Technology is easy. Journalism is hard.

As Elaine Ford explained in her week 10 lecture, online media is more evolving than new nowadays.

Where traditional journalistic mediums of Print, radio, and TV have clearly defined cycles and deadlines, and clear newswriting conventions and newsgathering processes, the online format is vastly different.

Ford says online news is unrelenting; deadlines are fluid, reporting speed is NOW, and the industry is fast-paced and ever-changing.

A facet of online journalism which arguably changes the fastest is the technology.

Development of technology pertaining to video, audio, live crosses, social media, links etc. is a fundamental component of effective online storytelling. Indeed technology can help showcase everything journalism can do-there are more storytelling opportunities, and news is available all around the clock.

David Ho, editor of mobile, tablets and emerging technology at The Wall Street Journal,
knows better than most how essential tech-savvy journalism is.

David Ho, from the Wall Street Journal

In a recent interview for mediabistros so what do you do? series, Mr Ho offers plenty of pearls of wisdom for aspiring journalists amidst the tech-centric current climate.

Below is an excerpt from the profile, for the full interview, titled Technology is easy, journalism is hard, go here.

“A lot of news skills only come with experience. I love it when folks can do Photoshop and the like, but more than any one kind of expertise, it’s important to have a general and deep technology comfort level and interest. This is all moving so fast, you have to adapt daily, hourly. It’s as much about making news decisions as it is troubleshooting tech problems. You need to be able to talk to developers as much as you talk to reporters and editors. You need a foot in each world, editorial and technology.”

Posted in Media coverage, OnlineJournalism | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No hiding once an article is online

There’s been a heated debate raging all week on the twittersphere regarding this article, published on media and marketing website mumbrella on October 8.

Titled ‘How I blew it with the tele’, the story details the plight of aspiring journalist Matt Smith, who had an oped approved to be published in the Daily Telegraph, only to have the offer rescinded by tele editor Joe Hildebrand after an email Hildebrand deemed disrespectful.

There’s been a huge response to the article on social media

Smith said he should have been paid for his writing, as the Telegraph earns revenue from advertising.

“While submitting a piece to an online website for free is one thing, getting published in a major newspaper is another. They’re businesses that sell their pages, and they should be expected to give their contributors some kind of payment. It’s acknowledgment of skill, professionalism, and talent. It’s encouragement. At the very least, the acceptance of a free story should be done with respect and gratitude to the contributor.

I’m not the only freelancer who has these thoughts. We all want to be respected and appreciated for our work, but at the same time a living is a living. For many of us we’re so used to not being paid that it wouldn’t really take much to buy us off – a token payment would be much more than we’d normally see from our work.

‘You similarly wouldn’t ask your accountant to do your tax return, wait until it’s been lodged, and then explain to her that you wouldn’t be paying her this year,’ Karen Pickering said in a recent article on the Wheeler Centre. I doubt that there is any profession where you can so easily expect something for nothing.”

Hildebrand hit back with a statement of reply,

“Matthew Smith sent me an unsolicited oped, like plenty of others we get everyday.

I thought it was a vaguely interesting subject and said I would run it next week.

He then responded asking if we needed a headshot and whether he would get paid. This was my exact response:

“Sadly we’ve got a moratorium on paid contributions at the moment mate, so I can only offer you fame. Any dimension headshot will do.”

Matt’s exact response was as follows:

“Hi, Joe

“That’s a tough ask for an emerging/aspiring journalist – especially when sites like Daily Life manage to give contributors some money – so I hope you can understand my disappointment.

“Please run the twitter handle at the end at least, and let me know when the piece will run. Photo attached.

“Matt Smith”

Notwithstanding that he clearly does not know how to use punctuation in greetings, as you can see his only response was to complain and then sighingly instruct that we “at least” run his Twitter handle and tell him when it was running. Nor did he bother to say thank you in this missive.

The fact that any aspiring journalist would get the chance to be published in Sydney’s biggest newspaper and then turn his nose up and whinge about it I found absolutely staggering.

Just as staggering is that he would have the gall to write a piece about how hard it is to get published in the Telegraph when in fact he was all set to be published but blew it by being a rude little man with an overblown sense of entitlement.

As anyone who has picked up a newspaper recently knows, the industry is facing enormously tough times and our contributor budget is tiny. I have had the unpleasant duty of telling far more worthy, experienced and talented writers than Matthew that we are unable to pay them for future work. None has ever responded with such pathetic self-important whining.

I could not be happier about my decision.”

The story now has more than two hundred comments, ranging from those fully supportive of either Hildebrand or Smith, to others who acknowledged there was merit in both arguments.

The feud spilled over onto twitter, many tweeting to Smith offering support, while Hildebrand, as is his way, retweeted reams of folk on his side.

It is an interesting aside that both Smith (for his improper email greeting) and Hildebrand (for missing an oxford comma in his response), were chastised for grammatical imperfections.

As Elaine Ford noted in her week 10 lecture, grammar and punctuation are even more important in this age of online journalism; errors and inconsistencies are there to see for ever.

In the case of Matt Smith, the permanent nature of online posting, combined with the exposure of this incident and the subsequent higher google search rating may prove detrimental to his career in future. If any potential employer searches his name, the first thing they’ll see is this story, complete with a scathing response from a well-known News Ltd. columnist.

This debate borne from this article is an interesting reminder that the world of journalism is changing rapidly, in many ways.

The 42nd comment on he article sums things up best from my perspective.

“I can see both sides of the coin on this.

When I was a young writer, studying and trying to get a start, I did a LOT of work for free – for papers, radio and TV. Many, many hours were spent gaining experience. To get regular journalism jobs, they wanted a folio. A track record. I got paid for none of it.

Back then, that’s what you had to do. It was before the proliferation of blogs and when papers were still at the forefront of newsbreaking and financial success.

Things have definitely changed.

On the odd occasion I was paid, I was so grateful. I liked being appreciated and having my work deemed worthy of payment – it was worthy (and still is!). But I also accepted that it was part of the deal – when I had solid experience behind me and proof I could work to deadlines and with editors, the paid work would come. That was how it worked. That is how it turned out.

These days, anyone with a keyboard and a Twitter account seems to consider themselves a journalist or a writer. In some senses, that might be true and I am not trying to cut anyone’s dreams in half here, but some perspective is required. Working for free, sometimes, is not the worst thing you can do. Ideal? No. 100% fair? No. But it’s also about establishing relationships. Developing trust with editors, letting them see that you can be relied upon to produce good content, on time. Editors get dozens of submissions every day. They cannot pay everyone. And if you’re a rookie, then perhaps the “fame” should be enough the first time around. Developing relationships as a freelancer is just as important as your writing. That’s the reality of how things work today.

I do think it’s reasonable to be paid for work you do. And, in my experience, when you do something for the “fame” the first time around, often next time that editor has a little bit of cash to pay freelancers, it might come your way instead of somewhere else. If you’re serious about being in the game, then sometimes you have to play along. Not forever. But first time around.”

Posted in OnlineJournalism | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jonah Peretti’s media musings

Perusing, I stumbled across this brilliant three-part interview series from  Media Beat with Jonah Peretti.

The 38-year-old, famously dubbed a ‘viral marketing hot dog’ by the New York Times in 2006, is one of the world’s preeminent internet entrepreneurs; his CV highlighted by his founding of the hugely successful Buzzfeed and Huffington Post.

Part one is particularly pertinent to online journalists, Perettii discussing the evolution of social content and the way social media is increasingly becoming the prime news source for many.
Watch all three interviews below.



Posted in Media coverage, OnlineJournalism | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Australia’s most underrated medical modernism

It’s a home-grown innovation that should be helping masses of Australians freely follow their medical results, but instead patient portal ‘Wedgetail’ is shrouded in obscurity.


Since 2010, there’s been a remedial revolution down under, borne from New South Wales’ Northern Rivers General Practice Network.

It’s called Wedgetail; an Individual Electronic Health Record Service, or patient portal if you like.

The premise of the service is simple; doctors post test results for patients-including comments and recommendations- on the Wedgetail site. The patients log in under a unique username and password to access this information, then choose whether or not they follow-up further.

According to the site,

“Wedgetail securely stores and shares important information about your health, such as the medications you take, any allergies you have and a summary of your health history. It also contains information that is collected when one visits participating health care providers such as specialists, nurses, and allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, dieticians and diabetic educators.”

Importantly, Wedgetail’s not a replacement of hard-copy medical records held by a GP, it’s a service designed to complement rather than substitute.

Above: An example of the patient message interface.


Why Wedgetail is important

German-born American physician and author Dr. Martin Henry Fischer has been dead for 50 years, but  remains one of the world’s most quoted medics to this day.

Like a medical incarnation of Hemingway, Fischer was renowned for being frank and forthright, and speaking a lot of truth.

Aside from this tongue-in-cheek gem; “A doctor whose breath smells has no right to medical opinion,” Dr. Fischer also imparted these pearls of wisdom:

“A doctor must work eighteen hours a day and seven days a week.  If you cannot console yourself to this, get out of the profession.”

“Diagnosis is not the end, but the beginning of practice.”

“You must learn to talk clearly. The jargon of scientific terminology which rolls off your tongues is mental garbage.”

This trio of quotes highlight why Wedgetail is so important. Firstly, Doctors’ workloads are excessive; anything which makes them more time-efficient should be welcomed. Second, diagnoses are crucial; it’s essential patients are informed of them. And lastly, the online blog-like medium of Wedgetial encourages doctors to use non-scientific understandable language, and the fact they can insert links/images/video means patients could theoretically receive more complete explanations.

As Dr. Oliver Frank explains, the widespread use of Wedgetial seems like a no-brainer for increasingly overworked GPs.

“It’s a service which I think is brilliant; it’s going to save a lot of time for medical practitioners, and it’s so easy for patients to navigate. I’ve been a GP for more than thirty years, and it’s a job which gets busier and busier-population growth being a big factor with that. So anything which saves doctors time should be welcomed.”

Above: Dr. Frank is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide.

Click here to listen to my full interview with Dr. Oliver Frank.


Overlooked by experts

On September 25 ABC radio’s PM program ran this interview with  Dr. Joanne Callen, about the worryingly high number of test results being missed by doctors.

A team at the University of New South Wales reviewed 19 international studies and found doctors missed up to two-thirds of laboratory test results and up to one-third of radiology reports. That meant that diagnoses were missed, and treatment options delayed.

Dr. Callen was adamant the results were pertinent to Australia too, saying “test management practices are similar worldwide in the developed countries,” but she also conducted several surveys of Sydney hospitals as well, finding 21.1% of doctors thought they’d missed test results in the past years, and 47.4% indicated they thought a colleague had.

Missed test results are a large issue worldwide and domestically, and Dr.Callen went on to offer a solution.

“Patients are interested in having access to their own test results and they could be seen as a safety net. For instance, in the US some of the larger private hospital groups, Kaiser Permanente for example, have a patient portal where patients can actually access, securely access their results.”

Arguably the country’s biggest expert on patient results testing is oblivious to the fact there’s already a home-grown version of the exact securely-accessed portal she refers to.

But Dr. Callen isn’t the only high-profile GP who’s living under a remedial rock; former AMAQ President Dr. Gino Pecararo said he had “no idea such a thing existed” when I spoke to him last week.

Above: Dr. Gino Pecoraro and Dr. Joanne Callen

Click here to listen to my full interview with Dr. Gino Pecoraro


Changes need to be made

Wedgetail appears an unequivocally useful tool for health professionals and patients alike, so why does it  wallow in such deep anonymity?

Dr. Frank says it’s due to a combination of three factors.

1. Accessibility. Wedgetail only works on the two largest available clinical software programs-as there’s no software regulations many practices- including Dr. Franks’-use other non-compatible programs. Many GPs simply cannot access Wedgetail.

2. Money, funding specifically. Wedgetail is not a government-supported initiative, and receives no private financial support. It was created, and is maintained, by a group of volunteer GPs.

3. Money, again. Doctors, despite their crowded schedules, prefer patients to come in personally to collect test results, so they can collect the fees for the visit-even if it’s only a five minute consultation to advise of an innocuous outcome.

With society becoming increasingly technology-savvy, and myriad services gravitating online, we need to embrace Wedgetail. If we don’t find a way to overcome the difficulties afflicting its implementation and can’t effectively promote it, Australia will blow an all-too-rare opportunity to foster a genuinely useful innovation.

Click here to listen to my report on patient results and Wedgetail.

All sources (including images) referenced via links in text, including interviews with Dr.Oliver Frank, Dr. Gino Pecoraro, Dr. Joanne Callen. Quotes and Bio of Dr. Henry Fischer, websites of Wedgetail, Northern Rivers General Practice Network etc.

Posted in Health services, OnlineJournalism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ABC for iPhone: Dos and Don’ts

A few weeks back I reviewed the iview for iPhone app, today it’s the ABC’s flagship news application under the microscope.

The ABC for iPhone app is the most-downloaded of all aunty’s available apps, and for good reason.

Though it doesn’t have quite the same rave reviews as the iview app, it is, on the whole, very solid (overall score of 3.5 stars from more than 12,000 ratings). ABC for iPhone is the first news app I check every single morning, and my most-used news app overall (alongside the excellent Huffington Post).

Instead of pros and cons, here’s something a little different; Dos and Don’ts of the ABC app.

Do rejoice in the fact this baby won’t cost you a single cent.

Don’t think you’re above downloading an app ’cause it’s free. No-one likes a snob.

Do watch the ‘news in 90 seconds’ every couple of hours, and stream ABC news 24 live.

Don’t expect it to be kind to your battery life, or your data usage.

Do use the convenient tabs to scroll between specific news you’re interested in (sport, business, world etc.)

Don’t expect the ‘entertainment’ section to offer anything particularly juicy, in-depth, or recent. Stick to for your totes awesome OMG celeb goss.

Do regularly check ‘the drum’ tab, for wonderful pieces from the likes of Benjamin Law, Jonathan Green, and Annabel Crabb.

Don’t read Gerard Whateley’s blog. Unless you’re a fan of over-writing and verbosity (or Robert Drane).

Do use the ABC shop tab to buy sweet goodies.

Don’t purchase ‘the slap’ TV series; the book is heaps better.

Do read Margaret and David’s movie review transcripts under the ‘movie review’ tabs.

Don’t read the ‘movietime’ reviews under the same tab. Marge and Dave are much harsher and more patronizing critics. Therefore they’re more entertaining. Like Roger Ebert, But Aussie. And two people.

Do download the ‘ABC for iview’ and/or ‘Poh’s Kitchen’ apps, as you’re prompted to do by the eye-catching pop-up ads under the ‘TV’ tab.

Don’t be too disappointed the ABC is blatantly advertising, it won’t rot your brain that much.

Do marvel at the comprehensive, wide-ranging and up-to-the-minute sport section.

Don’t expect the stories to  be subbed properly (see below).


Posted in iPhone App, Media coverage, OnlineJournalism, Sport | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A 2012 SEO strategy that works

“Create fantastic content as often as possible, share it with other website owners frequently, and try to get as many links as possible.”

That’s the only SEO strategy guaranteed to work in this day and age, according to internet entrepreneur, author, and SEO expert Evan Bailyn.

Bailyn contributed a guest post to prominent media site a couple of weeks back, and his insight into SEO makes for interesting reading.

Below are a couple of  highlights from the article, and the link to the story again.

It’s a handy reference for any budding online journalist, or anyone in harnessing the power of Google for good.

