Monthly Archives: September 2009

Screens and Pages – new book is doing well!

Screens and Pages

George Cole‘How do you like your books – dead trees or digital?  Printed books are being challenged by a new generation of electronic books – e-books,’ so says George Cole, in his review of technology on MJ online (ebooks).

He includes some comments about my latest book Screens and Pages which looks at how technology is changing the face of reading for pleasure. I am pleased to report that Screens and Pages has been well received. Lars Helljesen Senior Adviser with Vox,  the National Institute for Adult Learning in Norway, said, ‘I found the chapters on the publishing revolution and digital fiction especially interesting, and use them as a sort of a “handbook” concerning social media and reading.’   What a very perceptive man he is!

Order a copy of Screens and Pages from

Pitching and Dealing in Manchester!

Yesterday I went on a Pitch and Deal course run by the National Union of Journalists in Manchester. I chose Manchester for family reasons and had a great night out at Dimitris Tapas Taverna – a cross cultural confusion if I ever I saw one. Check out their website You won’t thank me for this but it’s fine once you get past the first page.

Role Play

Anyway, on to the course. There were only 7 of us so we got a lot of practice at role play. I started the day off pitching a piece about technology for older people. Lisa, a freelance music journalist and photographer, obligingly played an editor. Each time the group stopped me and we started again, Lisa sounded more abrupt and short tempered – so like real life. In the end I would rather have chewed my arm off than pitch to her again. I resisted the urge to apologise for troubling her and tried very hard not to waffle on about my experience and why I was the only person who could produce the copy.

Good Networking Opportunities

One of the other course members was Louise Bolotin. We got talking about epilepsy. I have just finished a big article of Special Children and won a Responsible Reporting Award from the National Society for Epilepsy 2 years ago so it is a subject dear to my heart. Louise developed epilepsy a few years ago and has written Epilepsy: The Essential Guide. It was published by Need2Know earlier this year and the first edition sold out within a week. Louise is a very interesting person and in addition to her experience as a music journalist and a finance writer, she is also editor of Skin Two, a fetish magazine which produces a ‘coffee table’ hard back year book. Check out this multi talented woman at

Armed and Ready

The Pitch and Deal course was really good. Humphrey Evans & Phil Sutcliffe, the tutors, really know their stuff and after surviving the day none of us are going to be palmed off by magazines which say they have no budget. Oh no – we know the inside story now. For future courses, have a look on the NUJ site .

The only worrying thing about the course is that the group reckoned I had a natural talent as a commissioning editor, so maybe I need to look for another job now.


My piece about the visit to Wolverhampton has gone up on Merlin John Online, the url is is not that snappy.

It was a great visit. Heath Town is like so many areas in Britain today. It has a legacy of past violence which still casts a shadow but has changed in all sorts of ways. It is much more multi –ethnic than it used to be but also has increasing unemployment, drink and drugs problems. The youth work team does a good job in trying to provide a community focus but the people who are the hardest to reach are probably the ones most in need of help. In Heath town they had 3 days with the Truetube team and made films about local issues- chavs v Goths and a tribute to a mate who died.

Truetube is well worth a look. They make and post videos online but even better they show people how to make, edit and post their own. It doesn’t have to be expensive kit and an editing suite, you can make great movies with a mobile phone, flip video cameras or a digital camera. It is a good way into community action too. Have a look at the results on Once you get past their annoying little survey there is plenty to see.