Category Archives: Culture

Always Ascending: Franz Ferdinand return as a band reborn

It’s taken three attempts to get through to Alex Kapranos. A few technical hitches mean that I keep being pushed to the back of a queue of waiting journalists. It’s not surprising that the Franz Ferdinand frontman is a man in demand.

He’s speaking about Always Ascending, the Scottish indie rock outfit’s first album in five years. The record is in many ways a revitalising rather than a reinvention of the band’s sound. It’s vastly different to the band’s earlier output but – as Kapranos mentions himself – unmistakably a Franz Ferdinand record.

If anything it’s probably posturing the band towards the 00’s New York scene with The Rapture and LCD Soundsystem, and away from the decade of UK post-punk revivalism, but Kapranos is keen to stay away from associating himself with any particular group, “I was part of the underground for a long time in Glasgow, where I was working myself to death for absolutely no reward, apart from being at the most amazing gigs that were happening in town,” he emphasises. “Franz started in my third decade of making music, so I don’t see it as being associated in my head with a decade, we didn’t just make one record and stop – it’s a continued piece of work.

“While you can tell this new record is Franz Ferdinand, it also sounds massively different from our second, third or fourth records.” He takes a pause, “maybe that’s it, maybe that’s the secret. You’ve got to be unashamed of who you are, but equally unafraid of going somewhere completely new and embracing it.”

During our conversation that sense of enjoyment keeps returning. After I ask whether he actively thinks about the reaction to this new sound while writing and recording the album, he tells me that from him writing “is actually a very selfish thing in a way, you’re writing to give yourself a buzz and that feels really great.”

He does concede, however, that in the past he was preoccupied with looking at album reviews once the record was out in the world. This time, however he tells me he’s been “psychologically very strong” and has avoided reading any reviews. He laughs and says that it’s got to the stage where he’ll interrupt friends who ask about reviews.

True to his word, he does the same to me once I say he’d probably be very happy with the reception. “The thing is, I felt good making the record. I put everything in to it, and we came up with something pretty original.” He already sounds nostalgic about the album, despite it being released just four days before we speak, “My memories of the record are really, really good and just having a good social time to laugh with my pals and that’s how I want to remember it, not through the filter of somebody else’s reaction”


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Given the five-year gap between albums, it feels pre-emptive to start discussing album number six but there is a palpable lift around the band – from everyone in the press, to fans, to the band themselves. Will we have to wait until 2023 before we speak again about a new album? “I hope not,” Kapranos laughs, “the band feels really great at the moment. I love being back, I’m literally counting down the hours because I’m desperate to get on stage.”

He does say though that he hopes they avoids the touring burnout this time around. He lists countries like Brazil and South Korea where fans repeatedly asks for shows; “it’s very tempting, but before you know it you’re spending two years on the road. I want to do all that, but I also want to get back into the studio and make another record. I don’t want this creative side to dissipate in anyway.”

Katie Hopkins sparks another debate over vile tweet.

Columnist for the Mail Online and scandalous television presenter Katie Hopkins again caused a loud social media outcry after posting racist tweet mocking Black Lives Matter movement and ‘’ Dear White People ‘’ Netflix series. ‘’ Dear black people. If your lives matter why do you stab and shoot each other so much. ‘’ Katie Hopkins wrote on her twitter account the other Tuesday last week. She later tried to delete the message, but not before the offenders had taken screenshots and shared the post, according to the Independent newspaper.

The American satirical comedy-drama ‘’ Dear white people ‘’ had provokes not only a  single public backlashes, it seriously heated up political climate. In simple words, despite all backlashes, the ‘’ Dear white people ‘’ was a huge success. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a rating of 92% saying. – ‘Dear White People adds a welcome new voice to cinema’s off-neglected discussion of race, tackling its timely themes with intelligence, honesty, and gratifyingly sharp wit.’. But the discussion is still seemed to be neglected. The ‘Dear White people ‘movie didn’t repeat the same triumph in Britain, than on its homeland.

The Screendaily wrote on their website ‘despite the many critical and commercial positives, the film has struggled to find industry suitors in the UK. ‘claiming that ‘the well-reviewed film had only found favor with four UK cinemas for a running total of less than £10,000.


