It seems like this has been the sole focus of my life for the past few months. Because it really has been my main priority and what I have wanted to be working on.

Now it’s all over, and I’m about to hand it all in, I can finally share it with you!

I would like to thank everyone who was involved in the project, and sincerely hope they enjoy every element of it and enjoy reading, watching and listening as much as I enjoyed creating it.

You can find every element of the project linked above in the menu bar, but in addition to that see below for the video, audio, online and print elements of what has been my baby for the past 4 months. Enjoy!

Online article

Print Article 





Justification Essay

Justification essay – Ria Wolstenholme, Digital Dating Danger

The concept of this project stemmed from an interest in the world of online dating. Initially, I wanted to explore how dating and meeting people has changed and evolved over the years. Whilst researching the pros and cons, I discovered the subject of romance fraud. Further research led me to Monica Whitty and Tom Buchanan’s works (2013) looking at the causes and consequences of romance scams. The authors were not available for interview unfortunately, but their work sparked an interest for me and helped me decide what I wanted the project to focus on. I decided to focus on the dangers of online dating, investigating the lesser known issues that people who date online face, in a creative but informative style.

Presenting my idea did not go as smoothly as I had hoped. As noted in my feedback, I lacked a sound knowledge and understanding of my chosen target publication. I had failed to really pin point my angles, which left the project somewhat open ended and inconsistent. After receiving my feedback and discussing the issue with my tutor, I took the advice given and decided to change my target publication so it was better suited to the direction I wanted the article to go in. Fine tuning my angles made choosing Stylist magazine a very easy decision, as I felt the publication better suited my personal writing style, and I felt the topic at hand.

With Stylist having a loyal 84% ABC1 readership, as well as being a weekly hand distributed publication, it was the perfect unique but current publication to have this piece featured in.

Making the project into something accessible and in keeping with the publication’s style was a challenge, but I felt through trial and error I managed to get it right. I aimed to have each element branch off from the main focus of the article, and have something new be shown to make it intriguing to readers. I wanted the online piece to be a little lighter, and more informative. The video and audio pieces allowed me to focus on a specific part of the story, with the video being a visual description of sextortion and the audio allowing the reader to hear Joanne tell her story. I felt this allowed for the story to have better depth, and gave the reader an opportunity to experience it in a different way.

Interviewees in the form of romance fraud victims were extremely hard to come by. Many didn’t want to rehash a painful time they had moved on from, or simply didn’t feel comfortable being in the public eye. However, by utilizing contacts of contacts, I managed to find a victim who trusted me enough to tell her story. I found Joanne* via Officer Tony Murray, who I in turn found through my first interviewee Scott McGready. All of my interviewees came from using the hashtag #journorequest on twitter. This was a great way to have people who actually wanted to be involved in the project get in touch.

I wanted each interview to compliment each other. They needed to remain balanced and concise but convey a slightly alternate angle to allow for a well rounded story and I feel I achieved that.

My responsibilities lay with protecting the identity and feelings of my victim interviewee, as well as using the sensitive video content I obtained from Scott regarding the sextortion video. Section 11 of the IPSO code (2016) refers to protecting the identity of victims of sexual assault. Although Joanne* was not a victim of sexual assault, she was a victim nonetheless.

In addition, section 4.2.1 of Section 04 of the BBC impartiality remit that states ‘We must do all we can to ensure that ‘controversial subjects’ are treated with due impartiality in all our output’ was something I took into account throughout the process.

This piece was made creative by the way in which the story was told. I utilized the visual element to portray the severity of the issue at hand, in particular using music and a slow pace to reflect the serious tone of the subject. I feel the piece is original in the fact that it isn’t just a sad story concerning a victim. It discusses their experience, and offers advice and insider knowledge from experts.

The project improved over time by taking on the advice and constructive criticism through tutorials. With every meeting I felt the project was evolving, which helped me analyze what needed to change in order for it to continue to progress. Developing a Snapchat style mobile format for this work I think would be really effective, as it suits itself to graphics and creative imagery rather than photography.

As a journalist I feel I have brought my own style of writing into the piece in a way that allows it to flow as a story. In addition, the online version of the piece which focuses on advice was a way for me to reflect on everything I learnt myself throughout this process. Making the project has taught me a lot, so I took a lot of care to include all the most poignant pieces of information in the hopes that the reader, like me, will really learn and take away from the piece.

