Graduand to Graduate

Greetings!

A long time since my last post, and a lot has transpired.

For starters, I checked off some pretty big goals on my To Do List.

I completed my degree in first semester this year, and graduated from the Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelor of Creative Industries with Distinction on 20 July 2017. One major step in the right direction to achieving my dream of working in a publishing house with fiction novels complete.

Amanda Webster, QUT graduate.

I also competed at the World Artistic Roller Skating Championships in Novara, Italy, in October last year. I have always wanted to represent my country in my sport, and I was finally awarded the opportunity to do just that. Although I have technically checked this goal off my list, I competed as part of a team, and I do still want to compete at Worlds in my solo events.

Amanda Webster, world competitor.

So begins the next step in my journey: looking for a job. From successful student, to unemployed (still). At least when I was studying and someone asked what I did for work I could say, “I’m still studying”. Now all I say is, “I’m in the limbo between graduating and finding a job”. They always laugh at that, and even though I am joking, it does pull a little.

But I know I will find something, because I am determined to.

I will be what I want to be.

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Last Year of Uni (Hopefully)

Hello and welcome back. Or should you be welcoming me back?

I took a break from blogging over the Christmas and New Year period so that I could concentrate on projects around the house.

This bird spa area, for example.

Bird spa.

Bird spa.

A few months ago, I noticed finches were nesting in the hedges. After realising that one small feeder that I hung from the clothes line wasn’t enough, I decided to make a bird spa. I finished this a few weeks ago. The new residents love it.

Back to School

This will be my fourth year of a three-year university degree, simply because I decided to split my final year up so that I could work at the same time. This proved an amazing decision, and has helped me save, has seen my partner move in (we’re living by ourselves now), and has helped me begin to put my stamp on the house (see above photo).

Now, I only have one class to complete and two internships to find. Good luck to me.

This semester I will be taking Novel and Memoir, and hopefully secure a place in an internship that a past lecturer has put my name down for.

Next semester I will (again hopefully) find another internship in the publishing industry, after which I will have completed my undergraduate degree. Hooray!

I will keep you posted.

Until next time

Doors closing, please stand clear

Here we are at the end of an amazing semester.

To be honest, I was nervous before starting KJB222 Online Journalism 1, but as the class progressed, I found myself enjoying every learning opportunity I faced.

Here’s our surprise last lecture adventure.

Pirates invaded our lecture hall!

Pirates invaded our lecture hall!

capture

And captured our lecturer!

And were also nice enough to pose for photos with me and some other students.

And were also nice enough to pose for photos with me and some other students.

Big thanks to the teaching team for their efforts this semester.

Crime Reporting and Social Media

small solving crime

Social media is a new investigative tool. Source.

Social media is rampant, no questions or doubts.

As journalists, we can either embrace this new tool and add it to our information gathering tools and reporting techniques, or give it the cold shoulder and miss out on all the opportunities and pathways available.

Don’t get me wrong, social media has its downfalls – everything does – but in this age of online news, social media is a rapidly growing giant.

Rachel Olding (@rachelolding), crime reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald, recently engaged online with students and answered questions about the role of social media in her profession.

The Good

Social media is definitely my friend rather than foe when it comes to crime reporting.

Rachel Olding

Rachel explains that social media has developed into an “amazing source” of finding stories and people who are relevant to your stories.

She says that social media, in a lot of ways, is just like hitting the phones or door knocking to gather information and conduct interviews.

Crowdsourcing1

Social media is a gateway to information. Source.

Sure, social media can be a gold mine for particular stories and information on crimes, but Rachel says they can also be a minefield.

The Bad

It can be a minefield because you don’t know what to trust and what not to trust.

Rachel Olding

Rachel explains that her rule of thumb is to actively fact check anything she finds on social media via another means, like contacting the person who posted the information, or verifying the information with police.

But tight story deadlines pose a major problem on this verification process. Rachel says that within the time constraints, the decision to use information sourced from social media comes down to your own personal judgement.

Further investigation can reveal the truth about certain information published on social media. Source.

Investigation can reveal the truth about information on social media. Source.

