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  • clairewolfe 2:33 pm on March 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    You spot them in your monthly fashion magazine… 

    The coming of age with Internet shopping

    By Sarah Cresswell

    Speed up shopping

    You spot them in your monthly fashion magazine. Flicking through the pages, you suddenly do a double take at the ‘Topshop sale’ double spread. Your eyes pop out, your heart rate increases and the all-over goosebumps confirm that, yes, those sensational shoes you have loved for so long are finally on sale.
    Giddy with excitement having raced into town, you burst through the doors of Topshop and enquire (with a voice that sounds like you’ve had one too many inhalations of helium), about the must-have bargain.
    “Sold out this morning I’m afraid. You might have had more luck buying them online?”
    It is undeniable that shopping online would have saved you the hassle and disappointment of this unsuccessful trip. You would have had first pick at the reduced items as soon as they went online, and you could have checked via the website if your local store had them in stock. For reasons like these it is no wonder that we are all turning to the ‘World Wide Web’ to mend our broken shopaholic hearts.
    Although first launched in the mid 90s, it wasn’t until the millennium that ‘eCommerce’ really took off; growing over 210% since 2000 (comSCOR – This increase was partly due to the development of technology, but also because our modern, hectic lifestyles leave us with little spare time for weekend-long shopping sprees. As a result, the popularity of Internet shopping has skyrocketed, and it’s not difficult to see why we love it so much…
    What we like is the convenience. As long as there is Internet access, you could be on the train, in a café or lying in bed, and still you have all your favourite shops right at your fingertips. There’s no need to drive anywhere or worry about ridiculous parking prices, and a few clicks of your mouse are so much quicker (and less effort!) than traipsing round the mall.
    Limited shop opening hours make it impossible to fit shopping into a working weekday, but via the net, the shop doors never close – online is always ON. So instead of trawling the high street your entire Saturday, worrying over whether your boyfriend’s parents would prefer the Fawlty Towers themed tea cosy or the miniature bonsai (‘who wouldn’t want a bonsai?!’, you think), and then whether you could get them cheaper elsewhere, you can simply return home after Monday’s late-night meeting, kick back on the sofa, and ‘surf’ away instead. Simple.
    And if after receiving the adorable bonsai you found for a bargain online, you think that just maybe these tiny trees are for an acquired taste after all, then there’s no hassle in having to return to the store for a refund. Internet shopping offers the far easier option of simply posting the item back to the sender.
    In 2006 we spent £30bn online for Christmas, and last year this rose to a whopping £38bn (, so it seems we’re all having the same idea.
    “What could be better?” asks Sophie, 22, from Cheltenham, “I can sit at home when it’s pouring with rain, in my pyjamas, with everything I need on my laptop. I can even save the WebPages and go back to them after making dinner or watching a film, and that’s something that regular shopping will never be able to offer me!”
    So far, it all sounds like a dream doesn’t it.
    Clare, 27, from Bristol however, thinks otherwise – “It’s a nightmare, I’ve tried it but it always seems more hassle than it’s worth. I can’t try on clothes just by looking at them, so I have no idea whether they fit until they are delivered. It’s impossible to check the quality of materials by a picture either.”
    It’s true that unfortunately, there are a few unavoidable drawbacks to purchasing online. Credit card fraud is a continuous problem, though companies are working hard to make sites as safe and secure as possible. Linked to this is the risk of disclosing personal and private details on to the Internet, where inevitably, they could be leaked.
    “I used to think I saved money by not driving to the mall, but if I buy items from just two different shops, the separate delivery costs are even more than the price of parking” says Clare. “I’d rather just go to the actual store and get the items myself.”
    Often first-class delivery is pricey, so if you’re desperate to buy something quickly, you have to pay for the privilege of receiving it promptly, which is still not as immediate as buying in store.
    And to be honest girls, there is something about browsing shops that we just can’t get enough of. We love to look and touch (but not buy!) the £500 Jimmy Choos, and flick through the latest season’s collections. There is nothing quite like being in store, in the flesh, to smell the new leather and try on the tester perfumes – it’s an experience that no laptop screen, however good the deals on it, will ever be able to replace.
    “We want customers to really enjoy shopping here” assures James Cooper from Marks and Spencer’s online department, Cheltenham. “So whether visiting us in store or using our website, we aim to offer the highest quality shopping experience possible. We realise the intense competition between stores these days, and know that one of the best ways to ensure customer satisfaction is by focusing on convenience, which our website is able to provide.”
    The opportunity to shop online has certainly changed the way we spend our time and our money. Don’t get me wrong, us girls would still never turn down a trip to Oxford Street, but even with its few flaws, it’s often easier, faster and cheaper to buy online – making life a whole lot simpler. So with the ‘shopping via search engine’ part under control, your only problem now is deciding who on earth to give the bonsai to.

