Thank you to everyone who helped me created and contributed to this documentary and the whole research process.
I am pleased to announce I received 70% for the pitch and 75% for my radio documentary.
Below are the feedback notes.
Agreed overall grade: 75%
First and second marker feedback and comments:
First marker: This is clearly a very well researched and thought through documentary and it shows. Despite the gravity of the topic is a really good listen. You have weaved in music and sound effects really effectively and you’ve really paid attention to creating a narrative which keeps your audience listening from start to finish. I like the way you’ve used storytelling to set the scene for Nick’s story. It’s very effecting and makes for compelling listening. I was concerned when you said you’d used phone interviews but they work and in reality if you had managed to speak to someone who was still on death row there’s no way they’d have had access to a Skype line or a phone interview.
Second marker: The story telling in this feature is brilliant. The level of journalism demonstrated is also very high. The style of the doc is in-keeping with a style more associated with a PRX/American radio production. However, the opportunity to demonstrate better journalism by exploring, as mentioned in the preceding text on the hosting web page on Buzz to find out….” if it would ever be fully abolished across America” was not addressed. This issue would have been more appropriate to include than the final clip of Nicholas, who did not discuss his acquittal. In summary, great story telling, great structure and a great narrative. If it had covered fully what it set out to do, the grade awarded would have been even greater.
First marker: It’s visually appealing and packed with information and answers to the many questions about death row. The hard work and level of research is evident throughout. Your Buzz page is also excellent – I love the interactive map – it’s fabulous. I have only a minor criticism: please watch your spelling and include your apostrophes. It should read ‘an execution’s timeline’. Please amend this so that you can showcase your blog at the very highest standard. I would like to have seen links to extended audio interviews – especially since you had so many engaging people in your documentary and I believe you didn’t include everyone you contacted/interviewed.
Second marker: There is such a wealth of information, research and multimedia content on the blog, it is a pity that the given method of reading it is by scrolling through it all vertically. Seeing an interactive directory where certain threads or paths could be followed would have been a much more engaging way of consuming it.
Throughout this project you have demonstrated great journalism and editorial skills. But in relation to the latter, do not underestimate the importance of cutting back and shortening content in order to encourage a bigger audience. For example, most people will not want to listen to a 27-minute interview with Nicholas Yarris if very little information is given about him in the hosting blog entry.
First marker: You’ve made clear arguments for why you opted for phone over Skype interviews. I also like your reasoning for opting for Criminals on Radiotopia and why you’ve used the sound effects and music. Although you say Radiotopia offers a softer deliver, I like your delivery. I was intrigued by exactly why you felt the Radio 4 documentaries were boring – what exactly was it that they did or lacked? It would have been an idea to include some references at the end of your justification ie Criminals as you did contact them about their editorial policy. I would also have liked you to talk about what you brought to the project as a journalist and whether the actual process has changed you/informed you journalistically.
Second marker: Despite its lack of references to academic books and editorial guidelines in relation to public service broadcasting in both the UK and the USA, the justification is a fair reflection of the intense working schedule undertaken for this project, where the fruits of hard work are on display for all to see. It would have been interesting to read what made The Why Factor ‘boring’ and what made you choose a production whose primary audience is in the United States.