Thursday, October 3, 2013


Susan, our unit co-ordinator, took last week's lecture. It was all about the multimedia side of online journalism and the many (many!) ways in which we can use technology to further our stories and provide more insight and detail for readers.

The most important thing to remember is that basic journalism skills - the kind that have been taught forever - are still the most important skills at the end of the day. The usual things: writing skills, good spelling and grammar, initiative and good interviewing skills.


Skills in multimedia are quickly growing in importance and having a strong handle on the digital skills useful for multi-platform reporting provides graduates with a distinct advantage; one that is likely to prove useful in the competitive and increasingly digitalised industry that is journalism.

If you think about it, that makes sense. Susan, quoting Mitchell Murphy from Fairfax, reminded us that "it doesn't matter how good the technology is if you have crap reporters." 

Perhaps what was more surprising, for me, about the lecture was the revelation that it doesn't all have to be whiz-bang. No professional camera-person? Take a photo yourself. No camera? Use your phone. Obviously, if the option is there, use it. But if you're covering a story alone, you've got to make the best use of the resources available to you. 

For many, this may be limited to a smartphone (most of us have them these days, right?). A smartphone gives you the ability to take photos, record videos and audio, and access social media channels like Twitter and Facebook for 'live-blogging.'

The trick is choosing the right visualisation for the right story. For some stories, a photo gallery may add nothing, but for other it may be just the thing to make the story clearer and more in-depth. That's where it all comes together: in finding the right piece/s of multimedia to take the story beyond words.

My favourite example is Quest Newspaper's Magpie Map.

Using Google Maps to mark where magpies are nesting, the map provides a guide for readers looking to avoid the swooping birds. Quest Newspapers encourages readers to send in their swooping locations to be added to be map, thereby also integrating a interactive element to the map.

I'm interested in pursuing music journalism, and it's interesting to look at the way multimedia is used in this sector of the industry. Nearly every story I've looked at focusing on a band or event includes a video, be it a music clip (usually taken from Youtube), a snippet of a live gig (which might be taken from Youtube, or recorded by the writer themselves) and a short interview or segment of an event (usually created by the writer and their team). These videos provide some extra context for readers, especially useful for readers who may be interested in the story but not familiar with the musicians involved.

Multimedia is an important part of journalism and its importance will only grow. It's exciting to see the way technology is being integrated into online journalism, and something I'll surely have to keep on top of as I venture out into the industry.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Vox pop with students Siobhan O'Brien and Alex Bissell: Both have had Facebook throughout their high school years

A sixteen-year-old schoolgirl’s critique of the phenomenon of sexualised ‘selfies’ online has sparked fresh debate over the reasons and ramifications for teenage girls posting sexy selfies on social media websites.

Olympia Nelson sent an essay on the online popularity contest for ‘likes’ driving girls’ to post sexualised images online to The Age.

The essay was published in July and generated an immediate and ongoing response online across social and mass media.

Debate has continued among teenagers and adults about the causes and consequences of these images.
Primary and secondary school teacher Debbie O’Shea has worked closely with teenage girls for over twenty years.

Peer pressure is a significant factor

Like Ms Nelson, she says peer pressure is a significant factor in the decision to take and post sexy selfies.

“I think the mind set of these girls is that it is easy to do and everyone is doing it so it must be okay. They think ‘What harm can it do?’ They are under great social pressure to conform by posting the selfies. They get more attention; they are more popular with the cool girls and many of the boys. Their self-concept is often tied to this,” Ms O’Shea said.

Nineteen-year-old Siobhan O’Brien has grown up alongside her peers in an online environment where sexual images are common.

She also says conformity is the driving cause for the images.  

“I think we live in a really sexualised culture so I think that the drive comes from the girls wanting to fit into that culture…

“It’s a very kind of predetermined type of sexuality so it might not work for all girls and they might be boxed into this one idea perpetuated by the selfie culture,” Ms O’Brien said.

Concerns about long term consequences and safety

The practice of posting sexy photos on social media has also raised concerns about safety and privacy and long term consequences.

Ms O’Shea says once something is on the internet it is there forever, something that girls may come to regret in the future.

