Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Nice one Marina...and citizen journalism

...tee hee, cheers. Ace.

I've been asked to be on a panel tomorrow about 'citizen journalism' at the BBC training conference, at BBC Television Centre in West London.

Richard Dreyfuss! Will be there! Eeek!

Have taken a half day's holiday to do it and am madly, madly flattered. From urban 75 bulletin boards to the BBC to the Sunday Times to various other bits and bobs. And then this. All very overwhelming. Mum is thrilled and so am I. Cheers Beeb.

Actually, though, I am not sure about the difference between 'citizen journalist' and 'freelancer' and 'eye witness', these days. I have a pile of notes to read that I researched off the internet, where it is a hot topic du jour. I will have a think. What do you think? Citizen journalism? Voyeur? Paparazzi? Busy body? Blogger? Threat? Complement to hackery?

A 'citizens arrest' always sounded to me like an arrest with less protection. Is citizen journalism similar?

Your thoughts would be very interesting...


Blogger Dave Hodgkinson said...

You rule. You'll be fine :)

May 03, 2006 12:27 am  
Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

I loved Marina's article, what a joy it was to read. And well done on your latest adventure into the MSM. Sounds like it will be fun. I hope we get to see it.

As for 'citizen journalism' I think the term is fast turning into a cliche but in the absense of a better term I suppose it will have to do. People who do real research and/or report on things they have witnessed, can arguably be called citizen journalists. I don't think the term applies to the majority of bloggers (myself included) who merely comment on events and use MSM articles to support their arguments. I think the BBC chose well in asking you to join their panel as you fit the definition I outlined. Well done and good luck.


May 03, 2006 2:13 am  
Anonymous seth said...

hi again rachel,it sounds interesting ...go for it,give it any name that u like, btw do u know if this will be on the bbc website? id like to check it out.

seth :)

May 03, 2006 2:38 am  
Blogger fjl said...

The more you go to press, the less you are nearer your goal of obtaining justice for the survivors.

But what you want is press fanfare. I can't help you in this and wouldn't want to.

I have deleted all comments as I can't align myself with this approach, which does nothing but detract from obtaining justice for the survivors.

Are you using them to further your career?

Good luck however in healing up from the narrow escape you had, but it did leave you largely uninjured, unlike so many who can't represent themselves.

May 03, 2006 3:51 am  
Anonymous contrition said...


I have saved all your comments and will treasure them.

May 03, 2006 8:15 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Er...FJL - once again you are wrong. I am being asked to talk about citizen journalism, not KCU, not survivors, but what it is like being Rachel North being asked to write a web diary for the BBC in the 7/7 aftermath. It is me being asked in a personal capacity, since the BBC asked me to write a survivor diary - unpaid - which I did, which became this blog. At the time of writing it there was no KCU, and the group only came together BECAUSE I wrote the diary which became a point of contact and focus. This is the BBC now asking me about what it was like to write a diary for them. As I wrote the diary, that is fair enough. Nobody else can do it because nobody else was asked to write a diary!

Being a spokeperson for survivors was something that I did FOR ONE WEEK ONLY , in October last year. It was exhausting and challenging and for me, a bit frustrating, in that I could not say what I personally wanted to say, ( which was how angry I was at the lack of Government info and support) but only get across a neutral message about the group's existence at the other survivors' request. The strategy was created by KCU members, everything I did and said and wrote was pre-agreed and cleared with the group,because the group wanted to reach out to fellow passengers who did not know of the group's existence, in fellowship, in the absence of much official support.

Since then, I've blogged in a personal I repeat PERSONAL capacity, and have been asked to speak in a personal capacity, which I have done. I've also been asked to write some articles about pole dancing and about rape and forgiveness which again, have been written from an entirely personal perspective.

It is a relief to me to be able to speak as an individual and not on behalf of a group, with my own voice, at last.