10 Tips to run a successful student publication

The Student Publication Association hosted its annual Award Ceremony at Leeds University on Saturday 6th of May. It rewarded the most talented editors and reporters from 87 student newspapers across the UK and Ireland.

Epigram, the official student newspaper of the University of Bristol, was the big winner, scooping both Best Publication and Best Reporter.

The celebration of talented journalists in the making makes us wonder what it takes to run a successful student newspaper?

We asked Dan Seamarks, chair of the SPA and former editor of the University of Westminster’s newspaper, QH, to give us the key to a prosperous student paper.


photo credit: Victoire Bret

1- Keep your eyes to the ground. You need to know everything that is happening around you.

2- Don’t be afraid to rock the boat. Student publications are very important as they expose everything that is happening at the university and that can potentially affect the students’ lives.

3- Be diverse in what you do. Cover the news at the university but also sports, cultural events and social aspects of the life on campus. You should also cover interesting subjects that don’t necessarily touch the university: relevant news and important international events.

4- Work hard. Most of the stories won’t magically write themselves. When you have a lead you need to push it to gather the most relevant information and bring your story further.

5- Look at places that are not obvious. Don’t just take what’s in front of you, dig deeper.

6- The leadership needs to adapt the tone and management style to the different situations. Editors have to be strict and organised in order to meet their deadlines and produce the best editions possible. But they also need to be friendly and relax otherwise. Nobody wants an editorial dictatorship.

7- Be confident and get a thick skin. You are not always going to be liked. Your stories will almost always affect someone in a negative way but if it is relevant and in the interest of the readers you need to run the story.

8- Make sure everyone on your team have a stake in the work that you are producing. You shouldn’t dictate what reporters have to write and within the realms of possibility let them work out what they want to write about.

9- Build your network and use it. Networking is really important in journalism, it’ll allow you to access more information but also to bring your stories further.

10- Most importantly have fun! It one of the rare times in your journalism career that you can write what you like and what you want.

Donald Trump has never posted fake news online … or maybe he has

General election is a very important topic when affecting a country. Journalists have their say, users share their opinions online, but also celebrities decide to stand alongside their favorite candidate.


If you think a politician should be always trustworthy, reliable and most of all … loyal, well, you’re definitely not talking about Donald Trump.

Trump has always been very famous and active on social networks for his untruthful facts, exaggerations and incredible falsehoods.

Follow us on this round up of the most fake news the most hated men on the planet had happened to create for him to become the current President of the United States.


  1. The New York Times’ publisher and executive editor sent a letter to the paper’s subscribers promising to “rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times ” But the letter did not apologize to its readers, nor did it suggest its coverage of Trump was bad.

2. “The last [campaign rally] ended at 1 o’clock in the morning in Michigan. And we had 31,000 people, 17,000 or 18,000 inside and the rest outside.”
Police told Breitbart News that they estimated 6,000 people attended Trump’s final campaign rally at the DeVos center in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

3. “We ended up close to 15 points [of the African American vote, as you know.” (November 20 during an interview with the New York Times)
Donald Trump received approximately 8 percent of the black vote, according to polling data. Clinton won approximately 88 percent of the black vote.

4. Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 1.57.59 PM

Trump’s tweet is part of his argument that Russia’s role in election hacking remains unknown, but it’s inaccurate on two counts.
First, CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm that initially connected the Democratic National Committee hack to the Russian government, did catch the hackers in the act.

Dear Donald Trump, let’s fight spreading fake news together. What do you think?

QH sports team for the win


University of Westminster’s newspaper, QH, sports team won Best sports coverage award at the Student Publication Association Awards Ceremony on May 6th2017

The Student Publication Association, otherwise known as SPA, is the national body representing student-run magazines and newspapers.

This year’s award ceremony was held at Leeds University. Representatives of student publications were joined by a wide range of industry speakers, including Gareth Jones from BBC Radio Leeds and former Sun writer, Bill Coles.

Westminster’s sports team stand out from the crowd thanks to their innovative coverage of the university sports teams, strong exclusives with big name sportsman and a clear passion for quality sport journalism.