“It may work against them to create a ‘slut’ reputation; it may prevent them getting a job as most employers search social media to vet future employees; family and close friends may be hurt by the image. The future consequences could well be quite serious,” she said.

Ms O’Brien says her problem was not the images themselves, but rather strangers accessing them.

“I think that it’s a new way of girls interacting with sexuality and owning their sexuality but I think there is an issue with posting online where people that they might not want to see them can see them and access them. They don’t have a lot of control over who sees them,” she said.

Nineteen-year-old Greta Nelles has also watched her peers mature online, and like Ms Nelson she says the increasingly sexualised selfies can cause competition between girls.

“It makes girls really competitive with one another and think that they have to outdo each other in terms of how they look and how they dress … that opens up a whole other world to bullying,” she said.

Ms O'Shea says she hopes the trend will fade.

"It's one of the current very strong forms of peer group pressure ... In the long run respect, friendship and even sexuality is something that's not reliant on particular selfie images.”

TWEET: Schoolgirl’s critique of sexual selfies sparks fresh debate over reasons and ramifications for teenage girls posting sexy selfies on social media.

(126 characters)

Sunday, September 15, 2013


A trio of savage zombies stormed the KJB222 Online Journalism 1 lecture theater this morning. The lecturer was dragged from the room as terrified students looked on.

Consequently, this week's blog post comes in the form of a breaking news video Alessia and I made in our tutorial on the morning's events, featuring an interview with an eye-witness (uh, me) and first-hand footage recorded on an iPhone as the incident unfolded. I think you'll agree it makes for compelling viewing.


Monday, September 9, 2013


If there's one area of journalism that has undergone the most change during the 'digital revolution', it's breaking news. Breaking news has become more time sensitive than ever, and the online environment has opened up a whole host of new ways for journalists to share stories with their audience as events unfold.

This morning our guest lecturer was Marissa Calligeros, breaking news journalist at brisbanetimes.com.au. It was really exciting to have Marissa share her experience with us and for someone so young she had a wealth of knowledge to share.

Perhaps the most important objective of breaking news in an online world is to break news first - and stay ahead. Marissa works to the motto of making sure brisbanetimes.com.au has the latest on the biggest stories of the day. Essentially, the 6pm news should become redundant.

Aside from speed (which, let's face it, has been done to death on this blog), Marissa talked us through the ins and out of covering breaking news.

Often, she'll be covering a story on the scene and that means filing stories on an iPhone or iPad (ironically, I had to use my phone to take notes in the lecture this morning after forgetting my book). Covering breaking news can tend to be a one-man job, so it's important to be across everything. Phones can be used to take perfectly fine photos and videos, but a decent camera will always be preferable. Aside from the usual journo staples of a notepad and a recorder, one of the best tips I picked up from Marissa is how incredibly useful phone apps can be for journalists. Aside from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram which can be updated on the go, there are radio apps to keep a track of other news and apps like Evernote for writing or Qik for video-sharing.

Marissa also encourages us to think about how our stories could be best communicated. Big breaking news stories tend to be covered by a number of different news outlets, so offering an immersive, more complete, reader experience can give you an edge over the competition. This might include:
  • A livestream video
  • A live blog
  • An embedded Twitter feed
  • A Google map or photo gallery
  • Reader comments
  • Poll questions
  • A video VOX pop
  • Video or audio coverage
Breaking news is an exciting and fast-paced area of journalism, and the online environment has only served to further increase the intensity and demand. It isn't something I'd really considered pursuing, but my interest has been piqued by Marissa's lecture.


Saturday, September 7, 2013


Natalie Bochenski, the arts/entertainment reporter for brisbanetimes.com.au, talked us through the emerging online news trend that is live-blogging/live-tweeting in yesterday's lecture. With twerking and porn-references galore, Natalie was thoroughly engaging and entertaining, and fortunately I'm not feeling quite as apprehensive as I was beforehand about our live-blogging assessment next week. 

Earlier this week, I decided to 'practice for my test' by live-tweeting an episode of Gilmore Girls. Admittedly, a political speech or a reality show grand final may have been more suitable for the exercise, but wherever I can fit some Gilmore Girls into my life, I will. So, get excited for a play-by-play of Tuesday night's intense live-tweeting, interspersed with some of Natalie's best and most important tips:

Live-tweeting is still new. Journalists are still woking out the best ways to reach audiences through live-tweeting and at the moment, there aren't a lot of rules. What remains as important as ever in the news industry, though, is the truth. Make sure what you're putting out there is correct, because sure-as-sunrise, lies will travel faster than the truth.

