Film Review: The Fourth Estate

Cast your mind back to 2011 and think about which news stories dominated the headlines that year. The phone hacking scandal should be one of the things that pop into your head. The intense and rigorous scrutiny of the media that was prompted by the scandal was momentary and the dust settled fairly quickly. The Fourth Estate, a new no-holds-barred documentary directed by Lee Salter, examines the people and practises of the media industries and shows us how, post-Leveson, its flaws and inadequacies are not as few and far between as is let on.

The documentary is split into nine sections, starting appropriately with ‘Business’, that includes a definition of the term ‘political economy’. This approach works very well as it allows the viewers to draw their own connections and link ideas together as the documentary progresses. Though the approach may seem ‘scattergun-like’ to some, it actually makes for a reasonably coherent film. There is a lot of ground covered in the space of 90 minutes, with topics ranging from the history and business of the press, politics, representation and of course, journalists.

Contributors include Goldsmith University Professor Dr. Natalie Fenton, author and writer Laurie Penny, Chair of the Media Reform Coalition Des Freedman, Goldsmiths University Professor James Curran and The Guardian’s Joseph Harker.

In addition to exploring the media business as a whole, and those who run it, the film also offers an insight into the challenges that many journalists (new or otherwise) may face at work particularly at the hands of their editors. Former Daily Star reporter Richard Peppiatt recalls his experience working at the tabloid paper as one where he felt uncomfortable with some of the things he was asked to do, and the way he was asked to cover certain stories. He particularly took issue with the paper’s coverage of Islam.

The way minority groups are portrayed in the media has a huge impact on the way society views them and the film deals this topic in a frank and thoughtful way. A sizeable portion of it is devoted to issues of gender, race and class representation and it is good to see the subject of transgender representation mentioned, however brief (considering that there simply isn’t enough time to discuss everything in detail). One of the film’s pleasant surprises is a spoken word piece called ‘Cog’ from the lovely poet and actor Deanna Rodger. It is very effective, although it goes on for a little while.

The documentary does a fantastic job showing how problematic the UK’s media business is and insists that it needs to take a good look at itself and do a lot better. The influence of the media means that it affects the way we experience the world, and the documentary highlights the link between political power, financial power and representation.

It also makes it clear that although all these problems and issues exist, there is still hope for the press to become truly independent and critical outlets for the public (rather than acting as propaganda tools with often little regard to public interest) and the media business to operate with a lot more integrity and dignity than it currently does. It’s an important watch for media and journalism students especially. The main message I took away from the documentary is that, as shitty and corrupt as the media industry can be, change is possible and the next generation of editors, reporters and journalists can be a part of it.

For more information about the documentary, check out the Fourth Estate website and follow its social media profiles for updates on further screenings.

Bloggers Love Fashion Week

Bloggers Love Makeover Table

Last month I was invited to the third season of Bloggers Love Fashion Week, which took place on 25th and 26th March at the ever-so-cool Fourth Floor studios in East London. #BLFW is one of the hottest blogger events around and is sure to satisfy all your fashion and beauty cravings. I attended Day 1 of the event with my friend Athira (she blogs here) and discovered some fab brands which I’ll share with you below…Joe Browns

Joe Browns is the perfect brand for those who are after something a bit different to what the high street offers. The brand takes inspiration from all over the world and the bold patterns and colours and unique silhouettes are definitely eye-catching. I love the brand’s Spring Summer 15 collection, which I thought had a vintage and kitsch kind of feel. Joe Browns is also available at Debenhams.

Norenzo jewellery 2

Norenzo jewellery

I had the pleasure of meeting Sabreena, the owner of Norenzo Jewellery and her friend Heather who were both lovely. Sabreena’s gorgeous handmade pieces will add the finishing touch to almost any outfit and I wanted literally everything on the table!

Gossimar Wings jewellery bath tub

Before we move on, how cool is this setup? Online jewellery boutique Gossimar Wings specialises in statement/fashion pieces and is the perfect choice for anyone who’s after affordable, show-stopping jewellery.