  • clairewolfe 2:32 pm on March 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Internet, , ,   

    Sarah Cresswell online shopping

  • clairewolfe 2:46 pm on October 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    For everyone new to this site, a big welcome. This is the showcase for news and views from the University of Worcester journalism department. The best pieces of work will be published here, but please send any material you are particularly pleased with. Keep an eye on my twitter account @worcesterwolfe too for updates on news, journalism,education and jobs.

  • seandodson 1:54 pm on July 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adam curtis, afghanistan, barack obama, cold war, , john gray, nick clegg, , sierra leone, war   

    Comment: Fight the good fight, but make sure you’re right 

    By Antony McIver

    David Cameron and Barack Obama met last week in Washington for their first official talks. Top of the agenda was how to extricate the US and UK from Afghanistan with the announcement of a phased withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2015. The terrible cost – in both blood and money – has turned public opinion firmly against the war, and both leaders are eager that they do not pay a price politically for a war they did not instigate (although Cameron did vote for). Doubtless, Iran and North Korea formed part of their bilateral discussions as well, but both leaders would do well to learn the lessons of their predecessors and be wary of future interventionist adventure.

    How times have changed. In 1989 the world was turned on its head. The Berlin Wall was torn down. A wave of bloodless revolutions (Romania aside) swept Central and Eastern Europe. By 1991 Boris Yeltsin rode into Red Square at the helm of a tank. Preconceptions of how global politics functioned dissolved as the Cold War thawed as certainly as the onset of spring. Now, the problem with this post-cold war idyll was that it took from western governments much of their reason for existence; as leaders of the ‘free’ world. Into this vacuum entered the likes of Tony Blair who quickly sent British troops into Sierra Leone to free UK hostages from rebel forces. But once the troops were on the ground something unexpected happened. British commandos, under the command of Brigadier (now General Sir) David Richards, suddenly realised they could end the civil war with relative ease. And they did so. Apparently without prior government consent. Buoyed by this success, Blair turned his attention to Kosovo and led the US, then premiered by Bill Clinton, to enter the conflict reluctantly. Those of a liberal (small l) disposition found it difficult to criticise either of these interventions. If war could be “good”, so the argument goes, then Sierra Leone and Kosovo were prime examples.

    Blair became a believer in interventionism as a force for good and when George Bush’s Republican administration took office in 2001. He had finally found a leader who shared his world view. The Republicans dreamt of creating a global democratic free-market utopia and they believed that US military power should be deployed to impose it, especially in the Middle East. The Muslim hardliners who preached of ‘The Great Satan’ – with its imperialist pretensions in the Arab world – felt vindicated and Bin Laden attacked the Twin Towers. The philosopher John Gray, in Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern, suggests that the ideologies of both the Western interventionists and Al Qaeda were born of contradictions and false premises – nonetheless they led us to war.