Re-iterating the above point, Natalie says you should always choose accuracy over speed. Yes, we want to be as quick as possible and get the scoop, but it is worth taking the time to make sure it is correct. Or it will come back to bite you!

Tweeting provides the opportunity to make news sharing a bit more fun. You're able to delve into a more 'media rich' landscape than usual. Use hashtags and provide links. There's also room for a bit more humour, if it suits what you're covering, to keep things interesting. And interact with your audience! That's the beauty of Twitter. It can become a conversation.

Keep it brief. Filter out what isn't important. News values are just as important with tweeting, so keep things relevant. Your audience wants the need-to-know facts, and it's your job to get rid of the clutter and make it clear what is most important.

You're a journalist first, so make sure you aren't neglecting those duties for the sake of tweeting. For example, at a press conference or something similar, journalists still need to be asking questions and getting all the information they need. You need to be proficient at that before Tweeting.

So, in summary: keep it relevant, keep it brief, include hash tags and links, keep it interactive, don't be afraid of humour, make sure the facts are right and choose accuracy over speed.

(Does it weaken or strengthen my case if I admit that I realise I only used about two of those tips in my live-tweeting practice? I got caught up in the drama.)

Do you feel informed about Gilmore Girls? I hope so. I hope you feel 100% on top of it.

Also, one of my favourite bands favourited a bunch of these Tweets, so we can definitely call the whole thing a success.


Sunday, September 1, 2013


This morning's lecture on the future of 'modern journalism' came courtesy of brisbanetimes.com.au editor Simon Holt. Talking the profitability and readability of journalism as it adjusts to the digital age, Simon's lecture was thought-provoking and kind of inspiring - surely that wasn't just me? I left the room amped up about entering the journalism industry and excited about the challenges I'll face and innovation and creativity I'll need to get my stories out there and finding an audience.

Simon is of the opinion that within a few years, daily newspapers will be close to non-existent, with online sources providing all the weekday news. He believes weekend papers will still be around, though, and I agree. It's a lifestyle thing - we're busier than ever and where we can save time we will. Online news is convenient and quick and you can read what you want: perfect for a work day. There are still plenty of people who enjoy having a long breakfast and settling down with a print paper for a decent read, and more often than not, that occurs on a weekend. It makes sense when you think about it.

Slightly murkier, however, is the idea of print magazines versus online magazines. Rolling Stone's Eric Bates notes that "magazines are in a very different position to newspapers relative to the internet." There is an entertainment aspect to news, but at the end of the day it serves a specific purpose, and that's to share important information as efficiently and conveniently as possible. It can generally be agreed though, that magazines are far more skewed towards 'entertainment,' yes? As someone who hopes to work in magazines and has more of an interest in longer, feature-style stories than straight-up news, this is something that intrigues me - will I be working in print or online? What skills will I need to excel in these mediums? And what about the whole 'making-money' side of the industry?

There is a massive variety of strongly-voiced opinions on the topic. There is no denying that the industry is facing tough times. Barbara Rowlands notes that "challenging times lie ahead for magazines," and with "declining circulations, rising print costs and competition from free sources like Google, blogs and social networks, traditional magazines are facing a perfect storm of changes that are threatening the very model their businesses have been built on."

At the same time, Eric Bates' believes that magazines will survive because "it's portable, it’s high-resolution graphics, beautiful like an iPhone if it’s done right. You can read it in the bathtub or at the beach or during takeoff." This resonates with me because it's the tangibility of magazines that appeal to me, much in the same way that I've stuck with my paperbacks despite the convenience of e-books. Print has a one-up on digital in a few ways, and for print magazines to survive, these need to capitalised on.

As Samir Husmi points out, "Fail to connect with readers, and a digital-only strategy won't work either." He says a community of readers is the most crucial part of a successful magazine business model, and it's about assessing the most effective way of connecting with your specific audience. Editor of magCulture.com Jeremy Leslie agrees, stating "People like to say 'this is dead and that is living' ... 'It's not as simple as that. As with most new forms, digital will succeed in various aspects. Print will continue to succeed in others.'"