Posted in Media coverage, OnlineJournalism | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

ABC iview for iPhone review

More than 2000 App store reviewers can’t be wrong. The ABC’s iview for iPhone app is an absolute pearler.

The application has straight four and five star ratings on the Apple store site, with many punters waxing lyrical about the service.

While I wouldn’t quite give the app a full five stars, it is mighty impressive.

I got my hands on iview for iPhone within weeks of its June 27 release date, and with a lengthy bus commute to work or university most days, I’ve put it to good use (related: I am painfully anti-social).

Here are my observations of the iview app; the many positives and a few small negatives.


  • It is absolutely 100% free
  • It is reliable. Unlike the majority of other apps on my iPhone (Facebook anyone?) ABC iview has never ever crashed, slowed or malfunctioned in any way. Not once.
  • The interface is totes amazeballs. It looks very schmick, and is super easy to navigate. My 75-year-old Grandma can catch up on Gardening Australia episodes with ease.
  • You can watch every. single. show. available on iview. in the palm of your hand.
  • It is a terrific distraction for Dr Who-obsessed children when you need to give them a  quick entertainment fix.
  • You can stream the app using 3G; a big deal considering Apple’s reluctance to allow apps on to its store that consume large amounts of data using the cellular network.
  • The 3G capability means buffering is non-existent.
  • Watchlist syncing between iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch via iCloud. Yep. Very convenient for us folk with multiple apple devices.
  • Did I mention the free part?


  • Not especially relevant for me (wooh Apple), but many Android users are pretty narky the app isn’t available to them.
  • You need an internet connection to view ze iview. Preferably 3G.
  • 3G viewing drains your data like the Sahara sun draining moisture from a..ahh…anything even slightly wet. Potentially expensive.
  • All the iview shows are short-lived on the site. It’d be sweet if all programs were permanently available.
  • You can’t stream ABC TV live. Except for news 24. Complex legalities involved apparently.
  • Dawn Porter doesn’t look quite as comely on a two-inch screen.

While that may look like a reasonably long list of gripes, most of them are really pretty minor aren’t they?

In case you’re really obtuse and think these six cons mean I’m not totally enamored with the app, or you struggle with comprehension, I’ll spell it out for you.

ABC iview for iPhone is pretty bloody brilliant.

If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and purchase it (LOL jks, it won’t cost you a cent). You won’t regret it…at least not till your phone bill arrives.

Posted in iPhone App, Media coverage, OnlineJournalism | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hyperlinks: Simple but effective online journalism tools

Wikipedia is a ubiquitous website utilised by almost all online journalists, a service used so often it’s taken for granted.

Hyperlinks are in the same category; an obvious tool of the online journalism trade, but unequivocally essential nonetheless.

According to the online encyclopedia, the “hyperlink (or link) is a reference to data that the reader can directly follow, or that is followed automatically. A hyperlink points to a whole document or to a specific element within a document.”

Wikipedia explains the technology was first widely used in the Gopher protocol from 1991, before it was eclipsed two years later by the Mosaic browser (which could handle Gopher links as well as HTML links).

The reason I’m talking about links is because of a story I stumbled upon on during the week.

It was a telling reminder of the effectiveness of hyperlinks; in less than 100 words a ten-week summary of a major news event is comprehensively covered.

Here’s the article, by Julie Moos, titled “Timeline of Jonah Lehrer plagiarism, fabrication revelations.”

June 19: Jim Romenesko reported that Jonah Lehrer recycled material for a New Yorker story
June 19: Joe Coscarelli published additional examples of Lehrer recycling material in New Yorker blog posts
June 19: Jacob Silverman found examples of Lehrer recycling in stories for The New York Times
June 20: Edward Champion published a comprehensive catalog of Lehrer’s recycling
June 20: Lehrer apologized for recycling his own material
June 21: New Yorker editor David Remnick said, “…if he were making things up or appropriating other people’s work that’s one level of crime.”
July 30: Michael Moynihan revealed fabricated Bob Dylan quotes in Lehrer’s “Imagine”
July 30: Lehrer resigned from The New Yorker
August 3: Moynihan revealed plagiarism in “How We Decide”
August 7: Lehrer’s publisher said it was reviewing all of his books
August 10: Magician Teller said he didn’t say what was attributed to him in “Imagine”
August 15: Wired said Lehrer remained under contract
August 16: Wired said Lehrer had no current assignments
August 17: Milton Glaser said he didn’t say what was attributed to him in “Imagine”
August 31: Wired severed ties with Lehrer
Related: Complete coverage of Jonah Lehrer

Posted in OnlineJournalism | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The rape review

Heavy headline I know, but don’t be alarmed. This post concerns the online coverage of  ‘sex by surpise’ this past week. No reviews of the mechanics of the act.

As Hadley Freeman points out in the Guardian, everyone’s talking about rape of late.

“Rape does seem to be in the air these days, what with the Republican Party in the US, certain devotees of Julian Assange around the world, and lazy comedians in Edinburgh all talking quite a lot about it.”

There’s been a lot written, recorded and said on the internet. Comfortingly, the vast majority of reactions have been staunchly anti-rape.

CNN compiled this list of assorted responses to Todd Akin’s ‘illegitimate rape’ outburst, and there’s been myriad more insightful articles condemning the comments.

On social media too, plenty were quick to slam Akin.

I suppose this post is to give kudos where it’s due, to acknowledge that the media en masse have got their coverage of this very sensitive topic pretty much spot on.

Rape is never right, under any circumstances, and there’s certainly no such thing as ‘illegitimate rape.’

If anyone’s really confused with this rape is wrong business,  Ben Pobjie‘s got a very handy guide.

Posted in Media coverage | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to entertain more twitter followers

There are two types of people on twitter: those who want more followers, and liars.

For the average punter (read: not any of these folk), attaining a strong following on the microblogging site can be tough.

The majority use twitter solely to interact with their favourite actors, musicians, sports stars and others who are famous for the sake of it.

Others utilise the social networking site more strategically.

In this internet age, 140 characters or less can be used very effectively in a professional sense; as a free tool for exposure and promotion.

Entertainers especially can benefit from a well-executed twitter strategy.

South Australian comic Alex Williamson is a prime example of a bloke who has used twitter to heighten his fans and gain a heap of exposure.

Since joining the site less than six months ago his profile has skyrocketed.

Recently the 24-year-old’s had a string of sold out stand-up comedy shows in capital cities, featured on segments with AFL footballers, and won sponsorship from YouTube and clothing brand Shock Mansion.

Williamson now tweets his distinct brand of crass comedy to almost 25,000 followers, and he’s averaging just under 1,000 new followers every week.

Noting the success Williamson’s had through twitter, my younger brother Nathan- a budding comic himself, decided to create an account and push to get as many followers as possible.

As Nathan’s starting out as a complete unknown, with no YouTube videos to boost his profile, it’s a lot harder for him to gain recognition and exposure.

He joined twitter a few months back, and despite tweeting funny content (see below), he struggled to get followers.

As of August 7, after nearly two months of consistently humorous tweeting, Nathan had garnered just 20 followers.

71% of the millions of tweets posted everyday get absolutely no response, Nathan’s tweets were amongst them.

That is, until a week ago when he shook up his approach to twitter in a big way.

Nathan now has almost 550 followers; in seven short days he’s increased his following numbers exponentially.

He didn’t buy the followers. There was no viral video to put his name up in lights, no media coverage, no retweet from anyone well-known.

His strategy was simple:

1. Tweet funny content, make it as original as possible.

2.Tweet consistently.

3. Seek out followers of popular comedian’s accounts with similar humour to his (eg. Rob Delaney).

4. Follow about 100 of said popular comedian’s followers every day.

5. Gain followers from either a) follow backs b) exposure from new followers ‘favouriting’ or ‘retweeting’ Nathan’s tweets.

It’s an easy 5-step-process, but sometimes the most simple methods prove most effective.

Posted in Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment