Friday, 3 December 2010

On Friday’s show we had Hannah Waldram from talking with us at the cardifference show. You can listen again to parts of that interview by following this link or via the player below. We will host the whole conversation on the blog soon but in the mean time the transcript of the interview is below where we talk to Hannah about her journalism experiences, advice for all budding journalists out there, the blogosphere and how to connect in.

Hannah also very kindly offered students the opportunity to contact her if you want any advice or want to get involved with through a number of different avenues including guest posts and photography and comments. All the details of how to get in touch are included in the interview below. 

Hannah Waldram at xpress radio on the cardifference show

We are very fortunate to be joined by Hannah Waldram who is a postgraduate from Cardiff and is now the envy of many a student and journalist because she has the auspicious position of being the editor of Guardian Cardiff. Welcome to the studio

Thanks Kieran very much for having me

So I think the burning question that most of our students and journalists would want to know is how did you get involved and what was your student journalism experience

That is a really good question, its what every student journalist wants to know is how do I get on the ladder in journalism and I went to Bristol University and got really involved in the student newspaper there because its something I’ve always wanted to do. I was their art editor and ran around Bristol getting loads of art stories and threw myself into it really and while I was at Bristol University I secured a number of work experience places. So my first one was with the Times which was my real big break I thought at the time and since then applied anywhere and everywhere for work experience and ended up doing work experience at the Telegraph, The Independent then Media Guardian and then realised I needed some regional journalism work experience so I did work at the Bristol Evening Post and Venue magazine and since then I’ve done a number of stints at different papers.

So really threw yourself out there and its essential that our journalists do as much writing to get their words out there

Exactly, and actually I started a Blog when I was at University and have had a number of blogs since. I used to run a dance blog and put all my dance reviews up there and I’ve now got a website which is my name and is a domain name that’s got all my blogs on there

Ok give us that name

Its it’s a way for editors to quickly look at your CV online rather than have to shove it in someone face which I have done before as well

Tom: Hannah if I could just ask, I do journalism at Cardiff and lots of journalism students find its very daunting for people to think that they could just apply to somewhere like the Times or Telegraph, if your first work experience is with the Times that’s a big newspaper to suddenly jump in there, how did you land such a good work experience placement?

At the time, it’s unfortunate because I think they have taken it down but they had an e-mail address to apply for work experience with the Times and I was literally picked out of, I don’t know how many people were applying for work experience, but it was a bit of luck but they might just be looking for someone to fill in two weeks but after that it’s really about networking and building contacts. So I would go to London as often as I could or various conferences, online journalism conferences, and have a little business card and speak to people and build up contacts that way.

But I guess you also got that chance and that work experience because of all the work you had been doing through student newspapers and student journalism and if you didn’t have the back up with the CV throwing yourself out there. So we have obviously got the Gair Rhydd and they were working very hard, I saw them last night on their deadline for the last issue that is out Monday, so throwing yourself into those opportunities through university.

Yes, any editor isn’t going to take you seriously if you are not working for your student newspaper and say you want to be a newspaper journalist and likewise for having a blog you can write online in your own time for free

So what brought you to Cardiff you obviously did that in Bristol so what brought you to Cardiff and the Guardian Blog?

The Cardiff journalism school does a really practical course in journalism and you learn a lot of skills including media law and shorthand which are still very essential to journalism so that was the appeal of coming to Cardiff. After that I went back home to Birmingham which is where I’m from originally and basically started a local website for where I live in Birmingham which was Because I was unemployed I was applying for jobs in journalism at the time and I had all these skills that I wanted to put them to practice so I basically started up this website for this area and started blogging and doing stories about Bournville online.


And then it was after that, that I started getting more job offers because it showed a bit of entrepreneurship and innovation and then I applied for the Guardian Cardiff Beat Blogger role and got that and started that in January this year.