Almost every one of the magazines I'd love to work for one day have adopted a strong digital presence, but interestingly enough, none have gone completely online. Last year Oyster Magazine announced that they would be moving from a bi-monthly format to a bi-annual one, explaining "we will be able to continue to grow oystermag.com and our other digital properties, as well as focus on other exciting projects that we have in the works." Since then, the magazine's online presence has continued to grow, and their biannual issues have been super-sized and super-special, turning the print editions into something collectible that the Oyster audience can justify buying twice a year.

The story isn't quite as bright at Triple J magazine, which closed earlier this year. The company stated that "this gave us a chance to look at what we're doing with the magazine and we've decided to focus on the annual edition, rather than a bi-monthly magazine." The annual, for those out of the loop, is a super-sized and in-depth look at the songs voted into the radio station's annual Hottest 100 competition. A major Australian music event, it's not really a surprise that the Hottest 100 issue is the money-maker. Though it's (very!) sad that the staff were made redundant, the situation does demonstrate the importance of finding a niche and offering something readers can't get elsewhere - music news and interviews like those in the standard Triple J can be found online for free in thirty seconds, whilst a 100-song-round-up-with-specific-quotes-from-the-artists is something you can only get in the annual magazine.

For a budding journalist, such an in-depth look at all this might not seem terribly important. These kinds of decisions are made way further up the food chain! But if I want to write for magazines like this, then my writing has be just as super-special and super-interesting and super-full-of-points-of-difference if I want to be published. It's important to consider the audiences being writen for and have an understanding of what they will respond to, and dish out their cash for. And taking on that challenge really excites me.

Monday, August 19, 2013


This morning's guest lecture came courtesy of 612 ABC Brisbane breakfast radio presenter Spencer Howson. Possibly the most entertaining lecture I've ever been a part of, among the Dr Who, Star Wars and Mad references, we learnt some pretty nifty tips and tricks regarding the use of social media to connect with audiences - even when the medium you're working in isn't actually online.  

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the developing relationship between social media and news specifically, but didn't really delve into how it can be used to not only share news but actually build a brand and audience. Given that I'm a nineteen year old hoping to work in music journalism, this might seem like a bit of a cliche pick, but I honestly believe that Triple J has used social media incredibly well. 

As a national 'young person' radio station, it would have been almost impossible for Triple J to achieve the mainstream success that it has without branching into social media, but the fact that they've developed such a huge presence across such a wide variety of social media channels has - to my mind - been extremely beneficial in connecting with their audience when the radio isn't on. 

A few months ago the station ran a bunch of advertisements proclaiming themselves "more than just a radio station" and listing the social media channels they could be found on: InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterestTumblrYoutube ... it goes on. I think this is probably the best demonstration of what Triple J is trying to achieve - a brand that can be part of music lovers' lives however they choose to access it. 

Triple J Manager Chris Scadden summed up the success of the station's various social media channels in his yearly wrap, stating: "We've now surpassed half a million fans of Facebook [they're up to 648k now] ... making us one of Australia's biggest brands in that space. On Youtube, Triple J Like A Version performances clocked up hundreds of thousands of views. Our podcasts for new music and our youth affairs program Hack are consistently the highest rated for their genres in iTunes, as is the Triple J iPhone app."

Across the summer of 2012/2013, Triple J developed its 'Road Trip Relay' website, using Instagram as its primary source for submissions. The app was described by ABC Open curatorial director Eleanor Bell as "... enormously successful; it was one of the wins of this project. It's easy, accessible and people can do it while they're moving ... it's a really useful platform to integrate within the ABC Open site."

Triple J's Hack current affairs program is another example of the station's use of social media. Alongside texting and calling into the show, viewers are able to Tweet @triplejHack and respond to Facebook posts to contribute their opinion. What I hadn't thought about until this morning, though (thanks, Spencer!), is the fact that these social media streams mean the discussion can - and does - continue long after it goes off air, allowing readers to continue connecting not only to the show but each other.  

So, what's the point of this post for me, as an individual journalist? I suppose it's mostly about demonstrating how powerful social media can be, and how important it is, regardless of the medium you're working in. 


