When I am older I would like to be….

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A NEW social networking website has been launched under the anti-bullying campaign “I Choose”. The social media website will give children who have been the victims of bullying an opportunity to meet and make new friends. 

NEW Anti-bullying campaign

“I Choose” which has been launched by the company Yoursphere Media inc says the website is created “by kids, for kids”.

The age limit ranges from a young child through to 17 years old.

Available at Yoursphere.com, the US website is free to access and allows for children all over the world to enter a virtual world.

They are able to design their own avatar character while taking part in online activities.

The social networking website which advertised itself on the basis of “parents don’t need to worry”, has so far been a success in the states with the campaign awareness now expanding across the globe.

Founder and Chairwoman Mary Kay Hoal is a nationally recognised Internet safety expert who also provides safety-focused practical technology tools and tips for parents at YoursphereForParents.com.

Ms Hoal said: “We have seen that programs like these can have a tremendous impact in the classroom,

“The simple, positive, straightforward approach of ‘I Choose’ makes it easy for all students to absorb the message and apply it to their own circumstances.

‘I Choose’ challenges youth to stop, think and make the right choices, and lets them know it is within their power to make the right choices.”

Social networking website created for children who are victims of bullying.

Further information regarding the campaign can be found on the whatdoyouchoose.org website, which also offers guidance to parents who have children who are experiencing bullying.

To help raise awareness of the new campaign, children’s television channel Nickelodeon showed its support this year at the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards pre-show event.

As a number of young television and film stars pledged their support by signing their autograph on a one-of-a-kind poster due to be auctioned in the near future, with all proceedings going to the ‘I Choose’ charity.

Stars included those from The Hunger Games, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Good Luck Charlie.

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When Twitter was first created nobody realised how much it would influence the news agenda.

With its 140 character limit it could have been a recipe for disaster. Instead many people use it as their source for flash updates on news from around the globe.

We take a look at the history of Twitter and a selection of some of its most iconic moments.

Continue reading

Posted in Features


Multi-millionaire businessman John Elliott MBE, TV’s first ‘Secret Millionaire’, has announced he is to give his company, Ebac Ltd, to a special foundation ensuring it remains manufacturing in the North East.

The objective will be to create a new factory for the North East in the next three years, doubling Ebac’s current 200 employee workforce and maintaining manufacturing employment to be kept locally.

Ebac which was originally stationed in Bishop Auckland moved two years ago to the old Schott glass plant on Aycliffe Industrial Park. The company currently employs 200 people in the North East of England.

Founded by Mr Elliott in 1972, the company has become renowned over the years for making water coolers and dehumidifiers

Mr Elliot plans to leave his company to the community rather than to his family.

Secret Millionaire John Elliot, signs away his 40 year company

He said: “In the last 40 years I have been well paid doing what I think is the best job in the world.

“Now is the right time to put an end to my status as a ‘Rich List’ millionaire and create a lasting foundation to secure the future of Ebac’s manufacturing facilities for generations to come.”

The three trustees that have been put in charge of overseeing the company from now on are John Elliott, Cliff Laverick and Paul Elliott. The trustees are charged with using the profits to make the business stronger in the North East and also, to use any surpluses to support good causes in local communities.

Mr Elliott said the structure will ensure that the business will not be sold for personal profit.

For the past two decades the company has continued to expand its UK operations, resisting the temptation to relocate its manufacturing base abroad despite maintaining a strong export focus, with 70% of its turnover coming from Europe.

In December 2006 Mr Elliot was the first to appear on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire television programme. Mr Elliot moved to Liverpool to where he found someone whose life he could change for the better with a 50,000 cash gift.

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As a result of the controversial decisions made by the coalition to transform the NHS by introducing a new Health Reform Bill, Britons have to question whether this is the beginning of the end. Leanne Johnson reports on whether the nations free health service is facing privatisation. Since the joining of the two political parties, the coalition government has foreseen many changes to brighten Britain’s economy. One transformation which has caused much controversy throughout the nation is the Health Reform Bill. The Bill is due to take effect in April 2013, and is expected to cost around £1.4bn.

The moment the NHS was born - Aneurin Bevan launching the free service (guardian.co.uk)

As the British population is continuing to live longer and healthier lives, it is taking a damaging effect on the NHS. At the detriment of successful medical research, the government has announced that the health service needs to make a huge saving of £20bn by 2015, in order to cater for the expanding population.

