Made in Coventry: When Romeo met Juliet

This session of Coventry Convocations involved Lynn Barlow Series producer has been speaking about her latest BBC Arts drama titled ‘When Romeo Met Juliet’. This involved the coaching of many local young first-time drama students and producing a modernised version of the Shakespeare drama ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

I found this talk to be very interesting as it involved Coventy’s recent history in the arts and BBC action, as well as the complications of producing a broadcast-worthy arts drama using only inexperienced actors.

This was particularly interesting because it reminded me of my first paid job in the media, being a temporary editor for the Norwich-based TV/writing company ‘Eye Film And TV’. It gave me my first taste of what it’s like to work for a company rather than for a college assignment.

This production was quite different I the way that these teenagers in ‘When Romeo Met Juliet’ had to partially learn on the job, being mentored by Paul Roseby, Lolita Chakrabati and The Hustle’s Adrian Lester.

One of the most interesting things about the talk was learning how the team attempted to make Shakespear popular and engaging with the teenagers and setting the story in 1980’s Coventry, with all the two-tone and individualist culture.

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Managing the Media

During this Coventry Convosation I found it very interesting how Prof Trevor Morris, the former CEO of Chime PR, explained the place that public relations (PR) has in the media.

I found it especially interesting when he portrayed the similarities and also differences PR has with journalism. He explained that generally speaking, journalism is the profession of the cynical and perhaps introverted people, whilst public relations is the profession of the more out-going extroverted people. Whilst a certain amount of extroversion is required in journalism and also many parts of the media, I can still relate to what he said as I agree that a certain amount of cynicism is required to be a good journalist. This is because cynicism promotes investigative journalism and the general practice of critically analysing your subject.

Prof Trevor Morris also explained how the public relations industry likes to portray itself and how it acts in reality (again, not speaking in an absolute/literal way). The public relations industry would champion itself as a protector of reputations and the creator of friendships, “maintaining goodwill” as if they are commercial peace negotiators. However, he says that the public relations industry is simply spreading their client’s desired image, ignoring the negatives and highlighting the positives. This could be seen as obvious considering that it’s no secret the public relations companies are being paid by their clients to spread a favourable viewpoint, but when it gets to the ‘frontline’ of the market such as advertisements, the PR company and it’s client’s rival is invisible to the consumer.

The example that Morris gave was how the PR companies aren’t stopping Shell and Green Peace from being intolerant to each other, infact the antagonism may partially be because of the PR companies. The bottom line being that the public relations companies are acting purely for the customer-company relationship, casting other views aside for the sake of commercial gain.

Looking Beyond Top Gear

Steve Cropley gave a very good speech, I found it interesting as it touched on the journalistic industry and the wider media. His describing of us Media students as being very ‘well placed’ for our futures was rather reassuring, saying that they [Autocar] and the wider journalistic industry is looking toward the younger generations when recruiting, with Autocar recruiting many graduates.

He also mentioned how dedicated you have to be to join this industry, which I understand very well as I have chosen to do Media courses ever since I chose my first media course at the start of Year 10 at high school, and done voluntary work at my regional newspaper and for my college’s Media technician.

Connected with the dedication he mentioned, I found Cropley’s idea of “working for the reader” interesting. I can relate to this in a slightly different way in that one of the aspects that appeal to me about working in the theatre (though Cropley was of course talking about journalism) is the way that your work as part of the entertainment industry has an effect on people, even if it’s just the changing of the stage lights.
Cropley went on to say how he loved the feeling of the “readership being with you”, that readership staying with your publication because of its quality and trustworthiness.

Anouther thing which I found interesting was how Cropley said that when writing a story about the gadget, it can also be seen and made into a story about the people behind it. I think this is important is there are always interesting ‘hooks’ you can give to a story, and giving it mofre depth such as a human interest story is a good way to capture an audience’s attention.

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