Sunday, August 18, 2013


A TEEN who allegedly rammed three police vehicles while leading officers on a two-hour chase through south east Queensland has been denied bail.

The 16-year-old Stockleigh boy, who is facing 15 charges, applied for bail in Southport Magistrates Court today after handing himself in to Coomera Police Station yesterday.

Police will allege he reached speeds of up to 140km h during a two-hour chase that started at Warwick at 10.30am on Sunday when officers sighted a vehicle wanted for an earlier evade police incident.

The teen allegedly rammed a police car at about 11.30am while avoiding tyre spikes set up on the Cunningham Highway at Willowbank.

Police said the youth allegedly drove along Beaudesert-Boonah Rd to Bromelton. He allegedly drove at an officer and rammed two police cars at 12.10pm when he avoided road spikes on Waste Facility Road at Bromelton.

Police will allege he then abandoned the vehicle on Kurragong Drive at Jimboomba.

Duty lawyer Bridget Patchell told the court the teen had gone off the rails this year after his family situation at home deteriorated.

He had been living with his father after the relationship breakdown but recently moved to live with his mother.

Ms Patchell said all his possessions were left at his father's house and he was driving to get them on Sunday when the incidents happened.

"It was a situation that just blew out of proportion," said Ms Patchell.

The teen's parents were visibly distressed in court when Magistrate Catherine Pirie denied him bail until a bail plan, including counselling and employment, was drawn up by Youth Justice Services.

He was remanded in custody and will reappear in Southport Magistrates Court on Friday.

Original story from the Gold Coast Bulletin can be found here.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Last week's lecture got off to a bit of a rocky start when the guest lecturer didn't turn up, but luckily Susan was able to jump in and save the day. We had a bit of a lesson in crowd sourcing and using Twitter, the right way, for finding and breaking news. Talking about the role of 'ordinary citizens' in the industry got me thinking about the changing journalist/audience relationship and the 'rediscovery of the audience', as I've heard it referred to - and how myself and other young journalists will need to prepare ourselves for this.

As a news consumer, the beauty of online journalism is the incredible ease with which information can be accessed. It's also incredibly easy to offer your opinion on the news of the day. Be it a Tweet to the journalist or news organisation, a quip in the comment section of a news website, or a lengthy blog post circulated around social media, there are plenty of ways for an audience to discuss and comment on the news with the authoring journalist.

Traditional letters to the editor demonstrate the fact that readers have always wanted to share their opinions, but the internet has made it so easy that it has almost become an expectation that a story is just starting its life when it it is published - particularly if the issue at hand is especially timely and relevant to the audience, or controversial.

At the same time, news websites are scrambling to attract audiences and find ways of making online journalism profitable and the most effective way of doing this is making the news experience as interesting as possible for the reader in the hope of attracting them to your website. I'm not going to go into search engine optimisation or anything too technical, but even simple things like providing information in a multifaceted way using videos, audio and images demonstrate how journalists have tweaked their craft to better appeal to their audiences.

The downside of relying too heavily on audience demands is the desire for 'light' or 'fluffy' journalism. Of course, there will always be an audience for 'hard news' but particularly with the influx of celebrity culture, there is a huge demand for 'lifestyle' stories, 'reality' stories, celebrity news and other topics that 'real journalists' may turn their noses up at. Technically, I suppose, there is nothing wrong with this lighter journalism, and it certainly has its place, but the way I see it, journalism provides a public service of sorts and I firmly believe that hard news is the most important news and must remain at the forefront of the industry.

I am inclined to believe that a good journalist can use these audience demands and expectations to better understand, interact with, and, ultimately, educate their audience. Being across social media has become a necessary part of the industry, not just for sharing news but also for interacting with audiences, and understanding how to make stories - even the difficult, confusing, dare-I-say boring ones - straight-forward and reader-friendly are important skills that I'm learning at the moment. The industry is only going to get more competitive, and having a thorough understanding of the importance of audience can only be a positive thing.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I was extremely excited to arrive at Monday's lecture and find that Trina McLellan from Reporting4Work would be talking to us about the changing ways that audiences are accessing news in the digital age. We're all aware that the internet has had a big impact on the news industry, but it's quite staggering to take a step back and have a look at the figures surrounding Australia's internet usage. According to the Nielsen Online Ratings for January 2012, we have the fifth highest level of internet penetration in the world, and The Australian Online Consumer Landscape found that by 2012 internet capable smartphone ownership was up to 64%.

