The morning was cool and relaxed. Nothing exhilarating was happening at the south bank university, other than the usual hustle and bustle of students trying to reach their scheduled classes on time. However, things were to change in the next few minutes.
From a distance, one could hear applause and loud jeers accompanying a multitude of people carrying placards. As the masses moved nearer to the campus premises, students stopped in curiosity and wonderment. All the attention shifted towards the main gate where the crowd was slowly gathering.
I was among the first students to reach the campus gate to see what was happening. On close examination, I noticed that the leaders of the crowd were respected University and College Union executive members, a section of students, and public spectators.
“DEFEND OUR PENSION!” the crowd demanded furiously. That is when it became clear to most of us that this was a protest by the union members regarding their pension. By this time, almost all students within campus had congregated at the gate, and there was a buzz as everybody tried to come to terms with the current event.
In addition to the gathering of students, the local media had caught wind of the story and their vans with satellites on the roof had parked at specific vantage points to gather information.
By now, the noise had increased as more students joined in the protest. Then, one of the union executive members whom I came to realize later was the secretary, asked for a megaphone and begun to address the crowd.
“May I have everyone’s attention please,” she begged through the loudspeaker.
Moments later, the crowd was quiet and everybody’s attention shifted to her.
“I am sure most of you are wondering why there is a protest at the campus this early?” he began. There were loud murmurs throughout the area. “Today we are gathered here to protest the government attack on the public sector workers’ pension scheme. It is doing so by reducing our pensions so as to pay for its deficit reduction plan” she continued. There was booing in the crowd when she made this statement.
“Even though some unions are content with this explanation, we are angry because the government is asking us, the civil servants, to pay for its policies. This is unacceptable. We cannot pay for a deficit that was caused by the banking system, when the bankers’ bonuses are still high. Moreover, the government wants us, the pensioners, to carry this burden by having a shorter and less secure retirement scheme. This is quite unfair considering that the annual average pension for college lecturers is ? 9,000!” she added emphatically. On completing her speech, the UCU secretary stepped down and joined the protesting crowd.
This is a nationwide protest by UCU pensioners termed ‘STOP THE GREAT PENSIONS ROBBERY.’ There are several ways of supporting the fight against injustice towards public sector pensioners. One can support the strike actions by joining protests organized by UCU members, or increasing awareness on the injustices through passing of leaflets to colleagues and friends. In addition, one can join the union and campaign against unfair pensions.
The story is situated in front of the south bank university gate. It is a narration by a student of the campus, who is attracted by the noise from the protesters. She joins the protesting crowd, and continues to describe and explain how the events unfolded during the protest. The main agenda of the story is the campaign for a fair pension. The information was gathered from the UCU website (www.ucu.org.uk). The form of news reporting used in the news story is a narration. It is different from a hard news story as it involves descriptions, dialogues, and reporting of details. These are usually characteristics of writing a novel. Even though the presentation is different, there are factual elements of news; it has the ‘who’, ‘where’, ‘what’, ‘when, and ‘why’ (Rich, 2010). This style of writing is similar to that of Tom Whicker in the story ‘The Assassination of John Kennedy by Merriman Smith’.
News reporting dates back to the Victorian era in the late nineteenth century. News story writing in those ages involved the description of events. The early decades of the twentieth century were the transformation period in news reporting. By the 1940s, the era of modernism emerged, where journalistic styles advanced to include longer explanatory formats. This was the beginning of the analytical or interpretive form of news reporting. The modernism period also saw the expansion of reporting from individuals to groups, the geographical purview also spread to include wider regions rather than a specific street. It was also the era of the introduction of photojournalism (Brennen & Hardt, 1999).
The three forms of news reporting include; new journalism, the pyramid and news dialogue. Each of these forms presents its own challenges and successes to journalistic styles. The pyramid or inverted pyramid story was a form news reporting introduced in the 1840s when telegraphs were linked to the news paper. Since there was a shortage of telegraphs, reporters begun shortening their stories to meet deadlines. They would put the most significant information on the first paragraph, and continue to send information depending on their importance. The introduction of the pyramid made it easier for publishers to know what information was important or not. In addition, it made it easier for the important news to be published (Journalism’s Woodstock, 2008).
News dialogue was invented in 1884 when the typewriter was developed. This made it easier for the journalist to publish and critic their own work. As a result, they reduced the number of words used and developed a colloquial style which led to the stripped down prose which is equated to newspaper journalism today. During this era, tabloid newspapers and weekly magazines were introduced. Due to competition from other media sources, reporters were forced to begin interpretation of news (Journalism’s Woodstock, 2008).
New journalism is a form of news reporting that was introduced in the 1960s. This style of news reporting fused both fact and fictional stories, thus obliterating the rules that distinguished between journalism and literature. The introduction of computerized editing system in news reporting in 1970, have greatly improved and simplified news writing (Journalism’s Woodstock, 2008).
Brennen, B., & Hardt, H. 1999. Picturing the past: media, history, and photography. Board of trustees of university of Illinois. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 April 2012].
Journalism’s Woodstock. 2008. Old vs. new journalism in a decade of change. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 April 2012].
Rich, C. 2010. Writing and reporting news: a coaching method. Boston, MA. Wadsworth Cengage learning. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 April 2012].
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