The Verdict

So, should you use social media for sourcing stories?

Short answer, yes.

Longer answer, yes but.

Yes, but make sure you try as much as possible within a deadline to verify the information before publishing it. This does not simply mean going online to a different source.

The best way to verify something is by talking to people, particularly the person or people who posted the information you are wanting to use.

Embedding videos in my Original Online Story

EDITED: So apparently my videos are working now… again, the magic of technology has left a trail of mystery.


Write and publish an original online story – this was an assessment piece for a journalism class I took this semester at uni. (Read my published story here.)

Of course, as it is an “online” story, we were required to use online story telling elements, like embedding video, tweets, and other graphics.

Fortunately, I found some good videos I wanted to use in my story.

Unfortunately, they were available through news sites and not YouTube, so I had to figure out a way of embedding non-YouTube videos in my blog post.

Some stressful hours later, I finally found a program that would extract videos from a website that was open in your browser.

Although I was able to download the videos, I am using a free Wordpress plan, which does not allow you to upload video files.

So… another problem arises: how do I make the downloaded videos accessible via a link so I can embed them into a blog post via a URL?

Facebook, of course. I uploaded the videos privately on my Facebook page and used those URLs to embed the videos into my blog post. I also captioned the videos, crediting and hyperlinking them to their original sources.

After I returned a few days later to proofread and fact check my story – also checking for any new developments before I published what could be old news – I noticed that the videos were gone from my story. The boxes were still there, along with the captions, but the videos were unavailable to view in the blog post.

I re-embedded them using the same URLs, and they were magically (okay, it has something to do with technology, but magic is close enough) there again.

Unfortunately this has something to do with them being embedded from a private Facebook upload, but I have no idea how to correct the issue. The links to the originals are still accessible, which is a relief, but it is disappointing that the videos don’t remain static, especially since I haven’t removed them from my Facebook page.

Uni deregulation takes a gap year: Turnball Government to shelve policy until 2017

In another back flip only weeks after the leadership coup, new Education Minister Simon Birmingham has confirmed that a Turnball Government will shelve its university deregulation policy for at least a year.

Senator Birmingham announced this delay at the World Academic Summit at the beginning of this month, saying he wants to eliminate uncertainty surrounding education funding.

“With only three months left in 2015, it is necessary to give both universities and students certainty about what the higher education funding arrangement for 2016 will be,” he said.

“Therefore, today I am announcing that higher education funding arrangements for 2016 will not be changed from currently legislated arrangements, while the Government consults further on reforms for the future.”

Delaying the policy certainly does not mean the end of the Liberal’s push for university autonomy, as Senator Birmingham has previously declared his support of former Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s work.

“I look forward to building on Christopher Pyne’s unstinting efforts to ensure Australia has the highest standards of education at all levels,” he said.

Senator Birmingham told Sky News he would back the policy even if he has to compromise.

“We will want to make sure that we can get real reform progress. If that means we have to compromise, that’s what we will do,” he said.

VIDEO: Govt open to compromise on education reform, Sky News

Opposition’s plans

Labor has opposed this policy from its conception, and this delay has changed nothing, with the Opposition now pushing for the reform to be “dumped for good”.

Labor has made their opposition to “$100,000 degrees” a corner stone of their election strategy, which Bill Shorten highlighted when he spoke at a recent press conference.

“On average over the next decade, a Shorten Labor Government will invest an additional $9,000 in each Australian students’ education, for a typical three-year degree,” he said.

VIDEO: Labor unveils higher education policy, ABC News 24

Labor also wants to maintain that students should not be able to buy their way into university.

What Liberal’s reform will mean for students

Untitled-1

Info from The Good Universities Guide. Created via infogr.am.

Deregulated university fees means public universities will be able to charge students an amount they deem appropriate, which means a potential for increased tuition, or Labor’s coined phrase, “$100,000 degrees”.

HELP loans will also be affected, with the threshold at which students begin repaying their debt to be lowered. This means students will have their debt repayments taken from their income earlier.

Interest on these loans will be tied to the government bond rate rather than to inflation, which means graduates could be paying up to six per cent interest annually.