So actually, I am quite angry that you are suggesting that I am using KCU to further my career. I have a career. It is not a career in being a bomb victim spokeswoman which is unpaid and rather limiting and time consuming. I have a successful career as an advertising director, an industry I have worked in for 12 years.

As top of all this stuff about me doing research and getting matey with your mates in the Security services, I have said before, I am *not* an independent researcher, and I am not interested in getting 'security clearance' to see 'secret documents' that I can't share with anyone else. I am interested in an independent public enquiry, for the public, including those with a direct interest in 7/7 but more properly, the whole nation, since it was an attack on us all and I just happened to be on the train.

(By the way, FJL why am I the one who is supposed to personally crusade for justice for all survivors? I ask for an enquiry in my *personal* capacity. Other survivors have joined in, others are not interested. Other survivors are wholly at liberty to write their own blogs, talk to the media, and many of them have done so. I also pass on all media requests to the group. You didn't know that , did you? )

Can you not see the irony in castigating me for allegedly speaking for all of them - which I am not doing - and then telling me to modify my behaviour and interests and writing style on my personal blog in order to get 'justice' for all of them - which they have not appointed me to do? It seems you have various expectations about how you think I should behave, but I am not interested in getting secret privileged information. I think that would be an abuse of my position as a survivor and not conducive to the public good. I also think it would be pointless.

You seem to make a very great deal of assumptions about me based on very little evidence and your own conjecture and opinions about what you think I should be doing with my personal time.

I will end by saying this. It is also interesting, that by me and other people banging on and being a squeaky wheel, things have finally started to happen. Meeting Clarke, meeting Jowell, survivors talking to the media, media investigating what went on, giving evidence at the London Assembly seems to have embarrassed the powers that be into doing something at last.

So if talking gets results, I'll keep talking, and it is interesting to see that so it seems, will others.

I don't thinkl you'll be able to see the conference Seth, as this is a private training conference for the BBC, and I am glad to do them a favour by talking about what it was like to write the diary for them, since they have been very kind and supportive to me. BBC people have said that I write interesting stuff and have encouraged me to keep writing. About politics and things I am passionate about. About rape, and violence, about people and travel and dancing, about things other than 7th July. And I am glad to, and I am going to, because I love writing, and it has been a great source of strength over the last year, to have this blog, where I can be myself. It has kept me sane. I'd like to do more writing, but not about July 7th, because to do so is to always trap me in July 7th. Once we pass the anniversary, I want to move on, and get on with my life. I will keep writing though, that was for me one of the two great gifts that came out of July 7th; the other being the privilege to meet so many lovely people, my fellow passengers.

May 03, 2006 8:27 am  
Blogger fjl said...

Honestly Rach I haven't even read the above.

I'll be interested when you act for Justice instead of rant in a random way always obsessing about your image with this aggressive press business. I was not interested atall in your media image, merely in you as a witness and if there were to be a friendship as there has been with Holly and Stevie, fine.

That's the way it is for me. We conflict in our views, and I don't wish to be part of this aggressive press businss as I think it counter productive, unkind and unwise.

Let's leave it there, and good luck to you.

Contrition has made me laugh. Good luck to you. :-) You are always welcome to come over to my blog, but it will contain no reference to security matters.

May 03, 2006 11:51 am  
Blogger Holly Finch said...

fjl....i am completely bemused by your comment to rachel.....& i think she has explained herself admirably

i do not even know or understand what your involvement or interest is us 7/7 'survivors'....Rachel, Myself & Steve (never known him as a 'stevie' myself?!). i have no comprehension in your goals ...rachel is writing a personal blog here & she is surely entitled to express her opinions however she wishes....she is not doing this to further her career & even if she was what business is it of yours?!

Rachel has her agenda, I have mine, Steve has his and hundreds of others have theirs. Just because we are survivors of the same atrocity DOES NOT mean we have the same opinions, Rachel is just expressing hers here.

