Breaking News in 140 characters or less

Before the internet, breaking the news was strictly the job of professionals who had extensive training, access and control of resources that us mere mortals did not. But now, the world of journalism could not be more different.  Do you have a smart phone and access to an internet connection? Well, congratulations you could now be a gate-keeper of a wealth of information and knowledge or- simply a pile of poorly researched, inaccurate dribble!

Posting on a website, blog or Facebook page – even writing an email – is a new form of publishing…(social media) enables the amateurisation of communication.  To sum up the position: the profession of journalism becomes obsolete because the social media have democratised publishing. (Dimitrov 2014, p.4)
Journalists At Play by Lisa Padilla (CC BY 2.0)

At the end of 2015 there were roughly 12.9 million internet subscribers in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The audience is now forgoing the more traditional methods of news in favour of the world of online.  News organisations and journalists themselves have been forced to adapt, or simply bust. Our changing requirements as readers, in combination with the saturation of technology is now defining what we are given by the news organisations. Kolodzy (2012, p.1) explains that the youth of today are favouring social media platforms such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter and Instant messaging as a way to receive news.  And as a youth of today (26 is still youthful!!), I would have to agree. My initial sources of news come from updates I see on my Facebook and Twitter news-feeds on my phone.

1201 sn3 by studio tdes (CC BY 2.0)

Alejandro (2010, p.9) explains that the concept of scoops and leads have changed with the development of social media. A journalist’s tips for a story are now coming from the What’s Trending sections of Twitter or Facebook.  We as an audience are becoming increasingly impatient, we want our information in real time– forcing journalists to increase their pace ten-fold. We are now fed snippets of information as journalists themselves discover it.  The risk of waiting until a full story is formed, is that News outlets may find themselves out-scooped by competitors- or even worse, a member of the general public.  How embarrassing!

There have been many instances of social media breaking news before news organisations can even dream of having a full article printed.  Check out my podcast for some notable examples of this.

So what’s the big deal?

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 3.56.12 pm
2012, ‘How Social Media is Replacing Traditional Journalism as a News Source’- Source: Social Media Today

There are a number of concerns when we look to social media as a reliable news source. We see in the above graphic from Social Media Today, that reporting breaking news in 140 characters or less (Twitter, for example) can be quite limiting when it comes to telling a story.  As mentioned earlier, when everyone has access to reporting news on social media, communication can be amateur– so who are we to believe? This has happened many times when we have been fed reports of celebrity deaths that turn out to be nothing but hoaxes.  Huffington Post, in their article about journalism changing at the hands of social media, mention the importance of checking facts.

This new style of ‘citizen journalism’ can be a double edged sword at times and one of the clearest recent examples of this occurred on the site Reddit, as the search for the Boston Bombing suspect was taking place. Because of unchecked facts, a manhunt for the wrong man – who eventually wound up being found dead from an apparent suicide – began. (DeMers, 2013)

The benefits of social media as a news source are simple.  Anyone with access to these platforms now has a voice and the potential to report news. It’s a quick and immediate way to release news, and unlike bulky cameras and recording equipment- mobile phones can go just about anywhere.

Sambrook (cited in Alejandro 2010, p.42) says ‘Bearing witness is a journalist’s job. This is something technology cannot provide’.  Despite the positives of social media as a breaking news form, we must not lose sight of the value of a journalist’s credibility.


Dimitrov, R 2014, ‘Do social media spell the end of journalism as a profession?’, Global Media Journal: Australian Edition, Vol. 8 Issue 1, p1-16. 16p

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015, Internet Activity, Australia, December 2015, cat. no. 8153.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics,  retrieved 23 August 2016, < >

Kolodzy, J 2012, ‘What’s old is new, what’s new is old’, ‘Practicing Convergence Journalism’, Routledge, p.1&5

Alejandro, J 2010, ‘Journalism in the age of Social Media’, Reuters Institute Fellowship Paper, University of Oxford, retrieved 23 August 2016, retrieved from : < >

Morejon, R 2012, ‘How Social Media is Replacing Traditional Journalism as a News Source’, Social Media Today, weblog post, retrieved 23 August 2016, < >

DeMers, J 2013, ‘How Social Media Is Supporting a Fundamental Shift in Journalism’, The Huffington Post, weblog post, retrieved 23 August 2016, < >

Podcast References:

In Soundcloud Description.


#ALJ710 Why you’ll never lose your mojo-Mobile Journalism is here to stay.

Do you have a smart-phone with a reliable internet connection? Congratulations, you too could become a mobile journalist!

Mojo offers ways for people to become more digitally literate and powerful across a wide range of media. Citizens can become empowered to live and work in more digitally literate communities and environments. (Burum & Quinn 2015, p11)

The benefits for the general public are clear, they are empowered and given a voice through the use of their smartphones.

