During 2007-2008 Live! has continued to use the winning formula from 2006-2007, as seen in the Best Bits from 2006-2007. However, we've worked to be more ambitious, more informative and have expanded the depth of our coverage of major events to include live webcasts.
Our growing audience has led to expanded debates on our discussion boards, while we continue to be one of the few publications to continue publishing over holiday periods. A combination of up-to-the-minute news, video features, exciting discussion and Live!'s unique brand of analysis has contributed to a doubling of our audience in the past twelve months.
At the same time, we've driven the local and national news agendas by breaking the story about the Kingston Student Survey Scandal, which was picked up by almost every newspaper following a BBC follow-up article, also being mentioned in the House of Commons. On the local level, we revealed problems with TfL's Student Oystercard system, winning an apology thanks to BBC coverage.
On this page we present a brief overview of our highlights from the year, followed by more in-depth coverage of the same and - at the very end - selected testimonials from our diverse audience, numbering over 2,000 visits per day from around London, the UK and the world.
This year has seen a number of big issues come up, with Live! leading the charge at both a local and regional level. Here's a quick list of the highlights, followed by a more in-depth illustration of our top coverage throughout the year:
- Being in the new Southside halls hours before it opened, revealing Southside was a shambles, with a follow-up video feature.
- With the BBC, winning an apology from TfL for Student Oyster problems, who acted on our complaints.
- Revealing systemic problems in the Union's finance department, which had led to money going missing. As a result changes were implemented immediately.
- Broadcasting a live show from ULU's mayoral hustings, and making the recording available.
- Exposing the National Student Survey Scandal at Kingston University, highlighting the futility of the survey and attracting national coverage. The recording and information came from another source, but we were the first mainstream website to report it.
- Comprehensive coverage from NUS conference, with frequent updates and a post-conference review
- A heated discussion about candidates in the sabbatical elections, as part of our elections coverage.
- Publishing a recording of an event which was held behind closed doors, due to last-minute censorship by the College. Recording devices had been banned.
- Coverage of the 2008 NUS referendum, the second one in as many years! This included a live debate between the ICU President and NUS President.
Live! has never been afraid to challenge our institution, Imperial College, or anyone else who happened to get our attention. Two main issues cropped up at the start of the year, with a case of blatant censorship and problems with the national student survey coming up in the spring:
Oyster - Over the summer an old article was resurrected, with many angry students complaining about the Student Oyster website not working. Working with BBC London, we received coverage on the local news bulletins and TfL issued an apology. The problem with the website was rectified reasonably swiftly afterwards.
Attempted College Censorship - Following complaints about an event hosting the former PM of Malaysia, known for his controversial views, an event organised by the Political Philosophy Society was restricted to Imperial people only. Recording devices were also banned, with people searched on entry and still cameras removed from the student newspaper, Felix. Despite the ban, Live! was able to get hold of a recording of the event.
National Student Survey Scandal - Imperial has long suffered from low scores in student satisfaction surveys, due to the ugly buildings and often hostile attitude of the College itself. However, Live! readers have quickly identified that the main reason for low satisfaction scores is that Imperial students were harsh critics, and should probably lie instead. We exposed blatant cheating in the survey at Kingston University, thanks to a Kingston-based protest site.
National coverage that followed:
Taking a Stand
It isn't always external influences that are the problem, but our own students' unions. These have never been exempt from our watchful eye, with Imperial College Union, the University of London Union and the NUS all coming under fire:
Media silencing - When our campus newspaper, Felix, was told it would be "unwise" to publish a number of articles, it printed a blank page as part of a principled stand. The only place to find out about two of the three stories blocked by the union was in an editorial on Live!, and a full article about money going missing. We didn't publish the third one, as the source turned out to be all talk and no substance.
NUS Anti-Imperial Stance - When the NUS president took a stance deemed to be anti-Imperial, she received criticism both on our discussion boards and in an opinion piece by a student from King's College, as part of our drive to get views from across London.
Live! has always taken a more political focus than some publications, and this has continued as our audience has grown. However, in order to appeal to broader audience we have looked to increase our coverage, providing more information to cut through the "political hackery" so prevalent in student politics.