After reflecting back on the process and path this project has taken, I feel that I made the most of the advice at my disposal. Through trial and error, I adapted my original ideas and used the tutorials to my advantage to keep the discussion going of how to make things better and fine tune the piece. I committed myself to getting the material I needed, travelling to the victim in Durham to make sure our interview was as sensitive as possible to reduce any risk of them feeling uncomfortable. Using contacts to meet other interviewees was extremely beneficial, and allowed me to create a concise and thoughtful piece which I am proud to have come to the end of.


  • Axel Bruns, 1970. Blogs, Wikipedia, Second life, and Beyond : from production to produsage.
  • BBC Impartiality Guidelines, section 4.
  • IPSO Code, 2016.
  • Shortlist Media Limited, 2016. Stylist magazine media pack
  • Tom Buchanana & Monica T. Whitty, 2013. The online dating romance scam: causes and consequences of victimhood.







Graphics vs. Photographs

Throughout the process of creating this project, what I’ve found most difficult is coming up with original visuals.

This is of course a personal account, and a story that touches the reader. But making it personal is not an option, due to the fact I need to protect my interviewee. So how do you visualise romance fraud and sextortion?

I have decided that infographics and basic photographs are the best way to visually display this piece. There’s a lot of information that I simply cannot fit into the article itself, so using infographics such as the one below is a really effective and easy way to kill two birds with one stone. It’s eye catching, conveys the tone of the piece and at the same time allows me to share additional information.

infog 2

I feel that this is the best way to not only fill space in the layout, but sets a theme for the project. Using a colour scheme of red, grey and white allows for fluidity to flow in every element of the piece. With this in mind, I created a project logo that I could use on this blog, on twitter and for the thumbnail photo on my soundcloud and youtube links for the audio and visual elements.


You could argue that by not using a proper photograph and focusing on graphics that the work is lacking in something. However, I argue that by not having the focus be on the story, and using a distorted graphic I created by overlaying photos together, is a nod to the fact that this story is all about not really knowing who you’re looking at. That the images you’re faced with appear one way but actually aren’t real. I used a picture of shadows against a wall, and overlay it with coding to create the double spread image for the magazine layout. I turned the whole thing black and white to add another dimension of unknown, as the two photos merge together even better when there’s a lack of colour.


To me, this represents the story. A story of being scammed out of your possession, through deception and a lack of knowledge.


Reflection: Is this working?

I have faced a few hurdles this week in terms of interviewees and my general self belief in the project. Like anything creative, there are always times when you start to doubt if what you’re pouring your time and energy into is actually any good.

After an interviewee changing their mind about being involved in the project, I had to very quickly come up with a plan B. One interviewee was supporting an entire element of the project, and without it I was very much left in the dark with no solution. It was definitely a lesson in planning ahead and looking at all the possible ways something could go wrong so you are prepared before it does.

That said, I utilised my existing material and contacts and managed to create a solution. Following a meeting with my tutor, in which I felt quite frazzled, I left feeling a lot more confident in both my ability to problem solve and my project. The niggle of doubt had gone and I managed to pick it back up and get on a roll again.

I knew I believed in the project when I found myself on a train to Durham, on my way to interview a victim of romance fraud. Yes, I travelled from Bournemouth to Durham for a 20 minute interview but it was more than worth it.

I made this decision because I knew that this was the core element of my work. Joanne’s* story was the reason for every other interview, and only confirmed to me the importance of the story. I knew that the only way to truly convey it, and the only way for me to treat her with the respect she deserved as a crime victim was to go and see her myself, in person. I wanted her to feel comfortable, and at ease. A chat over a cup of tea and biscuits was the best way to show her I could be trusted, and give her the best possible experience of having to unravel and divulge a story that still affects her which she is trying to move on from.

All in all, this week has shown me a lot about myself and my work. It’s proven that I am dedicated to this work, and I really do believe this story is important to share.

Can’t wait to share it with everyone else, and I just hope that they feel the same way.

What is romance fraud?

Lets get down to the roots of this project.

I started this project somewhat unaware of just how dangerous the world of online dating can be. From a young age, ever since the days of MSN and Skype being the height of communication, I was given a set of very basic guidelines to stay safe online. Don’t accept requests from people you’ve never met, tell someone if you think somebody you’re talking to is suspicious, and don’t engage with strangers.

These rules tend to go out the window, it seems, in the world of online dating. Which leads a lot of people into unfortunate situations.

