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!


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.


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


Info from The Good Universities Guide. Created via

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.

Spencer Howson: Twitter is a Necessity

Everyone needs to be on Twitter if you’re going to work in the media. You just have to be.

Spencer Howson




Spencer Howson of 612 ABC Brisbane’s breakfast show today spoke to QUT students about the strong link between radio journalism and online journalism, saying that Twitter closely matches the radio experience.

Twitter is a glorious thing. You can see what’s happening around the globe within seconds. And in bite-sized pieces of 140 characters. Maybe coupled with some photos or a bit of video.

The brevity we must employ when using Twitter is probably why the micro blogging site took off as a journalistic tool more than Facebook did. With tweets being about as long as a headline, what better way to sift quickly through the news of the day than on Twitter?

twitter news

The ABC News 24 Twitter page at Friday August 21 5:12pm AEST.

Cyberbuzz last October posted an article about why Facebook fails as a platform for breaking news, arguing that Twitter and Facebook have divided themselves along the cultural lines of radio and newspapers.

Twitter is to radio as Facebook is to newspapers. One breaks news, the other digests it and adds context.


This is 100% accurate. Even in the online news world, there are different ways of publishing news and different social media platforms will obviously facilitate these differences. If you like analogies, then think of Twitter as the hare, and Facebook as the turtle.

Considering Cyberbuzz’s likening Twitter to radio, it’s no wonder that a radio presenter prefers using Twitter to Facebook.

Personally I’m team Twitter. It’s live and you’re always getting the latest.

Spencer Howson

Twitter trumps Facebook for news delivery. Photo source.

Twitter trumps Facebook for breaking news. Photo source.

Unlike radio, however, you can post images and videos on Twitter, which improves the user experience. Including photos always increases engagement, which is why using multimedia is a must in online journalism.

Including the user is also key to increasing the likelihood of people interacting with you. And interaction improves the user’s experience.

Re-tweeting useful information is cool. It makes listeners feel valued or people on Twitter feel valued, and that’s a pretty decent gift you can give someone.

Spencer Howson

Apart from engaging the radio listener and Twitter user, Spencer says he and the ABC tweets to be useful to Twitter users. Testifying to the “now” deadline of online journalism, he also says they tweet “anytime”.

The pace at which online journalism moves is indicative of advances in technology and the way people are consuming news. As such, the way technology continues to change will influence changes in the way news is delivered.

Twitter A History

Five hundred million tweets are published each day.

I will give you a moment to process that.

Twitter is huge. And it’s not even in the double digits yet, having turned nine in March this year. This means Twitter is an Aries, which is entirely appropriate, since Aries’ secret desire is to “lead the way for others”.

The creator of Twitter, Jack Dorsey (@jack), published the first ever Tweet on March 21, “just setting up my twttr”. Several months later when Twitter was launched to the public, he posted a video to YouTube explaining the micro blogging site.

Twitter 101 or twttr 101, Noah Glass

Since that first one, the amount of tweets has increased at such a speed that in February 2010, only four years after its creation, the number of tweets per day equals the current population of South Korea.

Information sourced from Mashable Australia.

Information sourced from Mashable Australia.

Sometimes, when something evolves or changes over time, it’s hard to remember what it was like originally, especially if you weren’t there in the early stages.

Let me take you on a learning journey using infographics courtesy of Elvis Adomnica, a software engineer.

Twitter is growing exponentially. Photo source.

Twitter is growing exponentially. Photo source.

Twitter is a necessity for news. For now.

What will be our future technological need?


Business Blogging with Integrity

Last week I posted about Blogging for Business. I want to expand on that and talk specifically about the importance of doing that with integrity.

Why integrity is important

Integrity is the lifeblood of Brand You.



  1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

Being honest with your readers ensures that they will continue trusting you.

If you are less than honest, misrepresent something, or get something wrong, your once faithful readers will start dropping off before you can say “retirement”.

Trust is especially important in online journalism, as readers rely on you to provide the true story and the whole story.

Recapping revenue streams

After building a large, faithful readership, you might want to start earning money from your blog. You can do this several ways.


Information sourced from Nikki Parkinson’s presentation at QUT.

Maintaining integrity

Being trustworthy is critical to keeping the readership you have worked so hard to build.

So if you want to make money through your blog and keep your readership, I suggest you concentrate on earning money in ways that will ensure you maintain your integrity.

The following income streams can get you into hot water with your readership if you only focus on the money:

  1. Sponsored posts,
  2. Brand ambassadorships,
  3. Selling products or e-courses, and
  4. Affiliate sales.

However, if you focus instead on how well the income streams will reflect on your integrity, then your readers will remain loyal.

The number one thing to think about in relation to the four income streams listed above is whether you trust the product or brand. Your readers will quickly work out if you don’t, and as soon as they figure this out they will lose respect and trust for you. So make sure if you engage in any of the above four methods of advertising that you like and are comfortable with supporting the product or brand.

Notify your reader from the start that what they're about to read is a sponsored post. Taken from Nikki Parkinson's presentation at QUT.

Notify your reader from the start that what they’re reading is sponsored. Taken from Nikki Parkinson’s presentation at QUT.

Another thing to make sure you do is notify your reader if what you have published is sponsored. Do this at the top of the post, before they get a chance to read it. This way they will go on to read what you’ve written already knowing that you’ve been paid for it, rather than finding out after the fact, which can lead them to feeling duped.

Also, declaring that a post is sponsored from the start allows readers who don’t appreciate this to navigate away. You don’t want to have wasted your readers’ time.

Integrity is key to building and keeping a loyal readership.