Tag: journalism

The Amazing Story Of How My Music Fanzine Made History

The first issue, published May 1994

It was 1994.

I was a student on a postgraduate magazine journalism course in London with a project deadline.

Step forward Heaven Up Here, a music fanzine I put together with two fellow students.

We dreamed of jobs on Select magazine and loved getting on the guestlist for gigs at venues like the Astoria and the Water Rats.

It was the Nineties and we didn’t have a care in the world.

The first issue, published in 1994, featured a lead interview with film-noir favourites The Tindersticks and went backstage with Britpop breakthroughs Sleeper at the now-defunct TV show The Beat.

Last week I took a couple of issues from 1994 and 1995 to the London College of Communication.

There they will join the likes of Sniffin’ Glue and Smiths Indeed at the University Library Zine Collection. It has over 200 zines from punk to fashion from the late Seventies onwards.

You can find out more from the collection Facebook page.

Or search the catalogue for the issues here and here.

It only lasted for three issues but our little fanzine helped to launch a career in the media for its founders. And it was lots of fun along the way.

As for the name? Heaven Up Here was the second album by Echo and the Bunnymen, my favourite band as a overcoat-wearing student in the early Nineties.

On the day that the NME sees its last ever print edition on the newsstands, my little bit of history is a reminder that, while we all now work multi-platform, print is still not dead.

Reporting for BBC School Report Day at Queens Park High School, Chester


BBC School Report marked its tenth anniversary this week.

The initiative from BBC News helps 11 to 16-year-old students develop their journalistic skills.

I joined a group of wannabe hacks at Queens Park High School, Chester, to brainstorm ideas for print- and video-journalism reports.

Check out some of the work from the day here.

More about BBC School Report.

What did you think of this story? Post your comments below.

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IVC writing workshop — How to write a magazine feature


Workshop news. I ran a taster session for the Chester IVC group last night [pictured above].
It was based around writing features for magazines and hosted by the Cross Keys pub in their upstairs room, plus fuelled by one of their Sunday roasts.
We developed some great story ideas on the night from travel to health via food and careers. Thanks to those who took part for sharing their ideas and writing in a supportive environment.
One key aspect of the workshop was about crafting your first line. As I explained:
“It’s really important as you win the reader in the first line. So make it good.”

We went on to talk about styles of introductions and how these can win over the reader to hook them into your story. Examples of intro include …

  • Provocative / intriguing to bring colour, contrast, impact
  • Narrative / anecdote as an oblique way into the story
  • Descriptive / scene setter to take the reader right into the story in an active and colourful way
  • Question to make the reader think
  • Direct speech  can look ugly but a great quote can have real impact
Some feedback on the night from the attendees includes the comments below.
“I had a fabulous time, really thought provoking and fun. Can’t wait until the next one.” — Emma
“Liked the setting and company. A great group of people.” — Alison
I’m planning more workshop for 2016 and there’s even an idea for a writing retreat in Wales. Sign up to my newsletter for more details.

A media taster session for the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce



I ran a taster session for my media-medira writing workshops with Tracy North of Outwrite PR.

It was a lunch event for the West Cheshire and Noth Wales Chamber of Commerce (WCNW Chamber) and the theme was how to get your story across.

There was a great response from people on the day with lots of questions and follow ups via Twitter but, for anyone who missed it, here are my top tips for making your news story or blog post stand out from the crowd.

Your story has to be worth reading. And to be worth reading it has to have a hook or an angle, that is something timely and compelling that makes it stand out.

So you need to think differently. But how?

  • 1) Find the news hook — think why now? What is the one piece of news you want to share? Eg. You’re launching a new product next week? You’ve just won an award? Your business is celebrating its first anniversary? If no hook, then no story.
  • 2) Put a human face on it — think how can your build empathy with your readers? Simple. People love to read about people, so don’t be afraid to personalise your story and share your own personal experience.
  • 3) Offer your expert views — can you explain a complex subject in a concise yet informative way and without blinding people with jargon? Great. Then put yourself forward. After all, the media thrives on comment.
  • 4) Elevate your story — think about how your story fits in with national/international trends and events? Eg. Budget statement last week? How did the Chancellors’ announcements impact on your business? Greek debt crisis? How does this relate to what’s happening in your business?
  • 5) Just say it — think about how to make your point clearly and concisely. My pet hates include waffle intros, lack of follow-up details and exclamation marks.

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