Romance fraud is a way of conning people through faking a romantic relationship. Action Fraud U.K defines it as:

When you think you’ve met the perfect partner through an online dating website or app, but the other person is using a fake profile to form a relationship with you. They’re using the site to gain your trust and ask you for money or enough personal information to steal your identity.

A reported 3889 victims of romance fraud were reported in 2016, who together handed over almost £39 million to various scammers around the world.

I’m sure you can imagine what kind of emotional damage going through this can do to victims. Being convinced someone loves you, only you discover you’re being used for money.

This poster created by Action Fraud U.K is a great way to get the message out there about how to date online safely.


I hope you now have a better understanding of what it is I’m trying to investigate! Stay tuned in to find out more, as deadline day is fast approaching and there’s SO much I am yet to share with you all!

Stay safe out there, speak to you soon!


STYLIST Magazine: Market Research

Choosing Stylist Magazine as my target publication has completely changed the way I look at this project. The publication really suits my personal taste and style of writing, and I feel allows me to relax and let the feature speak for itself rather than try to conform it to meet a certain standard as to be ‘good enough’.



My market research for the publication has actually been very insightful and weirdly enjoyable. Learning about the behind the scenes facts and figures of a publication you love is like piecing together the reasons why you love it so.

Launches in 2009, this weekly publication which is distributed by hand is quite unique. With a predominant readership of professional women, with the average age of 33 makes this a very modern and forward thinking magazine.

Readers spend an average of 30 minutes reading the magazine, and 7 out of 10 readers are unmarried without children. People with time on their hands and an interest in this kind of feature.


Stylist’s approach to content is intuitive. With a focus on beauty, style and features, as well as regular content such as their Escape Routes and Work/Life weekly features, their dynamic is well suited to a feature like mine.

The subject they cover in their features is pretty broad, looking at everything from fertility science to whatever is the demanding subject of that week. It’s a consistent and rapid response style magazine, looking at what’s the topic of conversation and what SHOULD be the topic of conversation in the world.


Distributed by hand, STYLIST is handed out in the major cities of the U.K and Scotland. The publication reaches readers in London, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Newcastle.

The magazine distribution points are focused on mainline bus, tube, train and town centre locations. Ideal for the average commuter, this allows for a wide range audience and makes it accessible for everyone.

With an average readership of over 400,000, and 72% of those readers having stayed loyal to being regular readers since it’s launch in 2009, the magazine is arguably very successful.

Why it suits my project

This article is written for educated, professional women and men, which suits their readership and potential readers it could reach.

With the average age of their reader being 33, and a demographic affluent of 18-40yrs ABC  1 female readers, content like mine would not be overlooked, and is relevant and seen as important to their readers.

My chosen example article

Below is the layout I’ll be using to base my own print layout on. I love the double page spread picture, the simple but eye catching design and layout and the use of colour scheme in fluidity.

Stylist Magazine Layout guide




Pitch Feedback

So, unfortunately the feedback from the pitch for this project didn’t go to plan. However, this won’t get me down! I’ve decided to reassess my project plan, and reboot it.

Here is my handout created for the pitch.



On reflection of my feedback, it seems that my chosen publication just didn’t suit my work. I also needed to work on my angles, hone in on what I wanted the project to reflect and generally just sort it all out. As you can see from my handout, there was a LOT going on, with no clear cut angle. I was dipping into to many areas rather than focussing on just one.

With this in mind, I have decided to make the project solely about romance fraud and sextortion. It’s a very current subject and I feel it is the strongest topic for me to focus on. Additionally,  I am pleased to say that I will now be using Stylist Magazine as my target publication. The Sunday Times was an ok option, but I now realise that my work and style is much better suited to a publication like Stylist.

I’ve realised that their audience are much better suited to my proposed article, and the circulation of the magazine as well as it being a free publication, means that the amount of people who could hypothetically read it is much higher, therefore getting the message out about online dating danger much easier.

As for angles, I’ve simplified my goals, and made it so each element of the piece now links together. See the picture below for a look at how I did this. I’m old school, so I love to put pen to paper and us mind maps, colour coding and note jotting when I’m struggling to fine tune a piece. This has really helped me and I’m excited to get going!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

I’ve conducted two interviews so far, with some great feedback and a lot of success. With a few more in the pipeline, and my focus now resting on the design of the piece, I’m starting to feel much more confident in the piece itself and my ability to do well in it.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Stay safe.