Fantastic, it’s a great blog and one of our favourite blogs, why do you think they are such as powerful tool and actually before I ask that question perhaps explain to someone what a blog is, perhaps they have never read or experienced it and know about the finer details if you like

The Guardian Local project, the idea is to go out into cities, the Guardian is obviously based in London, and it is a chance for the Guardian to connect to some of their readers on a local level, so there is a beat blogger in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Leeds so it’s not just me. So the idea is that we will create rolling news of different stories of stuff going on in Cardiff. A blog is quite malleable because you can do different tones for the blog so of course we have our news stories which is quite hard news journalism, it’s the traditional nuts and blots of journalism so letting people know what’s going on in Cardiff but then we will have some comment pieces and guests posts which is different people contributing to the blog and writing their stories for the blog.

We had Dave King on the show, not too long ago, just a few weeks ago who runs the Cardiff Rivers Group and you give them a lot of good publicity and its great for the community groups because that’s a soundboard that they wouldn’t ever get

Exactly, its one of the aims of the Guardian local project is to really shine a light on some of those community stories that you might not read about in the Echo or might not get as much coverage elsewhere. So we do try and focus on community based stories and we also focus on the Council which might be a bit boring for some but I think people have begun to engage with that a lot more than they would have done. So really looking at how decisions are made in Cardiff, really important decisions that affect a lot of people.

And things like you have got on there ‘fix my street’ so essentially if you have got any issues, and how to connect into your councillors and how to raise any issues which is a great platform that potentially which anyone its making the line of least resistance haven’t you, so it’s there you can connect in very easily.

It’s just another way to engage with the local authority which you might not have been able to do before.

What are some of your favourite Cardiff based blogs?

Gosh, I might annoy a lot of people by not mentioning them but we have got a great blogosphere in Cardiff which has absolutely thrived over the last year as well and we meet up face to face every couple of months and have a Cardiff Bloggers meet up which is really fun because often you are chatting to these people online but once you meet them face to face you are more likely to help them out online if they get stuck or collaborate together on a map or something like that. There are tons I’m not sure I can pick out some because I would probably offend somebody.

Well that is fine, but I think more essentially for our listeners is how to connect in to that, because you use that term the blogosphere but some of that terminology obviously coming through.

Well yes it sounds a bit alien really but essentially the blogosphere is just people blogging in Cardiff and you call it a blogosphere because you are a network and building on that network is part of that meet up because you can call yourself part of the blogosphere but have never met some of these people before. But the idea is to really cement those relationships by meeting up face to face. And I think the way Cardiff Students can get involved, there are tons of ways in terms of online of course you can get in there and start commenting on people’s blog maybe start a blog of your own or follow people on twitter and start engaging with people online and having a conversation and then very welcome to come along to the bloggers meet and what we often do is have a short talk from someone about blogging and different ideas and share some experiences. The very first one we did was how to set up a blog so we do talk about some of the basics as well as the more developed ideas.

And you also hold a surgery where people who have perhaps have no knowledge or a little bit of knowledge can get involved so you had the surgeons and the patients essentially meeting together trying to connect in and helping each other out.

Yes the idea behind the Social Media Surgeries, again probably a bit of an alienating title, but essentially is for people who have absolutely zilch idea of how to get involved with social media and how and to use the internet but if they knew how to use it, it would probably enhance what they do so they tend to be voluntary community groups or those of a generation who haven’t got together with some of these tools and we sit down with them one to one for free and give them that advice.

And I think that is an important term that ‘free’ because it is a platform people can utilise that doesn’t cost anything apart from a bit of time and effort but essentially they can get your real community messages out there you can get your campaigns out there connect in with people writing about issues and concerns in Cardiff and suddenly you have built up this network without having to try that hard.

Once people find out ways that they can use these social media tools they will help them they get so excited because they have been struggling for weeks to try and do something and suddenly they see an online way of doing it and it just sort of works and clicks into place and it’s the Cardiff blogging network that helps out because they understand the social capital of learning how to use blogs.

I think we find it time and time again with our student audience as well, the traditional way of putting up posters and flyering and leaflets, you walk into any student property, you walk into the door and there is just a pile of leaflets, pile of flyers that are ignored and these relatively new social networking ways of getting people involved are really important.

