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Here’s the Story of Four Journalism Students…

Clockwise from top left: Natalie, Dean, Annie and Mitchell are a passionate bunch.

Clockwise from top left: Natalie, Dean, Annie and Mitchell are a passionate bunch.

Four individuals; four passions; one university. What do a scientist, musician, movie buff and sportsman all have in common? A shared goal – to pursue a career in journalism related to their interests. However, Annie, Dean, Natalie and Mitchell concede that landing their dream job in the current journalistic employment climate will not be an easy task.

Confident and articulate, Annie Hazelton (18) always knew her passions lay with science and public speaking. Upon discovering the field of science communication Annie explained that “Everything just fell into place for me.” However she is concerned about the general public’s reaction to science itself. “People’s eyes usually glaze over when science appears in mainstream media. Many scientists are geniuses, but they’re not good communicators,” Annie explained. “I aim to be the solution to this problem.” Her dream job is to present on ABC’s Catalyst or work for the BBC, however, in reality Annie realises that she is more likely to find work online.

Another journalism student pursuing a career where he can utilise his talents and interests is guitarist and song-writer Dean Blake (24). However, Dean explained that music journalism is often considered a to be a “hobbyist pursuit, and isn’t given the same visibility as mainstream news.” He believes that digital media outlets have significantly enhanced the storytelling element of music journalism, but explains that because music isn’t seen as a ‘serious’ issue like politics, it is frequently disregarded and overlooked by mainstream media. With these concerns in mind, Dean is adamant that he wouldn’t turn down any employment opportunity, be it print, broadcast or online.

Captivated and inspired by film and television Natalie Cupac (18) is adamant that her future will involve writing about popular culture. “I can see myself being a film critic, but I’d particularly love to write about the profound effects that pop culture can have on people,” she stated. “I don’t think that people really appreciate popular culture journalism. Many people just write it off as unimportant gossip.” Whilst Natalie would prefer to work in print journalism, she acknowledges that “Everything is moving online, so I’m pretty sure I’ll end up working digitally.” Natalie believes that this movement online has enhanced popular culture journalism by extending journalists’ freedom of speech and flexibility.

A lifelong passion for sport has led Mitchell Finlayson (19) to aspire to a career in journalism. Acknowledging the impact that social media has had on sport, Mitchell accepts that “There aren’t many jobs right now for sports journalists, because any person with a phone and Internet can instantly share the latest scores or sporting issues with the world.” Inspired by entertainment-based sport programs such as The Footy Show, Mitchell believes that the future of sports journalism lies in “Journalists having the ability to put their own spin on things so they don’t just end up like any other citizen blogger.”

Brought together by the study of journalism and their varied and unique interests, these four aspiring journalists have grand ambitions. At a time when digital media is having a major impact on the way audiences consume information, these young men and women face an uncertain yet exciting future in journalism.

 

 

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Preparing for Battle

Theo Wenzel (20) puts the finishing touches on his Warmachine miniature

Theo Wenzel (20) puts the finishing touches on one of his Warmachine miniatures

Whilst most students spend their Sundays watching reruns on TV or catching up on assignments, Theo Wenzel is busy commanding his very own army.

The 2nd Year Arts student has always had a fondness for traditional board gaming, but it was the fantastical world of Warmachine miniatures that really piqued his interest. “Miniature war-gaming is just so different to structured games like chess,” Theo explained. “Whilst at its essence it is still a tabletop board game, the whole playing system is unique.” The element of chance involved in each game of Warmachine particularly appeals to Theo, as “Your whole tactical plan to win a game can go down the drain in just one move. You constantly have to be thinking and planning ahead to be successful.”

The actual figures players choose to battle with require a significant amount of time and attention to construct. The tiny models, many of which are only 28 millimetres in height, can be made from plastic, resin or lead. These can be customised with a range of accessories including weaponry and bases. “You have to build and paint the models yourself, which can take anywhere from 5 minutes to a few days to complete,” Theo noted. The models depict numerous varieties, or ‘races’ of warriors, ranging from mythical creatures to human soldiers. The storylines players follow in-game may relate to fantasy scenarios or actual historical events.

A completed Warmachine Miniature ready for action

A completed Warmachine Miniature ready for action

Theo verified that the rules of the games are quite complex, however the objective of a typical match of Warmachine is for players to capture locations on the board and defeat enemies. Two or more players select figures from their collection to assemble armies. Each figure is allocated a number of points which, when added together, equal a total army point value decided by players prior to the match. Participants organise their operations according to the rules and mission objectives outlined in rulebooks and on intricately designed gaming cards.

Playing cards used in Warmachine

Playing cards used in Warmachine

Being involved in the hobby since 2006, Theo has lost count of how many models he owns, and how much money has been invested in his hobby. “I have somewhere between eight hundred to one thousand figures,” he revealed. A testament to the wide appeal of the game, Theo’s father is also an avid Wargamer. “Dad and I often help each other with painting and assembling the models,” Theo said. “We even have a special room in our house dedicated to working on and storing our models because we have so many.”

Theo and his father are currently members of the UOW Guild Gaming Society, of which Theo is president. The Guild currently boasts over 110 members, both students and non-students, who meet weekly to game together. Whilst Theo enjoys creating his models, it is actually the sense of community the Guild provides that he finds most fulfilling. “Tabletop gaming is so much more enjoyable than playing video or online games because of the social aspect. It’s really great to spend time with people who are passionate about the same things that I am.”