And personally I have to say I find your comment about not being psyically injusred pretty insulting & insensitive. There is an enormous amount of ignorance about mental health in this country & in my opinion psychological damage can be just as damaging as physical damage.

there are plenty of people out there with physical injuries who are perfectly capable of representing theirselves....to suggest that they are not is, frankly, patronising......

i feel that there is some confusion here...rachel is not doing anything 'on behalf of survivors' here...she is just speaking for herself, as are we all....& long may she continue her fine work

May 03, 2006 12:29 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...


I do not appreciate being told what I can and can't say on my personal website, what I should and shouldn't do, and of 'using' survivors to 'further my career'. I disagree utterly with you telling me to 'be discreet' in order to get confidential info off the Security services (ie. stop writing about political matters such as my anger at the Home Office's release of ex-offenders including illegal immigrant rapists when I have been raped by an illegal immigrant and fear what will happen when he is released) . I don't understand why you mention my need to adhere to about the Official Secrets Act, when I havbe not asked for any access to privileged information. I don't like being called a media pawn and a child in your now-deleted ( by you) comments. I have sought to make it clear that I am interested in a PUBLIC enquiry not a private investigation and then I cherish civil liberties including the right to speak out against unfairness. To suggest I censor myself in order to find out official secrets which I cannot share is the opposite of everything I believe in. The media plays a vital tool in holding our leaders to account and in giving citizens information: I will work with the media where this agenda is in mind, and consider it a privilge to do so. All media activity on behalf of the group has been at their request. I am not your pet project and I don't understand your agenda. Never mind, I wish you well with your investigations, on whatever subject.

Onwards and upwards.Let's move on. This post was supposed to be about blogging, and the blurrign of the boundaries between citizens and reporters. It seems that it is a subject that can generate heated debate, though not in a way I had expected.

Everyone else, cheers for the messages. I t was interesting to hear of other bloggers having had comments suggesting they shut up. I expect journalists get them too, and perhaps this is another aspect of the citizen journalist that is not as welcome as the opportunity to participate in debate and share information with a wider audience thorugh the medium of comments, blogs, and photo-journalism.

I'll let you know how the conference goes, I think it will be very interesting to hear the discussions.

May 03, 2006 12:41 pm  
Blogger fjl said...

Holly and Rach, I'd prefer to leave it.
There's nothing to be gained, as I disagree with Rachel's approach, quite simply, and we part company.
I also don't feel you're right in setting yourselves up as authority vis a vis the way forward in your matter, but I can't see anything to be gained by going into that with you.
Holly if you'd like me to delete your positive friendly comments from my blog you only have to say. I have never had a problem with you.
I have my perspective and my own way to relate and I'm happy with it.
I am not particularly interested in your case or projects, I have my own; just in afew friends on the blogs, though of course it is all virtual, no one is saying it isn't. (!)
I gave you advice, because I was in a position to, it's entirely up to you what you do with it.
So lets end these last word type comments, and leave it.
Good luck.

May 03, 2006 12:50 pm  
Anonymous bt said...

I hope it goes well, you surely deserve it.

But - personally I wouldn't trust the MSM (particularly the BBC) as far as I could throw the Safety Elephant. They'll be choosing the questions and no doubt slanting them so as to elicit answers that will suit their agenda - whatever that is.

Just keep your wits about you.
Good luck.

May 03, 2006 1:28 pm  
Blogger fjl said...

Not to leave you without the clear advice I gave you properly outlined. ( I have now had time to fully read your comments.)

This is the way forward in your matter. It is not a question of personal bias or inclination, but facts you face.

1. Stop ranting and campaigning publicly, it will get you nowhere with security matters. You will merely be classified as a nuisance. End of!

2. Get security clearance and accept that what you want are official secrets and can't just be slung about in the public domain; anything else is naive. This is because the security matter is live.

3. Stop relying on press advice.

4. The recent apparent progress is just a show. There is no other way but the above described.

5. Discretion in security matters is not a wrong thing, but a carefulness that bears other people's needs in mind. I believe you are capible of respecting that fact.

