Snow Fall – Pushing the boundaries of convergent journalism.

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Source: The New York Times 2012

As part of a module of study, I was only asked to have a ‘look’ at this story. As I began to navigate through the page, I was pulled from the confines of my own home and onto the freshly powdered ski runs of Tunnel Creek. A good ninety minutes of intense reading followed.

I experienced the exhilaration, the terror and the devastation felt by the characters in the story. Branch used effective mechanisms of convergent media practices to take me to the mountain where I delved inside the minds of the avalanche survivors and followed their movements before, during and after the avalanche.

The project employs interactivity through the use of photographs, video, interactive maps and animations that complement the story, rather than repeat what is contained within the narrative.

Included is an animation that details how the avalanche unfolded in real time. The scientific dimension of the story adds depth to the highly emotive storyline.

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Source: The New York Times 2012

The characters, their relationships, and their movements on the mountain are complex, and could be quite hard to follow had Branch not included recurring individual profiles throughout the story, which allow the reader to match the name of a character to their face. The animation behind the text box works to show the movements of a skier on the mountain as the reader scrolls over the relating piece of text, which is a highly effective coupling technique.

An individual photo slideshow is included during the introduction of each person, and by clicking on the person’s name, the reader can access a more in depth profile of the person. Whilst the reader is largely directed through the story, they are able to choose the amount of background information that they wish to access to complement their experience.

Like the photographs and animations, the audio and video are effective in that they are used as a mechanism for deeper understanding and meaning, rather than to repeat what is written. The reader has access to some of the footage obtained by the skiers, one of which allows the reader to ‘be there’ when the survivors discover one of their deceased friends buried in the snow.

Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek‘ was published by The New York Times in 2012.

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The healing powers of travel.

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Brittany Rogers found strength in travelling on her own, whilst mourning the loss of a loved one.

After visiting London as an eight year old, Brittany Rogers took memories of the fast paced city home with her to the Gold Coast, and promised herself that she would be back there.

She left school at the age of seventeen, and studied fashion at the Australian Institute of Creative Design. She completed work experience at fashion magazine Shop Til You Drop, and was offered an internship, which she didn’t take as she didn’t have the confidence to move to Sydney by herself.

Now studying Journalism at the University Of Wollongong, Brittany said she wishes she took the internship but admitted, “I probably wouldn’t have done very well back then because I wasn’t ready.”

After leaving the Australian Institute of Creative Design, Brittany began studying teaching. However her life long desire to return to London was consuming, so she made enquiries about living and working abroad.

During this time, the health of her Grandfather began to deteriorate, and Brittany left her mother and moved to Wollongong to help her Grandmother with his care.

Brittany’s family knew of her plans to travel and live in London. When her Grandfather was moved to a nursing home, they encouraged her to follow through with the dream she had since she was eight.

In March 2012, Brittany left for London.

“I had no idea how long I was going to be there. I might have been there for six months or two years. Mum hoped it would be six months, but she knew how much I wanted to do it, so she just said, do what you have to do.”

With the help of Britbound, a support service for those on working holidays, Brittany found work in a bar and quickly settled into the lifestyle.

Though the pay was minimal and the living expenses high, Brittany lived on canned soup, cheap vodka and the thrill of living on her own. “Over there I was independent, which I’d wanted for so long,” she said.

However, the carefree and independent attitude that Brittany had developed was shattered when she received some devastating news from home. Her Grandfather had died.

Brittany was distraught and for the first time, felt the devastating separation from her family. “Straight away, I wanted to come home. I wanted to go to the funeral,” she said.

She began to prepare to go home, yet a phone call from her Grandmother made her re-evaluate her plans. “Nanna said, I will yell at you, you are not coming home,” said Brittany.

 “So I just decided to go travelling for a while because I wasn’t in a very good headspace. I was really close to him and so it was hard. He was more like a Dad to me.”

Brittany travelled around Europe for three months and returned to London refreshed and emotionally settled. She considered her journey across Europe as a way to say farewell her Grandfather. “He would have wanted me to stay and travel,” she said.

After living and working in London for eighteen months, Brittany returned home with a new found confidence. She said that she misses the lifestyle and atmosphere of London but added, “I had to go back to reality.”

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Speed vs. accuracy in online reporting.

The benefit of online journalism is that it has the ability to reach a wider audience in an instant. This can also be its downfall, according to Kendyl Salcito.

Online journalism enables the public to receive information within minutes of an event occurring, she said.Pressures to keep this news current in order to “keep up with the conversation” means that accuracy can often be jeopardised.

