Critical Evaluation – The group blog

It all began on a Friday morning with myself and four others. We were brought together to come up with an idea for a website about London. I was somewhat concerned at the beginning of the gathering as there seemed to be little enthusiasm from some group members. I kicked around a few ideas and made some suggestions. Initally, we talked about doing something about London’s nightclubs, but I didn’t think it was interesting as that information can be found on various sites. As time passed, we came up with an idea for a site about the alternative side of London. Things that don’t get much attention from the media. We talked about doing a story about which London park has the most dog mess. Everyone seemed to like that idea. I made a few suggestions to the group about  looking into hygienic practices of London’s restaurants. I also mentioned to Louis about doing a story on the game of basketball and how it is slowly growing in popularity. At this point, these were just suggestions to get the cerebral juices flowing. We talked about whether to use wix or dreamweaver to create the site. Sophie said she was a dab hand with dreamweaver and would be happy to take responsibility for creating the nuts and bolts of the site. We looked at Time Out’s website for inspiration and one or two others.

When it came down to it, the five of us agreed we were headed in the right direction. We agreed to come back with some concrete ideas for the following week. One week on and Fred and Sophie failed to show and were never to be seen again. At this point, we decided not to rely on them and move ahead as a trio. Our target audience would be 18 to 35, with both Londoners and tourists being the main readers.We agreed to use wix. Louis took charge of the design aspects. I became editor and I can’t remember Benzo’s role. During the week, I came up with a few ideas for stories that could feature on the site. During this time, I began to realise that it would be a better idea to focus on stories that show the hidden side of London. Rather than things people don’t talk about in London or the city being overated. This was mentioned at our next meeting.

I decided to do two stories that were to be audio slideshows. A pie and mash shop, as so many of them have disappeared from London. Plus many people from London have never tried it. In keeping with traditional cockney fare, I also decided to feature the Tubby Isaacs stall in Aldgate My second story was about Kensal Green cemetery. I decided to highlight the tour which takes place every Sunday and some of the fantastic gravestones that can be found there. I thought this story most of all summed up the hidden London tag. My final story was spotlighting Queens Market in East London. I thought this would be a good one as it’s not one of the capital’s best known markets, yet it is very vibrant and colourful.

I did all of my stories in the same week, which was quite exhausting, but enjoyable. I felt that the material I gathered was quite good. I enjoyed taking lots of pictures and placed a great deal of importance on getting interesting and striking photographs. This was essential for a slideshow. At the suggestion of Reza, I used Flickr for the Tubby Isaacs story. I tried to do it for the market story too, but wix wasn’t having it for some reason.

I think the site as a whole could have been a lot better than the final product. I was a little bit disappointed with some of the stories that some of the others came up with. I didn’t think some of them captured the ethos of our site. I don’t think some of them really made an effort in developing their ideas beyond the early stages of our meetings. From a journalistic stand point, the stories were lacking. Although my role was editor, I didn’t get to overlook much of the copy as some of it was left to the last minute. At this point, there was no time to review it before going online. I had wanted to add a Twitter account to our site so readers could give us their opinion on their hidden London favourites. I did try to do it, but I was having too many problems.

I helped out with some of the site developement, such as navigation, but overall, it was left to Louis to do. I think he did a good job, but with more time and a bit more guidance, could have improved the design. Our site would certainly have benefited from more social media being incorporated. As an analogy, rather than being digital, our site  ended up being analogue.

In summary, I enjoyed the experience. We were hamstrung by our ghost members, but we managed to come up with a decent site. There could have been more multimedia content on there too, which was a little disappointing. Not bad for a first effort I guess. I really enjoyed producing the slideshows and it really whetted my appetite for multimedia productions in the future.



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