Friday, 15 June 2012

Investigative Journalism Reflection

When I tell people that I study journalism, they immediately think that my plan is to become a hard-hitter, dive straight in, investigative journalist who 'breaks' the stories. I'm not planning becoming anything close to that, those people actually care about stuff and things. I don't want to be on the front lines with a microphone; I respect those who do though. From what I've learned, investigative journalists have to be passionate and determined to be a good at their job.

The amazing and talented Bruce Redman imparted the 'in's of an investigative journalist. These are, in order of most important to most useful: intelligent, informed, intuitive, inside and invest. Isn't that a handy tool for remembering what investigative journalism is all about? I think so at least. Now let's run through them.

Intelligent - Be intelligent?
Informed - Research what you're writing about. You have to know your topic inside and out.
Intuitive - Foresight is important, in both journalism and in general.
Inside - Either this means that you have to put yourself into the centre of the story to get first hand information and a personal knowledge of what is going on, or stay healthy.
Invest - Investigative journalism requires commitment. Don't just do the journalism, be the journalism.

Obviously investigative journalism is more thorough and significant than those paramount stories about Summer's latest fashion trends. In the world of investigation, documents are combed, facts are checked and more than one person is asked questions. Investigate journalists scrutinise and expose, rather than simply relay readily available information. Information is out there, albeit some hidden, and it's their job to get it into the public conscious.

I didn't retain any other information from the lecture. 90% was dedicated to examples of good and bad investigative journalism. I remember that Wikileaks and the Watergate scandal were mentioned. It was an interesting lecture none the less.

Agenda Setting Reflection

Does society influence the media or does the media influence society? I personally think that both society and the media influence each other. This doesn't change the fact that media can be used to manipulate. The all great and powerful Bruce Redman established that reality, as we know it, is a social construct.

I found this lecture surprisingly interesting. The content was stellar and detailed; I learned quite more than I thought I would. I've always been interested in mass psychology and social movement. The lecture opened my eyes as to how important agenda setting is, within the field of journalism.

Agenda setting can efficiently disseminate information to the public, but also manipulate the public. Agenda setting is simply emphasising certain issues for the purpose of making the public perceive it as more important. This means that the media, rather than reflect reality, mould and present it to the public. Agenda setting was utilised during to the Nazi movement to sway public opinion in favour of the Nazi party. Today, mass media sets agenda's on topics such as terrorism, climate change and the global financial crisis. Agenda setting is also the reason why celebrities gets as much or more attention than global issues such as lack of aid in third world countries, civil conflicts, advancements in science and global politics.

I could talk about how agenda setting is immoral; but who am I to decide what's right or wrong when writing about the notion of perception. Overall, agenda setting, to me, is very important. I'm going to spend the rest of my life making my perception of reality as close to reality as possible.

News Values Reflection

This is the lecture that I have been waiting for. Throughout the semester, our course material has been dancing around the topic of why news is news. This lecture established the ideas I already had in my mind. There are a bunch of researched factors that explain why some news is popular and other news is forgotten.

No one really has to intently look to see why sometimes seemingly pointless stories show up in the national news cycle. I can remember all the major stations covering stories akin to dogs riding surf boards, celebrity weddings and the results of reality television. Those are some of the reasons I don't watch television any more. Somewhere, there are people who are actively listening and caring about news such as this. Celebrities may not be actually relevant to anyone's lives, but some people believe that that they are. I was not surprised when I found that conditions such as negativity, elite nations, conflict, etc., made news stories more popular generally.

From my perspective, as a student journalist, this is interesting. I'm the one who may or may not produce news stories. According to our lecturer, journalists just acquire an ability to produce interesting and popular stories. Media outlets don't have an established set of news values that journalists try to adhere to. I never plan on ending up in a news room for a general media outlet. I also don't plan on becoming a typical journalist.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

An Inside Look at Video Game Journalism

A few months ago I had an assignment for my Reporting JOUR1112 class. One of those articles was about the life of a video game journalist. I wrote up the article at the last minute and submitted it. I received an expectedly average grade for the article. I then got caught up in other assignments and a lot of League of Legends so I put in the back of mind. Now that most of my assessment items are over, I have come to the decision that I will completely rewrite the article for my blog. I don't feel that the article I submitted for the assignment was very good because I was really limited by the parameters of the criteria. A 200-300 word article written in third person wouldn't do this topic justice.
I'm not a very passionate person. 

I've always had trouble with motivating myself to do even the most important things. Eating, sleeping and playing video games are the only things I do without people telling me to do them; as of right now, I really just feeling like playing video games and writing about them. I know I haven't really been writing about video games, but that's because I can't afford to buy any games. I was recently given Diablo 3 as a gift and I bought the latest Humble Indie Bundle, so expect some reflections on games in the coming weeks. 

This leads to the article. When I was younger and I was thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up, being a video game journalist was near the top of the list – next to a power ranger or something like that. So when I found that, as a part of my reporting class, I could write some articles on whatever topic I wanted, I knew I should try and get an inside perspective on life as a video game journalist.  I emailed Tristan Ogilvie, Video Content Manager at IGN Australia and asked him some questions about his career, day to day responsibilities at IGN, and how to get into video game journalism. I was surprised at how detailed and in depth his answers were. He answered each question in length and even offered words of encouragement with my career endeavors. Obviously, he is a passionate gamer so I enjoyed the short discussions we had via email. It turns out that like me, he is a big Bioshock fan. I too was engrossed in Rapture's stunningly beautiful decay and its horrifying residents. Overall he was very helpful and I am truly grateful for his charity.
Tristan Ogilvie bribing wax Richard Nixon

Tristan has been working in the video game news industry for a while. He originally entered into that career while studying a Bachelor of Computer Science and Information technology at Sydney University. In his third year of study, Tristan entered a nationwide competition held by Official Playstation 2 Magazine to find a journalist for their magazine. He made it into the finals of that competition and, soon after, got offered freelance work. He then ended up as a staff writer for the Official Playstation 2 Magazine. Since then he has had a range of jobs, including content manager at, deputy editor of OPS2, editor of the Official Xbox 360 Magazine, and currently he works at IGN Australia as their video content manager. Tristan has worked in several video games news outlets, both online and print, gaining experience in both avenues of work. I personally am quite jealous that he has had so much involvement in an industry I am really passionate about.

Back in the day, when runescape was my whole existance, I had the childish idea that video game journalism was all games and no work. It wasn't until I got older that I discovered that, like every other job, you actually work at some point. Tristan assured me that the world of video game journalism is a lot like other fields of journalism; there’s a little bit of playing video games, and a whole lot of writing and making content. There are deadlines like with any other news outlet. Print journalism runs on a rigid monthly cycle while the world of online journalism runs on a slightly more flexible weekly cycle. So if you're hoping to land employment writing about video games for either a print magazine or an online website, be prepared to spend late nights working on a unique angle that makes your review of the latest game stand out from every other review on the internet. 

However, being a video game journalist obviously comes with a lot of perks. Tristan's career has taken him to places such as London, Tokyo and New York. He's been to E3 and TGS, industry events I wish I could go one day. More importantly Tristan has met and interviewed industry legends such as Ken Levine, Warren Spector and Hideo Kojima; the people behind some amazing video games. I want to become a journalist just so I can be involved in an industry that I love, just like Tristan does.

So how do you stand out if you want to become a video games journalist? First and foremost, you have to write well. Your intricate knowledge of the Mass Effect universe isn't going to help you if you don't know how to engage and communicate with readers. The advice given to me by Tristan was this; write as much as you possibly can to get yourself to a high standard. Also, you should always be prepared to work for free. Tristan knows a few people that started out freelancing for nothing, and have gone on to have comfortable careers getting paid. Finally, being proactive is your best way of getting yourself noticed, especially since you're mostly going to be competing for attention on the internet. Write pieces and send them off to editors, sign up for social media and start networking and take advantage of unpaid freelance work where you can get it. The final piece of advice; you're going to have to knock on as many doors as you can until you get your foot stuck in one. Until that time comes, just keep on knocking.