Viasen Soobramoney from Independent Media South Africa has the opinion that all journalists should and will become mobile journalists. Soobramoney, who was behind the first mojo newsroom in South Africa,   explained that changing the opinions of those in a traditional newsroom was initially challenging- but it’s something that needs to be embraced to cope with the changing landscape (Scott 2016).

Filming in Teuton by Allissa Richardson (CC BY 2.0)

Logistically, mojo newsrooms are seeing the benefit of their simplicity and cost-effectiveness. Mojo’s are recording and editing content in a much quicker amount of time- essentially cutting out the middle man.  They don’t have to worry about expensive cameras and recording technology, or setting up bulky equipment, organising large crews, or travelling back to the newsroom to file and edit footage- it can now be done by one journalist, all on the one device.
Check out how one Teacher is inspiring her students through the use of MOJO:

A heart-warming tale from South Africa- Journalist Allissa Richardson set up a MOJO lab in South Africa, teaching 10 HIV-positive young women how to film and edit their own content on iPod’s:

In the worlds of the Zulu Princesses that I taught, many of the girls were trapped instead in cycles of violence, self-doubt and the urge to cry out — even when no one was listening. Then, along came the digital age, and a tiny device gave them a voice. (Richardson 2012, p24)

So it all sounds pretty positive- what’s the problem then?

Despite this technology being accessible to just about anyone, we can’t forget the fact that just because you can do something- doesn’t mean you should. Burum and Quinn (2015, p.12) explain that in the hands of an amateur- it would simply result in rubbish, useless content.

Another issue is that quality can potentially be compromised in an effort to get the content recorded and online as quickly as possible to break the news first. Burum and Quinn (2015, p.18) explain that this is not much of a concern; audiences will be happy to put up with something of average quality, if the topic itself is interesting and newsworthy.


Burum, I, Quinn, S 2015, MOJO: The Mobile Journalism Handbook : How to Make Broadcast Videos with an iPhone or iPad, Focal Press, Burlington, MA.

Scott, C 2016, ‘How mobile journalism is rising in popularity with journalists around the world’,, weblog post, 29 April, retrieved 18 August 2016, < >

Allissa Richardson’s MOJO Lab 2012, YouTube, Bryant and Allissa Richardson, 28 November, retrieved 18 August 2016, < >

Richardson, A 2012,’Mobile Journalism: a model for the future’,  Diverse Issues in Higher Education, 21 June, p24, retrieved 18 August 2016,   Vol. 29 Issue 10, Academic OneFile


Social Media Influencers: The New Brainwashers

My name is Jess and I have been paid to post on Instagram.  Don’t worry, I’m rolling my eyes too.  Working in the fashion industry, I have been sent clothing, products, event invitations, and on one occasion money to post about a particular campaign.  What struck me, was how willing these brands were to hand over these free things to me, simply because I had an ok amount of followers. I’m certainly no celebrity or expert on anything really, but I am privy to these benefits because people are willing to chuck me a like and a comment every now and then.

I don’t think of myself as an “Influencer”- but I guess you could say I am having some sort of influence over my followers.

The social media influencer, has divided opinions since we first saw them rear their well dressed (“check out my #FashionNova discount code for sweet threads!”), toned (“I have so much energy thanks to #SkinnyMeTea!”) exfoliated heads (“#FrankBod makes my skin feel so soft!”).  So why do we have this attitude towards social media influencers?  Do we really like people telling us what to wear, eat and buy? Especially when it’s coming from those who arguably don’t have any professional knowledge to offer us other than their own popularity. Or, do they have more to offer than we give them credit for?

How do we define the influence these social media stars have over us?

Framework: Digital Influence Pillars by Brian Solis (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Simply Measured  explains that there are three defining factors when determining whether an individual has this power online.

  • Reach– Can they touch an audience that is beneficial to your brand?
  • Resonance– Is their content engaging and does it resonate with their audience and your brands values?
  • Relevance– Does their content have relevance or does your brand share likeminded values with the individual (Smitha 2014)?

One thing that isn’t mentioned here is the number of followers, or amount of reach the influencer must have-  huge numbers aren’t always important, being able to have influence over smaller-niche markets could be just as valuable.

Gen Z will be the first generation that interacted with technology and social media essentially from birth.  Brands are now learning that to market to these young people- they have to change with the times. A printed ad in a newspaper simply won’t have the same impact anymore. It has to be online, and it has to grab their attention in a shorter space of time.

The average American’s attention span is down to eight seconds from 12 in 2000. That’s why Gen Z prefers quick communication, largely rooted in images, quick videos and emojis. (Hulyk 2015, p32)
student_pad_school by Brad Flickinger (CC BY 2.0)

Hulyk  (2015, p.34) mentions a study conducted by Variety in 2014 that surveyed Gen Z to determine who , based on a number of factors was viewed more favourably to them- celebrities or YouTube stars.  Based on their approachability, authenticity and influence- all five individuals that were chosen were Youtube stars. This generation listen more to people they can relate to.

