most addicts are in denial about it when it is happening. The most important thing for anyone out there suffering, or suffering because a family member is an addict, is to realise the danger signs and come forward as soon as possible because there is help available.

“The danger signs of an addict would be constantly thinking about the next bet, chasing losses, finding other ways to escape like using alcohol, drugs or even sleep. They won’t be able to stop and when they try they will become agitated and restless. They will rely on friends or family members to pay their bills or deal with their money troubles. There would also be trouble in their relationship, which they will ignore over their betting, and they will fall behind in their work or just not go to work at all.”

With gambling addiction being a bigger problem in Northern Ireland, there is more support available for addicts and their families here.

Gamblers Anonymous is a self-help 12 step program for men and women who have joined together to do something about their addiction and to help others like them do the same. It is a unique movement with no central governing body and little formal organisation. Senior members – those attending GA for a number of years – do carry out responsibilities, such as controlling group finances and arranging refreshments at meetings, as well as keep in contact with new members to see how they are getting on.

There are 14 meeting places for GA across Northern Ireland. They meet from once weekly to four times weekly. On any night of the week there are at least two meetings occurring, usually in the evening.

Joe explained to me the process addicts and their families go through in order to begin recovery.

“All that is necessary to join GA and seek help among peers is to admit to a gambling problem and a desire to stop gambling. That’s it. There is never any fee. Absolutely everyone is welcome – every religion, age, gender, colour and creed.

“When they join, they start their 12 step program among those doing the same or those that finished the program and recovered. There’s no quick fix. It doesn’t take 12 weeks either, it’s much longer. We can only help if addicts want to come and continue to attend. In that way they can help themselves by showing up week in and week out.

“We also have great help for friends and families of addicts. Gam-Anon is another 12 step program. In this, friends or family learn to understand the illness and what impact it has. They also learn how to support the gambler emotionally so he doesn’t give in to his disorder.”

GA and Gam-Anon cooperate with each other in their efforts to help the gambler and loved ones. Children also affected can attend Gam-A-Teen, part of the Gam-Anon program.

“But before any of that,” Joe stressed, “the vital thing is for the gambler to admit to himself that he has a problem and he needs help. There can be no denial. Then he or his family can come to us or pick up the phone to us so we can help. That’s the most important step and it’s the most difficult step.”

One of the people Joe is helping is a former businessman in his 40’s. He also didn’t want to be identified so I will call him Peter. Peter is now unemployed and has been attending GA for seven months. He described what his life was like as a problem gambler in denial.

“It was completely unmanageable. I felt powerless to change anything. The first thing I used to do in the morning was wake up and look at the day’s horse racing fixtures in the paper. I used to get depressed if there was a cancellation because it meant less chance to bet. I started taking more time away from my company and spent less time with my family. I hated myself for that just as much as I hated myself for losing bet after bet.

“With the recession my business was losing money. I was trying to make it up with betting on anything and everything, at any time of the day or night. That’s how it started. I couldn’t stop, even when I won. My wife knew something was wrong but I told her things were fine. I lied for a long time to her and hid our accounts and everything. We had so many arguments. It was affecting our children. It was a nightmare. I felt no pride in myself. I felt worthless.

“Eventually she found out and I had to come clean. It was my wife that contacted GA. It’s the best thing she’s ever done for me and she’s done many things for me.”

Peter lost his business, in part due to his addiction, but he is much happier now receiving jobs seeker’s allowance and recovering from his addiction, than he was as owner of a business but a problem gambler.

He’s not the only one. Joe told me about the many people he has seen recover from addiction.

“It’s really a brilliant thing to see. There have been people that have come to GA and been on their knees, been so down and depressed. All they could think about was gambling and money. They’ve had no money but more importantly they didn’t think they could get back on the right track.

“But then you see them week after week pick up a bit at a time. Eventually they get to a stage where they can concentrate on getting a job or concentrate fully on their current job, or spend more time with their family, and all of a sudden they are much happier in their lives.

“We make sure they’re aware they’re not out of the woods yet, that it’s an on-going process and one bet is all it takes to slip back. But we encourage them and tell them if they keep going the way they are, they’ll be just fine.”

Peter described how things have turned around for him since attending GA and no longer gambling.

“There is no point in saying that everything turns great overnight, because that would be a lie. But what GA gives you is a sense of direction. You can feel yourself getting better bit by bit. It’s a cliché but it really is one day at a time.

“When you find yourself realizing it’s been a while since you thought about having a gamble, because you were too busy focussing on the children’s homework or worrying about a job interview, you know things are looking up. That’s what’s been happening with me.

“Now when I get up in the morning I am making the breakfast or reading the news pages in the paper. The horse racing doesn’t cross my mind most mornings anymore. I’m not on edge. I can pick the children up from school and not worry about some obscure football match on the other side of the world.

“It’s a blessing.”

I asked both Joe and Peter what would be the first piece of advice for anyone who was struggling to come to terms with a gambling addiction or knew someone who was an addict. Both were in agreement.

“Come forward. Pick up the phone. Come down and see us. We can help,” said Joe.

Peter agreed, saying:

“The only way to get help is to admit there is a problem. Let it be known. Tell someone. Tell anyone. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do. If I had have done it sooner, I wouldn’t have felt so depressed for such a long time and wouldn’t have got into as big a debt as I am in. But at least now, with GA, things are manageable.”

Being able to manage their lives is what gambling addicts cannot do on their own. They only see and think about one thing, no matter how destructive it is to their lives.

And unlike in alcohol or drug addiction cases, only that gambling addict or his immediate family knows the full extent of trouble he is in. In alcoholism cases for example, everyone can see an alcoholic stumbling around a town one day to another. But with gambling, it’s very much on the inside.

This is why it is so vital gambling addicts are aware of the help available to them. This is why awareness must be raised of the charities and programs existing to assist these individuals in managing their lives and breaking their hugely damaging compulsions.

Gambling addicts have to know there is a way out.

For further information and advice please visit the Gamblers Anonymous website at, or telephone their helpline on 08700 50 88 80. The Derry based branch of Gamblers Anonymous can be reached by telephoning 028 7135 1329.