Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

The Northern Territory of Australia seems a mighty long way from North Africa, but nonetheless, the latest (and last for some time at least) piece of mine aired on SBS Living Black last weekend.

It’s the final film of four I made while travelling through the N.T. in September last year, and it’s on the very high levels of homelessness, particularly amongst indigenous Australians, in the Top End. Voila. It was squeezed on top of three other fairly heavy investigative pieces – but I’m fairly happy with it in the end.


A piece I produced for SBS News this week – perhaps the last news story for a while, at least until I return from Tunisia and beg for shifts. 

For the record, E.L.K made the finalists.

I got this scoop (ok, not the strongest, but a scoop’s a scoop) for SBS back in October, but forgot about it until recently… Seeing as I’m heading to Tunisia in a few weeks, I’ll repost it here.

The first vote in the first election to emerge from the Arab Spring was cast by a Sydney woman at the Tunisian embassy in Canberra yesterday.

Around the world, Tunisians began heading to the polls on Thursday, with Canberra’s Tunisian Embassy the first to open its polling booths.

“For all the Tunisian people all over the world, the first one who has elected is in Australia,” Ambassador Raouf Chatty told SBS.

“She was very proud, and we’re proud of her.”

“She has exercised her right to vote in free elections … to try and build democracy for the country.”

“It’s a historical moment”, Mr Chatty said.

Mr Chatty said he hoped for freedom, dignity, democracy and social justice for the Tunisian people.

Under the country’s new electoral system, Tunisians living abroad choose 18 of the 217 members of the constituent assembly, spread across six constituencies.

There are ten seats for voters in France, three in Italy, one in Germany, two for the Americas and Europe. For expatriates in Arab nations and  the rest of the world (including Australia), there are two seats.

Almost one million Tunisians live outside of the North African country, with up to 500,000 in France.

Votes cast abroad will be counted on Saturday and the results announced following the close of polls in Tunisia on Sunday.

The ‘Arab Spring’, which has seen revolution and protest spread across North Africa, the Levant and Middle East, was sparked by regime-felling protests in Tunisia over ten months ago.

Original article here. 

For the record – and if you missed it – the Islamic Nahda party won enough seats to lead the governing coalition. 

This week I met two Syrian Australians whose son had been shot. They feared it may have been due to his backing of Syria’s President Assad in an argument on Facebook. They’re Alawi, originally from the town of Tartous.  The truth is, they didn’t know for sure why he was shot, and the police were none to sure early on either; it was being investigated by the local command in Campsie as well as Operation Spartan, set up to deal with the spate of gun crime in Sydney. We went to Padstow to meet them. In the screenshot below you can see Jamal Daoud – a bit of a get-around-town activist who is keen on portraying the shooting as part of a wider campaign against Assad supporters. Time will tell.

It’s been a very intriguing 24 hours for anyone with a passing interest in indigenous politics in this land we call Australia. The 40th anniversary of the tent embassy in Canberra (on Australia/Invasion/Survival Day) was attended by a number of people who vocally approached the PM and Opposition Leader after the latter made some insensitive remarks about ‘moving on’.  Abbott figured that because Aboriginal people obviously have it so good now –  only making up quarter of the prison population, dying only a few years younger than everyone else, suffering, well, much higher rates of trachoma, that sort of thing – that calling an end to this form of protest is warranted. Well, that’s obviously how they saw it.

The event highlighted the vast, vast majority of the national media ready to brand the altercation ‘violent’ (although there was limited evidence for this) and, of course, unacceptable – particularly on Australia Day, Channel Seven’s David Koch usefully pointed out. From the tabloids on the right to the ABC and Fairfax opinion pieces, everyone was having a go at the fact some people banged on the window of the restaurant the PM was in, forcing her security detail to drag her out of there.  Falluja it was not.

But all of that reaction is predictable. What was most interesting is what seemed like the disbelief amongst many media commentators that there could be more than one viewpoint amongst indigenous Australians. Establishment figures Warren Mundine and Mick Gooda were wheeled out to denounce in pretty strong terms what happened – thank goodness! – and maybe a lot of people felt a bit better. But what a shock that black politics might have a Left and a Right as well as anyone else’s. You can be outraged all you like, but please don’t act surprised. So perhaps it was a watershed moment – but only because something finally clicked in a few non-indigenous heads.

