Narrative Essay: What are the impacts of technology on broadcast journalism?

Standing in the middle of the road with a camera set up taking shots down a busy Katoomba street, I found myself wondering, how can I make this story more digital? This is a question that more and more journalists, editors and producers are asking themselves on every single story (Jones & Salter, 2012; Stassen, 2010). There have always been strong links between journalism and technology (Pavlik, 2000) and there is no better time than the present to highlight some of these links. Though when studying the links between technology and journalism one must understand the impacts that new technology has on the modern practices of journalism.

 

In order to make the story more digital I sent out a tweet about the story, followed up by another tweet showing the camera at the scene (Thomson, 2015). Twitter has become a primary method of breaking news because it is instantaneous and direct (Stassen, 2010). By using my social media following I was able to tell a story about the news piece I was producing. Other methods I could have used would have been Instagram, WordPress blogs and Facebook. My broadcaster of choice was Twitter because it was the most direct way of reaching as many people as possible.

Due to the increasing pressures of the 24-hour news cycle, journalists are vying for the power to break stories (Oddo, 2014). By using portable digital recording devices and editing applications the ability to break news whilst in the field is now a new norm. Social media and blogging platforms are offering new mediums for publishing news even when away from a newsroom. This is challenging the traditional methods of broadcast and print journalism (Hodgson & Wong, 2011). In some cases journalists have organised portable wifi signals so that they can publish from isolated warzones (Aedy, 2014). With a simple wifi signal and a smart phone, a journalist can break stories from the heart of the story. However with this new technology comes the rise of citizen journalism.

Citizen journalism is an alternative form of journalism in which a civilian uploads news content to social media, helping in the dissemination of news content (Greer & McLaughlin, 2010). Some suggest that citizen journalism has a negative effect on traditional journalism (Hill 2014), whilst some argue that it offers up a new way of gathering and accessing news from across the world (Preston, 2014). One thing for sure is that citizen journalists would not be doing what they are doing without the advances in technology. During the Egyptian revolution of 2011 and the subsequent Arab Spring, citizen journalism shed a light on the atrocities that was being inflicted on protestors. When it was too dangerous for Western journalists to report, local citizen journalists uploaded and broadcast content via social media from makeshift wifi networks (el-Nawawy & Khamis, 2013). A journalist must also think of the ramifications of a citizen journalist. By taking journalism to the streets and opening it up to a number of different citizens, a new element of competition is added into the business of journalism.

 

Social media and technology has opened up new ways in which consumers can interact in real time with broadcasted content. The Australian Broadcasting Company has used social media to its advantage with its flagship live broadcast program Q and A (Q and A, n.d.). Viewers can interact with the program through a Twitter hashtag and through viewer submitted questions. This user-generated content is a practice, which all branches and mediums of journalism participate in. User-generated content can enhance a broadcast or a story (Kiss, 2009) yet it can hinder a story also. Sometimes user-generated content can blur the lines between what is unfair and sometimes biased reporting (Lukyanenko, Parsons & Wiersma, 2012; Kiss, 2007) breaking a number of journalistic codes of ethics. If user-generated content were to be used in a story or broadcast, all aspects of any ethical or operational codes must be weighed up. This newly evolving form of user-generated technology has impacted the way journalists broadcast stories on air and online, because now the audience has a greater say in the story.

 

When out on the beat chasing my story, I found myself thinking competitively. I wanted to get this story out first, I wanted to cut and package it up as fast as possible. In this desire to be first I reflected on the competitive nature of Internet broadcasting and I questioned new ways in which I could use the digital technologies to my advantage. Further broadcasting methods I could have used was social networks like Snapchat and Instagram. By using their live streaming and video functions I could have created more interest in my story through social media. Though I specifically chose not to. If I took time out of my story to take more video on my smartphone, I potentially could have missed something or worse made my interview subject nervous (Masterson, 2014). Due to the increasing pressures on journalists, we are all being forced to become multiplatform journalists and producers. Every journalist needs to be competent in blogging, broadcasting, sound and video editing, and story research (Ahrens, 2006). Technology is impacting the way in which journalists work in the field and in a professional environment, because it is forcing them to think of the different platforms of broadcast and it is forcing them to publish on all of these outlets.

 

Technology is having, and will always have, an impact on journalism and its practices. From the birth of the printing press to the invention of the television, journalists have always found a home on whatever new media is out there. The mass subscription to social media networks like Twitter and blogs like tumblr has shown that journalists have embraced new technology over the last 10 years. Though the real test for journalists will emerge in the ways in which they adopt or adapt to the future changes in technology.

 

Reference:

 

Aedy, R. (2014, August 5). Smart phone photojournalism: Ben Lowy [HD] Media

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radionational/programs/mediareport/iphone-journalism-with-ben-

lowy/5693756

 

Ahrens, F. (2006). A high multiplatform drive. Retrieved on 2015, May 28 from

http://ajrarchive.org/Article.asp?id=4161

 

el-Nawawy, M., & Khamis, S. (2013). Egyptian Revolution 2.0. New York, USA:

Palgrave Macmillan.

 

Greer, C., & McLaughlin, E. (2010). We predict a riot? Public order policing, new

media environments and the rise of citizen journalism.   British journal of

         criminology, 50(6), 1041-1059. DOI: 10.1093/bjc/azq039

 

Hill, K. (2014). The rise and fall of citizen journalism. Retrieved on 2015, May 26

from http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2014/05/14/4004510.htm

 

Hodgson, P., & Wong, D. (2011) Developing professional skills in journalism

through blogs. Assessment and evaluation of higher education, 36(2), 197-

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Jones, J., & Salter, L. (2012). Digital journalism. London, UK: Thousand Oaks.

 

Kiss, J. (2007). The trouble with ‘user’ generated content. Retrieved on 2015, May 29 from

http://www.theguardian.com/media/pda/2007/jan/03/thetroublewith

usergenerate

 

Kiss, J. (2009). @SXSWi: Does user-generated content have a future? Retrieved on 2015,

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web20

 

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         Improving Information Quality in Structured User-Generated Content. Journal of

         Information Systems Research, 25(4), 669-689. DOI: 10.1287/isre.2014.0537

 

Masterson, A. (2014). Social media concepts in doubt when applied to journalism.

         Retrieved on 2015, May 28 from http://www.smh.com.au/digital-

life/digital-life-news/social-media-concepts-in-doubt-when-applied-to-

journalism-20140917-108vlg.html

 

Oddo, J. (2014). Intertextuality and the 24-hour news cycle: A day in the Rhetorical

         life of Colin Powell’s U.N. address. USA: Michigan State University Press.

 

Pavlik, J. (2000). The impact of technology on journalism. Journalism studies, 1(2),

         229-237. DOI: 10.1080/14616700050028226

 

Preston, P. (2014) Smartphone journalism is a revolution too far for the BBC.

         Retrieved on 2015, May 26, from http://www.theguardian.com/media

/2014/jul/13/bbc-smartphone-mobile-news-journalism-revolution

 

Q and A. (n.d.) Contact Us. Retrieved on 2015, May 27, from http://www.abc.

net.au/tv/qanda/contact-us.htm

 

Stassen, W. (2010). Your news in 140 characters: exploring the role of social

media in journalism. Global media journal – Africa Edition, 4(1), 116 – 131.

         Retrieved from http://reference.sabinet.co.za/sa_epublication_

article/glomed_africa_v4_n1_a7

 

Thomson, K. [@keeganthomo]. (2015, May 8). Being a news producer in

Katoomba today [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Keeganth

omo/status/596607432782024704?lang=en

Closure of major intersection divides a Blue Mountains town.

Blue Mountains residents debate the closure of a major road in downtown Springwood but it seems no one has a solution.

