CAN WE ALL JUST BE JOURNALISTS? #Aggregatednews

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In a world conformed by the media, web browsers, bloggers, tweeters among other means of buzz feed have been able to gain access to an audience that was once only available for professional, graduated journalists. But what really is our jobs as journalists? To chase the facts and display them around the world for public knowledge. As the web grows faster, so does our stream of audience. Our news, our discoveries become freed from its confines and are available to anyone, anywhere, at any time.  And this is very powerful.

Yes, this does leave a path for coming across bad researched news that has failed in some ways, like when Reddit users identified the wrong man as the Boston bomber in 2013, for example, or when a network of media sites perpetuate obvious hoaxes and misinformation because they care more about clicks than the truth, something Craig Silverman described in detail in his recent report for the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.

However, it’s not all bad. With the increase in network journalism, we have been able to gain access to stories and perspectives who would have otherwise been unknown to us. A great example comes via a piece in the New York Times magazine which is available online. It tells the story of a group of residents who live in one of the worst slums in Rio de Janeiro. A group that calls itself  “Papo Reto,” meaning “straight talk.” Armed only with phones, they have been documenting police violence in the Rio favela, at great personal cost, because the Brazilian media apparently isn’t interested.

Other news like these are often seen from places like Ukraine where it is difficult for media outlets to devote that kind of resource that would be required to document every sighting of every Russian vehicle, or spend weeks analyzing different types of missile, or the blast marks that they leave when they are fired from a truck.

In the case of the Rio favela, the existing media doesn’t seem interested if a few people happen to die suspiciously, since that happens all the time — but it is of extreme interest to the residents of the Complexo do Alemão slum, and also to human-rights groups like Witness, which is trying to help more “citizen journalists” document that kind of behaviour in similar situations.

Are there flaws in citizen journalism? Of course there are. Is there a downside to giving everyone a video camera and a Twitter account and telling them to become reporters? Definitely. But there is also a massive upside to doing so, Papo Reto in Rio makes that point.

WEB JOURNALISM, ON THE RISE? #Aggregatednews

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Controversies about issues like journalistic objectivity and fairness continue to rage in a world where press freedom is constantly under threat and even non-existent in some countries, where newspapers are drastically downsizing, due to web journalism being on the rise, taking many forms to shape what we call journalism today. Real questions remain about whether it can really uphold its standards and replace newspapers.

Among the pieces of conventional wisdom that get trotted out whenever the subject of the newspaper industry’s decline comes up, one of the most popular is that the internet is the main culprit: in some cases, it’s the entire internet, and in some cases it’s specific web services like Craigslist. But while the democratization of distribution and the atomization of content have definitely accelerated the decline, journalism professor George Brock argues that newspapers have been on a slippery slope for some time, and that what journalism is going through is a natural evolution rather than a disaster.

Brock — who runs the journalism program at City University in London, England — makes these points in a book he recently published, but also laid some of them out in a blog post entitled “Spike the gloom — journalism has a bright future.” Everyone has a favourite example of the decline of the industry, he says, such as the sale of the Boston Globe for 97 percent less than it sold for two decades ago or the massive rounds of layoffs that continue to sweep through the business.

It’s certainly easy to find that kind of evidence of doom, but I think Brock is right when he argues that “this picture of deterioration is one-dimensional, incomplete and out of date,” and that journalism is flourishing if you know where to look.

In many ways, Brock’s arguments are similar to those advanced by Business Insider founder Henry Blodget in a post about how we are in a “golden age for journalism” — a phrase that Arianna Huffington has also used a number of times to describe the innovation that is occurring in online media. Even New York Timesmedia critic David Carr described the current environment that way during a Q & A last year in Toronto, saying Twitter and other forms of citizen journalism are having a largely positive impact, despite their flaws.

COOPER; A life outside journalism

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Sitting at 1 meter and 42, Cooper is a handsome blonde male whose hobbies include daily afternoon runs, differentiating types of flora, such as grass, plants, barks and dirt. He also enjoys freshly poured water, long walks on the beach and any kind of sport that involve bouncing equipment.

