We discussed the electoral system including elections always taking place on a Thursday (we don’t know why) and the six different types of elections we have in this country and the First Past the Post system and the attempt to change it to proportional representation and the Alternative Vote.
We focused mainly on General and Local Elections and the British voting system which can see a party who have more votes still not having overall control in Parliament.
We then moved onto the relationship between journalist’s and the emergency services particularly the Police and how the relationship is vital and mutually beneficial as a source of stories and help with certain cases like missing persons and looking for witnesses.
The official secrets act was also mentioned to highlight when the relationship between journalist’s and the police can be really rather frought and very awkward like in the case when the Police tried to use the act to get journalist’s at The Guardian to reveal their sources when they ran the story about the News of the World Phone Hacking scandal.
We also learnt about how to gather stories using resources such as police/fire press office online news feed, local neighbourhood policing team websites and social media like Facebook and Twitter.
We also now know to make regular calls to police and fire stations at the start and end of shifts and that some police still have voice bank systems which provide information on a loop and are updated several times a day.
I also know it’s vitally important to talk, and develop relationships, with operational officers and make contacts which will lead to being able to gather extra information.
I will also become familiar with terminology and rank structure and also the main strategy and tactics of each service and I realise that contacts go beyond the press office.