Iris Sandals 2

IRIS is a luxury sandal and accessory brand that epitomises elegance and individuality. Specialising in handmade embellished leather designs, I really love the colours and details of each piece and think we’ll be seeing a lot more of IRIS very soon.


If you’ve always wanted to design your own custom jewellery, then you’ll absolutely love Mink & Stone. Founder and creative director Miisa demonstrated on her iPad how easy it is to design pieces on the Mink & Stone website. I was impressed by the massive selection of materials to choose from (which includes beads, stones, crystals and more) and love how accessible, simple and fun Mink and Stone makes the process of designing your own jewellery.

Niki P 2

NIKI P bags and silk scarves are truly unique and show stopping. The pieces’ distinctive designs and prints are hand drawn by Niki herself and made with high-quality fabrics which are combined with 100% leather.

Just Trade 1

Just Trade 2

Sophie Todd and Sophie Hearne from Just Trade

Just Trade is an online shop that sells fair trade ethical jewellery. The company collaborates with producers in Peru, India and Ecuador to produce jewellery. Fun fact: See the cute rabbit and badger pendants in the top photo? They were carved from Tagua nuts from Amazon rainforest. Cool, huh? I was drawn to Just Trade’s pieces because they seem a bit different and I like that they’re quite characteristic. The fact that the jewellery is fair trade is a bonus too!

Tuff Love

TuffLove top SplashTextile designer Naomi Tuffery founded her company Tuff Love two years ago after she graduated with a degree in Textiles and Surface Design. She specialised in print design and sells silk scarves, tops and accessories through Tuff Love. Naomi’s tops (above) were a big hit on the night and it’s easy to see why. I was very kindly given one at the event (thank you Naomi <3) and can’t wait to wear it in summer. It’s so comfortable and I’m in love with the print. My top is called ‘Splash’ and you can order it here.

Overall I had a great time at the event and am looking forward to the next one. A big thank you to the brilliant Danielle who organised the whole thing. Be sure to check out Bloggers Love and follow them on social media to stay updated with their events and other bits they have in the pipeline.

My favourite #AdviceForYoungJournalists

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 12.17.55 I’m sure some of you were aware of the recent hashtag #AdviceForYoungJournalists on Twitter which started last week after financial writer Felix Salmon tweeted a piece he wrote for Fusion entitled ‘To all the young journalists asking for advice…’ His advice in a nutshell was “don’t do it”. Ouch. I like Vox editor-in-chief Ezra Klein’s response to Salmon which is, thankfully, less pessimistic and assures me I’m not doomed. Slate’s Will Oremus simply he advised young journalists not to take career advice from older ones. Some of the advice offered on Twitter was funny, some of it quite pompous, some of it was filled with enormous shade from those who presumably hate the industry they work in. But there was also tons of genuine and super helpful advice too. I’ve rounded up some of my favourite tweets below. Please read and bookmark this if you’re a non-white wannabe journalist because it’s brilliant. Me throwing my own advice out there. Writer Laurie Penny offered lots of useful advice, check out this Storify to see all her tweets. Here are some of my own pieces of advice, as a fellow young journalist:

  • Always be nice.
  • Be proactive. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you. Become a go-getter if you’re not already one.
  • Say “yes” to everything (or as much as you can) because you never will know what an opportunity may lead to.
  • Network. This might not be the easiest thing to do if you’re shy or don’t consider yourself the networking type but it’s good to get into the habit of it and build relationships. Maybe start by asking yourself why you want to network and come up with a plan and decide what your goals are.
  • Get off Twitter/Facebook/Instagram sometimes and go out and do/make stuff. Start practising journalism now. What’s stopping you?

I’m sure Salmon meant well with his piece but if you really want to be a journalist, you can. Believe in yourself, work very hard and don’t give up because now is honestly the most exciting time to be a journalist, regardless of what others might tell you.

On Jourdan Dunn’s Vogue cover

Jourdan Dunn Vogue

I’ve waited a long time for this to happen. You see, I love Jourdan. Growing up, I’d seen her appearing on/in several magazines but it was after I discovered her online cooking show ‘Well Dunn’ on Youtube a couple of years ago that a girl crush began to develop. Aside from her stunning looks, I loved her infectious, fun-loving personality and admired the way she has boldly spoke out about racism in the fashion industry.