    In his polemic three part documentary, The Power of Nightmares, the television documentary maker Adam Curtis argues that the ‘war on terror’ lies largely in the imagination of our elites; as a post cold war narrative, and the resultant actions of British and US foreign policy have made the world less safe than it was before. He believes that Western governments were emasculated by the ending of the cold war, but by deluding themselves of a global terrorist nightmare and saving us from it – they could become powerful once more. The real threat to Britain lies in the oppression of Palestine, the manipulation of Pakistan, the nation building in Afghanistan and that we have ended up fighting a morally dubious conflict as part of a deeply misguided post-colonial doctrine. These actions have created a discontented Islamic world, and a minority have been drawn to violence – but to characterise this as a replacement threat equal to the Soviet Union simply does not stand scrutiny.

    David Cameron has already betrayed a poor grasp of history, when he described Britain as “America’s junior partner in 1940”; one might have thought an expensive Eton education would have taught him that Britain stood alone in that year – America would not join the conflict until December 1941. It is however a more recent history that Obama and Cameron must learn from if the damage to America and Britain’s reputations in the international community are to be repaired. When Nick Clegg stood at the dispatch box on Wednesday and denounced “the illegal invasion of Iraq” as “Labour’s most disastrous decision”, he may or may not have been materially correct, but he accurately articulated the deeply held view of a great many across the globe. It is a timely reminder that we must face up to what has been done ‘in our names’ to make sure that it can never happen again – and that the rule of law extends not just to citizens but to our leaders as well.

    It would be naive to think endless peace is credible, but I believe that it is fundamental that Britain should only ever fight ‘the good fight’ in the future.

  • seandodson 2:46 pm on June 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Benjamin Disraeli, , Fabian Society, Gordon Brown, Peter Oborne, Reform Bill   

    Comment: Is Cameron really like Disraeli? 

    By Michael Smith

    “David Cameron is a modern Disraeli” was Team Cameron’s grandest declaration as he took office. It was typical of the Prime Minister’s media-savvy team that they have seized the opportunity to compare Cameron’s most obvious achievements with those of Benjamin Disraeli, while omitting, rather shrewdly, any mention of Disraeli’s more disagreeable qualities, many of which Cameron actually shares.

    Writing for the Spectator, Peter Oborne praised the Tory leader as “our Disraeli” in an article which displayed the the commentator (and author of The Rise of Political Lying) at his most pro-Cameron. “Cameron will not, as Blair did”, he wrote, “abuse his office for personal enrichment. He will not be intoxicated …” Alongside such searing criticism, the article touches only very briefly on the issue of the connection between Cameron and Disraeli. Indeed, he needn’t have bothered mentioning the latter much at all.

    Elsewhere, other commentators have been equally vague. The Fabian Society’s Next Left blog also gave no explanation to why exactly the Tory leader is being touted as ‘doing a Disraeli’. It is this apparent laziness that has prompted me to produce my own piece on the Cameron/Disraeli question. Now in my opinion, Disraeli, on the whole, was a disagreeable man. Many of his friends and colleagues considered him a curious fantasist whom they never completely trusted. A Jew by birth, but a Christian convert at 13, he was, throughout his life, obsessed by the grandeur of Eton and the magnificence that surrounded aristocratic birth. He yearned, moreover for acceptance among the elite. And it is here where lies the first major difference between the magnificent achievements of Disraeli and the far more ordinary achievements of Mr Cameron. Disraeli began life at a profound disadvantage in society. Cameron did not. The Tory party, apparently, didn’t approve of his “foreign appearance” making him as unwelcome at exclusive clubs. On the other hand, Cameron has always been made as welcome in London clubland as a rabbit at a fox’s den.

    Mr Cameron has never suffered the same difficulties – he hasn’t had to fight for acceptance in the Conservative Party, nor membership to the establishment clubs, simply because the very existence of these organisations is to serve people like him – wealthy, upper class gentlemen. Such clubs were never designed to serve the likes of Disraeli – Jewish by birth, dangerously in debt and as far from an aristocrat as a barrow boy from a barrister.

