Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Rest In Peace Tom Maynard

I had just finished my lunch today in Doha, Qatar while working for Al Jazeera Sport when I discovered the tragic news that Surrey cricketer Tom Maynard had died. My initial reaction was one of complete shock and disbelief. Firstly because the hot prospect in domestic cricket had been taken from us at the age of 23, but mainly because for the past several months, I have been saying to a good friend of mine (who is a Surrey CCC fan) that Maynard is a fantastic talent and should be in the England squad without any second thought. I don’t know what it was, but every time I watched Maynard, I had this overwhelming sense of appreciation for the game. I love cricket, but when Maynard came to the crease, I became extremely excited by what he had to offer. As a Kent fan, there’s the stereotypical view that we should not like Surrey, and therefore we should not like any of their players, but I’m a realist and I look at cricket in the view of the benefit for the sport.

Tom Maynard was a fantastic cricketing talent. His technical ability was one many cricketers in the current domestic game can only imagine having. He was the classic British batsman. It was solid, straight bat, but the ability to cause some damage with a combination of fantastic strokeplay, and extravagant shots. Many of you may question my reason for writing this, but I had such an admiration for Maynard as soon as he burst onto the scene with Glamorgan, that his passing seems almost unreal. I can’t begin to understand the grief his family and close friends must be experiencing at this moment, and I’m not trying to. I react emotionally to any deaths which shock sport, with Espanyol’s Daniel Jarque and former Wales manager Gary Speed as examples.

Maynard death is a devastating story. Whatever the inquiries may unveil in the coming weeks, it’s important to remember that just under 12 hours before, Maynard had been playing what was his last ever professional cricket match. Nobody could have predicted what would happen. On Monday 18th June 2012, Tom Maynard was pronounced dead by the Metropolitan police after his body was found on train tracks at Wimbledon Park Station. It is believed Maynard was hit by a train, and possibly electrocuted before being hit. The sad part of this story is that Maynard was being chased by police after he was seen driving “erratically” in the early hours of Monday morning. A man fitting Tom’s description then got out the car and ran off on foot. Just over an hour later and his body had been found.

I think what makes his last game even more memorable for me was that it was against my home county Kent in a t20 on Sunday 17th June 2012. I had the absolute pleasure of chatting to Maynard on the boundary when he was at Glamorgan during a one-day game a couple of years ago, and he seemed like a lovely young man who really enjoyed every second he spent on the field of play. He played with a smile on his face. My greatest memory of him was last year though. Thursday 14th July 2011. It was Kent vs Surrey in the domestic t20 competition and Kent had the chance to ruin Surrey’s chances of qualifying. Kent won so I was a happy cricket fan, but there were two particular innings that really stood out for me that day. Jason Roy hit 53 and Tom Maynard scored 36 off 27 balls. I remember saying to my Surrey friend that day - “Maynard is going to be a big big player mate” – he certainly had the qualities. It wasn’t a titanic innings. But it was a well-constructed, exciting innings that really swung the balance of the match in Surrey’s favour at that time.

A young man had a fantastic future in domestic and international cricket ahead of him. It’s a shattering story of how quickly a life can be taken. Tom Maynard was 23, and gave domestic cricket in England a real purpose, along with many other cricketers. One of Maynard’s close friends and teammates Roy tweeted Cant believe im writing this. R.I.P Tom Maynard,one of my best friends.You will always be in my heart and will miss you so so much.

The sad part of all of this, is that we will now not know how far Tom could have excelled in the game, what more he could have offered to the cricket, and what impact he would have made when he made his England debut.
Words cannot begin to explain how or why this happened. It’s a tragically sad day for English cricket. I didn’t know you personally, but I certainly would have relished the opportunity to get to know you. You have really inspired me as one of the best domestic cricketers I have seen these past couple of years. Rest in Peace Tom Maynard and thank you for everything you gave to life, and to cricket. You will be missed by every cricket fan across the country. 

Friday, 1 June 2012

Magazine Journalism Critical Analysis

Gareth Messenger
BA (Hons) Year Three Journalism
The University of Winchester

For my first magazine spread of our module, I decided to interview convicted Darren Parnell about his extraordinary life and the encounters and problems he has faced upon his journey through humanity. It was a story that was both enthralling, and wretched, but Mr Parnell’s story is one that would suit the stereotypical view of a confessional. Although the story of Mr Parnell’s life has gone through all sort of barriers, it was easy to structure for the benefit of my spreads because all the events interacted well with the timeline and how I was asked my questions. The questions I asked were arranged suitably, specifically detailing every part of his life from his childhood to now.
During the interview I took notes and then transcribed the interview in full, writing every word quoted so I could formulate the basis of the spread and how I could present the story so it makes it look presentable and engaging to the readers.
Despite the strength and revelations of his story, Mr Parnell was more than happy to speak to me about all the issues in his life and even quotes in the spread “my philosophy in life is what’s done is done and worrying about it doesn’t change things”. This was a fantastic advantage to my approach and the angle I wanted to use in the piece. I decided to use Fireworks as the program most suitable to the creation of my first spread and in doing this I decided to use a plain white canvas for my confessional interview to put the focus on the story itself  and the pictures of Mr Parnell rather than the design. It is important in a confessional to understand every factor of the story in magazines, so I applied this same principle and kept the layout relatively simple but effective in terms of what it was offering in content. Magazines such as ‘Pick Me Up’ are a classic case of spreads I used as examples to structure my confessional interview with Mr Parnell.
While there was a lot of information to take from Mr Parnell, I wanted to focus on the two key moments of his life and emphasise how they have affected him. When writing the article I wanted to keep the idea of a confessional in mind, with the subject person talking to the readers rather than myself describing what has happened, so therefore, the majority of the piece was in the first person. Despite this, I decided the piece needed blurbs, or introductions, to reveal certain parts of the story. Because it is an intense tale and a lot of information, I wanted to introduce each part of the story which can enable the reader to break and gain an understanding of each part of Mr Parnell’s story for better readership. I wanted to use a quote as the headline because it is a fantastic headline which will immediately pull the readers in and gain their full attention wanting to read more. The headline of “I didn’t inflict the fatal wound that night!” is a fantastic line to head my piece and I felt this was necessary to gain the direct responsiveness to the piece. I also used a dark red colour as the headline to make it relevant to the headline with the words. Fatal wound would instigate blood so I wanted to use a dark red colour to intrigue the readers even more, and this goes for the quotes which break up the columns, because it adds an extra vibrancy to the canvas and mixes the design up in the style of a typical confessional. Following the structure, I knew this piece needed a beginning, middle and end, and decided to break the two separate life stories into two bits. I felt it was important to introduce Mr Parnell’s wife as an explainer of his accident because of his loss of memory of the incident, so I believe it was a worthy addition to the piece to bring in the memories of another party who could explain the story of Mr Parnell, who has no memory of his accident.
I wanted to end the piece on a high but summing up the overall confessional interview which I feel was done aptly with “I am happy with who I am and I’ll never know who I would have been if they hadn’t happened”
I believe my confessional interview worked extremely well, and even though more could have been done to make the presentation of the canvas that extra more appealing, I wanted to keep the entire structure readable and simple for the target audience and for the stereotype of a confessional layout. This all worked well and was done with a lot of care and attention to a stunning life story.
My second piece was originally going to be the profile of young musician who has recently been signed to Elton John’s record company ‘Rocket’ label. However, this was unattainable as her management were too late responding to me so I decided to use my own personal experiences to create a travel guide spread on Florida. Although Florida is a well-known and popular place, I wanted to use my own memories and experiences to design a new creative piece. I used more images in this canvas, using a picture taken from a previous holiday as the under laying canvas with the words “Central Florida” on a road sign and used the spread design of SBC Kiteboard Magazine with a picture of the canvas which can be found here - http://www.behance.net/gallery/SBC-Kiteboard-Magazine/2144663
Because we had no specifically focused on the structure of a feature piece within a magazine, I decided to be creative and combine the design of two magazine spreads and integrate them into one by still making the piece look presentable. I used - http://hyoko-x3.deviantart.com/art/Musik-Kursbericht-Layout-258393714 - a Musik Kursbericht layout as an idea to use images of four of the main attractions in Florida over the top of the under laying canvas, as I felt it would be a different piece to my first spread. Even though the images in the Kursbericht spread are on a white canvas, I wanted to amalgamate the idea of using two separate spreads into one.  And although it would have been nice to keep the design theme consistent with my first spread, I wanted to use more pictures to make the spread a striking piece. I feel the design itself has worked out well, because the main piece of the image canvas is intact and it allowed me annotate around the central words.
When it came to the text, I focused one by one on the individual places to go in Florida. I tried to engage with the reader so refrained by making it a personal account of my experiences and used the technique of getting the readers to go and find out for themselves. Although the travel guide would not be ideal for either of the magazines I have used as a design example, but it would work in any travel guide or travel magazines. With the pictures, I wanted to use a vibrant and engaging font and style to make the readers want to find out more by using my best pictures to grab their attention, then use the text to explain what there is to do in Florida, how to do it and why you should go to Florida.
More could have been done in terms of the layout, but I firmly believe the canvas as a whole is an ambitious and clever way of combining two spreads into one. The target readership would be for people who could afford to go on holiday and are looking for an exciting place to visit and Florida certainly provides that. My previous five weeks in the state were an advantage to designing and writing the guide because I knew a lot about the places and what they have to offer. To make the spread more relatable, I also inserted a “WELCOME TO…” text above “Central Florida” to make the readers feel like they were already there. Even though there was not much structure to the piece I wanted to make the spread visually appealing. It is different to the confessional with Mr Parnell because it uses a different approach to attracting the readers through pictures, whereas the confessional interview I used a quote to attain the interest.
Both spreads, although more could have been done to make them that extra more fetching, both deliver their piece well. I have used examples of styles to design my layout and focused specifically to what is important in both pieces. Words and text for the confessional, and pictures for the feature travel guide.