Check out QH top sports stories here:

Sports reporter Etienne Fermie was present at the ceremony and collected the award on the behalf of the sports team. He dedicated their success to sports editor Damian Burchardt.

This year was very successful for Smoke Media, Westminster University media team. They were shortlisted by the Student Publication Association for a record breaking seven awards.

Ahead of the event, Smoke Mag editor, Amy Avent said: “The whole team are ecstatic as this is the first time Smoke Mag has been shortlisted for a SPA award. It is a great way to end our year as the 2016/17 editorial team, and feel like our hard work is being recognised outside of the university.”

In 2016, both the QH newspaper and Smoke Mag had a makeover. They became regular monthly publications, and debuted new designs and websites. They also renewed their focus on local issues that are more relevant to students.

The involvement and hard work of all the Smoke Media team is also the key to their success. Let’s hope this year will be the first of many successful ones for the journalists at the University of Westminster.

The full list of Smoke Media shortlisted nominations is:

Best Interview – Etienne Fermie, The QHRohan Ricketts’ story: Meeting English football’s globetrotter

Best New Publication – Smoke Mag

Best Sports Coverage – The QH

Best Use of Digital Media – Smoke Media’s election coverage

Best Design (Magazine) – Smoke Mag

Best Design (Newspaper) – The QH

Outstanding Commitment – Amy Avent, editor, Smoke Mag

The Gender Neutral Movement

MTV announced that they will replace the male and female categories with “non-gendered” prizes for its movie and TV awards show.

Recently, the organisers of MTV awards have recognised gender- neutrality, and replaced best female and male actors with a gender-neutral “Best Actor”. However, there is ongoing debate on whether or not this is a good idea, as discussed in a previous WNOL article.

The debate about gender neutrality has been going on for years. Various academics have argued that gender identity is a continuum, and not a binary male/female. This depends on a variety of factors, including anatomy, chromosomes, hormones, and feelings.



Today, a growing number of students are accepting the idea that there should be more than two gender classifications, something that Facebook and dating website, OkCupid have embraced. Last year, Facebook added a tab for “custom” alongside “male” and “female,” with around 50 options, including “agender,” “androgyne,” “pangender” and “trans person,” as well as an option for controlling who can see the customized version.

Many believe that identifying as genderqueer is an opportunity to self-invent, unburdened from social expectations about dress and behavior.

Currently, many transgender students face difficulties involving gender identity, such as the inability to use bathrooms marked “men” or “women” for fear of a confrontation with a confused classmate and being accused of using a stolen student ID in the cafeteria because the name printed on it didn’t match someone’s appearance. 


Gender- neutral toilet sign. Image by:

This movement is not just exclusive to students and youth, but a growing number of British children, such as Caleb and Kai are being raised as gender neutral. Their parents Gabriella and Joe Haughton-Malik told The Independent that they describe their children as boys and use male pronouns, but don’t want their lives to be restricted by traditional gender implications.

Joe Houghton-Malik and Gabriella explains: “If they can dress up as pirates and Darth Vader and zombies, why can’t they dress as princesses? It would be a bit hypocritical of me if I let them dress up as someone who marauders over the seven seas, murdering and stealing things but I can’t let them be a princess.”

Gender Neutrality for Awards: Good or Bad?

It seems great that MTV Awards organisers are making the “best actor” award a gender-neutral category, as reported in a previous article. This propagates the idea that gender should be an irrelevant factor when it comes to talent.

However, with gender inequality still a prevalent issue in the entertainment industry, would it actually be more difficult for women especially, to compete for the best actor title with men?

Looking at all existing gender-neutral awards at the Oscars such as best director and best cinematographer, gender inequality is a very common case.

Kathyn Bigelow posing with her awards. She is the only woman so far who has won Best Director. Images by: Getty Images.

Only four female directors have been nominated for the best director award, with Kathryn Bigelow being the only woman to have ever won.

There were no female directors nominated for best director in the 89th Annual Academy Awards — and this is not a very rare phenomenon. Would this be the case for MTV’s best actor category as well?

Animation student, Jude, 22, said that if she was an actress she “would like to compete with males and females”. She told WNOL: “However, there is an issue of the awards being cut in half.”

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