We hear of influencers charging exorbitant amounts for one post, but is it really worth it and how can we determine an appropriate cost? Australian Influencer agency TRIBE created a ballpark rate card for what influencers could charge per post according to their research.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 5.19.05 pm
2016, ‘Rate Card’ – Source: TRIBE

What this doesn’t take into account is the influencers who are buying followers and faking their engagement.  I have personally seen acquaintances churning out the sponsored posts to their 15k+ followers- 10k of which are fake.  Some would argue that misrepresenting your following online and charging a premium rate could essentially be cyber fraud.  Gillin and Moore (2009, p. 77) say that ‘there is no one metric, formula or service that can reliably measure influence’.   So basically brands are left with the option to do their own research and to use their common sense before shelling out the big bucks.

The above graphic from Social Media Today (click on the link in the tweet), shows that brands struggle most with finding influencers that are relevant.  They are also skeptical of its validity since it is such a new form of marketing. ‘When everyone is free to produce whatever content they want and publish it without fact checking or compliance, how can online recommendations be trusted'(Brown & Fiorella 2013, np.)?

Scott Disick did exactly what brands are scared influencers will do-not taking their position seriously and abusing that trust- motivated entirely by the pay-off and not by the want to create quality, engaging content.  Whatever you do, just don’t be like this Di(si)ck. #FacePalm.

2016, ‘Instagram Star Accidentally Posts Paid Sponsor Instructions in Caption’ – Source: PetaPixel


Smitha, M 2014, ‘How to define, Identify and Engage Social Media Influencers For Your Brand’, Simply Measured, weblog post, 2 April, retrieved 16 August 2016, < >

Hulyk, T 2015, ‘MARKETING TO GEN Z: Uncovering a New World of Social Media Influencers’, Franchising World, Vol. 47 Issue 12, p32-35, retrieved 16 August 2016, Database: MasterFILE Premier

Gillin, P, Moore, G 2009, The New InfluencersA Marketer’s Guide to the New Social Media, Quill Driver Books, California

Hutchinson 2016, Challenges of Influencer Marketing, infographic, retrieved 16 August 2016, < >

Brown, D, Fiorella, S 2013, Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing, Que Publishing, USA

Cade, D 2016, ‘Instagram Star Accidentally Posts Paid Sponsor Instructions in Caption’, PetaPixel, weblog post, 20 May, retrieved 16 August 2016, < >

#ALJ710 Come together, right now.

When we think of the idea of convergence, we generally think of it as the merging of two or more things.  But what does that mean for Journalism?  Holmes, Hadwin & Mottershead (2013,p210) describe it as “the coming together of different media platforms- for example tv and online.”

As a Gen-y’er it’s starting to get difficult to remember what life was like before all the technological advancements, and a world ruled by social media and the world wide web.  I have fond childhood memories of the weekend paper delivery- my family and I would sit around the table with breakfast, each of us reading a different section of The Herald Sun.

Nowadays I would rather Google current affairs on my iPhone/iPad or tune into the radio on my drive to work.  The daily newspaper that is delivered to my parents house often sits unopened for days and my Mum now proudly tells me of her online subscription to The Age and The Herald Sun.  It’s almost as if reading a physical Newspaper is too much commitment- our lives are so full and busy, the thought of setting time aside to read the paper is a little too much. And why would we when we have this third arm attached to us, where we can reach the news 24/7?

2014, ‘Man on Toilet on iPhone’. Source: Gizmodo

News outlets have been forced to adapt or simply bust.  Our changing requirements as readers in combination with the saturation of technology is now defining what we are given by the news organisations. Kolodzy (2012, p.1) explains that the youth of today are favouring social media platforms such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter and Instant messaging as a way to receive news.  And, as one of those “youths” I would have to agree.  My main sources of news come from articles I click on that have been shared on Facebook or Twitter or perhaps when I’ve Googled something that was currently topical.  I would not consider logging onto the online version of The Herald Sun to cipher through the articles of the day.
‘If Audiences have to multitask via Twitter and Facebook and YouTube, then today’s journalists have to multitask there as well’ (Kolodzy 2012, p.5).  Journalists are now expected to go above and beyond a simple researching and writing task but now have to be competent and confident across many digital media platforms too.

2013, ‘Are Newspapers dying?’. Source: Marketinomics

So what does this mean for print? Well currently nearly 90% of many print Newspapers profits are coming from advertising revenue .   In terms of online- Paywalls, increasing the price of single print copies and subscriptions has been found to stabilise and even increase revenue in some successful cases (Rogers 2015).  So they aren’t dead just yet, they are simply forced to make their money in more creative ways.


Holmes, T., Hadwin, S., Mottershead, G., 2013, ‘Chapter 8, Convergence’, The 21st Century Journalism Handbook, p210

Devoe, N 2015, ’17 Things Your Parents Had To Do Before The Internet’, seventeen, weblog post, 13 February, retrieved 3 August, <;

Kolodzy, J 2012, ‘What’s old is new, what’s new is old’, ‘Practicing Convergence Journalism’, Routledge, p.1&5

Rogers, T 2015, ‘Are Newspapers Dying or Adapting in the Age of Digital News Consumption?’, About News, weblog post, 16 November, retrieved 3 August 2016, < >





#ALC701 Sex, Law & Social Media

I recently asked a group of my girlfriends how many of them had received unsolicited “di*k pics” and was shocked when 4 out of 5 said they had- and often.  “It’s just part of the online dating thing, if you’re on these sites you kind of just expect it”, one said.   As someone who has been in a relationship for the past four years, I counted myself lucky for missing out on this dating right of passage.  That was until I opened my Instagram direct message one day to find the genitals of a stranger glaring back at me.   Many questions flooded my brain.  Did I display any behaviour that would make this stranger think I would be pleased by his message?  What kind of response was he hoping for? And also just general feelings of confusion and repulsion! (Sorry random internet man!)

A super accurate representation of receiving an unsolicited di*k pic on Instagram.

I essentially felt a little violated, and concerned that this was such a commonplace event, with little to no repercussions for the sender.  Let’s be honest- there is nothing wrong with two consenting adults sending and receiving these type of messages, and of course there are people who enjoy a surprise flash of genitals on their smart phone, but what is the go when it is completely unsolicited and unwanted?

After a little research I found I wasn’t the only one questioning this. ‘It’s essentially cyber-flashing, the real world’s online equivalent, and should be treated as seriously’ (Thompson 2016).  Thompson mentions that flashing in public can carry a sentence of up to two years in prison in the UK. However ‘cyber-flashing’ and where it stands in a legal sense is still up for contention.  According to the BBC, a woman in the UK reported an incident to police that took place on a train (Bell 2015).  Lorraine Crighton-Smith was sent two photos of a strangers genitals on her phone via the Apple Airdrop function.  The case was investigated but could not be taken further due to the lack of evidence considering Crighton-Smith did not press accept on the images.  So other than cases where there is a distinct lack of evidence to work with; why is it taking us so long to clearly distinguish where the law stands on this issue?

Dr Deb Waterhouse-Watson (Twitter on Trial: Digital Media and the Law 2014) explains that ‘Law is a heavy and slow moving creature, party because it needs to be.’ She goes on to say that the Law itself needs to take into account all the issues surrounding digital media to therefore make any changes or to put laws in place.

Some people are now beginning to take matter into their own hands, to hold those accountable for their online harassment, whilst the law struggles to catch up with the rapid growth of technology and digital media.

Clemintine Ford is one of those people. In 2015 Ford contacted a Man’s employer after he left a derogatory comment on her public Facebook account, which then led to his dismissal.  ‘There are basically no consequences for men who behave like this, so we have to start making consequences for them’, Ford explains (cited in SMH 2015).

fired by Sean MacEntee (CC BY 2.0)

But what happens when the photos that are circulating are of yourself and without your knowledge or consent? In 2014, the state of Victoria made it a punishable offence- one that could result in up to two years of imprisonment for perpetrators (Henry 2015). This online sharing of intimate photos taken by a current or ex-partner without consent -is essentially a crime of the modern age.  One that is greatly influenced by the rapid expansion of technology and social media.  Up until the last decade or so, it has been something we haven’t really had to consider, but now with the accessibility of photo sharing services, it is more common than ever.

The nature of technology is progressive- forever evolving and always thinking ahead, whereas the Law only changes when it needs to catch up.  Does this mean we just accept the odd moment of digital ‘harassment’ in exchange for freedom on the internet?



Thompson, L 2016, ‘#DickPics are no joke: cyber-flashing, misogyny and online dating’, The Conversation, weblog post, 3 February,  retrieved 1 August 2016, <;

Bell, S 2015, ‘Police investigate ‘first cyber-flashing’ case’, BBC, 13 August, retrieved 1 August 2016, <;

Kosoff, M 2015, ‘How to use AirDrop, Apple’s incredible feature that lets you share pictures, video and more with nearby friends’, Business Insider, 18 October, retrieved 2 August 2016, <;

Twitter on Trial: Digital Media and the Law 2014, YouTube, Dr Deb Waterhouse-Watson, 7 September, retrieved 2 August, <;

Levy, M 2015, ‘Hotel worker Michael Nolan sacked over Facebook post to Clementine Ford’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 December, retrieved 2 August, <;

Henry, N 2015, ‘Factbox: Revenge porn laws in Australia and beyond’, SBS, 15 October, retrieved 2 August, <;