Sabbatical Elections: We provided three weeks of coverage of the sabbatical elections, which achieved the highest turnout for many years. Starting with a brief biography of the candidates and their manifestos, our articles drew massive attention on Facebook. We covered hustings in an attempt to make them less of a waste of time, while some heated discussions allowed voices critical of the candidates and their campaign teams to make themselves heard. Despite the best attempts of the Union website, we were first with results, continuing our devotion to up-to-the-minute news.
NUS Conference: Imperial students voted narrowly to re-join the NUS in 2006, and Live! promised to keep an eye on what was happening in the national union. Our extensive coverage of the conference started with a preview of what was to be discussed, then highlighted the public factional bickering taking place. Thanks to assistance from the NUS press office were able to bring live updates from the conference, covering the failed reform attempt, discussions on education policy, Imperial's disagreements on higher education policy and military bans. Our coverage, including the final review, provoked extensive discussion.
London Mayoral Elections: We followed the London Mayoral elections, encouraging students to register to vote and asking the candidates for the "Manifesto for Students". Our coverage culminated with a live broadcast of the mayoral hustings at the University of London Union.
What People Say About Us
Live!'s audience covers students, staff and alumni of Imperial College, as well as a variety of student officers from other universities across London. Here's what a selection of those people have to say about us:
Victoria Gibbs, Medical Student, Imperial College London:
"Live! is a unique, lively news site with a real sense of community. The regular articles are objective with a hint of sarcasm that makes for an interesting read and often fuels passionate debate. The editor often joins in with the debate and it adds to the sense that everyone is welcome to share their ideas and opinions.
There is new news every day on a broad variety of topics whether they be on-campus happenings or UK-wide news. All the articles are relevant to students or affect them in some way and they are written in a knowledgeable manner and focus on the effect on students.
It never tries to paint any story as better or worse than it is, however with certain goings on around campus it is happy to point out failings and this is what makes it better than the official union website or UK news sites which are often biased and tend to misrepresent the facts. If only all news was reported in this way!"
Jennifer Morgan, President-elect, Imperial College London:
"Live! Is an absolutely incredible website. Not only is it informative but it's interactive as well. Probably one of the best things about Live! is that it is "live"; articles of a really high standard get put up within hours of incidents occurring, keeping students and alumni informed on a wide range of topics that affect and interest them.
But, it doesn't stop there! Anyone can comment on the articles and the discussion boards can get really heated with intelligent and witty debate that leaves you wanting to sit at your computer pressing the refresh button for ages.
There's more to Live! than the content however. It's astonishingly professional for a website which is maintained by students and you can get all sorts of information from it, such as the weather forecast or travel information. All the website is lacking is a health warning, 'Highly Addictive!'"
Chris Mullan, President-elect, Kings College London:
"Live is certainly the best online student news site I've ever come across, and one of the few student media outlets that has built a genuine community around it. It is the variety of articles, the courage to take educated opposition against it's own union & college, to let people from all the different views participate that helps make Live! outstanding.
An aspect of student life in London that many other student media outlets fail to adequately capture is also the pace of life, a problem Live! solves with it's frequent new postings of articles. The lively comments following particular outstanding articles is also one of the reasons I frequently return to the site. The discussion is (mostly!) educated, well informed, and elucidating, rather than the tosh and piffle that even the likes of the BBC receive.
I think the fact that I've heard talk of Live! as far afield as Bath, Nottingham and Edinburgh shows that Live! is popular well beyond it's own 'constituency', and is a truly outstanding and successful enterprise."
Chris Lumb, Honorary Secretary, City & Guilds College Association:
"As an alumnus who left college in 1961, and who is currently Honorary Secretary of the City & Guilds College Association - the independent Alumni body for engineering students in seven of the nine departments of the Faculty of Engineering - I find CGCU Live! a ready way to keep in touch with what is going on in the college, the latest news from both CGCU and ICU, and to gain a student perspective on current issues.
It may be invidious to suggest that it is sometimes more reliable that the separate sites of CGCU and RSMU, but it certainly can be guaranteed to have a lively outlook and to give news of college issues that will never be seen on the official College web site! It's informative, refreshing, always up-to-date, and a good read into the bargain."