So, I’m over the moon that she’s British Vogue’s February 2015 cover girl. It’s long, long, long overdue. Not just because Jourdan finally has her first solo British Vogue cover (considerably later than her white contemporaries), but because a solo black model hasn’t fronted the magazine in 12 years – not since Naomi Campbell in 2002. I mean, it’s kinda ridiculous/embarrassing isn’t it? The fashion industry should fully represent their audience and the diverse world we live in.

The announcement of Jourdan’s cover came not too long after The Fashion Spot reported that in 2014, white models had five times more cover appearances than black models did and several magazines including Vogue UK (shocker!) did not feature a single model of colour on their covers last year. Meanwhile, Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne both had two British Vogue covers each… *side eye*

I’ve never bought the “black faces don’t sell magazines” bullshit that is sometimes said by those high up in the industry. To me, it’s just a lame excuse to try and justify discrimination. I’m not a Vogue reader. The last time I purchased a copy was when Jourdan covered Miss Vogue’s second issue in April last year. Her cover this month is undoubtedly a big triumph and it’s incredibly beautiful. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another decade or more to see a model of colour grace the cover of British Vogue, but we’ll see. I won’t hold my breath.

Youth Media Summit 2014

06082014 youth media summit bag+mag

As someone who loves media, I always imagined that one day I would work for a major media organisation. I hardly considered other options. It was only recently that I thought about getting involved with youth media and possibly creating my own platform in the future.

Last Wednesday (6th August), the Youth Media Agency held their second Youth Media Summit at the BFI with 450 delegates representing more than 150 youth media platforms and 40 mainstream media. 

I was a volunteer at the Summit, which was very hectic but heaps of fun too and I would happily do it all again. Spoken word artist Samuel King opened the event with his brilliant poem ‘Fatherless Britain’, which was a great way to kick things off. The day was incredibly inspiring and delegates were treated to music and spoken word performances, as well as masterclasses and talks which were delivered by a range of youth and mainstream media. Networking and collaboration were strongly encouraged throughout the event, as these were amongst the aims of the summit. It was a pleasure to meet so many young people like myself who are interested in media.

I particularly enjoyed the ‘Careers in Media’ discussion, where three women from the BBC, Channel 4 and Creative Skillset shared their tips on how to make it in this competitive industry. Something that was stressed a lot during the talk was the importance of having a genuine passion for something and being proactive. It’s not enough to say “I want to be a [insert dream media job here],” you need to show that you’re passionate and produce your own work. Another tip from the panel: remember to actually share your work so people can see it. Don’t be shy!

It was great to be involved with the Youth Media Summit because the event showed me how important youth media really is and why it is vital for young people to create their own opportunities and showcase their creativity. If you’re someone who dreams of a career in media, start doing whatever it is you want to do now. Talk to like-minded people and share ideas, and never forget the value of collaboration.

Check out the tweets from the summit here.

Film Review: Beauty Is…

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 20.07.24

Beauty Is… is a new documentary from social activist and filmmaker Toyin Agbetu that thoroughly explores the topic of beauty from a pan African perspective. Featuring a number of interviews with a wide range of people including British rapper/poet Akala and British actress Judith Jacob, the film looks at how we ourselves define beauty and how black beauty is viewed by society.

The film begins with a screenshot of the word ‘beauty’ being Googled and the search results are overwhelmingly dominated with images of Caucasian women; no brown-skinned women are visible.

The risks of skin bleaching and chemical hair straightening are examined well in the film. Several informative insights are shared on these serious issues including those from professionals such as pharmacists and dermatologists.

As expected, hair is a major theme in the film, which delves into the natural/unnatural debate and ideas surrounding good and bad hair. We also hear from a woman living with Alopecia and her views on beauty.
I liked that there were a range of experiences and opinions shared by women and men while remaining balanced. It didn’t feel like the film was saying one was better than the other or more beautiful when it comes to natural or unnatural hairstyles, but more about confidence. Most of the men interviewed insisted they preferred natural-haired women to women who wear weaves or have relaxed hair.

The controversial issue of colourism is also tackled in the film, which doesn’t hold back on the light skin-dark skin debate. A woman with Vitiligo recounts a time she was asked by another woman what bleaching cream she used to get that light shade. Such an instance shows the contrast between a woman who is eager to get rid of her dark skin and a woman who is deeply upset about losing hers. We also hear from a woman who previously used skin-bleaching products who said she received more male attention when her skin was lighter.

The effect of the media, how it portrays beauty and affects our self-image, is discussed in-depth in the film, while other factors such as education, religion and relationships are also addressed.

I can’t recommend Beauty Is… enough. It’s a deeply thought-provoking, emotional and brilliantly executed documentary that will make you question and rethink your ideas about beauty. I think the opening shot with the Google search demonstrates why this is such an important film. Regardless of your race or cultural background, it encourages you to think about more globally about beauty, which is a wonderful thing.

Visit the Beauty Is… website to find out more about the global campaign behind the film and details about upcoming screenings.

Note: I won tickets to a Beauty Is… screening and debate at SOAS University courtesy of Brown Beauty Talk, a fab beauty website aimed at Women of Colour. Make sure you check it out!

The Vogue Festival 2014


Entrance to the festival

Entrance to the festival

Franca Sozanni, Naomi Campbell and Alexandra Shulman during the Fashion Legends talk

Franca Sozanni, Naomi Campbell and Alexandra Shulman during the Fashion Legends talk

The Vogue cover wall

The Vogue cover wall


I visited the Vogue Festival for the first time on Sunday. I’m not really a Vogue reader but when I found out that Naomi Campbell was one of the speakers this year I knew I had to get tickets. I have to say the entire programme looked very impressive (plus all the extra activities they had going on too) and I might consider going again next year. The final talk of the festival (the best was saved for last!) featured supermodel Naomi Campbell and Editor-in-Chief of Italian Vogue, Franca Sozzani who were interviewed by the editor of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman. It was fittingly called ‘Fashion Legends’. The two discussed how they built their careers, the issue of diversity in fashion and why Africa could be the future of luxury.

It was magical when Naomi stepped onto the stage. I tingled with excitement and lost concentration for two minutes or so as I was so busy staring in awe at her perfect endless legs and flawless weave.

Franca and Naomi are both funny, passionate and intelligent and it was inspiring to see how committed they both are to making positive changes in an industry they’ve been a part of for so long. It was interesting hearing Franca talk about Vogue Italia’s famous Black Issue which was inspired by the lack of racial diversity on the runways as well as Barack Obama’s campaign.

Naomi said she felt that things were changing in regards to racial diversity in fashion, and told Alexandra Shulman, “When we started this whole thing about diversity, it wasn’t just about the fashion shows — it was that the designers would then follow through and use models of colour in the campaigns, which is what we’ve all wanted to see.” She held up a copy of British Vogue and flicked through the adverts, showing to the audience the models of colour that they featured. When asked whether she prefers to be called a black model or model of colour, Naomi stated she generally preferred the latter term as it includes all (non-white) ethnicities.

Naomi revealed her upcoming projects and confirmed that she will design a clothing line after previously being hesitant to do so. “Hopefully one of the things will be out by 2015,” she said. She plans to release two coffee table books with Taschen later this year as well as an anthology of nude archive images taken by Paolo Roversi. She will continue working on TV series The Face where she is executive producer and mentor, and she will continue her philanthropy work in Africa.

Perhaps surprisingly, Naomi Campbell admitted that she still gets nervous today when working on photo shoots and catwalk shows even though she is one of the most successful supermodels on the planet. She cares deeply about using her success and accomplishments to help provide opportunities to others, which I find remarkable.

Talking about her phenomenal success, she said, “In order to stand the test of time you have to be someone who can change and reinvent yourself and you must have a personality! But most importantly, you have to love what you do in an authentic way.”

I was a big Naomi Campbell fan before my visit to the Vogue festival, but now I’m in awe of her generosity, charisma and overall fabulousness and love her 1000 times more. She’s a brilliant inspiration to women everywhere and thank goodness there are women like her in the industry.

All Hail Queen Naomi.


Food review: A Sunday tradition

Dish: Roast chicken, rice, peas, macaroni cheese and lamb

Dish: Roast chicken, rice, peas, macaroni cheese and lamb

This particular dish is a favourite in my house and my mother has been cooking it every Sunday for as long as I can remember. Every weekend, me my two younger brothers and my mother gather in the evenings to enjoy this wonderful meal. It’s something of a tradition.

The dish was presented well with roughly equal amounts of rice and macaroni with the peas spread over them both. The soft peas were cooked in a thick, gravy-like paste, which had a reasonably salty flavour.

The macaroni cheese was cooked as a round pie, with a slightly hardened layer of cheese covering the top. The texture inside is hard to distinguish. The fusilli pasta blended into the cheese completely however it was bursting with flavour and delightful to eat without being overly cheesy. The basmati rice, which we all know requires precise cooking times, was fluffy and not soft, sticky or overcooked.

The gravy, which was splashed over the food, was a product of the lamb. It was well seasoned and almost carried a sweetish taste, without a hint of spice or pepper. It complimented the food perfectly despite its consistency being a little thin. The lamb appeared well cooked with a dark appearance.

It’s only real downfall, if I can call it that, was that it was slightly chewy in the mouth. The roast chicken was pretty much faultless; soft and not over or under seasoned.

Overall this was a fabulous West-Indian dish that did not fall short on flavour, care and presentation.

The Future Is Exciting

Sorry I haven’t posted for a long time. In a way, I think that blogging break was good.

I’ve just began a journalism degree at the University of Westminster, which so far I love. This time last year when I was applying to university, I went in circles trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that I wanted to work in media. There were no uncertainties about that. Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, or where I wanted to be in five or ten years time frightened me.

Then, a lightbulb moment. Journalism. I should study JOURNALISM! I like writing. I love learning about the media etc. Sorted.

So yes, I WILL go to university. I will apply myself and work incredibly hard and meet new people and broaden my horizons and have fun.

Initially I had my heart set on a great London (but not really in London) university that was highly rated for journalism in terms of student satisfaction, employment rates and teaching. After a few months and some unresolved accommodation issues, I was forced to enter the Clearing process. This made me panic even though I was more than pleased with my college results. On the 15th October, I rang up Uni of Westminster feeling nervous as hell and… well, here I am.

Now I know that I made the right choice choosing to study journalism. The criticisms and negative attitudes towards journalism and media degrees don’t bother me anymore. I am quite aware that taking a degree in journalism isn’t a ticket to a six figure salary. Nonetheless I am doing things to kick-start my career such as seeking relevant experience, networking and of course, blogging.

You see, there’s a smidgen of self-belief in me that says “you will be successful and you will be a bloody brilliant journalist/ media mogul/ whatever else you end up wanting to do if you persevere, stay focused and work really hard.” 

I am the sort of person who likes to plan things, but 8 times out of 10 things don’t turn out the way I thought they would, so I learn to adapt and appreciate even though life sometimes doesn’t make sense. 

I’ve definitely grown to appreciate being a student at the University of Westminster. I will document my journey here as I pursue a career in the world of journalism and media. Check out my university blog, Tenelle Writes.

Something tells me that an exiting future awaits.

New Reads

Below are the latest issues (and first I’ve ever bought) of Ballad Of and TLG magazines. I try to limit the number of magazines I buy as I used to hoard too many of them! In this case though, its worth it as I sometimes get bored with celeb/gossip/style ones that dominate the market.

Each issue of Ballad Of is based on a theme and shaped by the work of contributors; it’s a great opportunity for creatives to get their work seen. Next we have TLG, the UK’s first magazine to promote underground arts and culture from a female perspective. Fans of street wear, electronic music and hip hop culture, for example, won’t be disappointed. I’m very impressed by both magazines and will buy them again. Check them out.

BalladOfcovBalladOf1BalladOf2tlg covertlgmag1tlgmag3