Around eighty per cent of funding for the NHS comes from general taxation, for example VAT and income tax. The remaining 20 per cent stems from other elements, such as national insurance, prescriptions and treatments, income from land sales and generation schemes as well as charity donations.

Originally founded in 1948 by the Labour government, the national health service (NHS) was designed to provide high quality medical treatment, ‘free at the point of need.’ The Health Minister trusted with the launch of the new NHS, was Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan, who famously said: “We now have moral leadership of the world.”

As the Bill is currently passing through the House of Lords before being given royal assent, there has been much deliberation on whether it should ever have been put forward at all.

The changes brought with the bill will oversee the current 152 Primary Care Trusts (PCT’s) replaced with 50 new ‘clusters’, and the original 10 Strategic Health Authorities (SHA’s) to become merged into four. All of these changes will become part of a new NHS commissioning board.

Other changes to be made to the system will include General Practitioners (GP’s) to be in charge of their finances.

Inevitably effecting many areas throughout the NHS, doctors will have the added responsibility to appoint where they believe money should be spent based on the needs of their patients.

Stockton Conservative MP, James Wharton, believes that the Bill is a step forward to providing a better future for patients.

James Wharton - Conservative MP (conservativehome.blogs.com)

He said: “In essence I believe the Health Bill is both right and necessary given the huge pressures the NHS faces, and I am somewhat frustrated by how poorly these important changes have been presented to the public.

“Yet in spite of the changes the Government wishes to implement, there is no question whatsoever of changing the fundamental principle of the NHS – the reason our system is better and fairer than that in the US – namely the fact that it depends on need not means, that it is comprehensive and free at the point of delivery.

“Our ageing population puts ever greater demands on the NHS, as does the extraordinarily high rate of ‘medical inflation’.  The cost of newer technologies and treatments – including life-saving new drugs – is constantly increasing.

“The need to act against these future pressures is one of the reasons why the Government is seeking to put in place long lasting reform to the structures of the NHS. Making it more patient-focused and less managerial.

“Of course I understand fully why this is a matter of such great sensitivity; the NHS is a national institution, and we must ensure it has a brighter future.”

As many private health companies are opening across the UK, the coalition government is pushing for private companies to offer a health service at no extra charge to the patient. Releasing pressure off NHS services enabling them to cut down on waiting lists.

The burden which is on some peoples’ minds is that the NHS could eventually lead to becoming a privatised service, like the US.

Kirkleatham Labour MP, Brenda Forster expresses her doubt in the government’s plans, she said: “My main concern about the bill is that it opens the door to privatisation. I believe that the NHS should be free at the point of entry”

The bill began its journey through the House of Lords on 8 February, after a number of amendments were made following criticsm from opposing parties.

However despite all of this, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley does not fear privatisation of the NHS. As he is confident and believes the health service can be a success, even when collaborated with a private income.

Andrew Lansley - Health Secretary (guardian.co.uk)

He said: “The Royal Marsden, like Great Ormond Street, is a classic example of how having a thriving private income from research, joint ventures and patients coming from overseas, can get a hospital where it can as well as being consistently recorded as one of the most excellent hospitals in the NHS.

“It has on one hand the highest level of private patient activity—or, strictly speaking, private income—and on the other hand the highest standard of NHS care. The two things are entirely compatible.”

Representing NHS staff, the Royal College of Nurses (RCN), the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the British Medical Association, are only a selection of unions fighting against the government’s plans. As they do not agree that the proposed changes will save time or money in the long run.

Royal College of Nurses (RCN) Chief Executive & General Secretary Dr Peter Carter, disagrees with Andrew Lansley as he believes that NHS staff know better on what patients need.

He said: “Nurses know how to improve care and it is vital for patients that they are listened to. The RCN has said that we will continue to raise the genuinely held concerns of our members with the Government, however our overall view remains that the bill as a whole risks damaging the NHS which our members work hard to build and support.”

So should the governments plans for a new Health Reform Bill go ahead?

Posted in Features


MA Journalism student Leanne Johnson visits the Sky Sports headquarters to see what goes on behind the scenes of Britains most popular football show, Soccer Saturday.

