What is Interactive Journalism?

In the Twenty-first Century, the internet has completely dominated the culture of our civilisation. As the years progress, technology is rapidly changing in efficiency, and many are rightly arguing that our attention spans are becoming shorter as well as being focused on more interactive learning methods. This has been degrading the use and quality of journalism. Recently, many different media outlets are experimenting on interactive online storytelling, embracing the technology age to engage audiences. The following are two examples of interactive reports that have their advantages and their weaknesses.

Nuclear nightmares is a report that I found to be thoroughly engaging, as well as confronting. The exploration of the present day effects of the Chernobyl disaster is full of images that are quite horrific.

The way in which this report interacts with audiences is highly unique and I found to be easily engaging. Photographs of victims of radiation are all shown in black-and-white, and after taking as long as you need to digest the visual image, you can hover the mouse over the bottom of the picture which reveals a caption about the details of the subject. There are also some sequences of photos which you can scroll through, each one revealing something new about the subject.

This method of storytelling is not only highly interactive, but it is also valuable in journalism as it allows audiences to reflect on things before reading more about them. It allows a complete and satisfying digestion of the report.

The second example is Suspect America, a vimeo animated short explaining surveillance after 9/11 in the US. The interactivity of this report is much simpler, as it is purely video storytelling with no need for audiences to touch anything.

While this is much weaker on the interactive side than the previous example, it still explores its own way of interactive storytelling. The animation is paced well enough to allow audiences to engage properly, and takes advantage of film effects to break down and explain each aspect of the story that is being told.

This doesn’t allow you to engage at your own pace and discover the elements of the story yourself, however (for me, at least) the pacing of the video and the explanations seemed to do the job well enough.

These are both great examples of interactive multimedia journalism and I am excited to see what new ways journalists come up with to present stories.

It’s Not Just A Game

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It's Not Just A Game

“It’s more than just a team,” he says, “South Sydney are an integral part of me as a person.” Harrison, has a passion that surpasses all he knows; it is his identity.

Harrison Worley has been a fan of the South Sydney Rabbitohs since before he knew what football was. “My father was a huge Souths fan, and from the moment he first held me as a newborn, I was a South Sydney fan!” he says enthusiastically. He still remembers going to see them play in 1999 against the Tigers at the Sydney Football Stadium; he believes this was his earliest football memory.

“As a sport, Rugby League is fast, skilful and tactically engaging. It’s a sport which caters for people…” he tells me, “…it represents the diversity of the area I’m from – Western Sydney; the game’s heartland.” Harrison has spent his whole life growing up in South Western Sydney, and it has certainly made an impression on his values as a now adult. He is soon to turn 19, and he is still as energetic and passionate for the Souths as he was 10 years ago.

Harry pays for membership every year, and receives a ticket to games that the Souths play in, however this year he’s only been to two matches, “…such is the complexity of balancing everything when at university!” he bursts in a sort of half laugh, half cry.

In his heart, he truly believes that the Souths are more than just a team. His image of them is actually quite colourful and well thought out, “Our club is a tapestry, made up of a mix of different socio economic levels, geographies, cultures-“ he pauses to collect his statement “…Souths represent diversity and wearing that jersey outside of the game allows me to demonstrate those values which are integral to our club.”

He smiles with his eyes when he says “There is also a huge factor of pride. I’m so proud to be a member of this football club. I love the people, the history – I just love this club.” Lightly feeling the material of his jersey, he explains “Wearing this jersey makes me so happy, and it allows me to remind myself of the extremely special club I am a part of. I am proud of South Sydney, and I want to demonstrate that – always.”

It’s not about the actual competitive sport that makes Harrison who he is. It’s what the football universe means to him on the inside. Everybody has something that is as significant to them as the need to breathe. We all have an expressive side in us, something that we want to belong to and want to. “The club is a part of my identity, and easily one of my greatest passions. If Souths were to fall out of my life, there would exist a considerable gap, which would not be able to be filled easily” he sums up. Harrison’s love for his game and his team, are what we as humans strive to look for in our lives.

The Fall of Print and the Decline in Journalism

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There has been a decline in journalism employment in recent years. Technology factors are responsible. The rise of online and social media journalism has decreased the demand for traditional print and broadcast media.

The July 2013 issue of ‘The Monthly’ talked about the decline in newspaper employment in Australia. It says that forty years ago, people used to purchase copies of the newspaper only to read the classified ads, and throw the rest of the paper in the bin. The internet has taken over much of the advertising, which has reduced a major source of funding for newspapers.

According to the article, the major newspapers “…employed around 1500 journalists. Today that number is closer to 1000. Within two years it could be as few as 500.” The fall of print media is beginning and it is hitting hard on journalists.

