Antonia Landi

Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Popularity of the paranormal is on the rise as Mary King’s Close offers first overnight event

In Edinburgh, Tourism on October 30, 2010 at 6:00 am

The entrance to Mary King's Close. Picture:

Tonight, arguably one of the most haunted places in Edinburgh will host its first public overnight event. From 11.30pm until 5.00am a group of people will spend the night in Mary King’s Close in search of paranormal activity. At £70 per person the event has proven to be popular, as tickets sold out within two weeks.

The Real Mary King’s Close visitor attraction is renowned for its ghostly past and has regularly featured in shows such at ‘Most Haunted’ and ‘Ghost Hunters International’. The paranormal has fascinated people for centuries, and TV series like ‘The X Files’ have proven that it holds an incredible entertainment factor. With more and more ghostly films and TV shows being immensely popular (e.g. the film ‘Paranormal Activity’ cashed in over £3.5m on the opening weekend in the UK, only topped by the sequel which was released just over a week ago), the public interest in the paranormal has risen to a new high.

Nigel Hosier, general manager of the Close, explains: “The whole [paranormal] market has been growing over the last 10 years. I argue it’s probably peaking about now”. He says that the fact that the Close has been featured on several shows investigating its paranormal potential gives the site an “authenticity and credibility”.

When asked why they decided to offer an event of this sort now, Mr Hosier explains that they have been experimenting with a few private groups in the past year and now felt confident enough to offer tickets to the public. However, The Real Mary King’s Close will not be transformed into a practice site for wannabe ghost hunters.

“We don’t want to get away from our core product, which is a historical but entertaining tour”. Hosier says. He also mentions the financial pressure on organisations such as the National Trust of Scotland and argues that events of this kind might catch on with other attractions in the future, if proven to be popular.

Mary King’s Close has recently been nominated for a Scottish Thistle award in the Heritage Experience category, which, if won, would make its award count go up to three.

Useful links:

The Real Mary King’s Close website

Reflecting on my first live rolling news day

In Journalism on October 10, 2010 at 9:00 pm

A week ago my classmates and I had our very first ‘live rolling news day’. Many journalism students would rejoice at the idea of working in a real-life newsroom situation, bringing original news stories to the table, getting quotes, writing it all up and posting the finished product on a news website before the dreaded deadline is up. I, however, did not.

The very first Multimedia Reporting lecture I attended can easily be summarized in one word: scary. Being in a room full of second year journalism students really made it obvious how much my class and I had missed out on. Doing a joint degree sounded like a great idea a year ago, but it was just then in that lecture that I realised that every time I was happily sitting in an English class discussing19th century England and Jane Eyre, somewhere, those journalism students were learning about how to gather, write and edit news. A skill I very much missed a week ago.

Last Monday, I saw this live rolling news thing more as an opportunity to find out what we are actually supposed to be doing, rather than an opportunity to post serious news stories on a serious news website that serious people will be reading and are supposed to take seriously. I did not find anything newsworthy to report in the preceding week so I arrived pretty much unprepared. The fact that our guest lecturer told us off for not taking a class that is not in our curriculum only made my anxiety and discomfort rise. I never felt much like a proper journalist, but on that particular day I felt like I could not report a news story if it was happening right in front of me. If you had asked my why, I would have told you that I did not have the skills, the cockiness, or the talent and that really, there is no point in forcing something that simply is not there.

Three o’clock sooner or later arrived, and we all met in the classroom. Since I did not have a news story, nor wanted to conjure one out of thin air, I volunteered as a sub-editor. It was enough responsibility to make me feel important, yet I was not important enough to make any of the big decisions.

The work was easy; while everybody else was writing away and calling important people, I looked at pictures to be used alongside the stories. I did not have much to do, as I could only start doing my part of the work once all the stories had been written. I was quite happy with the work, that is, until the actual work began. I did not feel comfortable editing my peers’ work without at least giving them a reason, so I decided to go over every news story with the person that wrote it; that way, we could decide where sentences needed to be changed and agree on the final version. In my situation, it was probably the nicest way of editing something, however, it certainly was not the fastest. I quickly got swamped with work and while still trying to stick to one format for all the news stories, I only had time to skim through the articles and could not look at them properly, as I had wished. Things quickly became chaotic; we were approaching our deadline with what seemed to me ludicrous speed, and people were starting to get concerned that they would not make the deadline.

But deadline or not, I still had to go through every article before it could be posted on the Edinburgh Napier News website. The people who had already submitted their work started leaving, and things got a bit quieter. Eventually everybody had left, safe three of my friends who were lending me a helping hand and me.

In the end the deadline had been crossed, of course; some news stories did not make the cut; and the ending was chaotic at best – but we survived.

What have I learned from my first live rolling news day?

I might not be a proper journalist, but I am pretty good at faking it.


Useful links:

Edinburgh Napier News

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