Residents of the Blue Mountains town of Springwood are locked in a heated debate with residents and business owners clashing over the closure of the intersection of the Great Western Highway and Macquarie Road.

The Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) recently blocked off the city-bound turn off on Macquarie Road after a successful trial in November, effectively stopping all traffic heading east on the highway.

A RMS traffic study found there were “an extra 56 cars per hour on Macquarie Road in the morning peak [an increase of 14 per cent] and 23 extra cars in the afternoon.”

Macquarie Road

Busy morning traffic on Macquarie Road. Photo by Keegan Thomson.

This meant that the road closure was forcing cars further up Macquarie road and towards the main street of Springwood.

Ms Kim Cowper, Secretary of the Valley Heights Progress Association, suggests the closure would have “dramatic effect on Hawkesbury Road, Burns Road and De Chair Avenue in those peak periods.”

Though the RMS study states the increase in morning and afternoon traffic “would not have an adverse effect on traffic performance.”

Members of the business community have come suggesting there has been “no visible effect to Macquarie Road since the closure.”

President of the Springwood Chamber of Commerce, Mr Jonathan Crisp, has said the closure of the road would possibly have the positive effect for business.

“I think it’ll probably drive more people towards town because you can’t just go down and turn right down there [the intersection], you have to come up this way so it may possibly be a good thing for business,” Mr Crisp said.

The road was closed because it was seen as a highly accident-prone area, with nearly 20 accidents at the intersection, 11 resulting in injuries and 1 resulting in a fatality.
In their project report, the RMS says the closure will “improve safety by reducing ‘T-bone’ and head on collisions.”

Macquarie Road

You can no longer turn left onto the Great Western Highway at Macquarie Road. Photo by Keegan Thomson.

Even though the intersection is an accident black spot, Ms Cowper suggests there are bigger concerns for local residents living in bushfire prone areas around nearby Burns Road and De Chair Avenue.

“One of our bigger concerns is if they put a concrete barrier there, and we get a fire down the south, called Sassafras Gully, the people in De Chair Avenue and Burns Road do not have a safe immediate exit to get down the road in an emergency,” Ms Cowper said.

Even though the road was closed off, there are still a number of alternative routes in and out of Springwood offering a number of escape routes for Springwood residents in the case of a bushfire.

Some residents don’t seem to be fazed by the closure of the road, even with the thought of a bushfire in their minds.

Local businessman and resident, Allan Crooks, didn’t seam too worried about the prospect of not having a bushfire escape route.

“If there was a bushfire so bad in Burns Road… you’d have police and SES all over the place. So I presume they’d close the highway and then people from Burns road given priority to get out,” Mr Crooks said.

For now the intersection has been sealed off, however Valley Heights Progress Association has vowed to continue lobbying the new Labor MP, Trish Doyle, until a more functional solution is found

A learning holiday isn’t as bad as it sounds.

A learning holiday isn’t as bad as it sounds.

How I spent my summer break taking photos, eating pig’s intestines, and soaking in hot springs across China and Hong Kong.

During the summer break, whilst most Australians were sweating it out in the sun, or cooling off at the beach, I was invited to join a group of University of Western Sydney students exploring Hong Kong and Southern Mainland China.

We were on a photojournalism trip, organised through the New Colombo Plan Scholarship, which was created to open up better ties and communication between Australia and its Asian neighbours. I would like to call this type of travel, a learning holiday. It’s a learning holiday because there is just as much mucking about as there is learning.

For two weeks, myself and 11 other students, led by our fearless leader, Dr. David “Davo” Cubby, tackled the food, culture, language and customs that the Chinese had to offer, as well as a whole lot more.

Our tour began in the sprawling urban metropolis of Hong Kong. After leaving Sydney on a balmy 31 degree day, arriving in Hong Kong we found ourselves in the middle of a Chinese winter.

Hong Kong is a wonderful mixing pot of new aged Chinese and old traditional Western remnants. Double decker buses left over from the days of British rule make their way around the steep mountainous island, and the busy streets of Kowloon. No matter how much China tries to influence the economies and cultures of Hong Kong, you can really see this exotic mix of East meets West.

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Hong Kong is full of vibrant markets and bright characters. Photo by Keegan Thomson.

Being a learning holiday, we had to do all the touristy things like visit Victoria Peak, eat copious amounts of Chinese dumplings and pork buns, and marvel at the speed and promptness of the public transport (I’m a bit of a public transport nerd). Getting around the city with public transport was easy and economical.

With the fun and sightseeing, comes the class work and learning. Because we were on a scholarship trip, we also had to do some small amount of learning. Teaming up with a photojournalism class from Hong Kong’s Baptist University, and ventured into our bustling urban surroundings to take photographs. This was a great experience to understand how other universities run, how other students interact with their universities.

I add a word of caution to anyone travelling to Hong Kong. Wandering around the tourist hotspots like Victoria Harbour and the bars of Soho is a conniving band of con artists dressed up like Buddhist Monks. They beg and try to con you into buying their ‘precious’ and ‘authentic Buddhist jewllery’. They pry on unknowing tourists. We had a slight run in with these Monks, but nothing that wasn’t too unfriendly.

Talking about Victoria Harbour, if you ever find yourself in Hong Kong around 8 PM, you need to check out the Symphony of Lights show. Every night around 40 buildings on the Hong Kong side of the harbour light up and shoot synchronised laser lights high into the sky. Across my travels I’ve seen the nigh time skylines of some of the most beautiful cities that this world has to offer, however the Hong Kong skyline, seen from Kowloon, will forever be etched into my memory.

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The colourful and unforgettable Hong Kong skyline. Photo by Keegan Thomson.

Kissing goodbye to the sights and sounds of colourful Hong Kong, we made our way to the notoriously tedious Chinese boarder. Here we all had our passports checked, our visas authenticated and our temperatures checked for Ebola.

The immigration controls are very stringent at the Chinese-Hong Kong border; cars are required to drive through the border with their doors open wide, so they can prove that they are not hiding anyone other than the indicated passengers.

In China we be based ourselves in one of China’s newest and most prosperous cities, Shenzhen. There was a lot of instant change in Shenzhen. We found ourselves driving on the right hand side of the road, the air was thicker with more pollution, and the buildings looked older and more clinical.

Engaging with the locals we ate what the locals ate. Some of the students on the tour weren’t too keen to go literally face first into some of the Chinese dishes. But as the ancient Chinese proverb suggests, when in China do as the Chinese do.

One of the most memorable meals was in a Chinese fast food restaurant called 42. Of course being in China, most non-westernised restaurants only have a Chinese language menu. Some of the menus have photos that you can point to, so you’re practically eating with your eyes. After picking out a beef dish, and what we thought was a sliced barbecue chicken dish, we sat down and started eating. One mouthful of this supposed chicken dish made us realise that we had actually ordered fried chilli pig’s intestines. It was an easy mistake. Take my word for it, fried chilli pig’s intestines looks like barbecue chicken.

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Chilli pigs intestines can be easily mistaken for barbecue chicken. Photo by Keegan Thomson

Our brief for our photojournalism assignment, whilst in China, was ‘getting by’, which meant that we had the chance to explore a lot of the more traditional and less affluent areas of Southern Mainland China. Visiting the art village of Da Fen, we saw how thousands of Chinese artists paint imitations of the world’s most well-known artworks. They churn out thousands of copies of the Mona Lisa each year, all of them differing in quality. This is where the true meaning of ‘Made in China’ can be found.

Diving further into our brief we took a long bus trip on the wide, and often poorly maintained, Chinese highways to the rural county of Heping. Some of the communities here still show remnants of Mao’s oppressive Cultural Revolution.

Photographing the people of these villages was a treat because everyone was so very happy for us to be taking their photographs. Even if they didn’t have much, people were more than happy to show you around their homes, offer up a smile, and even let you pat their pets.

