The Fluctuating Figures of London Knife Crime

As of May 4 2019, 28 people have been fatally stabbed in the city of London this year, as a result of an ongoing knife crime epidemic in the capital. In 2018, the number of homicides reached 135, which averaged out at more than one murder every three days – whilst it is currently averaging at one killing every four days (we are 122 days into the year), levels are still extremely high.

Over the seven years that the spreadsheet details, there was a seven percent increase in knife crimes recorded by the Metropolitan Police from 2011 to 2018 – 13,341 reports in 2011, and 14,695 in 2018. However, the number decreased dramatically from its current statistic in 2015, reaching a stable 9680 then slowly increasing back up to 12,061 in 2017 and reaching its highest number of the data set last year.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan controversially said in March 2019 that he has ‘done as much as he is allowed to do’ to tackle knife crime, and has been criticised online by the public and other politicians, who have said he is not doing enough. In April 2018, the Mayor launched Violent Crime Taskforce, a command of 300 polices officers that are dedicated to focus on the worst affected areas of knife crime, including Westminster, Newham and Lambeth. According to City Hall data, since its launch 13 months ago, the VCTF has seized 731 knives and arrested almost 4000 suspects.

Analysing the data set that I used to create my infographic, it is clear to see that Southwark is consistently the most common out of the 32 boroughs in London where one can be affected by knife crime; records show that there were 860 knife-related crimes reported to the police in the borough in 2018. This is just a 2% increase from the 842 affected by blades in the previous years analysis.

One thing visible from the data set is that between 2017 and 2018, the worst increases of knife crime in London boroughs came from Sutton (increase of 77%), Camden (+73%), and Havering (+69%). An article published in local newspaper The Camden Journal in February 2019, four months after the spreadsheets were published online by Parliament, revealed that local businesses in the area have began paying for private police protection due to the ‘dwindling number of officers in the area’. The number of police officers fell from 887 in 2010 to 631 in 2017, totalling a 256 strong loss in just seven years.

Since Theresa May became home secretary in 2010, and throughout her time as the British Prime Minister, the number of police officers on UK soil has fallen 21,500 nationwide. Because of this, it comes as no surprise that the Metropolitan Police Force are struggling to cope with the workload that the criminals of London are giving them.

Read the accompanying data set here.

Accuracies in Hollywood Film

When a film is said to be ‘based on a true story’, it allows its audience to feel a deeper connection to it – this is because they think that all the emotions and hardships shown in the tale have happened to people in the real world.

However, what the public don’t know is that several of these movies that are allegedly factual have only drawn inspiration from the true story. The website ‘information is beautiful‘ has formed a list of (as of now) seventeen films which claim to be accurate, but as demonstrated in the graph through data collection, are not.

For instance, 2014 drama film ‘Selma’ is shown to be 100% accurate through the collection of data from dozens of data sources, whereas ‘The Imitation Game’ (also released in the same year) has only a 42.3% accuracy rating.

Websites like Information is Beautiful are extremely important, especially to journalists. This is because a journalist could see the ‘based on a true story’ tagline and then sell a film to their readers using information from the real plot that is not used in the film – another reason as to why data collection on the website can make a significant difference to a writers work is because it can make a piece more authentic. If a journalist was to write a piece on facts they only thought were true but weren’t verified, they could be accused of getting caught up in the ‘fake news’ frenzy.

The Tug of War Between Traditional and Citizen Journalism

Since the ‘social media era’ of journalism settled into society about ten years ago, it has thoroughly altered the way writers play their part in updating the masses on the latest news.

Although it’s clear that the original format of journalism, the print newspaper, is becoming a thing of the past, a journalist’s role is still to assemble fair, interesting stories that will entice a reader – whether this be them picking up the latest edition of the Evening Standard, or their phone to a notification from BBC News.