Tony Rogers’ article in ‘About.com’ looks into details about journalism employment. Rogers says that while traditional print has recently lost so much, online journalism is looking to be promising. It seems optimistic, saying “Patch.com alone has hired upwards of 1,000 journalists in just the last year or so and said this week they’d be hiring even more.”

Moving online doesn’t exactly mean that it’s the same as print – only on the internet. The net pardons integrity most of the time. And it is becoming difficult to compete against ‘citizen journalists’, as they may produce information first; without the authenticity of a journalist.

An ABC article in 2012 blames Rupert Murdoch’s empire for the decline in quality. It says comparing to the older style of media, “Reporters opinionate, facts are mutable in the service of agendas. Journalism ain’t what it was.” Murdoch is used as an example; he has taken heavy criticism about the use of opinion.

The internet amplifies the ability to use opinion, as it is widely open and allows anonymity. Journalism truly isn’t what it used to be. And we are yet to see where it is heading in the near future.

Federal Election Bias and Media Ownership

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We are expected to trust in the media to deliver the truth. The news is supposed to be honest and unbiased. This may not have been the case during the 2013 Australian Federal Election. Rupert Murdoch’s ‘News Corp’ has taken heavy criticism due to its one sided coverage during the campaign. A number of articles have been written highlighting the true nature of News Corp’s coverage, which seemed to focus more on attacking Labor than actually covering key policies and arguments.

 An episode of Media Watch in September last year, highlights the front page headlines by ‘The Daily Telegraph’, which were simply putting down Kevin Rudd and his campaigners. It included headlines such as “Kick This Mob Out!” and “Does This Guy Ever Shut Up?”. Media Watch presented Paul Barry says “…it’s hard to believe it had no effect, even if the Tele’s western Sydney heartland failed to produce the Labor wipeout that many had predicted.” 

The Guardian produced an article talking about Murdoch’s tactics during the time. It heavily criticises Murdoch, claiming he wished to see Rudd out from power. “There is not the slightest attempt to conceal his agenda. It is blatant, bold and belligerent.” it says, “…it confirms yet again the way in which he links political interventions to his commercial desires.” It also mentions Murdoch bringing Col Allan from New York, specifically to write dirty articles attacking Rudd and his government. 

It is difficult to deny the level of bias in the coverage; Media Watch found that out of 293 political stories, 6 were pro Labor, while 43 were pro coalition, and 5 were anti Coalition and134 were anti Labor. This string of stories far differs from the neutral standards that are normally upheld in news coverage. Whether it actually influenced the election or not, it is a serious issue about bias in journalism and affects the integrity of journalism in the future.

Is Online Media the Future of Journalism?

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Ruben Campbell, showing the stream of news on his Facebook newsfeed.

With the rise of social media, news delivery has undergone a dramatic change. Younger generations are turning away from traditional news. Instead, they are receiving most of their information from Facebook and Twitter. This change in tide is resulting in difficult future choices being made by students.

It is not unknown that a career in journalism requires toughness, determination and passion. But in today’s society that may still not be enough to have a successful career. 18 year old Ruben Campbell, who wants to go into sports journalism is still optimistic. He says “you want a lot opportunities to make into the workforce, but I have a blog running in the moment and if you have something like that it makes your opportunity of getting a sport journalist job a lot easier… in order to become a sport journalist you have to put yourself out there.” He believes that online media creates more competition between actual journalists and people that just engage with social media.

28 year old Angus Collocott is extremely worried about finding work as a journalist. As a mature age student, he understands the significance of this. His hopes of one day being a film and review journalist are very delicate. He expressed his concern saying “As it is such a specialised industry, there are not a lot of jobs in the field were you can be successful and have a voice.” He had much to say about his concern in online media. “I think that it is diminishing it; there is too much content that is being produced without proper research and thought,” he expressed, “there is a  need to keep up with the 24 hours news cycle and sensationalism which I think produces a lower quality of journalism more obsessed with ratings, money and celebrities.”

Some have decided to create their own path. 18 year old Julie Naous is currently in her degree and wishes to pursue travel journalism. “I can do it on my own; my only concern is being good and interesting enough to have a sort of following from the public” says Naous. She also feels that there need not be a worry about the online shift “I believe that online and social media journalism is giving every person a voice in current affairs, however traditional journalism may be losing its value.” She believes that we should embrace it.

Although some may see the light at the end of the tunnel, others have abandoned the option of journalism. John Durrant, a 23 year old Law student always wanted to be a music journalist growing up. He has decided to pursue law, with a journalism elective, saying “I definitely don’t think it’s a viable career option”, but he believes “…it’s definitely changing the game. While a lot of people now use it as there news source I don’t think it will replace traditional news outlets any time soon.”

While there are mixed opinions on the good and bad of the online shift, it has visibly changed the minds of many students and their futures in journalism.