The techies save the day – morning

Media 140 Sydney Day 2, 6 November 2009.

It all changed on Day Two of Media140 Sydney.

Instead of the Day 1 brief presentations from academics and journalists, the Day 2 technology-focused case studies and workshops induced a can-do focus on creation and production. There was far more here that independent operators could use.

Some of Jay Rosen’s Keynote Internet Ten Commandments could be taken up by independent and alternative journalists although his suggestions were more relevant for mainstream reporters.

However, in the Case Studies and Tips & Tools for Journos sessions, producers and techies got right down to showing how they use audio, video and multimedia to produce interactive media. For example, Riyaad Minty @riy of AlJazeera said he set up the @AJGaza twitter feed to microreport the Gaza War, using Skype and google chat to communicate during that time.

Claire Wardle @cward1e from the BBC College of Journalism  explained that things did not go to plan when the BBC set up their User Generated Content hub. Instead of sitting back and harvesting a flood of contributions, UGC hub staff found they obtained better content by going out and engaging with their audience.

After flying from South Africa, Jude Mathurine @newmediajude of the New Media Lab, Rhodes University, South Africa, only had time to scratch the surface of his presentation, Why the future of African journalism lies in mobile social networks. I would have liked to have heard more about the media shown on slide #28 on, such as gatorpeeps for microblogging and Zoopy for video sharing.

Barry Saunders from EngageMedia was dismissive of the Day 1 furore about how to “open up journalism” and “help the audience to participate”. “Hey,” he said, “We were doing this with social justice movements 30 years ago”. Barry defined journalism as “a good faith attempt to make sense of the world”, and social media can provide context and history to journalism, he said. Barry’s vision includes a variety of journalism:

  • Trade journalism – press releases and commentary, blogging moving to curating
  • On the grid reporting
  • Social conversation – blogging, editorial
  • Data journalism – making sense of publicly available data
  • Documentary/contextual journalism
  • Curatorial journalism.

Online News Editor Dave Earley recommended we use some tweeting aids: twitter client JournoTwit , search dashboard TweetGridQik for video sharing and Twitpic for sharing photos.

And that was just a few highlights of the morning.


December 16, 2009 at 2:42 am Leave a comment

Tweeting easier than getting paid in a crowd sourcing age

Day One, Media140 Sydney “Future of Journalism in the Social Media Age” conference, 5th and 6th November 2009.

As someone whose work includes freelance writing, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Media140 Sydney.

I was keen to discuss the implications of non-fiction writers and alternative/freelance journalists using social media. What ethical, practical, legal and professionalism issues are involved with using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, You Tube etc to find story ideas, sources/experts, editors and story outlets?

I was hoping to hear critiques of social media. What are the downsides of managing data through “collective intelligence applications”?

Are there minefields involved in freelancers using the same communities of connected users for background research and fact-checking as they use to market and promote themselves? How can a lone operator who is unfairly attacked on a widely-known blog respond effectively? And where does community media fit into all this?

I was also keen to discuss the political economy of social media. Public broadcasters such as the ABC and the BBC are crowd-sourcing unpaid contributions from the public to broaden their sources, but how does this affect freelancers’ ability to make a living? This is happening while newspapers such as the Sydney Morning Herald replace columns written by paid journalists with unpaid “contributor columns” such as Heckler and opinion sites such as On Line Opinion do not pay contributors.

Valerio Veo said in his presentation, “Savvy journalists who are on top of this trend can leapfrog many budding bloggers” but how many can translate this credibility into cash?

Few of these topics were discussed though, including the question of the effect of crowd sourcing on freelancers’ income. Instead, Day One presenters talked about why more journalists should be on twitter, but the mainstream news and political reporters they were discussing are a tiny minority of the field.

Journalists are more likely to be writing for the likes of the Earthmover and Civil Contractor than reporting Question Time, and they are increasingly likely to be freelancers who are already enthusiastic tweeters.

Freelancers write lifestyle, make-up, fashion, travel, careers and gardening articles and columns and blogs.

They create opinion, humour, self-help and astrology columns. They write or edit or photograph for industry publications, banks and insurance company newsletters and union journals. They review cars, toys, TVs, books, restaurants and computers wherever they can find someone to pay them. They write about Second Life and they make documentary films.

The alternative journalism field includes activists who might write journalism for free but prefer to be paid. How is a present-day George Orwell to make a living?

Margaret Simons’ “disinterested journalism of integrity” is produced by trained, experienced freelance journalists as well as mainstream news reporters. However, is it likely that freelancers will produce high quality journalism if they are not paid for it?

(Since the conference there has been discussion about this. See The future of the ABC and of journalism.)

Things became more interesting when social media producers took the stage for the “Do journos do it better?” session, However, Stilgherrian in “What do journos do better, exactly?” spoke of “capital-J journalists” in media factories and everyone else out in social media communities.