I fear that if you continue in the way you're doing at present, you will be denied what you hope for in the last lap, after you are exhausted. The analogy of George Orwell's 'Boxer' comes to mind. And I don't want to be around when such a sad thing happens.

There will not be a public enquiry that tells you anything atall. Having one atall is very unlikely. This is because the security matter is live.

Because I have guts enough to bl**dy well tell you, as a friend ought to, that does not mean I have no regard for you both, or for Stevie. Perhaps Stevie especially.

I am glad about your diary Rachel, that is a good thing. However, recently you have been mudslinging with the press on this blog, hence my withdrawing my comments here. I will not do that or have anything to do with it. It is completely destructive. You know better.

You are total beginners in these matters and are making all the classic mistakes.

The press are exploiting you.

So I wanted to leave you with this.

In response to Holly's complaint, yes, I think you're bright enough to set your victim status aside and get on with abit of casework. Buck up! :-) I've had to in life, why shouldn't you? :-) it's not an insult.

You three still have my affection in terms of being good blog mates. Feel free to come over and bother 'Alice' whenever, and there is no hard feeling.

I believe you will take my advice later down the line.

I fully support Rachel's diary aspect to her work. I should also have liked to have heard more witness evidence from Holly and Stevie.


nb I delete sensitive matters, it's nothing to do with being regretful of them.

May 03, 2006 1:52 pm  
Anonymous Iain said...

"I'd like to do more writing, but not about July 7th, because to do so is to always trap me in July 7th. Once we pass the anniversary, I want to move on, and get on with my life.(...) I will keep writing though, that was for me one of the two great gifts that came out of July 7th."
Rachel North, 3rd May 2006.

Yes it was, and thank you Rachel. And keep writing. You're a writer, not an advertising executive.

The press are not exploiting you any more than you want (to be a voice in the media and online) - they are writers who recognise another one when they see one. What form your writing takes is up to you - just do it. Please.


May 03, 2006 2:16 pm  
Blogger Suw said...

I am at the WeMedia conference right now, and I have to say, you are possibly the most articulate, interesting speaker they've had so far. Well done.

May 03, 2006 2:35 pm  
Blogger fjl said...

"The press are not exploiting you any more than you want (to be a voice in the media and online) - they are writers who recognise another one when they see one. What form your writing takes is up to you - just do it. Please".

Surely the most naive comment about the press ever- unless written by a reporter!

May 03, 2006 3:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel, have we all misunderstood you. We thought you were pressing for an enquiry, not simply developing writing skills and public relations.

May 03, 2006 3:46 pm  
Anonymous M said...

I would like to express agreement with some of the comments above, with bt and FJL in particular. Usually only a media representative praises the media. Journalists think journalists can write, but nobody else does.
I feel concerned, it seems your being what they call 'lead along by the nose'.

May 03, 2006 4:14 pm  
Anonymous pretty worried said...

for Dave hodgkinson photo at the top of page.

A woman survives a bombs blast. She gets her picture taken alot for saying what went on with her . She gets her picture taken a lot more now "she rules?"

Excuse me?

I hate the press.

May 03, 2006 5:12 pm  
Blogger Ally said...

I think that there's a percentage of bloggers who are journalist-wannabes; mostly I don't find them very interesting to read and (IMHO) their writing isn't always that good.

I think 'citizen journalist' is a bit patronising; 'freelancer' sounds a bit more weighty, especially if people are starting to *ask* you to write stuff :).

'Citizen Journalist' = "We probably aren't going to pay you"
'Eyewitness' = "We definitely aren't going to pay you"
'Freelancer' = "We are going to pay you eventually, but probably not until ten days after your invoice falls due".

If you enjoy it and you are being given the opportunity to use a skill you've just discovered, perhaps it's a positive that has grown out of all the negatives and goes a small way to balancing them out?