The Power is in Your Hands

Citizen journalist in action  (Photo by Brandwatch, 2013)

Citizen journalist in action (Photo by Brandwatch, 2013)

Before the news team has even arrived at the scene, numerous bystanders have already whipped out their smartphones, snapped a photo and uploaded it onto the Internet to be shared, re-tweeted and discussed by the masses. This concept, known as citizen journalism, has undoubtedly blurred the line that previously divided consumers and producers of news stories, instead allowing the general public to “play…an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information.” As mainstream journalism undergoes digital metamorphous, “…the lightning fast networks of social media have become the new town grapevines.” But is this process improving modern journalism?

Undoubtedly, citizen journalism has spurred countless heated discussions about whether or not this practice is ethical. It’s a domain that is also shrouded in doubt regarding the accuracy, authenticity and quality of the information shared. In its attempt to adapt to the digital media revolution, CNN has embraced the role of the citizen journalist through launching their iReport website. Audience members are encouraged to contribute their own news stories to “…help…shape what CNN covers and how.” However, hoax stories crafted with the intent to cause significant social panic have highlighted the inherent problems in citizen journalism.

So where does this leave the ‘real’ journalists? Despite the legitimate concerns surrounding citizen journalism, “Research suggests that citizen journalism complements rather than replaces commercial news sites, playing a supportive role in the news-gathering process,” by “tipping-off pro journos about issues, working independently to dig through government documents or joining citizen journalism networks.”

When you think about it, citizen journalism isn’t the new and concerning threat to professional journalism it’s often presented as. In fact, one of the earliest and most memorable incidents recorded by an average citizen was that of the assassination of President Kennedy. Abraham Zapruder, with his movie camera in hand, managed to capture “something crucial that the professional news media somehow missed.” Today, eyewitness accounts recorded on smartphones both enrich and enhance current news events, but in no way replace the professional journalist’s story.

The Dismissal

Jill Abramson (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for WIRED)

Jill Abramson (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for WIRED)

The unexpected and “almost brutally abrupt” dismissal of New York Times’ executive editor Jill Abramson has ignited passionate debate in regard to gender equality issues surrounding modern journalism.

Abramson was the first female editor of the company, and in the absence of any ethical or financial breaches or other scandal, the sudden termination of her employment understandably gave rise to many unanswered questions. In particular, the fact that Abramson felt that she was being treated differently to her male predecessor, is supported by the evidence that “top female executives earn 18% less than their male counterparts. The same is true for female journalists.” Was Abramson just another a woman who had broken through the glass ceiling, only to be pushed off the glass cliff?

This theory is supported by the fact that in the weeks leading up to her dismissal, Abramson learned that her pay and pension benefits were considerably less than those of her male predecessor, Bill Keller. Abramson even went so far as to hire a lawyer to investigate the disparity, which was perceived by her superiors as combative. Further tensions arose with the assertion that Abramson failed to consult managing editor and her eventual successor, Dean Baquet, over the appointment of an additional managing editor – another woman, without his knowledge or approval.

In a male-dominated domain, Abramson effectively defied “…cultural expectations about how women are supposed to be, act [and] behave,” instead being labeled as “pushy,” and unceremoniously losing her job. As one blogger expressed, “Pushy women get fired; assertive men rise to the top.” So what does this mean for other females in the journalism field? Whilst Abramson has been praised by numerous women for “allow[ing] a new generation of women …to begin to see a possible future in leadership,” her dismissal is a grim reminder of “women’s terribly slow march toward social, professional and economic parity.”

 

 

 

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Heading in the Right Direction

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Keeping one step ahead – students rush to get to class at UOW

Whether you’re on a mission to change the world or simply make it to class on time via the coffee shop, university life can be fast-paced and frantic. Feeling adrift in a sea of choices including what classes to take, what career to pursue or deciding whether to hit the UniBar at lunchtime, one can easily become overwhelmed. Whilst everyone is forging their own unique pathway at UOW, connecting with others in class, around campus or at a café is essential for staying grounded. Remembering to slow down, think clearly and take things one step at a time will help you get the most out of your time at university.

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Rush Hour

The saviour of the sleep-deprived, Rush coffee is always within easy reach of UOW students

The saviour of the sleep-deprived, Rush coffee is always within easy reach of UOW students

The purple half moons printed under each tired eye are the telltale signs of an all-nighter. Whether the result of agonizing over an assignment or simply partying too hard, there’s no doubt that university life can be hectic. Lured by the comforting aroma of coffee, the hungry and the caffeine-dependent head to the Rush café. It’s the ideal place to get your coffee to go, grab a bite to eat or sit and enjoy a leisurely lunch with friends. No matter if you require one shot or six, you can depend on the friendly Rush baristas to concoct a beverage to satisfy your needs and reignite your creativity.

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A Flair for Fashion

Fashionista Amelia Murphy (18) is keen to start her own fashion blog

Fashionista Amelia Murphy (18) is keen to start her own fashion blog

Colourful, creative and classy, first year Journalism / Communication & Media student Amelia Murphy is undoubtedly an artist at heart. “I’d love to start a fashion blog, kind of like Humans of New York,” Amelia explained. “I’d spot everyday people in the street with fashions I admire and ask if I could grab their photo, and why they chose what they wore.” A passionate photographer, Amelia is intrigued by the ability of an image to capture and preserve a moment in time. In the future, Amelia’s love of photography and design may inspire her to join the Creative Arts faculty at UOW.