A Critique

This is a short critique of this emotional history task by a fellow Journalism student.

You’re drawn into the story from the beginning, after listening to the first interviewee describe the moment they were informed of their friend’s death by drowning. You can hear the grief in their voices. In the beginning of the track, it’s a bit unclear what is being said. A small moment of silence before launching into the dialogue may be beneficial in giving the listener a moment to focus their attention.

The music conveys a solemness, although it a bit too saccharine for my taste and sometimes a bit distracting. I think perhaps an instrumental track may have been utilised more effectively. I thought the German drinking song was a great addition because it complemented what was being said and its rhythm allowed you to imagine the pace of the pallbearers, to picture them carrying the coffin.

One minute the second interviewee is crying because she’s scared she’s going to forget about her friend, and the next she’s laughing because she’s remembering things he did. This constrast was a bit too abrubt, so perhaps an brief anecdote about a funny thing he did could have smoothed the transition from crying to laughter. It was a good way to end the story though, on a higher note instead of a sad one.

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Audio Story Vision

I chose to focus on Jeroen’s relationship to the rehearsal studio because writing and playing music is one of his passions, and where there’s passion there’s sure to be a good story.

I also like the musical element. We’re accustomed to listening to polished, produced music so I thought it would be interesting, something different, to highlight the rough sounds of a rehearsal studio. I wanted to link the rawness of the rehearsal space sounds to the rawness of some of the stories Jeroen has about the place by incorporating the sounds of unloading vehicles, setting up and soundchecking, unproduced songs being played and mucked up, laughter and chatter to evoke the social aspects of being in a band.

The 1-minute length of the piece is also akin to the short lengths of some of Jeroen’s band’s songs, so I wanted to create a story that flowed similarly – with an intro that draws you in, building to a crescendo, then a finale that gives resolution to the story. I envisioned Jeroen’s words being the main feature of the story, with the ambient sounds and music to carry it along.

Access All Areas

In this audio story, Jeroen opens the door to his band rehearsal room at Kickstart Studios and invites us inside.

The Studios are located in a secluded industrial area in Wollongong. At night, when bands are there to rehearse, the dimly-lit car park and surrounding warehouses throw menacing shadows.

You might be vulnerable while outside, but this changes once you enter.

It’s cramped, dark and dusty inside. Old gig posters plaster the foyer walls and broken instruments hang from the ceiling. By the looks of it, these soundproofed rehearsal rooms and stained carpets could tell a few tales of their own…

But there’s an atmosphere of ‘esprit de corps’ – a sense of people coming together to do what they love – carried along by a throbbing undercurrent of bands exorcising and fine-tuning their masterpieces.

Easy Fix Ambience

I’ve focused on portraying my friend Jeroen’s key cutting, shoe repair and engraving business through sound because there’s some really interesting ambient sounds that happen there. There’s the jingling of keys, conversations with customers, different types of noisy machinery being used, and there’s also shopping centre sounds, with the hum of people talking and checkouts beeping.

The biggest challenge with portraying Jeroen’s work place through sound is that there’s vast differences in volume of each of the different types of sounds. The key cutting and engraving machines start off relatively quietly, but once the metal starts being cut, the volume jumps up in a big way. I found the trick to capturing these sounds without too much distortion was to adjust the levels on my audio recorder so that it would start capturing the audio at a lower level than normal. This meant that when the machine began cutting into metal and the volume jumped, it was capturing the sound at a normal level, retaining clarity.

For this exercise, I was also using a H1 Zoom Audio Recorder for the first time, so I had to get my head around things like using earphones while recording so I could hear exactly what was being recorded, and being aware of mic handling noise when I was adjusting the position of the Zoom, or when pressing the record button.

In future, when I know I will be recording sounds of varying volumes, I’ll make sure I do separate sound grabs of each type of sound so that I can have the levels on the Zoom adjusted accordingly.

Here’s my second sound portrait of Jeroen at work, with 3 sound grabs stitched together using Hindenburg.

News Stories That Draw You In

Photo by Sean Bonner

Packard Plant – Detroit 2012. Photo by Sean Bonner.


Multimedia journalism
is multidimensional, using interactive graphics, video, audio & text to draw you in and take you on a journey. The story is revealed by exploring the elements, putting together pieces of the puzzle, to find out the ‘who/what/when/where/how/why’. I’ve used Storify to curate some multimedia news stories with serious ‘wow’ factor like the Detroit Free Press story about the Packard Plant, as well as looking at how journalists use social media, video, text and online interactivity to draw you in.