Just musing really (and trying to get back on topic ... ).

Er, and can I just say "Richard Dreyfuss! Yay!" :).

May 03, 2006 6:13 pm  
Blogger fjl said...

Very well remarked Ally. If Rachel would just listen ? Instead of to grasping journalists?

But one feels one is shouting into a bucket. :-)

Rachel have you been paid? If not, why not? If you're not paid, you get the compliments and you get told you're ace. All they want is a story.

But is this what you want aswell- to promote yourself, instead of getting answers and Justice for your friends?

I have paid attention to you, I have believed you. I believe I deserved an answer to this important question.

Surely if you didn't just want centre stage ( which as one writer I can't recall which pointed out was the worst possible taste) you would look into realistic and discreet methods of enquiry.

This is the issue I personally am having.

fjl x

May 03, 2006 6:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this about money Rachel.

May 03, 2006 6:43 pm  
Blogger Ally said...

Hey, hang on a minute, fjl, don't bring me in to whatever bizarre campaign you've got going here.

I am fully behind Rachel in whatever she chooses to do on her blog and in her life. This is her space and she can use it as she pleases, just as her words are her own and she can do as she wants with them. She doesn't need to justify herself to you, me or anyone.

Please don't try to involve me in your trolling attention seeking, I pretty much disagree with everything you say and generally speaking don't think your statements are worth engaging with - I'm only replying to you now because I'd hate to be identified with you.

May 03, 2006 7:29 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Blimey. Thanks for all the comments everyone.

To cover some of the poijnts raised, I am campaigning for a public enquiry for the reasons I have always said, because I passionately believe that it is the right thing to have. The public were attacked, I think the answers to the public's questions about the public's safety and the aftermath to a public disaster should be public, and the means of getting to the answers public. If some of the questions that need to be asked of it will compromise the security of the realm they should be private but everything else should be public. That's my personal opinion, on this, my personal blog, and if anyone asks me, that is what I say.

As to the rest of my writing, I *like* writing. I write about whatever I feel like writing about, as bloggers do. If you don't like it, don't read it! I'm not paid to write this blog, I do it for myself and because I enjoy it and because it helps me. I have a day job with a salary. I wonder if people can understand that you can be passionately interested in wanting truth and justice and a public enquiry, and also *just* like writing? I think it is fairly straightforward, myself, and I hope you understand.

If I escaped a fire, painted a picture to express my feelings, and then discovered I wanted to paint more, would that be a problem? I escaped a bomb, I wrote, and now I want to keep writing. It's how I express myself, and it really, really helps. I love writing.

This comment is bloody huge, so you can see how I like to go on.

Anyway. I also care passionately about justice in rape trials. Sometimes I write about that. Sometimes I write about Miff the cat, or gardening or poledancing. I write about politics and people that interest me. I wrote about July 7th, many times, and not just for myself but at the request of others. But I don't want to write about it forever, I hope it fades from my life and its going is reflected in my writing and moving on.

Look. This is a blog. Nobody has commissioned me to write it, and I can say what I like here, that is the great privilege of blogging.I write about stuff that is going on in my life and people can come and visit if they want to, and they are welcome, by and large, though some have come on here with their own agendas.

The press have an agenda yes, to get stories. I'm not completely daft. I was feet away from a bomb, so I am a 'story', as are many other people who were bombed that day. I can be part of the story, and also have my own story to tell. The bombs affected me in lots of different ways, and one of the things to come out of it was this writing, which I am glad about. When I first wrote the account of what had happened on my way to work, there was no long term 'strategy', just an overwhelming need to tell the story. Humans are story-telling mammals, and saying what happened was something that I felt I *had* to do. Out of it came other positive things, including the great privilege of finding so many other fellow passengers. It has been a roller coaster ride.