There was little acknowledgment that many freelance journalists are out there energetically self-publishing and participating in social media communities already, going by their presence on twitter, on blogs and commenting on forums. To me, the division between freelance journalism, social media and citizen journalism is already quite porous.

Dave Earley’s list of 501 Australian Journalists and News Media People on Twitter demonstrates the range involved in his “Australian media people on Twitter”.

Although being at Media140 Sydney was interesting and enjoyable, by the end of Day One I was not sure I’d made the right decision in coming along at all.

November 19, 2009 at 7:21 am Leave a comment

Reality check on cooking at home

It’s really can be hard for lattes to cook at home.

Continue Reading November 7, 2009 at 4:36 am Leave a comment

Getting around without a car

Urban historian Professor Peter Spearritt’s recent Inside Story article “Trouble in the City” includes some interesting comparisons between the public transport systems of Sydney and Southeast Queensland.

It used to be that Sydney had a great public transport system while Brisbane’s was hopeless and a car was a necessity, but that’s changed quite a bit.

Although Sydney still has a good public transport system with an extensive rail network, these days it becomes very crowded at peak hour. Town Hall Station can be quite dangerous because it is way over capacity.

However, the beauty of living in Sydney is that you can get to about 40 excellent beaches by public transport in a reasonable time and many in one leg. From Wynyard to Palm Beach might take 1 1/2 hours, but you’ll get there in one bus trip. Marrickville to Bondi Beach is two trains and a bus, but you can do it in an hour.

On the other hand, Sydney’s ubiquitous buses grind through the traffic, notorious for running late or not at all, although there are exceptions such as the buses whizzing along the Harbour Bridge bus lanes.

Up north, as well as trains that run on time, Brisbane residents love their busway system which takes people from outlying suburbs to the CBD in minutes. But outside Brisbane it’s another story. Spearritt reports that only two per cent of travel on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts is by public transport.

Getting to the beaches north and south of Brisbane can be a long process. Apart from private bus lines, traveling to the Sunshine Coast by public transport means a train to Caboolture, then a slow bus to the coast. You can rip down to the Gold Coast on a fast train, but only as far as Robina. From there it’s a bus to the beaches.

Both cities have water-based public transport systems with Sydney’s ferries traversing the harbour reaches while Brisbane’s ferries and CityCats cover the Brisbane River.

So owning a car is no longer a necessity in Brisbane, although you won’t make it to the beach in a hurry without one.

November 3, 2009 at 7:32 am Leave a comment

The best stollen in Sydney

Someone just asked on twitter where they could find really good stollen in Sydney. Now PPAL’s in Sydney and she was tempted to tweet right back and say Coles has 500g stollen for $6.99 but she knows that that’s not what the enquirer was looking for. And she wouldn’t want them to think she was making fun of them.

In the inner-city Sydney latte belt you can’t buy any old stollen, you need to find the top stollen, the absolutely sublime stollen, the really, really special stollen.

A latte couldn’t possibly go down to Coles and buy 500g stollen for $6.99. Unless they took it home and unwrapped it and pretended to have made it themselves.

Now PPAL thinks having rich, sweet, spiced stollen at all is special given that it’s usually only sold around Christmas time. She has made her own stollen, but it takes a while and if she wanted stollen quickly, she’d happily buy it from Coles.

But she might need to keep quiet about it.

October 29, 2009 at 9:09 pm Leave a comment

Captain Mango would like to sit down

Contribution from Captain Mango

Why do Sydney people (on trains and buses) insist on occupying two seats – putting their bag on the seat next to them?

October 16, 2009 at 12:59 am Leave a comment

Always good things to do in Brisbane

When PPAL saw an article called “Beyond Brisbane, it’s glorious” she jumped to the conclusion this was yet another article saying there’s nothing to do in Brisbane and it’s best to pass through as soon as possible to get to the great things elsewhere in Queensland.

Now PPAL always thought dismissing Brisbane like this was a little harsh, because there’s always been interesting and attractive things there to show visitors from elsewhere.

When people came to visit you in Brisbane, you could take them on a drive to see the views from Mt Cootha and on to Clayfield, Hendra and Corinda to see the big, beautiful, old Queenslanders.

Or you could take visitors for a drive to see the roses at New Farm Park and a walk around the Botanic Gardens beside the river in town was always pleasant.

In 1996 it became even better, because you could take them for a ride up and down the Brisbane River in the CityCat. And from around 2006, you could visit the Cultural Centre in South Brisbane, as well as enjoying all the new restaurants, the live music in Fortitude Valley and the rest.

However, when PPAL read the article, she found it was about the glories of the hinterland towns on the Lamington Plateau, inland from the Gold Coast: Mount Nebo, Mount Glorious, Tamborine Mountain etc.

Great places to take people on a drive, and the article wasn’t putting Brisbane down at all.

October 15, 2009 at 12:51 am Leave a comment

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