Decline of Print Media Ignites Digital Innovation

Cross-media news

Source: abc.net.au

Print media is on the decline, but a career in journalism is still a promising prospect for those willing to embrace digital media.

Doing the rounds of cyberspace at present is a story originally published on Buzzfeed of a leaked New York Times internal report that reveals the media organisation is struggling to maintain relevance and success in the digital age. The report blames the organisation’s slowness in adapting to changing technologies for this.

News distribution today encompasses digital innovations such as on-demand video streaming, podcasting, blogging and social media, so it’s no longer just a matter of good newsgathering, storytelling and writing with integrity. Journalists now need skills in video and audio production, digital photography, basic html coding, blogging and social media (including etiquette and strategy), as well as an understanding of devices like geomaps, slideshows and interactive graphics.

As new media platforms appear, new skills will need to be learnt in order for journalists to operate within them. To put it simply and bluntly, it’s a matter of ‘adapt or die’. Australian universities have now expanded their offerings to include units on digital journalism.

For those who have embraced digital media, there are opportunities in local and international native digital news organisations, as well as in niche-market digital news groups.

It’s still too early for the data to confirm the theories, but it appears that sales of digital news subscriptions may be on the rise. Society’s need for news hasn’t diminished. While there will always be a place for print media, albeit a much smaller one, companies that readily adopt innovative business models for digital news production will find themselves better equipped to remain relevant and maintain their readers. It’s up to journalists themselves to ensure they have the skills to keep up.

Aggregator aggregates aggregation

The irony of aggregating content in a blog post about the ethical issues of aggregating content is not lost on me. However, as a journalism student, it is my responsibility to keep abreast of the trends and issues surrounding this practice.

As the different platforms by which we consume news are evolving, and the lines that once kept them distinct from each other are blurring, so too are the rules that govern our journalistic practices. We are operating in uncharted, or at best, murky territory.

It is argued that aggregation is a form of theft or plagiarism. A journalist has done all the hard work researching, compiling, writing and editing content that is then picked up by an aggregator to be presented via their own channel as “new content”. Often links to the original source are hidden, or content is rewritten or summarised to the extent that there is no incentive for readers to click back to the original. The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed have both been accused of this practice. Sometimes original sources are inadequately attributed, if at all.

There are still ways to operate ethically, particularly for those budding journalists wanting to earn a reputation for professional integrity and credibility.

Just Say No To Plagiarism

Source: enfuzed.com

This Harvard Law report by Kimberley Isbell is a must-read because it details legal implications and “best practices” for news aggregators using content that isn’t their own. If you scroll to the bottom of this post by Nieman Journalism Lab, you’ll find they’ve summarised the report’s “best practice” suggestions succinctly.

Steve Buttry is an Editor at Digital First Media, who, besides making an interesting point that news aggregation isn’t a new practice, has written comprehensive guidelines for aggregators in this blog post.

Essentially, what these guidelines all point to is that you should “link, attribute and add value” (Buttry 2012). What should really be “best practice” for journalists however, is to always write your own, original news stories.

Journalism Students Prepare to Face Industry Challenges

Issues that journalism students may be confronted with in their future careers traverses everything from media law, sexism and bias to the rise of digital journalism and an industry struggling to adapt to change.

Copyright issues with news aggregation is a topic of great contention, particularly as media law evolves with the rise of digital journalism. Discussion in the public sphere following with the sacking of New York Times editor Jill Abramson suggests that gender inequality in the media industry is still a problem. The quality and integrity of news published by media organisations with perceived bias and ideological agendas is in question. Then there’s the matter of a career in print journalism looking bleak as revenue and subsequently the number of jobs declines.

Thomas Hudson, 18, hopes to become a sports journalist and says, “I want to always be honest in my work. I’m strongly against biased and agenda-driven reporting. Trying to present all the perspectives of a story is the aim,”

“I don’t like injustice so I would not miss the opportunity to expose corruption or malpractice in sport if the opportunity arose,”

“My biggest concern is primarily the amount of competition for a sports journalism role. There are so many young journalists like myself hoping to one day find themselves in one the few coveted positions.”

Maneesha Todd, 18, would like to write for women’s or teenage girl’s magazines. She says, “I think that some people don’t take women seriously; they’re seen as preferring softer issues. You might have an editor who gives you women’s ‘niche areas’ instead of say, if you were passionate about politics, they might dismiss that because they don’t think you’re up for it.”

“I’m a feminist and I’m really passionate about changing things as well, so I’m  interested in creating or working for a magazine that creates a positive space for women. Positive messages. I feel like magazine culture is particularly harmful to the ideas about women and I think that getting some different perspectives in that space would be really helpful,”

“I still think that there’s a market for magazines. I still think that people like the whole idea of a tangible thing. I don’t think it’s entirely lost, but I think that the job is much more competitive and it’s getting harder because people are less likely to spend $10 on something they could get online much cheaper.”

