Room – A masterful look inside the tightest of bonds

Brie Larson and Jacob Trembley brilliantly take us inside a story filled with despair, heartbreak and innocence in Lenny Abrahamson’s marvelous drama with a twist.


Every preconception of Room may have you thinking it’s just another kidnap/crime film. The Joseph Fritzl case springs immediately to mind. At play, here however, is a perfect concoction of brilliance from all sides that makes this so much more. There is so much to bring tears to your eyes throughout the 2-hour journey. And a journey is what this is. An experience rather than a simple movie. Something that you find yourself following intently immersing yourself in the experiences of the two protagonists.


Brie Larson stars as Joy, a 24-year-old woman and mother to five-year-old Jack (Jacob Trembley), seven years prior, Joy was abducted on her way home by a man known only as “Old Nick”. The film brilliant blends the two characters very different understanding of the world. Joy knows what the real world is yet out of sheer maternal devotion, the real world is contracted only into the “room” that she and Jack reside.


Joy and Jack cuddle together in a hammock
Joy (Brie Larson) and Jack (Jacob Trembley) 

Even within the first few minutes, you are immediately made to feel both Joy’s pain and Jack’s innocence as he wakes up on his fifth birthday with the same delight and excitement you would expect from any five-year-old. Joy of course playing along, feigning the same excitement, whilst hiding her despair from Jack but not from us.


Eventually Joy and Jack manage to escape, but from that they enter new unknows. Especially for Jack who has never experienced the outside world in his short life save for a skylight in the shed they called “room”. With Joy desperately trying to adapt to a world in which she has returned, she finds that the lack of confinement means she cannot hold on to Jack everywhere he goes.


Room is a completely different story to how it appears, it deals not with their confinement but the relationship that exists between mother and son, not a story of kidnapping but a love story between two characters so touchingly portrayed that you feel truly invested in their lives. For all the childhood innocence you see from Jack, your heart breaks knowing the reality it is set in.


Room is available on DVD and on Amazon Prime now.

See the trailer here

Tony Silvia, Terry Anzur: Power Performance – Multimedia Storytelling

The chapter started off referring back to the days when sales of newspapers were big business and how one of the main ways of distributing newspapers was street sales through “newsboys”. It was these “newsboys” who coined the now famous phrase “extra extra”. The phrase indicated that an extra edition of that paper had been published that day.


Silvia and Anzur then went on to state how the web is more than an extension of newspapers but actually a medium where parts of stories can be told that cannot be told in traditional print media.


The also stated a number of “essentials”. Things that the web can do a lot better than newspapers. The first was slideshows which are in essence, photo essays, because the web user can scroll through at their own pace, they become interactive.


Next was maps and graphics, these can also be interactive and the authors suggested that audiences show a predisposition towards wanting them in articles. This is often because they can be personalised towards each user’s needs.


Next was audio and visual clips. The authors suggested that people enjoy being able to control what they watch and listen to, something that cannot be done at all in newspapers which can only pick specific quotes and with TV news, you only get the soundbites of audio or visual clips, this means that often, quotes can be taken out of context. However, with online news, you can have the option to post the full interview and that in-turn allows the user to choose exactly what they see and hear.


Finally, online news can give links to other online resources. They talked about how we live in a “google culture” where we can find pretty much anything. However, it is our responsibility as journalists to make sure that we provide the reader with the most reliable information possible, thus eliminating the readers need for “second party searching”.


The authors finished by talking about how our viewing habits of news differs in each medium. For example, newspaper readers tend to read one story at a time but have the option of flicking from story to story on different pages. TV news is forced to be linear, you must watch a certain segment or number of segments before you get to the one you want to see. However, with online news, you can read any story and be multi-tasking at the same time.

Vin Ray: News Storytelling in a Digital Landscape

Vin Ray began by referring to a Times article that questioned whether the internet is killing storytelling. He balanced whether it indeed is killing storytelling or alternatively, whether the internet is liberating us from the formulaic structure of established media. 


He quoted Ben Macintyre who said that while the internet is extremely effective and communicating large quantities of information, it cannot and is not giving what it communicates an effective narrative. He then moved to an article by Ben Carr that seemed to give an explanation for this. Carr said that people’s attention spans are diminishing and the more we use the web the more we have to fight to stay reading longer pieces of writing. He described this as “narrative storytelling being washed aside by a tsunami of byte sized information.” 


Ray then gave reason to be optimistic about the future of long-form journalism. He talked of new start-up companies. One was Mediastorm who when posting their articles, do not restrain themselves in how long their articles are or how long their broadcasts are unlike traditional newspapers or TV news. Rather, they created their content to be as long as they believed necessary in order to create a good story.


Mark Armstrong, the founder of another start-up, Longread stated other key factors driving resurgence in long-form journalism, in addition to new technology like Ipads he described ‘social recommendation’, where people after reading something they like will share it with others leading to its own personal cheering squad. He also spoke of ‘timeshifting’. These can be apps that allow you to continue reading articles even when you are offline.


Ultimately Ray concluded, nothing can compare to good storytelling and the same fundamental concepts journalism has always used remain the key staples of effective journalistic storytelling.

King Summary: The Internet’s Transformation of Journalism

King started out by saying that the definition of what a journalist is and what journalism is has dramatically changed since new technology like the internet. Despite this it does not define the limits of journalism, merely plays a role in shaping it.