It sometimes seems as though I can't go any time at all without being, in some way, directly connected to social media. Whether it's having Facebook open in another tab while studying, checking Instagram on my phone or the routine morning scroll through my Twitter feed, social media has become a thoroughly ingrained part of my life, and, judging by my various newsfeeds, everyone else's.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining at all. I love social media. Not just because I enjoy its capabilities - though that's surely how my interest was sparked - but because I find the role that these intricate networks play in our life absolutely fascinating. I first heard about Osama Bin Laden's death via a friend's Facebook status, and a 'Pray for Boston' Instagram post was the first I heard of the marathon bombings. I'll willingly admit that opinions of those in my Twitter and Facebook feeds have made me reconsider my position on political and social issues by considering them from different perspectives. Talking to friends and family, I know that many of them have had this experience as well, evidence of the importance of social media as a platform for sharing news and connecting with audiences.

Trina's lecture affirmed this, putting some solid figures on social media use. ACMA found in 2011 that 25% of 30-44 year olds had accessed news through a social media website, and the figure was 36% for 18-29 year olds. I wouldn't be surprised if these numbers have risen significantly since then as social media continues to play a bigger and bigger role in our lives. OFCOM also found that other news media channels are used less since social media's advent. Australian news watching on TV dropped 13%, and reading a national printed paper dropped 21%.

'Social media manager' jobs seem to have started cropping up over the past few years, and I honestly believe that by the time I graduate, 'social media', as a whole, is going to be an incredibly important platform for the news industry. As someone who loves using and analysing social media, this is a pretty exciting thought.  

Sunday, August 4, 2013


I'm virtually clearing my throat and looking nervously around the room right now.



Is anyone out there?

I've been blogging over at my messy little music/fashion/food/travel/art online playground for a few years now and though it's been a lot of fun, in the past few months posting has become slightly very irregular. As I move through uni and start thinking more deeply about where I want to take my career - and have 'YOUR ONLINE PROFILE IS SUPER IMPORTANT' shouted at me in each and every subject - my blog seems a lot less in line with where I am and where I want to be than it was when I was in high school.

So, I suppose this piece of 'assessment' has come at the right time. I could purely focus on getting through this with a good grade but I'd like to actually build this blog into something I can use beyond the end of semester.

So with that out of the way, let's get to the point of this post. I actually missed last week's lecture but I have a good reason, okay? I was driving back from Splendour in the Grass. It was amazing and worth every inconvenience it caused, and if you happen to be really interested you can read my write up here (shameless plug, ha ha ha). Despite that, I am pretty bummed because I was really looking forward to hearing from the lovely Nikki Parkinson of Styling You, but alas, the #qutoj1 Twitter feed and QUT Blackboard had to suffice.

My experiences with blogging have been wonderful. It's a great way to create a personal brand (linking to my blog in internship and job applications has often paid off), build a network of like-minded contacts (I've made friends all over the world) and develop social media networks and skills (Twitter and Instagram are my two current favourites).

The way Nikki has built Styling You - and herself - into a formidable business is pretty much my dream career so to be given advice on blogging from her is PRETTY COOL, if not a little scary when one looks at how long the list is.

  • Know your topic
  • Write what you know
  • Be YOU!
  • Aim to inform, inspire, add value and/or solve problems
  • Be consistent
  • Use words, photos, videos, audio
  • Write in first person
  • Tell a story
  • Vary your content
  • Work with your strengths
  • Break up text with images, lists (woah, what have we here?), sub-headngs and video
  • Shape your own message
  • Be the first to comment on news that relates to your topic
  • Comment on events that affect your industry and/or your customers
  • Build your credibility as an expert
  • Find your tribe
  • Engage on social media networks around your blog
  • Comment on other blogs and other social media
  • Start conversations 

Long list, useful information.

I'm not too sure how well I fared with this post but I'm looking forward to shaping this blog into something 'me' that I can be proud of.