Online editor Tom Regan said for the Internet to be an effective news medium, the “intoxicating elixir of breathless immediacy” needs to be forgotten. He added that the faster distribution of news is advantageous, though it cannot be at the cost of accuracy.

Social media expert Clay Shirky said that accuracy issues on media platforms such as Twitter are “inevitable” He argued that incorrect facts are usually corrected by other users.

Marc Fisher, a Senior Editor at The Washington Post, spoke with ABC journalist Richard Aedy about the Internet as “a self correcting mechanism.” He said that relying on readers to correct facts diminishes the trust and credibility of the news source.

Fisher used video based news organisation, Now This News, as an example of the implications of “post now, correct later.” He said that although their videos are appropriations of other news sources, they are not exempt from journalistic conventions of fact verification. Now This News, according to Fisher, publicly relinquished any responsibility for the accuracy of their videos.

Fisher also cited Buzzfeed as an alternate example in his story, Who cares if it’s true? in the Columbia Journalism Review.

Source: http://blog.newswhip.com/index.php/2014/04/biggest-facebook-publishers-march-2014

BuzzFeed continues to have the highest shared material on Facebook.                 Source: newswhip.com

He said that profitable news organisations such as Buzzfeed, have recognised that credibility and accuracy are important, particularly when “advertisers will pay a premium when accuracy is guaranteed.”

Fisher added that Buzzfeed recently began to hire copy editors to strike a balance between accuracy and speed.

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Literary journalism: fact or fiction?

The practice of literary journalism has been the subject of much debate, particularly on the issue of truth and objectivity. Richard Nordquist described the concept as the sharing of the characteristics of literature and journalism, to create a factual piece of writing that is rich in character development and symbolism.

Journalist Mark Kramer suggested that this style of writing compliments facts with constructed, sensory scenes. This enables the reader to comprehend experiences and perspectives in depth. He added that the strong narrative voice, whilst effective, has the potential to compromise the objective and professional nature of journalism.

ABC’s The Media Report presented highlights from a panel discussion where Journalists spoke of the implications of this style of story telling within the industry. Margaret Simons commented on the misconception that narrative style writing lacks the objective detachment, which is fundamental to journalism. She said,

“The objectivity lies not necessarily in the journalist, and not necessarily in the final result, but in the method that the journalist brings to finding things out and reporting on them.”

Margaret Simons' work includes stories on Mark Latham and Malcolm Fraser.

Margaret Simons’ work includes stories on Mark Latham and Malcolm Fraser.                       Source: Penguin Publications.

Journalist Matthew Ricketson added that literacy journalism involves complete immersion of the author in their research. It presents accurate facts in a way that convey a depth of emotion that daily journalism avoids.

Ricketson also addressed the issue of truth in literary journalism. He suggested that avoiding the temptation to exaggerate facts for a more compelling story is paramount in maintaining the strict conventions of journalism.  These conventions, according to Roy Peter Clark, must be adhered to when compiling a piece of literary journalism. He said,

 “Anything that intentionally or unintentionally fools the audience violates that contract and the core purpose of journalism – to get at the truth.”

Clark added that the facts must be transparent and revealed in a creative manner without overstepping the line between fact and fiction.

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Journalism students aim high despite harsh competition for jobs.

 

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Arielle Jones and Jake Cupitt are prepared to battle for music journalism jobs following completion of their degree.

Journalism students at the University of Wollongong know that having a degree will not guarantee employment in the journalism industry. This however, does not deter them from having ambitious career goals.

The fiercely competitive world of music reporting is where Arielle Jones sees herself. Specifically, she aspires to write for Kerrang, a London based, heavy metal music magazine. According to Arielle, writing for Kerrang would require a great amount of research and good communication skills. She said,

“A great knowledge of music and constantly keeping up to date with musicians is important in my chosen field.”

Arielle admitted that the narrow employment opportunities are worrying, though she said “there will always be a demand for music journalism, it will just change from magazines to digital.” Recently, Kerrang formed radio and online programs to combat the dwindling magazine sales with the rise of digital media.

To give herself the best possible chance of employment, Arielle writes for a popular Australian music website, Kill Your Stereo. She said,

 “I feel like that gives me a bit of an edge, I can show I have already done music journalism before I even started my degree.”

Similarly, Jake Cupitt aspires to work for the music and popular culture focused magazine, Rolling Stone. Like Arielle, Jake is concerned about his chances of gaining employment at the completion of his Journalism degree.