Now, if people are coming here to find only politics, or only campaigning for a public enquiry, or only witness accounts of the bombs, they will be disappointed. My life is not all politics, nor bombs, nor campaigns. When I first started writing, that *was* what my life mostly was at that time. But ten months have passed, and I did not step off the train in order to go on and on about July 7th for the rest of my life. That would be no kind of life.

To all my visitors since I started writing on July 7th, thank you for dropping in. You have cheered me up, encoureaged me, had passionate debates with me, told me about your lives and blogs and I have loved it. I hope that you will continue to visit, and we can continue this journey together. I'm off for a work conference ( in Spain! exciting! ) at 4am tomorrow and will not be back blogging til next week. I'm going to put comment moderator on while I am away, just so my mum doesn't have to see a lot of aggressive stuff on the blog and I will publish any comments that don't frighten the horses when I return. I'm very lucky to be here,to be able to write, and to have people listening and engaging with me, it is a joy and a privilege, and whilst we may disagree at times, there is not a day goes by when I do not feel fortunate, to be here, writing, alive, healthy and heard.

Rant/comment/heartfelt expression of feelings over: now I must go and pack.

May 03, 2006 8:04 pm  
Blogger Ally said...

I like the posts about pole dancing and Miff the cat, too :).

May 03, 2006 8:16 pm  
Anonymous rw said...

Keep on keeping on, Rachel. I don't know what planet FJL is living on but me thinks he/she/it has read one too many spy thriller novels... Why this freaky obsession with the security services and official secrecy, FJL?

The upshot of his argument seems to be that public campaigning is always futile. Presumably in 1910 he'd have been warning the Suffragettes not to upset the government by demanding votes for women and preaching quiet diplomacy...

May 03, 2006 8:18 pm  
Anonymous sabele said...

You go, girl and ignore the troll. I like your writing - its good that something positive came out of that terrible experience.

I like the mix on your blog - keeps it interesting and I've just discovered that I can feed stinky! How cool.

The Beeb thing sounds like a great experience, and enjoy the business trip - the furthest I get is Edinburgh for the day - in fact the highlight of next week's diary is a meeting in a car park (don't ask - not at all interesting).

May 03, 2006 9:06 pm  
Blogger fjl said...

Trolling is it, to disagree with media based attention seeking where murder is concerned.

Unlike posters here, I've told Rachel where she's at and don't go in for all that creepy flattery.

Ally, I'm not looking to be identified with you for sure. All that currying favour and flattery.

What gave you that idea? You made some relevant press comments, that's all.

I work with security documents and have been honest about it. That's simple.

Rachel wants a thoughtless entourage, so I'm gone. I've already told her that.

May 04, 2006 12:43 am  
Anonymous Joon said...

Rachel, you don't have to explain or apologise to anyone, especially a wind-up merchant! what gives anyone the right to tell you what to do? I wouldn't dictate to my own children like that! I read your blog every day because it's great. I have bookmarked it along with several other blogs I love to read. They all have one thing in common - great writing about current affairs. That's all I want and I get it here. Thanks for everything you write, it means a lot to me.

May 04, 2006 8:54 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I rather think that the best blogs are written on the basis of "I write what I want, and if you like it, fine"... Keep doing what you are doing.

People who want you to write what theywant to should write their own blog.

The Anon

May 04, 2006 10:51 am  
Blogger Dave said...

Remember - the cooked goose flies at noon.

Tootle Pip!

May 04, 2006 12:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is fjl jealous at some weird level I wonder?

May 04, 2006 1:03 pm  
Anonymous rw said...

Gee whizz FJL, I really wish I was as clever and straight-talking and privy to such mega-top-secret information as you are...

May 04, 2006 10:48 pm  
Anonymous contrition said...

One of fjl's points was that the chances of a genuine inquiry into the events of July are pretty slim and no amount of public campaigning is going to change that. She made the suggestion of direct individual approaches to the security authorities. I must admit that I am not brave enough to do that! Any volunteers? No? Then what are we going to do?

May 06, 2006 1:50 pm  

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