I think sometimes the old ways can still be important but using them at the right time

In conjunction

Working ways to use them with online tools

Tom: Hannah you have a blog but if I can ask are you at all involved in micro blogging such as twitter

Yes I am I tweet all the time, every day so yes I know twitter quite well             

Tom: So you are quite an advocator of the positives that can be used from it

Yes definitely, twitter has grown massively since it started off and journalists need to learn low to use it for them because it’s not right for everything, lots of people use it just like people use facebook it can be used for different things, it’s the same kind of thing   

I have a really interesting point that I’ve got here about twitter, you tweeted about our ‘Christmas Pickers’ and we are going to be talking about this litter pick that we organised last night a little bit later on the show. But you tweeted that and we had a couple of volunteers that specifically saw that tweet and came along to get involved so they came along with their Santa hats and bits and pieces to do some litter picking. I think they are people we would have never been able to reach that something like that not been utilised.

Yes that’s fantastic

So thank you very much for that. So you mentioned that you have the bloggers meeting up and you have one this Tuesday at Pica Pica so essentially what is involved. A lot of this is online but then you meeting face to face and is that quite different and different experience?

Yes it is. On Tuesday it’s a purely social event because we have been meeting up all year and our brains are a bit fried and its Christmas time so we are going to have a social night and have a drink but as I said before we sometimes have speakers talking about different aspects of blogging so we have looked at how to start a blog, blogging for a niche audience and blogging for a campaign as well; we looked at the Save the Vulcan blog and Rachel Thomas came to talk to us about that so we have had different speakers come in and each time we get about forth odd different people and often about two thirds of those are new faces so we are always expanding that network and building on those relationships.

I can heavily recommend any of our listeners to go and get involved in that meeting. I went along to one and they are such an informative platform but also a great way, you were talking about earlier about the importance of forging networks, meeting people around the area and how important that is

And they are free

Although the free drinks and mince pies have sold out but still come along

Defiantly, still come along, it can be a bit daunting for students suddenly coming to an event where it’s full of non students talking about funny things but I think it is well worth coming along and having a look

Yes and that’s Tuesday night from 7pm at Pica Pica

Westgate street

Now we ask a lot of our guests how they make the most out of their time in Cardiff and how they recommend that students make the most out of their time in Cardiff. Have you got any interesting bits of advice?

Well when I was at University I obviously got involved in the paper and that took up lots of time and did lots of things like that but I haven’t seen any students at the Cathays PACT meeting which is partnerships and communities meeting with the police and councillors and there are always residents there complaining about students and it would be great to see some students go and I think that would begin to help to calm down some of the debates that the residents have about how to deal with certain aspects of student life being in Cathays. There is a massive group of residents that live there as well and that’s what I would recommend to students.

For our listeners that Cathays PACT meeting is on Monday and you can look on:

But we also host then at the student union, it’s something we have been doing very recently for exactly that reason, trying to get students engaged and break down some of the perceptions, barriers and some of the myths involved.


Just before we leave then I think a lot of our listeners and perhaps some of our journalist students would be very interested in how they can get involved in some of the entry points. You mentioned that you do guest blog posts.

Yes definitely, there are a number of ways that people can get involved. One of the most obvious is the guest posts so we can have as many as we like and we are really eager to get guests posts on a range of topics so it might be a feature, a review, a news report and basically just e-mail me and its Obviously go in and comment on some of the posts as well. You can also submit your photos to our flickr pool, we are Guardian Cardiff on flickr so if you are a photographer and want to see your Cardiff photographs up there then submit that photo there, you can get involved with us getting hold of some local government data or making a map, there are lots of ways so drop me an e-mail.

I’m sure you’d want students to help with some research, they might have some pressing stories of their own or concerns of their own.

Or do you know what, if they just want to have a chat with me, I totally valued journalists when I was a student just having a chat to have a bit of advice or do a little workshop or show them some tools. So if they want to have a chat then just drop me an e-mail

Well Hannah thank you very much I think there is no greater offer than that so I would encourage our listeners to take you up on that so just give us that e-mail again    

So and the web address for the blog is

And we recommend that everyone goes and has a look at that. Hannah thank you very much for coming into the studio it’s been an absolute pleasure

Thank you for having me



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