Choosing your patch

Today’s slides:

In order to help you find news stories, I’d encourage you to work on a “patch” — a neighbourhood of Cardiff, or a specialist subject. You will use your patch as a way of finding original stories. It’s up to you how much effort you make with your patch — but the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. Generally, but not always, geographic patches will be better for you if you don’t have much journalism experience, because they are places you can go to.

Here are the patches you can choose from:

Llandaff and Radyr
Roath and Splott
Canton, Pontcanna and Riverside
Grangetown, Butetown and Cardiff Bay


Former @BroadcstCJS student @arabellamunro on how she covered Grangetown.

Once your patch has been confirmed, you should create a Twitter list of people who are connected with it. Start with the local councillor(s). This site is one way to find out who they are. Add them to the list and then look to see who they are following. There will be lots of possibilities there. Every individual or organisation you add to the list, you should look to see who they are following etc etc. Track down the websites of the organisations, search for them in Google and click on the NEWS tab. See what comes up. Then, put your phone away and go to the patch. Use your eyes and your ears and try talking to people — local shopkeepers are a good place to start.

If your patch is a subject it’s the same approach but it takes a little more work because there isn’t an obvious person, like councillor, to start with. Talk to me if you’re having problems.

Some things to note:

  1. We cover “local” stories that are happening in Cardiff and the area immediately around it i.e. Penarth, Barry etc. We don’t report wider Wales, UK or international stories, unless there is a local dimension to them. So, for example, we wouldn’t report a typhoon in Japan but we might report how the Japanese community in Cardiff is collecting food and money to help people who have been affected. We wouldn’t report on a protest about a school closing in Carmarthen even if the protest is happening in Cardiff Bay, because this isn’t a story about Cardiff.
  2. We try not to report student stories. Your stories should be about “real” people — members of the public, not your fellow students. It is too easy to persuade fellow students to help you with stories. You need to develop the confidence to talk to people from all walks of life. This is why Cathays isn’t a patch — it’s full of students…
  3. If you’re choosing a subject rather than a place, it’s probably best if you already have a good working knowledge of the subject.
  4. Try not to repeatedly report stories that are based on events or protests. It’s good to get experience doing one story like this, but you need to find your own stories and not simply turn up at an event and interview people. You don’t learn how to be a journalist by doing this.
  5. If you want to choose sport, note that we don’t report fixtures and matches — you have to find sport news stories.
  6. Politics generally involves covering Cardiff council, rather than the Welsh Parliament. Councillors are more likely to agree to be interviewed than politicians from the Welsh Parliament.
  7. There is generally a limit of 2/3 students per patch. If too many people choose a patch, it’s “names out of a hat” time.
  8. I’m happy to discuss your own ideas for patches, but please remember that if I say no it’s normally because students have tried these ideas before and they haven’t worked. For example, health and education are very difficult to cover because doctors, teachers etc are generally reluctant to talk to student journalists and you can’t generally film in schools or hospitals. Sorry!