Anyway, I wrapped up some of the early reaction in a formulaic but hopefully balanced package today, above.

I recently finished a project I had been working on for a couple of months. I’d been making a film on legislation surrounding the koala, as a way to discuss urban sprawl. You can’t just tell a TV news bulletin’s editor or SP that your film’s about Australia’s inability to plan properly, I thought: you need koalas, too. Well, maybe the senior journos can. But not me. So, the decision on whether to list the koala as vulnerable under the threatened species list was the hook.

The first cut is the longer one which I wanted to make. It goes into some detail. The second one, below, is the cut which actually went to air on SBS World News Australia, where I work as an online journalist. Note the subtle, and not so subtle, differences. I provided a cut  for TV which was at least a minute and a half shorter, and they trimmed another 10 seconds out of the middle. Crudely, I might add ;).   Colleagues in online news helped me get there by suggesting putting some koalas at the top, which I did. How to edit for TV news, I guess.

Other suggestions, easy to spot, include shortening the film and thereby tightening the message – and so the whole middle section concerning some of the issues with koala numbers, nationwide, as well as at a small proposed housing estate near Campbelltown on the edge of Sydney, had to go. As a film essentially about the legislation, in a way it could live without it. I would have liked it to stay though, of course, but it wouldn’t have gotten aired. There is clearly a big difference between current affairs film making and cutting films for TV news.

Some of the shots in the above worked less well, including the introductory shot to Sally Whitelaw, the councillor. As it was suggested that I improve the visual storytelling, as well, I put in some shots of a house being built, and hit two birds with one stone. In the end, I stuck this into the longer version as well. Coming from a print/online background I am still getting better at this element of film making – taking the viewer along using imagery, seeing as they’re not listening half the time anyway! I also learnt not to use ‘flappy’ footage of talking people; I thought the sequence of Geoff the koala rescuer pointing out a potential development besides a shopping centre’s car park was decent (well, considering a journalist edited it). But it was pointed out it contained a big no-no; flapping lips with no audio, and me talking over the top.

It was also suggested I do another voiceover before submitting. But after planning, copious research, shooting, driving hundreds of kms, writing and refining all on my lonesome, I wanted it done – and with the legislation potentially being dropped at any moment, I could not risk another few days. At the time of writing, though, it is still pending. Anyway, thought the post would be an interesting look at learning the ropes of TV journalism from a print, or student viewpoint.

Image representing Associated Press as depicte...
Image via CrunchBase

I’ve been thinking a lot about using the wires lately, and the good and bad that come from them.

In my current role as an online news producer I use them a lot more than I did in my previous role with More4 News, where I worked on longer-form, longer lasting projects.

Since reading Flat Earth News, and having it change my whole outlook and all, I’ve been looking more critically at certain aspects of the modern news media that may have slipped my attention before.

The wires are a case in point. All news organisations rely too heavily on the ‘news’ as agencies such as Reuters and AP, and in Australia’s case, Australian Associated Press, deem fit to report it. This is obviously well documented, but in the online age it leads to cock ups, such as mine the other day.

This brings me to Twitter. I tend to use it as a kind of feed when I’m at work (@SBSNews) but I saw for myself the clear problem of relying on someone else’s reporting the other day, matched with the desire to be first (take that, ABC Online), only compounded by using Twitter.

The issue arose with the ‘abduction’ of children from Haiti last Sunday.

“Just in on the wires: Haitian police holding 10 US citizens on suspicion of trafficking children” I tweeted.  I absolved myself somewhat by crediting it to the agency at hand – but how foolish.

It was made quite clear to me a few minutes later I’d made a mistake.

“Update: The 10 US citizens held on suspicion of ‘trafficking’ children members of a charity called New Life Children’s Refuge”, I was forced to backtrack.

So clearly, no evil trafficking of children for the purpose of kidney harvesting.

More likely a bureaucratic cock-up.

More spurious news organisations (I’m thinking of Australia’s only 24 hour news channel) were quite happy to run with the misleading ‘trafficking’ tag for a few more hours, even once it was abundantly clear, but I’d learnt a lesson: Put your trust in the wires at your peril – Twitter won’t be your friend when you make a howler.

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