Reflection Piece

It’s been very helpful to study these topics which are incredibly relevant to today’s media industry. I’ve enjoyed learning about convergence and the new business models of journalism. In many ways this is an exciting time, and the industry is as in much of a learning and growing process as I am myself as a buddying journalist.

Blogging is a very useful tool to learn how to use as a journalist, and something I’ve been struggling to master for the last few years. The one thing that always steams to stymie me is the content, and how to present it in an interesting and attention-grabbing way. The last few weeks have taught me a great deal about how to upload and share your site so it can garner the most views across the internet, and how to share it across social media platforms. I’ve first struggled to keep to a weekly schedule of uploading material, but I’ve learned that it is the best way to organise and structure a blog, rather than spastic busts of posts. Thanks to this unit, I’ve been able to write up a plan for my other personal blog and have started posting more regularly.

Another tool I’ve struggled with using is Twitter. I know that as a modern day journalist, you need to be familiar with how to use social media platforms such as Facebook and twitter, but being able to upload constant streams of thoughts and staying p to date with all the profiles I follow is quite challenging. I’ve learnt that the trick is to choose the people you follow carefully and organise them into lists. That, and with the help of smartphone apps such as Buffer and Everypost, I’ve been able to schedule posts and interact with the twitter world in a more impactful way. Being able to masterfully use twitter whilst out in the field developing news stories is a critical skill to have as a new journalist.

What’s happening to the old models of Journalism?

With printed newspapers and magazines continually going out of business, and successive rounds of staff cuts across all major media organisations, it’s easy to have a pessimistic view towards the traditional forms of journalism. However, despite the dominance of the internet and social media, newspapers, radio stations and television stations still have something to offer wealthy individuals and large corporate businesses. While these old models might not produce the same revenue they once did, they still hold a significant influence and reach. Newspapers have survived the introduction of both radio and television, and there is a good argument to be had that they can survive the internet and social media platforms too.

 

How are the various ideals of journalism impacted by the business of journalism?

The new business models of journalism are having a profound affect on a variety of ideals of journalism:

Crowd-funding is becoming a more prominent alternative to the more traditional capital raising models. Websites like Beacon Reader and Patreon present journalists and creators with the opportunity to upload their stories and have readers directly support their work. Crowd-funding removes the media’s dependency on revenue from advertising or corporate giants, resulting in more freedom for journalists and news that becomes more tailored to its readership. Readers can be rewarded with privileged access or the ability to make suggestions for future content. This is known as rewards-based crowd-funding and can be beneficial for several reasons. It connects the author with their audience, and allows them to award their readership’s patronage in a cost-effective way. Donation-based crowd funding doesn’t offer any return, but is incredibly effective for disaster-relief or tragedy-support stories. The final type of crowd-funding is equity-based, where financial investment is traded for a percentage of the company, and a suitable business model should be agreed upon.

There’s always been scrutiny over a media organisation’s relationship with investors and advertisers and the stories they publish, publishing lengthy “puff pieces” or avoiding harder-hitting stories in the interest of preserving business relationships. Crowd-funding seems to free the media from censoring material, but only to a limited extent. At the end of the day, journalists have bills to pay and mouths to feed, and the temptation to bend ethical principles to satisfy investors ‘ interests will always be prevalent, regardless of who the investors are.

How does convergence impact journalism?

Convergence describes “old” forms of media (such as Print, Television and Radio) assembling together to create a multimedia story that the audience can access on a wide variety of platforms and devices. On the surface, the role of a journalist is still the same: to provide fast and accurate reporting to its audience. The Internet’s presence in today’s culture dramatically alters how journalist continue to operate, and this affects the skills they need to develop and the way media outlets and businesses continue to raise revenue.

Typically audiences access online news during work hours, while still using more traditional mediums in the mornings and evenings (such as newspapers in the mornings, radio while travelling, and television in the evenings), but we can’t be certain how long this will remain, and whether or not the Internet will soon take over completely. The Internet has made it easier and faster for audiences to access a larger amount of data, and the only future for journalism lies in its trustworthiness and a solid foundation of loyal audience members. It’s becoming more frequent for journalists to put their stories together in the field and uploading them sooner, and a culture beginning where journalists teach each other, and become multi-skilled, instead of a journalist specialising in one area such as video recording or sound editing for example.

Maintaining revenue whilst transferring or creating an online presence can be incredibly difficult, and there is still no proven successful model that can be universally applied. Pay walls are an option, but some see this as an affront to freedom of information. Revenue from advertising and traditional platforms such as newspapers still exist, but their profits are slowly falling and their sustainability in the future is uncertain. Often it takes several years to establish a profitable online presence that can be sustainable and yield profit.

How common or widespread is the use of multimedia journalism in the media?

Use of multimedia journalism is completely prevalent in today’s media. News audiences still expect journalists to present the news to them in a timely and informative way, but they also want to experience these stories across a wide range of mediums. Gone are the days where the same news that was printed in the morning newspapers would be broadcast on television and radio that afternoon. With the internet being such an integral part of our everyday lives, and the invention of smartphones and portable laptops, people now want to read, watch and listen to the news simultaneously.