    Labour party strategists coined the nickname ‘Dave the Chameleon’ as a result of Cameron’s persistent ‘twisting and turning’. Disraeli too was often accused of lacking deep principles. In a fashion that would later prove hypocritical, his arguments against ‘political U-turns’ was his favourite and most powerful of his criticisms, and the style of attack that helped him almost singlehandedly bring down Robert Peel – one of the most well respected Prime Ministers of all time. As Northern Rock collapsed David Cameron was in near hysteria over his position. In the end, he finished in no man’s land, and this has proved to be a continued theme under his leadership, over issues such as Grammar schools, the Human Rights Act, all women MP shortlists, gay rights, and Europe. Deflecting criticism away from his own indecisiveness by accusing Gordon Brown of being a ‘ditherer’, Cameron displayed another of his predecessor’s less desirable characteristics – hypocracy. The tribute-like tone Cameron adopted of Gordon Brown outside Number 10 was remarkably hypocritical. After three years of fire and a personal vendetta against Mr Brown, David Cameron swept aside his obvious dislike of the man he replaced by attempted to appear like a dignified winner. To my mind, this was a deeply cynical piece of PR management which displayed a lack of respect for the electorate’s intelligence. It was a brief interruption to the ‘attack is the best form of defence’ style which both men share.

    Cameron’s attacks on Brown were reminiscent of Disraeli’s attacks on Robert Peel, which were highly personal, and at times, disrespectful, if not downright rude. Cameron owes much of his rhetoric outside the chamber to Disraeli too. His oratory is in the style of a one nation Conservative, of which Disraeli was the first – one who sympathises with the working classes and not simply the rich. Disraeli was an opportunist in the purest sense, and although he is credited with the 1867 Reform Act which gave thousands more people the vote, it is worth noting that he had initial misgivings about diluting the power of society’s elite.

    The bill had first been proposed by a man whom Disraeli despised, William Gladstone, who was deeply unpopular within his own party and with the Tory squires for proposing to increase democracy. Disraeli’s timing and great sense for the political mood in the House was one of his great traits and helped him defeat Gladstone’s Reform Bill and thus endear himself to his peers. When the working classes began to riot over the quashing off the Bill, Disraeli skilfully passed his own, more radical Reform Bill. In a blatant case of double standards, he had brought down a Government over a democratic reform bill, got himself back into office and then pick pocketed Gladstone of the adoration of the working classes by passing the bill himself.

    Despite his obsession with the aristocracy, Disraeli was sincere about the plight of the poor. Toppling Gladstone had merely been an opportunistic hiatus which he could not resist. In his earlier career as a novelist, he wrote some memorable passages on the subject, and when in office he embraced the tide of democracy which helped give the poor a voice. The current Conservative Party leadership want to showcase Mr Cameron as sharing Disraeli’s conviction. It was this binding together of the ‘two nations’ (the rich and the poor) that would define Disraeli’s unique style of Conservatism – a style which Mr. Cameron says he shares. The current Prime Minister shares many similarities with Disraeli, some from his not so agreeable side, but whether he shares his conviction, work ethic and ultimately his success is what will go on to define his premiership.

  • seandodson 4:10 pm on April 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Journalists who constantly use big, powerful words to do the light work which could easily be done by smaller words, are slowly bankrupting the vocabulary

    Nicholas Bagnall
  • seandodson 2:45 pm on April 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    In news writing you should always grab the reader by throat in the first paragraph, sink your thumbs into his windpipe in the second, and hold him against the wall until the tagline

    Paul O’Neill
  • seandodson 11:31 am on March 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: design, harold evans, , newspaper design   

    “Typography is the efficient means to an essentially utilitarian and only accidentally aesthetic end, for enjoyment of patterns is rarely the reader’s chief aim”. – Stanley Morrison