Maneesha Todd hopes shake up magazine culture and bring positive feminist messaging to young women.

Maneesha Todd hopes to shake up magazine culture and bring positive, feminist messaging to young women.

Amy Starling, 28, would like a career in print and online journalism, foreign correspondence and investigative journalism. “I’d like to believe I’d do whatever was in the people’s interest, even if it was considered detrimental to big business for example. I guess a brave example of this would be The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald when he was approached by Edward Snowden. I’d like to think I could be brave like that if ever in that kind of situation!”

“My agenda is to conscientiously provide unbiased reporting – which is at the heart of true journalism. Rather than sneaking in my own bias every which way, I’d like to be the voice of people who perhaps don’t have much of one, though I think it would be an eternal struggle to hold onto your integrity and not sell out when the money is often with the big corporations.”

Breanna O’Neill, 18, would love to land a role with Disney despite criticisms the company faces: “It’s definitely a tough industry, and it is important to uphold the reputation they have worked to build for so long.  The demands of the public would be a major concern, due to the constant criticisms they face,”

“People are quick to criticise the company for perpetuating negative stereotypes of gender and race, however this really follows the ‘media effects’ model upheld in society, which I have blogged about. We cannot judge the company for a piece created almost 80 years ago that is correct in its contextual portrayal of the character. Critics are over-analysing these films to the point of stupidity.”

Despite being faced with these big issues, the number of young people enrolling in Journalism is on the rise and students are still prepared to continue with their studies in the hopes of attaining a rewarding career in the industry.

Meet Cosplayer Claudia

Dressed as Cardcaptor Sakura in a Lolita-style red dress, bonnet and pure white knee-high socks, ordinarily-shy Claudia Blanche is perfectly at home wandering around Wollongong Town Hall among Marvel Comic heros, Star Wars characters and other pop culture creatures brought to life for cosplay event, Comic Gong 2014.

Claudia, AKA cosplayer Cardcaptor Sakura, at this year's Comic Gong

Claudia cosplaying as Cardcaptor Sakura at this year’s Comic Gong

When not studying a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Japanese) and a Bachelor of Communication & Media Studies at Wollongong University, 18 year old Claudia enjoys donning anime character costumes and participating in cosplay events.

“I always felt like an outsider at school because I was interested in anime and manga. I thought cosplay might be a really great way to embrace my love of these things and also meet new people with similar interests. It definitely hasn’t disappointed!”

“My family isn’t interested in anime and manga, and my dad avoids situations where he has to dress up like the plague, but all my family are incredibly supportive of my hobby, whether it be assisting me in creating my costumes, sourcing materials or taking me to conventions,”

“My first cosplay was of Celty Sturluson from the anime series Durarara!!. She’s kind of like a female version of the headless horseman – an Irish mythical creature called a ‘Dullahan’ to be exact. I identified with her when I watched the anime series because we have very similar personalities. She’s an urban legend in Ikebukuro (the place she lives) and people treat her like a monster, when actually, she displays a lot more humanity and goodness than any of the people in the show. I really empathised with her because like me, she didn’t fit in,”

“Since I’ve come to uni, I’ve been totally overwhelmed that people actually think my interests are cool! I don’t feel like an outsider any more.”

Claudia’s mum Leanne Blanche has had any fears about her cosplaying allayed since accompanying her daughter to conventions: “I suppose I do worry sometimes, will people think she’s unusual? But I think once you go to conventions in Sydney and see just how many people do it, there’s going to be unusual people in whatever field you look at. It does attract some unusual people, but she has met such nice people. The whole vibe at conventions is really friendly and supportive. I feel really comfortable there,”

“For her it’s like being a pop star for a day. Everyone knows the characters that she cosplays as, they all want photos with her, so it’s a fantastic experience for her,”

“Last time we were at the Dendy, they had anime movies and it was a dress-up competition as well. She was in her Sakura outfit, and as we were leaving, we went past a wedding. The groom came over and said to Claudia “My wife loved Sakura as a little girl! Will you come and be in our wedding photos?” So she was in all these really beautiful wedding photos with the bride.”

Claudia has big dreams for her cosplaying future: “I plan to enter the World Cosplay Summit Competition in the future. Cosplayers from all over Australia and other countries around the world are judged on their costumes and acting abilities. The country’s best cosplayer then gets to represent their country in Japan at the World Cosplay Summit. I’m aiming to be that person!”