Thus; text, photos, audio and video, graphics and social media, all work together to tell the same story, and each medium is used to present a different element of the story. Video and audio might be used to capture a piece of the action and some punchy one-liner quotes from important people involved. Photographs can help create emotion or set a particular mood for the story, graphics can be used to simplify or explain how something works. Text can be used to glue the story together cohesively, as the reader navigates the story their preferred way. This non-linear format of multimedia journalism is essential as it ensures that each piece of media is complementary to the overall story, and that nothing is redundant or not needed. Social media can be used to draw readers to particular news sites and encourage conversation and participation with the news. journalism photo

 

Assignment #1 Feature Article Pitch

Feature Article Research Notes:

The aim of this feature article is to write a story detailing the impact growing metropolitan areas have on the surrounding natural environment. The Werribee River and the metropolitan suburbs that surround it, in this case Werribee (south-west of Melbourne), will serve as my case study and I’ll contact various local organisations and survey many local residents around this issue.

The idea for the article first came to me as I was cycling around the Werribee River and I noticed the sickly blue-green algae floating on top of the surface of the river, and upon further inspection found signs erected warning passer-by’s the dangerousness of the algae. I wanted to know what the cause was for this blue-green algae, and if there was anything being done currently, or any group working towards fixing the problem. I was also interested in survey the public and determining the value and use of the river. While this article will follow my investigation into this specific case, hopefully it will also answer questions surrounding the future of our natural environment and evoke greater significance among the local public.

My first stop was a visit to an elderly couple that were old family friends, and had been living in the area for 40 years, Alasdair and Judith McCallum. They live in a small house in Werribee South, close to the Werribee Beach, where the Werribee River flows into Port Phillip Bay and the Werribee Park, which is the old estate of the wealthy Chirnside family, as well as near several local farms. Alasdair McCallum was particularly helpful with his knowledge as a retired Civil Engineer for the Council of Altona. The couple had been involved in a Friend of Werribee South community group years prior, but which had since been dissolved. They pointed me in the direction of John Forrester, who was once a key member of that Friends Of group and also the director of the Werribee River Association, and Judith made mention of some more info on the Werribee at a Cafe Cache in Werribee Park.

I have come across John Forrester before during my initial internet research of the Werribee River. When I had started my interview with the McCallums I had reached out to him through his email and social media pages on both Facebook and Twitter, and by the time the interview had concluded I had a reply and quickly scheduled an interview. I’ve found the WRIVA website to be a wonderful resource of information about the river, and has has located on it a couple of particularly useful pages, including the 2014 Victorian Election Points for Candidates. John Forrester himself is a registered Riverkeeper, an international title given to people responsible for defending the rights of the river; which are that all rivers should be “swimmable, drinkable, and fishable”.

We met at the Jamieson Way Campus of Carranballac P-9 College, where he works part-time, and we discussed the Werribee River and the problems it faces. During the interview he gave me a couple of really great quotes and information for my feature article; such as how the section of the Werribee River between the Werribee Diversion Weir and the sea is the “most degraded section of a river in Victoria”. As the conversation between me and John Forrester continued, I was provided with an answer concerning the cause of the growth of the blue-green algae in the Werribee River and some helpful information about the algae itself. In short, the algae growth is a result of poor river flow due to the little amount of river water released from the Werribee Diversion Weir. He explained some of the legalities and problems surrounding how much water is allowed to be let out, and also mentioned that he has had a conversation(s) with state members of parliament who have so far been more “receptive” than the previous state government. He expanded the problem the Werribee River faces beyond just the misuse of its limited supply, to rising crisis of litter and pollution.

Both interviewees made mention of the Western Treatment Plant, and John Forrester suggested that the treated water from that plant has the ability to water a variety of root vegetables and be substituted for the water currently being taken from the River. My next stop will be to book a tour at the plant and interview some of the staff. I also want to conduct a survey of local residents and their attitudes towards this issue, and also pay a visit to the Café Cache in Werribee Park. I’m also trying to do some investigate the Werribee Diversion Weir further and where the water is diverted to. The Werribee River is also home to Platypus, something that may be of particular interest to readers. Lastly, I’m yet to contact the two local newspapers of the area, who may provide some insight into why this issue hasn’t been prevalent in recent local media.

I’ve also heard a fair bit about the Werribee Harbour (Marina) that’s being built at the mouth of the Werribee River, but have yet to determine its significance to this particular issue…

Contacts:

WRIVA President John Forrester

Email: Werribeeriver@gmail.com

Mobile: 0401854560

Alasdair and Judith McCallum

Phone: 9742 1514

Address: 13 Norman Grove

(It should be noted that I’ve used the interview of the McCallums more as a secondary “back-up” interview and haven’t confirmed with my tutor whether I can use them in the feature article)

Internet sources:

WRIVA Website (Werribee River Association)

http://werribeeriver.org.au/

Melbourne Water Website (Western Treatment Plant)

http://www.melbournewater.com.au/whatwedo/treatsewage/wtp/Pages/western-treatment-plant.aspx

Wombat State Forest Website (the forest that the Werribee river starts in)

http://vnpa.org.au/page/nature-conservation/protecting-special-places/wombat-state-forest

Werribee Park

http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/werribee-park

Werribee Harbour

http://www.wyndhamharbour.com.au/