    Harold Evans, Editing and Design/Book five: Newspaper Design
  • seandodson 10:51 am on January 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bourneville, cadbury, capitalism, charlie and the chocolate factory, chocolate, EU, fairtrade, john cadbury, kraft, nestle, roald dahl, roger carr, rowntree   

    Comment: Cadbury takeover is a bitter pill 

    By Luke Jones

    When I was younger the Cadbury chocolate factory in Bourneville was “the music makers and the dreamers of dreams”, with a fairytale place full of umpa lumpas with edible plants and flowers. Indeed, Roald Dahl, the writer of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was once employed as a chocolate taster at the factory while still a schoolboy. Now the hostile takeover of Cadbury is set to destroy what its founder, John Cadbury, set out to do in 1824. Like everyone else I feel powerless, as our little sweet shop melts into a candy store.

    Cadbury was all about stability, profitability, great future, national treasure. It was not about mass debt or insecurity. That’s what we wanted our Cadbury to carry on tasting like and so did the workers. The company employs around 6,200 workers in the UK and Ireland, and 40,000 other workers around the world. They are now worried for their futures, for Kraft will borrow heavily to pay for Cadbury and debt on such a scale could destabilise a great business and thousands of jobs are likely to go. In the past 10 years, the US giant has sacked 60,000 workers to pay for other companies it has swallowed.

    The facts are that the politicians, both local and national, have little influence into whether Cadbury is sold or to whom it is sold. To my mind, their huffing and puffing is disingenuous; the prime ministers  blunt warnings to any potential buyers of Cadbury not to move jobs out of Britain is nothing but empty rhetoric. I have prayed that Cadbury remained a stand-alone, British-owned and operated company, but that decision was in the hand of the shareholders and one-one else. Let us remind ourselves that the main players are not the small investors or employee shareholders: but institutional shareholders who hold the trump cards.

    Sadly in Britain we have lost our powers to intervene in these matters, partly because the EU dictates our fiscal policies. This might also explain why we lost other UK companies like MG Rover, LDV and HP Sauce, along with many others. The Government can offer loans, but not subsidies. Just as in the case of MG Rover, when the EU rules on state aid had restricted funding to a six-month period forcing Rover to sell to China. But in the case of HP Foods factory, around 125 jobs were lost in Aston, when a decision was taken, by its US  owners, Heinz, to move production to Holland. Now the Americans are back with a taste for our chocolate.

    We can only watch from the sidelines as predetory companies make bids (and counter bids) and hope that we have a British-owned and managed company for much longer. Last night I was hoping that a last-ditch attempt by Cadbury chairman, Roger Carr, would work. He called the takeover as “pitiful” after annual profits are up 23% at £1billion. This morning it looks like the rallying a cry to investors  “don’t let Kraft steal your company with this derisory offer,” was too little too late.

    Let us, then, not forget on this sad morning,that Cadbury was built on ethical foundations which all began with its founder, John Cadbury, a Quaker, who belived that it was possible to act as a principled capitalist. Cadbury believed that you could both turn a profit and do the right thing. These principles remain with human rights and ethical trading policies, also being part of Fairtrade where the move continues to build on Cadbury’s heritage with farmers in Ghana for over 100 years and the ongoing work of Cadbury’s groundbreaking Cadbury Cocoa Partnership (CCP) launched in 2008. But Cadbury’s chief executive states, “this is not necessarily the heritage of any competitors.”

    All of this has a déjà vu feel about it, when in 1988 there were all sorts of promises made that York based Rowntree would not be taken over by Switzerland run Nestlé for around £2billion, which caused a public outcry that a company so quintessentially British might fall under foreign ownership.

    So does this really mean the end for legendary chocolate makers Cadbury? Faced with this hostile takeover bid of around £10.2 billon, but the Bourneville-based manufactures rejecting the initial bid brought some hope. This morning that hope faded. I think I might try and console myself with a bar of Fruit and Nut.

