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NaSTA Conference 2008…and the future

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All dressed up
I went to the 2008 NaSTA awards – likely my last visit – at the weekend. It was okay – silly, and was close by at least. I’m a cynical git when it comes to thinking what will happen in the future of the organisation (what that it is) however, but I won’t detail that until the end of my little report :) . See also; the gallery, in which I took 200 or so pictures, although I should have discarded some of the duplicates.

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Me!

I went down with my station, LSUTV, and we got as high as 16 people on the awards night. Leicester is near to Loughborough, so a thankfully short trip. The first day, Saturday, had us registering and having the NaSTA “AGM” (more later), and rather long OSTN talk in their union. The Golden Bodge (where the challenge is to make a short video in 30 minutes, with 3 pieces of mandatory information; a line, a subject and a genre) was sorted, kind of, with LUSTV somehow left out (shortly rectified), and some station not entering in the 3 items, which was odd (again, shortly rectified). Later was unpacking, and drinking in the hall of residence bar. After that, I drunk a little too much drink, and although I was fine all night until early morning, the next day was a doozy.

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I was up for some of Sunday…

Sunday started with Breakfast. I gave up on it after my headache really kicked in, and mainly stayed in bed all day. The Golden Bodge was done, sadly without me apart from using my laptop, although I saw they did a good job! Everyone seemed to stay in Halls for some reason, I have no idea what went on if anything during the day – none of LSUTV did either. In any case, the awards ceremony was in the evening. I was fine by then, and hungry too, so donned the black tie and went to a pretty good meal.

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Ore collecting his award

Sadly, the awards were in a different room, on uncomfortable chairs – a first, since usually it’s a dinner awards program which is a lot better. In any case, it was run through pretty well despite some silly in jokes no one got, and LSUTV got 2 awards – Highly Commended (2nd place) in Best Ident, and Ore Oduba got Best Male! The other shows that did win were very good from what I saw in the clips too. Shame there were almost no good recipient speeches, and no drinks allowed to be taken into the ceremony!

The night was still young so it was down to one of the unions bars for the best part of the night, then back to halls to finish up. Actually got to sleep much earlier, and didn’t drink as much, so felt fine.

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Balloons populated the Monday meeting
Monday was the clearing up; this was basically packing after breakfast, then a rather long meeting – with “Nasties” given out (random in-joke awards or station-centric things mainly), and a BBC presentation from the Technology and R&D section. Interesting stuff actually. Then there was the Golden Bodges – for some reason, unlike all previous years, no voting was involved (?) and I wanted the “Silent Film” to win, although GUST won with a few very unique scenes.

And that was that – we got back to Loughborough and I’m back now :)

All in all – I had some fun, although Sunday in bed was my own fault – the awards were okay, the dinner was great, and the dancing on Sunday was awesome. I’ll be cynical below, so stop reading now if you don’t care.

NaSTA’s future

Okay, now the report is out of the way, I want to be cynical and optimistic :)

LUST’s work on NaSTA had good and not so good things – it’s great they organised a BBC talk, got NaSTA a separate bank account, and did put on a 3 day event with a small team. However, they also failed to provide much to do during the day unless Sunday really had a lot more planned, and the awards night segregation (the one thing that should be the easiest to work) was poor. This cost a lot too – £138.50 for the full thing, while Warwick was £100, and Leeds was £90 for the same amount of time. They also didn’t change the dreaded “constitution” and organisational structure of NaSTA – something that is the main lacking part.

And now, although Loughborough proposed to host it next year (although we didn’t sell it very well) now Southhampton, a new TV station, is. This might be…problematic. No other station wanted it though, so there we go.

A little history…

The problem I’ve seen (having been at Loughborough when it hosted it) is that, as an organisation, it is only held up by the station that runs the coming years conference. And, until a few months before that conference (January or so) little or no action is done by the hosts regarding meetings or communication – like it or not, summer holidays are not prime times for it, I’d agree!

So, in 2005, Loughborough did propose a constitution. I saw it, although I couldn’t find a copy – it was “struck down”, and the reason given was the huge changes it would have done, such as shockingly making it an actual organisation. There were some disagreements, and that was that – the person who drafted it gave up at this point, really, and it wasn’t brought up again.

Next year, Leeds (and whoever else) drafted a constitution. A new one, 3 pages long. It was basically (with spelling mistakes) how to run the conference. I’ve uploaded it, since I can’t find it on the NaSTA site. This was a poor attempt at working the organisation into something, although obviously had little resistance – it was basically changing nothing! It barely formalised the decision making processes and finances/affiliation and mainly laid out how to run the conference.

So, this is what the organisation is run under. This has led to some problems; affiliation fees are the only barrier to a station joining, so in 2006 we had Matt & Ian TV, who won awards despite being only 2 strong (and not a union-run student TV station). Some people got angry at this – they wanted to change the constitution to ban this kind of thing. Hmm. It’s a bit reactive, compare to proactive, in the meeting department.

The future…

The lack of a structured committee is always a failing point. There of course is not enough money for a paid position (yet!) but the SRA has an unpaid committee. A committee can actually work over a number of years and have proper structure and handover techniques, as well as a formalised decision making process and a good, consistent, point of contact.

Without it, I don’t see the NaSTA’s getting any better, sadly! A station needs to push an enormous amount of resources, and if it can’t handle it, we have 3 days of pretty much nothing but the ceremony, and an organisation who’s sole aim is to only put on the ceremony and not help in contacting the industry or indeed doing much between stations apart from the fateful weekend. It could have easily got to the point of the SRA’s by today, I’d say, at least structurally – if the original constitution or a variant was accepted.

I also find it amusing that with so many new stations (a good thing!) they are not altering the submission guidelines this year. There might be over 20 stations putting in entries for the categories – all 17 of them – and one judge “from industry” doing each one (hopefully specialising at least a bit in the field they’re judging). It becomes unworkable since the deadline for submissions and the time of the event is so short, the judges will eventually start skipping parts or not judging fairly to simply give a result, if they’re not doing this already.

This is why nominations could be a step forwards. A judging panel – either of industry people, or some other formal way, decides which of the entries are worth putting in to be judged. These nominations are already the top 5 (or whatever) of their field – something to be proud of! Then the judges just needs to pick a single winner. With a low amount of entries, this would make it easier to get judges, and also more interesting at the event – the programs can put in a bigger clip so people who didn’t view them beforehand can know what they are, and the show is cut down on time. It also will help if it gets too big, that there needs to be limits on station numbers – people who didn’t get nominated would get less potential tickets then those that did, or something.

In any case, it’ll be not changing soon unless Southampton really work on it. I’m all the more cynical because I’ve seen 4 of the conferences, and in that time a lot more stations have popped up – some of which wonder, “What’s all the fuss? It isn’t doing much for our affiliation fee…” – especially so for the small stations, where the fee is a major part of their budget!

I’ll possibly see what NaSTA are up to next year and see if they’ve improved. It’ll be tough from here on out for the organisation, to get anywhere near what the SRA or other student media groups, if the mentality isn’t to change and get some better structure sorted. Doing work now would help a great deal in the future too!

If anyone disagrees or knows more, I’m happy to take rebuttals. It’d be good to know I’m wrong, really really good! I’ve just researched it enough to know that I’m willing to put this down as the truth, sorry :(

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