King pointed out how quickly the internet has changed how we view news, by 2009 it wasn’t considered unusual to view breaking news online. The Pew Trust reported that by 2008 more people were accessing news online than by newspapers. 


King said that there were 3 major long term trends appearing as a result of increased internet news. First, that online journalism has placed local daily newspapers under severe pressure despite the need for local news being as pressing as ever. Second, Established media are no longer the gatekeepers of news, rather they magnify news that often begins online. Finally, change is so quick, now blogs are considered established with new mediums like wikis and twitter emerging. 


King talked extensively about citizen journalists and pointed to the advantages and disadvantages and how they are now being utilised by established outlets. He said that nowadays, virtually anyone can post news which does mean news-gathering has proliferated, however, the distinction between professional news-gathering and amateur news-gathering is increasingly blurred. One of the main disadvantages is that of accuracy and credibility, the safeguards that often (but not always) protect professional news organisations does not exist with citizen journalists.

WordPress: In and Out

Since its introduction in 2003, WordPress has become the most easily accessible and wisely used Content Management System (CMS) in the world. An estimated 60 million websites have been created because of it.


This is primarily down to how easy it is to operate, you don’t need to have any knowledge of HTML coding in order to make any changes to your site. If you want to add or remove posts, pages, images or change the theme, you simply click on the button. From a business’s point of view as well as being quick and easy it a=is also cheap to build your very own website. Finally, large numbers of volunteers create their own themes and plugins which can then be used by other WordPress users.


Posts and Pages: What’s the difference?


One of the key differences between posts and pages is that pages are static one off type content. A classic example is the “about” page. Posts are content entries published in reverse chronological order therefore making them ideal for blogs. They also feature their own unique URL’s.


For example, if you had a news blog and wanted to divide it up into different types of news, you may have a page dedicated to politics and another to sport. In these pages you would have your posts, for example a series of posts about an upcoming election, or a number of football match reports. These posts would appear on the page with the one posted most recently appearing at the top of the page.


Categories and Tags: What’s the difference?


Categories are meant as a broad grouping of your posts. They help identify what your blog is really about. Because they are hierarchical, you can also create sub-categories. Tags on the other hand are far more specific to the details of your posts. They could be referred to as the “index” of your blog. It is necessary to categorise your posts, however adding tags is entirely optional.


For example, if your blog was about food, you may have categories, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner and desert. When posting a recipe for chocolate brownie, that post would fall under the desert category but the tag you may want to create would be “chocolate”.

“Childhood Over, Adulthood Begins” Nick Newton: A Profile

The whole concept of starting university can and is daunting to many young people, but just as trepidation is something most new uni students experience, so it is that excitement and optimism often counter any doubts.


This is something I discussed when I sat down with Nick, a first year journalism student. His experience is typical of many other students. Like many other students who both live and study in the capital Nick lives at home during term-time. He told me this was a deliberate choice as transition is difficult hence his decision to apply exclusively in London.


This doesn’t remove all the concerns. He told me of the stark difference between college and university, the “lack of structure” along with no longer being able to “avoid responsibility at university” is something virtually every new student has or will discover. 


Despite that, there was a sense of optimism throughout the interview, his advice to new students to “get sorted, get prepared, get all the information you can” and “take as much as you can” is what you would expect from someone looking to get as much out of university life as possible.


Moving on, I ask why journalism? This led Nick to describe his passion for sport, particularly football and more interestingly, Nick’s favourite sport basketball and the American NBA. Not being up to date on my NBA knowledge I got given a brief overview on some of the big NBA teams Nick follows, the LA Lakers and LA Clippers along with the New York Knicks. At this point I plucked up the courage to take a shot at naming another. “The Denver Nugggets I say nervously. The delight when he tells me I was right!

Stephen Bourne: Black Poppies

Many of us didn’t fully recognise the role black people played in WW1, author Steven Bourne attempts to change that.


Most of us have a basic understanding about World War One. For many though (including myself), that understanding may be limited to secondary school history classes.


If you have found it hard to discover what role black people played in the Great War, then there is the author just for you. I was lucky enough to bump into Stephen Bourne signing copies of his latest book Black Poppies at the Imperial War Museum.




Black Poppies serves as an accompaniment to some of Stephen’s other books. It looks at the contribution that black men and women made to the war effort both on the frontline and the home front. Stephen told me he wanted to write the book to counter the whitewashing of British history that had surrounded the First World War. He also told me of his first-hand testimony that he got from his adopted black aunt Esther Bruce, the focus of another of Stephen’s books The Sun Shone on Our Side of the Street: Aunt Esther’s Story. This family history helped inspire Stephen to document the true contribution that black people made to Britain, especially during the two world wars. He described this as “a gap in history, a gap that needed to be filled” so using first-hand accounts and original photographs he set about to ensure that the contribution black men and women made to the war effort would be permanently remembered.


Stephen Bourne originally trained as a journalist but graduated from the London College of Printing (now the London College of Communication) in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in film and television. His next book titled Fighting Proud is about gay men’s life and service in both world wars, it will be released in July 2017 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 which decriminalized homosexual acts.




More information about Stephen’s books can be found at his website