  • seandodson 3:58 pm on December 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Dr Andrea Marshall, environment, manta ray, marine, marine wildlife, nature, rebecca yardley, shark, shark fin sup, wildlife   

    Comment: Why shark finning is a cruel and barbaric process 

    By Rebecca Yardley

    Andrea, Queen of the Mantas, aired on BBC2 in Novermber, was a beautiful wildlife documentary featuring the Dr Andrea Marshall on her mission to protect the Giant Manta Ray. Her efforts resulted in a new species of Manta Ray to be captured on film and later tagged, which will help us understand this mysterious creature. There was one aspect of the film that was particularly disturbing, though. While Andrea was talking with local fisherman she discovered the much criticised practice of shark finning was occurring there on the Mozambique shoreline.

    Shark finning is the cruel and barbaric process of cutting off a sharks fin before dropping the animal back into water either to drown or be eaten to death. Shark Fin soup can make $300 (£180) a pound, making it the most valuable part of the animal to many fishermen, cramming the fins together on board their boats and deeming the rest of the animal an unnecessary load too bulky and worthless to carry back, making the wasteful killing tortuous to one of the world’s oldest creatures.

    The consumption of shark fin originates from traditional Chinese medicine and a long held belief that the meat is beneficial to health when in fact it is actually high in methyl mercury and therefore poisonous for humans.

    I’m no vegetarian, so it may seem hypercritical of me to deplore the brutality of the measures used to kill this animal. I realise the average supermarket chicken has had a far from perfect life and I cannot claim to always have ethically brilliant food buying habits. I think that humans are top of the food chain, but with the advantages we have over animals I believe responsible consumption is essential both morally and logically. This means the least harm to the animal and minimal possible damage to its ecosystem.

    Scientists have estimated that 100 million sharks are killed for their fins every year, and in the last 80 years, 80% of the world’s shark population have been killed by humans. The result is that several species of shark have been added to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, warning us of its susceptibility of extinction. The demise of sharks would be disastrous to the world’s oceans, the largest ecosystem of the world. The consequences of losing such a vital predator would have an unpredictable knock on effect for many other fish populations.

    Respecting the different customs and morals of other cultures is of course a consideration that must be handled sensitively and I understand this is a long standing practice that many people have become accustomed to. However I will openly criticise the restaurants that exploit these old rooted and now scientifically disputed beliefs and label this disturbing and tasteless animal part as a “delicacy” to be sold for up to $100 (£60) a dish. It is also worth mentioning that whilst the fishermen may be as much to blame, the poverty many suffer due to the extremely depleted fish quantities and the competition this creates makes their situation far more understandable and sympathetically excusable. Yet whilst this short term measure will provide them with income now, reducing the shark population in such drastic moves will no doubt have a serious effect on future sustainability.

    A loophole in EU legislation means that shark finning with required permits is allowed in EU waters provided that the quantity of shark fin is kept below 5 % of the total shark weight on board. Whilst last month under increasing pressure from wildlife protection groups the UK law was amended and now requires all sharks to be landed with their fins attached. Yet unbelievably, selling shark fin products is not illegal, up until July this year the acclaimed Dorchester Hotel was happily advertising its shark fin soup special. Whilst the rise against this practice gains more exposure the proclamation of the dish has been of course hushed up, yet it is widely realised that many Chinese restaurants are willing to offer it on request for high paying customers.

    Killing these wild animals is purely consumer driven, of course we all like to try new food, but save yourself the potential mercury poisoning from a tasteless soup that requires flavouring of soya sauce just to make it edible. This is not a delicacy, there is nothing glamorous or romantic about cutting off an essential body part of a naturally powerful and majestic animal only to throw it overboard to die in suffering, a disgraceful effort that should be considered as disgusting and humiliating as ivory hunting. So, if you wouldn’t buy an elephants tusk to use as a book end on your bedroom shelf, do not buy shark fin soup, even better do not buy shark meat and instead appreciate these misunderstood and exceptional creatures before they are wiped out.

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