My Kind of Journalism

Posted on October 1, 2009




Writing daily

There are many definitions of journalism.

I’ve always written daily, but when I finished studying journalism at uni, I didn’t want to work in news.

At uni we discussed “news values,” what was important- a plane crash or a cat stuck up a tree. Funny the things you remember. I know news is important to distribute information about the world, but I didn’t want to be a news journalist. I was more interested in ‘human interest’ stories, about people’s lives.

In 1995-6, at ABC TV I worked in Archives, cataloguing the News, 7.30 Report, Four Corners and Foreign Correspondent, describing the footage and interviews in detail. I learned a lot about the world, about the Pol Pot regime and the plight of the Khmer people through Evan Williams in Cambodia while Mark Davis shot the Taliban in Afghanistan with his hidden camera, before most people knew what the Taliban was.

I respect those journalists and researchers highly, but I didn’t want to spend my life working on stories which were predominantly about men and guns. It’s often driven by fear and by the best pictures available on the day. I wanted to see stories about everyday people doing everyday things in their houses with their families and communities. In the end my eyesight started blur from all the screens and I left.

At the time, there were cadetships being offered in “multimedia” or “digital media” and I had no idea what they meant about the future of the media, I thought they were about graphic design and computers.

I recently attended a conference about advertising and social media, “Social Media – New Technology, New Audiences, New Engagement,” in Sydney Markus von der Luehe, Managing Director of Adknowledge Australia, said that in 2010, 56% of advertisers plan to use social media in their marketing plan.

Anne Parsons, CEO of Mediacom spoke about the past being about “shock and awe” with the symbol of guns in her slides. The future is to be about “hearts and minds,” and she used the image of flowers. “Now we need to woo and seduce with honesty and integrity… the consumer knows… the language of love in the digital world.”

Anne Parsons spoke about “A change in the cultural philosophy underpinning society.” Organisations have to become more transparent. She used words like personal, transparent, intuition, integrity, communication. I like them, they’re feminine and good. Is it the feminisation of the media? and the world …

In the past, generally boys who were good at maths, chemistry and physics got the highest marks in the HSC. It was good if you could write well in English, but it wasn’t highly regarded in terms of scaling marks in the school system.

Now that the banking world has collapsed in crisis, we’ve seen the consequences of corporate greed and the downturn in the world economy, it seems that the old models have failed. An old school mate banker wrote about it

So what are the new rules? and who wants to write them?

Anne Parsons said the old way was ego-driven, now people are valuing ethical behaviour and are more value-conscious. It’s about personal, not mass broadcast communication.

What I like is that it’s a level playing field now. Mums who choose to stay at home have as much power to influence as corporates or geeks. Power to the people. All you need is a computer with an internet connection and to be able to write. Everyday minutae is interesting and important. You don’t need a fancy camera or video, just upload from your mobile phone. Now the news is often written from the source by the people involved.

This is the kind of journalist I wanted to be 20 years ago. Just seeing the world and sharing it with others. What are traditionally women’s values- nurturing, caring, Emotional Intelligence, integrity, etiquette, courtesy and communication are now important online. Manners matter.

At uni you either had to study Print, PR or Broadcast journalism. I found it hard to decide- I love to write, but pictures tell a thousand words. I studied print and photo journalism, then went straight into TV. Now I don’t have to choose, I can do it all with WordPress, Flickr and YouTube. Perfect. I can never fit enough of what I write in Facebook, let alone Twitter.  I can get the message out and feedback immediately.

I’ve used the word “I” many times. We were taught not to use “I” unless it was an opinion. They used to teach us to be “objective” which is fair enough when covering politics or disasters. But we’re all subjective, and we all have our reasons for doing anything. As a psychotherapist now, I understand more about our families of origin and how our experiences shape us.

Mark Higginson, Director of Analytics in Nielsen’s Online Division, talked about, “players in the space.” It’s all about the space. Advertisers are “crowd sourcing,” getting info/wisdom from crowds.

He said Australia is the second most engaged internet using country at 26.5 hours/month, after the U.S. and it’s not the young 19 year olds. 31%- the largest users of the internet in Australia are aged 35-49.

According to Mark Higginson, 8.1 million people used Facebook in Australia last month and Twitter has had 979% growth in the past year. Enabling people to connect with each other. is a real-time movie review site which collects tweets as people go online and tweet about the movie they’ve just seen.

You can follow the tweet stream from the Adknowledge Social Media event with the #asm09 hashtag here:

To @damjanov who wrote “@Warlach the rest are too busy writing notes… On paper… With a pen #losers #asm09” – I was one of those writing notes, because I write more than 140 characters at a time.

I sit at my lap top writing this. God bless social media. I’m excited about journalism again. I’m not interested in shock and awe, I’m interested in people with thoughtful minds.

The best thing about it is that you just get to be yourself.

Posted in: Social Media