There was just one more thing we had to do before we left China. We couldn’t leave without experiencing one of China’s best known and most celebrated past times, the art of karaoke. Booking out a whole karaoke room we spent the night singing ourselves hoarse and dancing ourselves silly.

The learning holiday was a great way to learn and engage with the people of China and Hong Kong. It was a rewarding experience to work alongside Chinese students and photojournalists. However, if I had to give one piece of advice to anyone travelling to Asia, it would be that you don’t eat anything, unless you’re 100 percent sure you know what you’re putting in your mouth. You might end up eating something like stewed dog, or pickled chicken necks.

Group UWS Student Photo

The students of UWS showing off their camera skills. Photo by David Cubby.

Top 5 things to do in Hong Kong 

  1. Eat yourself stupid on dumplings and noodles.

Hong Kong is famous for its Cantonese spices and flavours. The best and most authentic restaurants can be found around the Temple Street Night Markets in Mong Kok, but you shouldn’t be afraid to search the back streets of Kowloon City for some good eats.

  1. Take a trip to the seaside.

Being an island, Hong Kong has some picturesque seaside towns. Take a double-decker bus to the south side of the island and enjoy the sunshine and sea. In the towns of Stanley and Repulse Bay you can find bargain markets and sparkling beaches.

  1. Get lost while you barter in the markets.

Asia is known for its markets, and in Hong Kong I urge you to make the most of these cheap markets. Check out the off-brand toys, clothes and shoes. They’re well worth the price.

  1. Sit and enjoy Victoria Harbour

No matter what time of day or night, Victoria Harbour is one of the most vibrant and colourful sights in all of Asia. Sit and watch the traditional Chinese Junks sail by, or watch the Symphony of Lights show and marvel at the lights on show.

  1. Stand in the shadow of a Buddha

About an hours train trip from Central train station is Lantau Island. On Lantau is the Tian Tan Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery. The big bronze Buddha offers up 360-degree views of the island and of the surrounding mountains. Maybe one of the most spectacular and spiritual places in Hong Kong is the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas in the Monastery. Ten thousand titles, all with hand etched and painted Buddhas on them, line the walls with five golden Buddhas in the middle of the hall. Well worth the trip.

 

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The Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas a must see spectacle. Photo by Keegan Thomson.

Top 5 things NOT to do in Hong Kong 

  1. Don’t get caught on the escalators

In Hong Kong there are a number of escalators that take workers, tourists and families up from central Hong Kong to the mid levels. Depending the time of day the escalators go different directions. So in the morning they might go up the hill and in the afternoon they might be going down the hill. If you’re not careful you’ll end up walking all the way up hill through the busy streets.

  1. Don’t over pay the taxis

Most taxis in Hong Kong will hit you with a flat rate for the first couple of kilometres driven, however some will be tricky and they wont turn on their metres. Be careful and make sure they put on their metres otherwise they’ll often charge you double.

  1. Watch out for traffic and avoid the rush.

Being the most heavily populated place in the planet, Hong Kong and Kowloon can be an incredibly busy place. Avoid public transport during the morning and afternoon rush and always watch the roads as some drivers ignore road signs and red lights.

  1. Don’t tip!

This is a rule that can change in some places, however most restaurants will take it as an offence if you tip. But this rule isn’t always the case, so when in doubt just ask.

  1. Don’t buy the fakes.

With so many markets in Hong Kong it is hard to spot the authentic from the fakes. Be careful in the markets, particularly the Gold and Jade Markets, as they can be scattered with fake imitations of the real product. Just know what you’re paying for before you buy it.

 

Some school work ain’t too bad – Day 14

Today wasn’t too exciting, though two interesting things happened.

#Interestingthing1: We had to deliver a presentation to a bunch of Chinese artists, photographers and businessmen and women. Our presentation was made up of our photographs from China. The hardest part of the presentation was that we had to deliver our presentations whilst a translator spoke to the audience in Chinese for us.