Since attending the university talk with Soccer Saturday host Jeff Stelling, I was given the opportunity to spend a week with the Soccer Special team to understand why a show which shows no actual sport, has become the favourite for football entertainment.

After signing in at Reception I was collected by a ‘runner’ who kindly gave me a tour of the grounds and showed me where the magic happened in the studios. A real Formula One car was parked in reception, treated as part of the decor.

I was then taken to my designated work area for the week and to meet my Soccer Saturday team. Immediately I was greeted with smiles and friendly faces from a group of around eight people. I was pleasantly surprised as half the team were women.

I was introduced first to the producer of the Soccer Saturday show, Ian Condron, who immediately asked me if I was interested in staying to cover the Soccer Special which was filmed that evening. I said yes straightaway excited at the prospect of watching a live show, however the thought of a twelve hour shift on my first day did not occur to me till I was leaving the office at 10.30pm that night, exhausted but happy.

On my work experience at Sky Sports

That night I was sent a text asked if I was interested in accompanying sports reporter Johnny Phillips on a trip to Manchester the next day, to interview Aston Villa’s goal keeper Shay Given.

Seeing Johnny reporting live on Sky Sports previously, I was pleasantly surprised at how down to earth he was. When asked about his preparation for the interview that day he simply said that he had not done any, and that with some footballers he feels he knows them enough to be able to ask them questions off the cuff rather than from a notebook.

The interview was based around Shay’s involvement with the Macmillan charity as a result of losing his mum to Cancer at a young age. During the interview he explained about his current plans for fashion shows to be held  across the country, involving premiership footballers modelling clothes in a bid to raise money for the charity.

The whole day went according to plan as the interview was a success, and we were soon on the train back to London after only a couple of hours in Manchester for another busy couple of days in the office.

During the next few days, work was based around preparation for the end of the week show, Soccer Saturday. I was taken to observe the Sky Sports News being filmed in the studio with presenter’s Kirsty Gallacher and Julian Warren.

Me and Soccer Saturday host Jeff Stelling.

Watching from the gallery the atmosphere became more electric throughout the day. It seemed that all the free coffee and chocolate which was scattered around the offices seemed to supply that late night boost which everyone thrived off.

As information was constantly flooding in about Muamba’s cardiac arrest, there was constant breaking news throughout the day.

One thing I learnt about working in television is that the days are longer than an average office job. A couple of days during the week I worked twelve hour days, just to fit in everything that needed to be done for that day.

During one evening I was given the opportunity to watch the boxing show, Ringside, being filmed live.

There was a few hiccups throughout the filming, with stress running high through the office. As the director barked orders to staff about picking up the pace during the show, apologies were exchanged once the show ended explaining that it was a result of the high pressure environment of working in a television studio.

As Saturday came around the panel of Soccer Saturday presenters started pouring into the office. Each day I needed to be collected from reception by a member of staff and that day I was collected by Soccer Saturday pundit, Phil Thompson.

On our way into the office, Phil made a joke about finding me on his way into work shouting: “Look what I found!”.

The usual pundits there that day included  Matt Le Tissier, Paul Merson, Charlie Nicholas and Soccer Saturday host, Jeff Stelling.

Considering it was suppose to be the busiest day of the week for the Soccer Saturday team, everyone seemed very relaxed with everything under control.

The atmosphere was laid back with jokes being said and footballs being thrown between the pundits and staff, it definately excelled a happy working environment.

Once in the studio with the live show started, behind the scenes became as entertaining as watching the live show. Jeff was receiving constant messages once the 3pm kick off came round to remind Phil that he had a microphone on and that he did not need to shout so much when commentating the game he was watching.

During part of the show I was given the responsibility to use the cameras with the supervision of a cameraman to film the show. All the staff seemed happy to speak to me when they learnt that I was there on work experience, offering their advice on the best way to start a career in the television industry.

Overall my experience at Soccer Saturday was a positive and enjoyable one, where I learnt exactly what it was like working behind the scenes in a broadcasting environment.

Posted in Reviews


An Olympic themed woolly scarf measuring fifty metres appeared on Saltburn pier overnight. Nicknamed the “Phantom Knitter” or “Yarnbomber” by locals, the colourful characters knitted on to the scarf represent each sport at this years London Olympics attracting many people to the seaside village. Leanne Johnson reports:

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