The task of the modern journalist is to create exciting news stories faster than citizen journalists and creators of user generated content; for instance, if user generated content such as Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign is shaking up social media, it is a journalists duty to create an article about it and incorporate more statistics about the campaign than a citizen journalist could – thus using buzzed topics in the public interest to bring the attention back to the news.

However, what sets industry journalists aside from both citizen journalists and user generated content is their ability to write professionally about the facts of a story, rather than getting caught up in a scenario that they feel too strongly about to produce a biased article. By doing this, they keep the art of journalism alive, and ensure that it will not be overtaken by improper writers.

I Spent Five Days Following The Telegraph’s ‘Snapchat’ Account

After being subscribed to newspaper ‘The Telegraphs’ Snapchat account for several days, I found that there were two key stories covered – one progressively – which demonstrated their determination to appeal to a younger audience.

In Wednesday’s (October 24) Snapchat story, The Telegraph documented claims of sexual harassment against a powerful businessmen, but were unable to name him due to an injunction he had paid for to prevent his identity being published. As the week went on, public interest grew regarding the man’s identity, which on Friday resulted in Labour politician Peter Hain naming the alleged predator as Topshop billionaire Philip Green.

I think The Telegraph used this story as their main one for the Friday Snapchat story because they knew younger readers would immediately identify with the brand names ‘Topshop’ and ‘Topman’, enticing them to want to know more about the story.

Due to The Telegraph being a professional tabloid newspaper, I think that they use their platform to raise awareness of important stories that young people need to be aware of. For instance, on the Thursday (October 25), they wrote about how every four minutes, someone aged 15-21 is diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Writing about topics such as STI’s is vital in raising awareness of sexual health in young adults, and will encourage them to use condoms and to get tested for STI’s frequently.

How Mobile News Gathering is Changing Journalism

As smartphones like the iPhone and Samsung are increasing in popularity every year, it was only time until journalism had to begin adapting to fit the new normal way of receiving news stories – this is why journalists nowadays have to think differently as to how they are going to present their work to the public, because our concentration levels are decreasing and we want to be given a lot of information in a short format.

With mobile news gathering, consumers can interpret the news they read in a completely new way than what it was like two decades ago. For instance, it’s common nowadays for every article on a website such as the Mail Online to have an accompanying video; regardless of whether it has anything to do with that exact story or the topic in which they are writing about.

Another way that mobile news has shaped journalism is through social medias distribution of the news. Due to networking sites such as Twitter and Snapchat garnering millions of new accounts every week, more and more people are now relying on these websites for their daily news. ‘Twitter Moments’ and ‘Snapchat Discover’ provide a range of different topics and accounts you can subscribe to that will cover all the news you want to know. This is significantly popular in young adults aged 16-24, who are one of social medias largest demographics.

The Significance of Web Analytics

With modern news outlets having the ability to update their streams constantly, they can potentially face editorial issues that come from the use of analytics from their websites. Analytics can be extremely handy for news outlets and journalists, because they can provide an instant chunk of information regarding several things – these can include how many articles a user clicks on, the time-length that they stay on a website, and how far down a page they scroll, to name a few.

From the analytics data that a company receives, they are able to improve their content so that it will appeal more to their readers, and allow users to view it in an easier format. Because of this, they can build up a larger audience, because they’re aware of what their readers are doing whilst on their companies site. This can be enhanced by Search Engine Optimisation (also known as SEO), which is what is done by a search engine deciding what you see first when you type something in on the internet.

However, web analytics aren’t always great for companies to gather their sites data and see what their users enjoy. For instance, many have said that they feel web analytics can lead to obsessions over what their visitors are wanting to see, and constantly wanting their website to remain at the top of the search bars.

A Brief Examination of my Filter Bubbles and Echo Chambers

Once I had spent fifteen minutes scrolling through my Twitter account, the social media platform that I use the most frequently, I was immediately able to identify certain filter bubbles and echo chambers that consume my timeline.