Working with a translator was a great exercise in communication theory. You need to talk whilst listening to the translator and understanding the flow of the translator. There was a number of times where I became caught up by the translator. I needed to stop and make smaller sentences so that the translator could keep up. Another skill to have is literal language skills. Chinese don’t have colloquial metaphors or similes. So you need to speak very literally.

#Interestingthing2: Dinner was a massive Mongolian feast! We’re talking LAMB, we’re talking strong Chinese liquor, we’re talking chopsticks, we’re talking more spices than you can poke stick at. I felt like a dirty Aussie tourist when I picked up the leg of lamb and started sucking off the left over lamb bits and juices.

Splendid China Folk Village – Day 13

China has its fair share of odd little amusement parks. Take the knock off Disneyland in Shanghai, or maybe the mystical, magical Windows of the World, a theme park that has miniature versions of some of the worlds most famous landmarks. Today we visited Splendid China Folk Village, in Shenzhen.

This place is amazing! Across the sprawling 30 hectares is over 100 different attractions highlighting the different cultures and traditional people of China. Separated into two different parks, one of them hosting a miniature theme park with miniature models of some of China’s most famous monuments. The second part of the park contains around 100 different exhibits all demonstrating the numerous traditional Chinese cultures and indigenous tribes.

Splendid China Folk Village was actually the single most tacky place that I’ve ever visited in my life. Though I’m totally ok with it. Folk Village helped reaffirm my ideas behind what makes China the way it is. The obscene tackiness and obnoxious dagginess suggested that China wants to illustrate their history through a very insular, pro-China way. Of course as a tourist and a student, I can see that this place is beyond tacky. It would be interesting to see what a Chinese citizen would think of the theme park.

For dinner we ate at an American tradition. Throughout the world I try to indulge in local and traditional food to the region, however when overseas it is interesting to see how different fast foods are served across the world. Tonight we would be indulging in the wonders that are Chinese Pizza Hut! Boyo they delivered monster sized pizzas! YAY for private international fast food companies!

– theme park

– pizza hut

Coastal Village – Day 12

Driving around South-East China meant we saw a lot of the country side. After seeing mainland China we would today be seeing a little of coastal China. This meant lots of boats, lots of fresh fish, and a whole new type of cuisine.

Driving towards the coast we drove through a number of large tunnels, some extending for more than a kilometre into mountains (try holding your breath as you drive through those bad boys). They’re constructed with such precision and with such workforce. Thats the thing about China. When they want a city to thrive, they’ll throw billions of dollars into working it up. Up until 30 years ago, Shenzhen wasn’t even a bleep on the radar. It was only when Beijing wanted to create a city that would rival the economic power of Hong Kong that they decided to build Shenzhen. In around 30 years the city has become one of China’s most productive cities, with one of the biggest populations of any city in the world.

Arriving at Dapeng we wandered around the sea front. Here we found many poorly constructed fishing boats ready to sail our into the South China Sea. Most of the fishing boats had blaring red Chinese flags on them. Most of the boats looked like they wouldn’t be able to weather much of storm, let alone a massive catch of fish.

An old beggar came up to us and started singing with his throat, so of course we gave him a few dollars. He took those dollars and quickly stored it in his pocket. Across my travels I’ve found that beggars have different tactics. Some like to leave a pan filled with money, perhaps in order to suggest that other people have given money in the past. Others like to take the money out of their pan, maybe this tactic is the most desperate. It seems the mentality behind this tactic is that, people give up money to beggars who have nothing in their pans. I’ve never had to beg for money so I’m yet to experiment with these two methods.

Whilst travelling anywhere in the world I’m always excited to eat things which one cannot get ones hands on in Australia. So when someone offers you sea snails and fish cheeks, you can’t turn that stuff down! Sea snails are considered a delicacy, particularly in the area of Depeng we were visiting. They kinda taste like normal snails but with a hint of salt.