No, Cooper is currently not a student at Wollongong University, but one day, someone like him might be. At 14 months of age, Cooper is feeling a little excited about graduating from Puppy pre-school into the next chapter of his life: He will now leave his owner Nick, and begin his intensive 20 weeks training course where he will transform from an adolescent into a fully grown, trained guide dog.

Ever since Nick learned that his uncle suffered from glaucoma (the result of abnormally high pressure inside the eye) and was slowly losing his vision, he began searching for simple things he could do in order to improve his uncle’s way of living.

Nick began to learn braille and with the help of his mother, they decorated his uncle’s house with braille embroidered signs, in hope that his uncle would slowly begin to learn braille himself.  Sadly, the increased pressure of Nick’s uncle’s eye eroded the optic nerve tissues, which lead him to total blindness sooner than expected.

Although the family came together at this difficult time, his uncle felt alone and secluded from the outside world. Being of age, he felt he would now spend the rest of his life alone, often doubting his ability to continue easy, everyday tasks without his sight.

Being a busy 21 year old student, Nick began lacking time to visit his uncle and a feeling of guilt took over him when he overheard his uncle talking to his mother one night.

‘I can’t even see the colour black anymore. It’s as if you place the palm of your hands in front of your eyes and held them there. Its just blank.’ I heard him say that and my heart broke, I knew I had to do something, I have so much, and he has… well not even darkness’.

After that night, Nick contacted Guide Dog Australia and went in for a meeting. This is where he met Cooper, a tiny little pup weighting a merely five kilos.

He would turn his head to the side and wiggle his tail, and I know that’s what every dog does, but he just knew he was coming home with me’.

After receiving the qualifications to become a trainer, Nick took Cooper home with the happy approval from his mother, who cried when meeting the friendly pup.

She cries about anything these days’. Laughs Nick.

Nick’s uncle was so thrilled with the news and has been living with Cooper who is now a very much loved member of the family. Even though he is not completely certified yet, Nick and his uncle will farewell Cooper for the next 20 weeks in hope that he passes all his skills test and training with colourful grades and come back to what has become a changed life for all of those around Cooper.

Before my interview with Nick and his uncle ended, I took the liberty of asking his uncle a quick question:

-How would you describe the colour yellow to a blind person?

Cooper, that’s how. He has given me back my sight’.

* Please scroll down to the bottom and refer to my Vox pops #2 ‘How would you describe the colour yellow to a blind person?’.

What does being a journalist mean to you? #Interview

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It is rare you hear about university students who have followed through their course without doubts or changes to their initial career plans.

The future is as bold and as intriguing as the white pages we fill every morning with each action we take as individuals to make this same path, an unique one.

Laughs and jokes aside, the life of a journalist is a lot more than just fun entertainment for target audiences. It consists of time consuming research, crossing just enough boundaries between privacy and consent and a reliable informative story.

Sitting before me are four first year Wollongong University students who have different ideas of what it means to be a journalist.

‘Meeting people, hearing stories, sharing their stories around the world, trying to understand why they are where they are’  – Monika, 19.

‘The most important thing is to expose what is hidden from people. Any information is easily given out but its the information you can’t get access to that people want to know’– Lachlan, 19.

‘A creative outlet to talk about what your passionate about, if you have a certain area of journalism if you are into you can also combine it with other diversities such as photography to create a beautiful story ‘ – Steph, 20.

‘I thought it meant I would travel, discover and come across things I didn’t even known existed, but its been sad to find out that maybe being a journalist isn’t everything that I hoped for after all’ – Lucy, 22.

Chatting amount themselves, Monika, Lachlan, Steph and Lucy discussed how broad their futures are and just how many opportunities they have before them.

‘In five years time, I’d like not to have to work at all’, jokes Lachlan. He inspires to be a war reporter for magazines, writing articles about history changing the future. He raises a point that this could be one of the more difficult careers to get into as we are controlled by the government and waiting on clearance to a create story. ‘There’s a lot more rules now, there’s so much more coverage of Vietnam war due to lack of rules, regulations and maybe less professionalism, but more truth’.

‘I feel the opposite’, says Steph, who is a stronger believer in blogs and tweets. ‘Anyone can write about anything they like, its making it credible and interesting that is the trick’, – ‘Yes, and you can do that by adding things that you see that others might not, like capturing the sad glare of a mother who looks upon her child, knowing she can’t afford what her daughter wants, things like that make a story’ –adds Monika.

‘It is all very deep, words hurt more than weapons and therefore there is a huge responsibility on us as journalists as to what we bring to the table, that’s why I don’t think this for me. I’d like to be living overseas in five years time Owning my own island and running my scuba diving business, these blogs and things wouldn’t be something i want to do for a living.’ Says Lucy.

In a world where everything has been invented, said, or thought about before, it is hard to chase originality, but that’s the gift of journalism, creating something beautiful out of empty pages.

What does a being a journalist, mean to me? #PJS

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Once upon a Journalist…

I’ve decided to start my opening statement to this philosophical journal as a fairy tale, because on my first semester of Journalism, that’s exactly what it seems like, a very far,far away dream.

Three years ago I was walking through Wollongong Campus making friends, sharing creativity and exploring what knowledge I was capable of pursuing. Today I am stressing over good photographs, blogging, politics and media coverage. Did I make the right move transitioning from Creative Arts for a better career and end up resenting my choice?

Don’t get me wrong, my passion for literature hasn’t changed. I want to further study this language I grew to be fascinated with, but I want to do that through text studies, real text, text I can touch and smell, I love the smell of old books, and the confronting silence of a library. I am so tired of typing and sliding and touching all these different types of technology that in the end don’t contain half of the profound meaning that Othello did, the romance between irony, realism and indirect speech that Jane Austen one taught me.  Call me old fashioned and cliché but I like being able to read a book written decades ago and smile upon such a beautifully constructed sentence that managed to live on till this day. I almost feel like the art of exploring the content of which our language is capable of, is lost in translation in between auto-correct and touch screen devices.

I understand I must embrace these changes but I feel the more I dedicate to writing virtual blogs and tweets I will forget how to really think and concentrate on the meaning behind these simple words, I will forget how to pick up a pen and the smell of old, dusted paper. I will soon forget the silence of the library and instead I will begin to listen out for clicks, slides and sides of stories I am not even comfortable writing. I want to write something that goes beyond the words on my pages, not a sad manipulated version of the truth, which is often what we come to read these days.

I was hoping that journalism was going to help me to better capture the little miracles that happen every day in ordinary lives and make them extra ordinary for the world to see. Tell stories of people who feel invisible and show the world that they matter too, and show the world just how powerful words can be, but how can that be, if even to me, right now, they are losing meaning.

I know this is a very early critical analysis of a course I have not done for long, but I guess I expected more Paulo Coelho and less Rupert Murdoch.

The world is changing and reshaping itself, and I must allow those changes to take place in me as a writer also, but I hope, like its done to many before me, that it does not transform my love for journalism into a search for money and publicity.

My life, my portraits, my views.

University life; The world in the palm of my hands.

22 year old Journalism student, purple and pink hair, tattoos and passion for travelling the world. I know, how much more cliché can I get? As lost as I am in this big place, I feel it’s the only way I will really find myself. Sitting in front of a wall, with the world in my hands. For me, uni symbolises endless oceans of opportunities, left at my leisure to discover, not solely through travel, but also through books, people, memories, friendships adding to the great fountain that is knowledge. This is my one way ticket to self-discovery.

22 year old Journalism student, purple and pink hair, tattoos and passion for travelling the world. I know, how much more cliché can I get? As lost as I am in this big place, I feel it’s the only way I will really find myself.  Sitting in front of a wall, with the world in my hands. For me, uni symbolises endless oceans of opportunities, left at my leisure to discover, not solely through travel, but also through books, people, memories, friendships adding to the great fountain that is knowledge.
                   ‘This is my one way ticket to self-discovery’

University life; the perks of being a student.

The best of photos to me provoke some sort of emotional or attachment and I feel as if I can relate to each individual in the captured moment. These past few weeks #unilife has been an emotional roller coaster. I can feel the stress of the blonde girl bitting her hair in the last minutes before submitting her assignment, I can see it in the posture of the red-haired girl searching endless for students to help her with her vox pops, but mostly I hope to wind up relaxed like the girl taking a bite out of her apple letting her toes almost touch the stang of the cold grass.

The best of photos provoke some sort of emotional or attachment and I feel as if I can relate to each individual in this captured moment. These past few weeks of #unilife have been an emotional roller coaster. I can feel the stress of the blonde girl bitting her hair in the last minutes before submitting her assignment, I can see it in the posture of the red-haired girl searching endless for students to help her with her vox pops, but mostly I hope to wind up relaxed like the girl taking a bite out of her apple freely wiggling her toes in the cold air.

Beautifully shy – Portrait 1.

All the way from Norway, 19 year old Monika finds herself intrigued with the beauty, rich and rare features of Australia.

All the way from Norway, 19 year old Monika finds herself intrigued with the beauty, rich and rare features of Australia.
“Watching Home and Away as a kid was when I first fell in love with Australia”
As well as her exotic name, Monika has a touch for taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. By combining her passion for Australia and her unique skills, Monika travels around campus with her digital camera hoping to capture a moment to keep for eternity. The aim in her photos are feelings; to somehow evoke people’s emotions.

‘My eyes really tell a story, don’t you think?’ – Portrait 2.

Natural leader, opinionated and smart… His an aries, what else can I say? On his third year of Law and Commerce, Adam decided he enjoyed his creative writing side too much to simply throw that hobbie away. He now hopes to combine both his Law and his journalism career to write crime-fiction novels intriguing lawyers and readers all over the world with charismatic charm and humour. ‘Working at grill’d making burguers, studying and paying off uni one semester at a time, could say I’m pretty impressive’

Natural leader, opinionated and smart… His an aries, what else can I say?
On his third year of Law and Commerce, Adam decided he enjoyed his creative writing side too much to simply throw that hobbie away. He now hopes to combine both his Law and his journalism career to write crime-fiction novels intriguing lawyers and readers all over the world with charismatic charm and humour.
‘Working at grill’d making burguers, studying and paying off uni one semester at a time, could say I’m pretty impressive’

Steff…Steph* – Portrait 3.

‘I can’t stand illiterate people, the girl at the coffee shop couldn’t even spell my name right, I mean its 2015 for goodness sake!’ Don’t let this bitter sweet lady scare you, although she gives off an angry vibe, Steph is quite joyful. Her favourite childhood memory takes her back to walking down to the creek at the end of her street exploring. A few years later and she hasn’t changed. Steph now combines her love for adventure with photography, hoping to one day travel the world.

‘I can’t stand illiterate people, the girl at the coffee shop couldn’t even spell my name right, I mean its 2015 for goodness sake!’
Don’t let this bitter sweet lady scare you, although she gives off an angry vibe, Steph is quite a joyful girl. Her favourite memory takes her back to the days where her adventures where just down the road, around a creek that quietly stole countless hours from her childhood.  A few years later and she hasn’t changed. Steph now associates her love for adventure with photography, hoping to one day capture the world.

An Interview with Rebecca Smith –

Rebecca Smith gives a brief interview about being behind the beautiful face of depression.

Vox pops #1 – Opinions about gay marriage vary with age –

2015 and still the controversial responses of different generations.

Vox pops #2 – Describe the colour yellow to a blind person –

How good is your creativity?