A strong character and individuality is what Jake believes will make his basic writing and storytelling skills shine. To gain the attention of employers, he said he would rely on his vast knowledge of music, particularly his extensive research on the musical and business ventures of American musician Jack White.

 “I think I have a uniqueness about me, for example, there aren’t too many young people who like the blues like I do.”

Another facet of the industry, sports journalism is a field that Thomas Hudson hopes can fulfil his “infatuation with sport.” Thomas created and manages his own horse racing website, theoneone.net, which he feels will give him an advantage when seeking a job in sports journalism. Maintaining the website is hard he said, though he acknowledged this as an indication of the work expected of him as a journalist.

Thomas is positive about his job prospects, and said that competition for jobs within the journalism industry is “healthy as it guarantees a higher quality of work produced.”

Networking and building a good list of contacts is also essential, according to fellow Journalism student Georgia Holloway. Georgia has a general interest in journalism, but said,

“I guess political journalism has always captivated me.”

She hopes to gain some work experience through a contact of hers at News Corp and plans to start a blog in the near future. She said that to she wants to show initiative to future employers and showcase her knowledge in current affairs and politics.

Of the highly competitive employment opportunities, Georgia said, “It’s pretty intimidating to think about,” but she conceded, “everybody feels the same way.”

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Decoding the mind: An interview with psychology student Chris Kelly.

Chris Kelly recently began her university journey after being in the workforce for 30 years. In this interview, she speaks of her family and how their various quirks inspired her to learn more about why people behave in the way that they do.

 

 

 

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Every student has an opinion.

An important aspect of university life, students at the University of Wollongong describe how extra-curricular groups and activities enable students to get the most out of their educational experience.

 

(music: Apple iMovie)


 

In light of the release of Sydney CBD assault statistics, students were asked of their opinion on the New South Wales Government’s newly enacted ‘lock out laws‘. Their responses show how students apply critical thinking to evaluate current issues within society.

 

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Same degree, different perspectives.

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Business minded: Kyle French hopes to break into the horse racing industry.

The horse racing industry is fast becoming an online business, and something that Kyle French hopes to be a valuable contributor to. By combining his vast knowledge of the sport with Media and Communications (Journalism) and Commerce degrees, Kyle hopes to be able to apply his skills in the competitive sporting market.

 “I’d like to be able to think more critically about it rather than it just being a hobby.”

Kyle considers his studies at the University of Wollongong as a chance to develop his business skills and writing style, and in turn learn more about himself. His current work on racenet.com.au is beneficial to many horse racing enthusiasts and a good indication of where Kyle’s talents are likely to take him.


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“I just want to be happy” – Ellena Gewargis.

After spending ten minutes with Ellena Gewargis, it is clear that she is intent on making the most out of her university experience. She considers the social aspects of university to be important in developing interpersonal skills, and keeps her focused by giving her time out from her studies.

Although she has no career aspirations as of yet, a degree in Journalism and Creative Writing will surely enable a career path that will compliment her evidently creative and thoughtful disposition.


 

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Gaming has had a positive impact on Eloise Neto.

With her sights set squarely on the world of gaming, Eloise Neto knows that her future lies in joining fiction with reality, in entertainment reporting. Her studies in Media and Communications (Journalism) enable her to consider the wider impact of entertainment media on consumers, which she feels is imperative in delivering insightful gaming articles.

Currently working in a video and game store, Eloise often provides information to parents, who are at times unaware of certain themes explored within the games that their children are playing.  She also uses social media to publish her ideas, particularly in her blog Gaming 101.

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Experience a cultural awakening through UOW.

Students hold a barbeque to promote the volunteer abroad program

University is not exclusively for academic growth and development. Students are exposed daily to a range of programs and opportunities that encourage them to explore the world around them.

The student exchange program offers students the chance to study abroad or alternatively, connect students with volunteer programs in remote communities. Advocates of volunteer abroad programs at the University of Wollongong actively encourage student participation, particularly first year students.

Of his own experiences, onion slicer Rakesh stated, “it is a chance to open your mind to the different cultures, and to really see how the world works.”

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University library – the knowledge armoury.

The University of Wollongong library

Amongst the towering shelves, students wander amongst the rows of books, searching for material relevant to their studies.
The “quiet study area” sign means that even the slightest murmur will attract a series of disapproving looks.

The silence gives way only to the tapping of computer keys, and the soft ruffling of the pages of textbooks. The atmosphere is intense on level 2 at the library.

It is a space for uninterrupted concentration, and gives students access to a wide range of resources that will assist them in expanding their academic minds.

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