Three core topics swarmed my newsfeed – popular culture related news, travel accounts, and ‘proper’ news (outlets such as the ‘Mail Online’ and ‘BBC News’). After taking the idea of filter bubbles and echo chambers into consideration and looking at my Twitter feed with that mindset, I wasn’t shocked to see that these three subjects made the most appearances; they are the three topics that I enjoy reading about the most online, therefore I expected the results I got.

For instance, because of my interest in ‘pop culture’ news, I follow Twitter accounts such as ‘TMZ’ and ‘Complex Pop Culture’. I enjoy their news-feeds because I am interested in a broad range of topics regarding pop culture, and feel that the two accounts merge all the information I want into a compact site; TMZ provides the daily celebrity news that most are too proud to admit they can’t get enough of, and Complex Pop Culture covers everything from tour announcements to new film releases.

In conclusion, I realised that by examining my Twitter timeline with the mindset of searching for filter bubbles and echo chambers made me realise how many of them I could fall into – however, I think of it as a positive thing. If you are in a filter bubble with millions of people from around the world on one social media platform, it connotes that there are millions of people from around the world that share similar interests that you do. If our social media timelines were full of tweets and statuses regarding topics that we have no care for, no one would bother using social media.

How Digital Developments Change Journalism

As stated in the News Storytelling in a Digital Landscape report – ‘is the internet killing storytelling’? In the digital age that we live in, journalism has seen a drastic change in how a reader receives and perceives their news. For instance, since the vast majority of our generation owns a smartphone, major news alerts can pop up on a mobile immediately with updates available in seconds as the story progresses. This is incredibly different from how journalism worked fifty years ago – where ones only sources of news were the radio, a few television channels, and primarily, a daily newspaper.

Swapping print for digital journalism is often seen as a good thing; not everyone is interested in purchasing physical newspapers and want something compact instead, therefore it can intrigue a wider audience into journalism. This is because they can obtain news for free on their device (a mobile phone, a tablet or computer for example), on websites such as The Guardian and London Evening Standard.

However, in the report, the writer Vin Ray mentions that Mediastorm, an online production company for multimedia storytelling, reaches global audiences that ‘TV programmes would envy’ and that ‘⅔ of their audience are watching the short films all the way through’. This connotes that the current generation of news consumers may prefer watching informative films and documentaries as their news source, in comparison to reading long articles – this links to the writers suggestion that our attention spans could be decreasing, since we now prefer a ‘quick hit in USA Today’ to a ‘10,000-word New Yorker article’.

The rise in documentaries over news articles can be seen in modern-day pop culture, as documentary-makers Louis Theroux and Stacey Dooley’s television shows, available on streaming services such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix, become more popular each time a new episode is released.

In conclusion, from this observation and how the writer predicts that our attention spans are decreasing, I feel that the generation of millennials prefer these programmes because they take up less energy, and they can also do something else at the same time.

Reuter’s Digital News Report 2018

Based on the findings of Reuter’s 2018 Digital News Report, I think that the most significant development is how the percentage of online users relying on social media for news updates has began to decline, primarily on Facebook.

I am fascinated by this, because not long ago, the world was captivated by the same website – however, I think the recent leak about how Facebook processes its users data and mobile content has a lot to do with why people are choosing to read newspapers or look elsewhere online such as the Mail Online and BBC News. This could highlight that we, as a society, are beginning to turn our backs on social media for news updates, and return to how it once was; we are heading straight for the source of information, instead of finding it second-hand.

As demonstrated in the graph on page eleven of the report, we are shown that 66% of users in Brazil use social media for news updates, even though there has been a reported decline in their news on social media dependence. This is a vast increase in comparison to the range of 31-45% of users in Westernised countries such as France. The USA and the United Kingdom.

Due to consistent political scandals and well publicised wrongdoings in these countries, such as Brexit and President Trump’s alleged affair with Stormy Daniels, I believe that we are straying from our reliance on social media for news updates, because we are afraid that we are being fed ‘fake news’ through social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram.