The role of NGOs in diplomacy and international relations

Hoorah! Political radio package submitted as of 10:37am. Done and dusted.

The broad topic of the piece: the role of NGOs in reducing tensions between nations and helping maintain stable international relations. I’ve used the current nuclear tensions between Iran and America and the Arab Spring as platforms for discussion of what part NGOs can play in such situations.

Featuring in the piece is Jamal Abdi, policy director for the National Iranian-American Council; Casper Wuite, elections observer for the National Demcratic Institute; and Stan Bojnansky, President of the Model United Nations society at University College Falmouth.

Now for some reflection on the process.

Good points

  • Timing: as soon as I started editing my interviews and scripting my narration for the package (aka the voicer), I kept a close eye on timings to ensure everything would fit together in the 4’30” time frame. My consistent focus on timings meant that stitching the piece together was relatively easy, since all elements of the package were structured appropriately to fit into the 4’30” duration.
  • Interviews – I was pleased to secure my two international and one face-to-face (quality) interview comfortably in time for the deadline. This was quite an achievement given considerable bad luck with interviewees left, right, and centre pulling out and failing to respond. This highlights once again that journalism can hinge on two things: a little but of luck (in finding the right people, who are also willing to talk), and a lot of determination.

Bad points

  • Only once I began my face-to-face interview did I realise that the M-audio (recording device) was refusing to record, displaying the message: ‘media full’. At this point, I realised that it wasn’t my M-audio, but that of my trusty colleague – James Brydges. For some unknown reason, Mr Brydges has about 330 files on there, mostly of 5-8 seconds in duration. Needless to say, it was quite a nuisance having to interrupt my interviewee to scramble through the files and delete as many as possible. Fortunately my interviewee, Stan Bojnansky, was very patient.
  • I was stuck for ideas on how to get more “creative” with the package, in terms of bringing in music and wildtrack. It just didn’t seem appropriate given the topic, but perhaps I need to think outside the box a little more to incorporate a greater variety of sounds.
  • I went off on a tangent for the first couple of weeks, giving too much emphasis in my research to the Iranian-American relationship. This involved a certain degree of upheaval in realigning my focus to fit the role of NGOs, as outlined in the brief.
  • I would have liked to interview someone more directly relevant for the face-to-face interview. Unfortunately, without a car, money for transport, or anyone with connections to NGOs/Iran and the Arab world available to speak to me in Dorset or Cornwall, this wasn’t feasible. I was also hard-pressed to get this done, with many other assessments, work placements and a documentary to organise.

Lessons learned:

  • ALWAYS check, double-check, and triple-check recording equipment prior to interview! Despite charging it up and testing the levels, I wasn’t at all prepared for the ‘media full’ fiasco.
  • Read, re-read, and triple-read, the brief! Then refer back to it constantly – it is so easy to veer off from the initial instructions, as interviews and research often takes things in an unexpected direction. Yet it is still crucial not to waste time and effort venturing down different avenues that don’t adhere to the project brief.
  • For a longer radio package like this one, I think it may have been beneficial to bring in another interviewee. A variety of voices and points is important on such a broad topic.

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