Archive for the ‘media convergence, media platforms, young journalists, online news’ Category

My interest in the Arab world has grown massively this year. I guess I’m not the only journalist saying that- who could fail to be inspired (or at the very least intrigued) by events across the region. We took a trip to Syria (pre-chaos), I’m learning Arabic, and I also have further trips in mind. Below are a couple of pieces of work I’ve put together for SBS in the last month.

First, a map of the year’s developments, using the finicky (but free) Tableau software. It’s hard to get interactive multimedia going in online news without spending any money, but Tableau, if you can get your head around it, is ok; yet not ok enough, it seems, to want to get interactive via the embed code on this blog.  For full interactivity, check it out here. Next, a wrap of the year’s events, with outcomes and approximate death tolls which I’m quite proud of, as it goes into some real depth; every Arab country, from Algeria to Yemen, and not just those which successfully ditched a despot. Here’s a link to that one.

Finally, a slideshow I put together using some of the best agency pics of the year put to a friend’s music. In lieu of visiting the region, a nice multimedia wrap to end the year.

And I almost forgot – a cheeky exclusive on the first woman to cast a vote in an election following the Arab Spring – anywhere – when a Tunisian woman from Sydney cast her vote down here in Australia. Who says nothing happens in Canberra?

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An interesting piece there was in OpenDemocracy this week on Investigative Comment.

Oodles has been written about who the hell is going to fund investigative journalism in the coming years. From my own experience working for mainstream media organisations, it is not going to be easy. That’s why new set ups such as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, replete with philanthropic assistance, are going to be so important.  But there is plenty they can’t do.

Interestingly, the winner of this year’s Bevins Prize for Investigative Journalism went not to a classic ‘journalist’, but to Clare Sambrook, part of a team from End Child Detention Now. They worked on exposing the issue of child detention in the UK, and bringing it to a wider audience.

Increasingly, it is going to be up to die-hard campaigners to bring such information to the fore in a world where media organisations aren’t putting up the same amount of cash to expose information as vested interest groups are forking out to keep it hidden.

As an aside, Sambrook goes on to explain in the above-linked piece as to why the myth of ‘fair and balanced’ journalism needs to be debunked, or rather coupled with comment and opinion writing. No one wants comment from someone who hasn’t put in the hard yards and phone calls, she says, and wholly impartial journalism can only truly be expected in the true sense of reporting facts.

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We’ve launched our federal election portal at SBS -Vote 2010-  mostly a World News Australia affair with some input from other departments.

As such, we’ve been working on getting small packages for online news up, condensing the morning’s campaign by early afternoon.

I’ve written and cut a few this week such as the ‘Red Faces’ package and the climate troubles piece here, and we’ll be trying to get one out each weekday for the duration of the Australian federal election.

It’s been a help using the new quantel system with pre-ingested material – all part of SBS’s shift to digital, and a real help with the speed needed for online news. Final Cut Pro is naturally a better editing tool – but the integration with raw footage is not to be sniffed at.

Turns out quantel has a few nice features of its own, anyway.

As the onus is on speed – along with accuracy and journalistic integrity, to be sure – some of the cuts in these packages are less than perfect.

But with several hours less than our TV counterparts to wrap proceedings up in, we think it’s a fine job we’re doing.

Media convergence at its finest should be on show this Sunday night for comprehensive online coverage of the leadership debate.

Bring on the polls.

I haven’t blogged for a while, and that’s basically as I’ve been pretty bloody busy.

Baby Frankie busy, parent visiting from overseas busy, trying to enjoy life busy and working plenty for SBS busy.

The latter has me working on a new ministe for the SBS News website, which will explore Australian mining over the coming decades. It’s sexier than it sounds. I’m particularly interested in the concepts of peak metals as well as rare earth metals – two distinct issues to be sure, but for a country where mining is in the DNA (well, we all know that sort of talk is horse shit, but we/they do love to dig shit out of the ground and flog it), it seems that mining – other than the coal and the iron ore topic- is remarkably under discussed and debated.

So, my EP and editor at SBS News online bought the pitch and I’ve been working on a couple of news packages and a host of articles, which should begin to go live next week. So nice to be doing proper journalism from scratch, with weeks to consider arguments.

But what to call the minisite? Peak Metals? Nope, It’s not just about that….Resources Futures? Nah, It’s mostly about metal (do I add non-metal pieces to let me use that title?….Heavy Metals? Would love to, but for many of these rare earth metals used in high-tech applications they’re anything but that. Think think think…

Image by jlori via Flickr

This is interesting. I didn’t know much at all about Google’s tie up with the New York Times and the Washington Post, but apparently this little Living Stories project is going open source, which means all types of online publishers could be picking it up.

Don’t know where I’ve been to have missed it (not reading the Times or Post enough, I guess), but it looks pretty damn useful for tracking a story. I’ve become a real Google News user in the last few years – make that every day.

And while I’m not aware of many non-news/non-media people using it too much, it’s a great tool of the trade, for even casual news-observers. Think the same might become of Living Stories – just another part of a big Google finger in the news pie.

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When working for More4 News at ITN, freedom of information legislation provided me with many a scoop. It’s been criticised as a tool which is often overused by ‘lazy’ journalists, particularly when ‘phishing’ for information, often by using mass-emailing techniques to government bodies.

I’ve used this technique. It’s annoyed many a press officer, I am sure, and probably used up a fair bit of taxpayer’s money. But like phishing for bank details from unsuspecting/stupid email users, it works in the pursuit of uncovering government waste/ineptitude/wrongdoing.

Australia has had FOI legislation for years, and as a journalist trying to get a foot in somewhere – and low on contacts – I guess will use whatever tools I can to get a scoop… Let’s see how fruitful it is over here.

Getting noticed as a young freelance journalist without friends (or relatives) in high places does require hard, unpaid work. If you can give a kick-arse story on a plate to an editor or EP though, you’re half way there.

Do let me know if there’s anything I can FOI for as the basis of an investigation.  Lazy? Newspapers use that one all the time…not to mention ‘send us your videos’. Please.

SBS World News
Image via Wikipedia

Last week, SBS News and Current Affairs finally made the shift to the brand-spanking new digital newsroom.

Despite being ahead in the online presence stakes (I’ve been getting decent video news from my current employer, online, for years now), making the shift to a digital, non-linear newsroom, has been years in the making, and well behind local rivals.

I began as an online producer at World News Australia around 3 months ago, and for the whole period I’ve been with them, we’d been stuck in a windowless room out back, along with Dateline and Insight, while the newsroom was being stuck together.

Now, we’re once again in the thick of it, and that’s how it should be. I personally think news organisations who treat their online presences as add ons have it coming. They’re fine for the moment, sure. I don’t even believe all of the hype; It’s still gonna be all about ‘TV’ news bulletins for years to come. But time is ticking, so it’s nice that the on-air talent realise the importance of their online teams. At the end of the day, for such a small-operation (SBS as a whole) to have a decent website, with a google rank of six (not bad), and an alexa rank of around the 15,000 mark, considering it only hits around 2 per cent of market share on the telly box, is commendable.

Always nice to be back in the thick of it with the rest of the team making it work. Plus, Sundays in a windowless room all on your own, with nothing but Sky News for company, really isn’t good for the soul.

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