Seven things you’d never need to know about me

I’ve been meaning to get around to writing this meme post for some time. Thanks to Kat and Bruce for tagging me with this dubious honour.

So, here goes:

1. I once won first prize in a roller dance competition by performing a freestyle arrangement to the theme tune of Paddington Bear.

2. I have advertised alpaca shawls on local Bolivian TV.

3. I was one grade away from fulfilling the requirements of a place offered to me at Mansfield College, Oxford. Given the choice to retake, I chose instead to stick to my plan of taking a year out and traveling the world. I sometimes regret that decision, but mostly I don’t.

4. I was selected to try out for the UK Women’s Waterpolo Team… but didn’t make it in.

5. I fear that the things I do are not quite good enough (especially this sentence, which on the first go was very poorly constructed – see below).

6. I have eaten cow brains.

7. I have had a gun held against my head.

To continue this meme I call upon Julia Gilbert, Chris Unitt, Jaki Booth, D’Log (for he is a man of mystery), dp (as before), Karen Strunks and Fiona Handscomb.

How Created in Birmingham taught me about blogging

If you follow my Twitterstream, you won’t have avoided being pestered to vote for Created in Birmingham for Best UK Blog in the Weblog Awards.

I am careful about partisanship on most topics, but this is one I am happy to put on my campaigning hat for and I want to use this post to explain why.

I came across CiB in 2007 when I was working as Media & Marketing Editor for the Post. I was tipped off about it by someone at Advantage West Midlands who happened to know then-author Pete Ashton.

At first, I think my reaction was pretty typical of journalists: I saw it as a two-bit, amateurish attempt at keeping tabs on the local creative community. Sweet and cuddly, but not REAL news. No threat there.

Except, that wasn’t exactly true. What I quickly came to realise was that CiB isĀ  a unique resource for those in the creative sector.

Pete’s commitment to post at least once a day and the honest style in which posts were written (conversational, links out, making it clear where information came from) was the recipe for its success. It wasn’t long before it was a recognised name within the creative circles in the city.

It bought together the creative community in a way that traditional newspaper articles could not quite do. What was posted was not restricted by page space, nor limited by when it could be published AND it gave people a place to talk, connect and debate.

As CiB increasingly became a resource for my story ideas, I realised there was something in this blog lark that meant it had the potential to be genuine competition to “traditional” media.

Determined to understand more I pestered Pete to meet me (not something he was initially that keen to do – me being “evil mainstream media”). When we eventually did meet we started to realise there was quite a crossover in the work of CiB and my job as Media & Marketing Editor.

It was fantastic to go through that process . Pete started questioning how much of what the blog did was “journalism” and I started looking at the ways in which my work could better engage with a community and how the online news model would work as a business.

It was Pete that suggested I started this blog as a way of experimenting with a more “two-way” type of writing.

There is no doubt that has changed eveything.

My personal experience of blogging set me on a road that challenged all my beliefs about journalism and media. It introduced me to new online tools and helped me develop a new network of interesting sources, contacts and friends.

It has changed the way I think about my industry, about the businesses that form it and the organisations that claim to support it. It has also irrevocably changed my hopes and plans for a career in journalism.

Pete has now left CiB, but his good work has been continued by Chris Unitt and, I’m sure, will be by new author Kate Spragg. It is still a fantastic case study to use when looking at how blogs can impact on traditional media.

So please vote CiB, it helped this print journalist learn more that I can tell you.