University Life

media of choices

Journalism as a game? We use skills to detect and follow clues, negotiate answers and assemble pieces. We organise but don’t direct, allowing people to tell their own stories.

Ask four people to define journalism and there’ll be more than four answers. That’s the communication channel. The formerly one-way, writer to reader model has widened to allow instant feedback and multiple contributors. This is the era described by Jay Rosen. The audience chooses from several media and their demands prevail.

2014’s journalism students might not vex over digital vs print media. Both exist, you choose, and if print is dying, long live e-print.

So do they vex over anything?

Keegan Taccori is the true believer. He allows no doubt. He loves writing and plans to use his photography and videography skills to share stories from around the world.

“I plan on using every stretch of networks and contacts I have built to allow myself to explore every inch of this world, and get paid for it!”

The foreign correspondence begins soon: Keegan’s other joy is in helping people, and he’s off to India next month as a social business mentor with 40RTYK Globe. His storytelling voice might educate and enlighten his audience. And encourage change.

Amelia Murphy loves the creativity of fashion and entertainment. It’s drawing her to New York, first for a one week visit in the Uni break, then hopefully as an exchange student, and ultimately as a fashion editor.

“I look outside of the box..I would bring a different edge to the fashion industry, something beyond the stereotypical magazine. Something that draws in all people regardless of age, size, profession or gender.”

Some students already have practical experience. Ceren Tabak did work experience with a TV production company in Turkey last year. She wondered if it was a message of fate when she was accepted for study at UOW.

“I loved traveling around the city of Istanbul and interviewing musicians, famous chefs, actors and actresses and discovering the multi-layered culture of the city whilst filming.”

But the glamour isn’t a complete seduction: Ceren’s other degree course is International Studies, and she’s considering whether Economics would be a good partner or alternative to journalism.

Dominique Gaitt was drawn to journalism gradually.

“I began to realise all the shit which is actually going on in the world and wanted to do something about it, so hey presto, Journalism…If I don’t get a job in journalism, I want to work in international relations and will most likely have a blog…to participate in the conversation.”

Breanna O’Neil is studying for a double degree in BCMS and Journalism. She likes the flexibility that her choices offer. Journalism might not be the one, but it’s one of them.

“… I’m hoping I can combine skills…and work in the media somehow. My dream is to one day work for Disney…I have been thinking something along the lines of advertising, or production, or something like that. I want to bring the magic to others just like it has been brought to me for so many years.”

Each of these classmates chooses communication, and their journalistic voices are sure to be heard.



Breanna O’Neill considers a career in ‘Minnie-malism’




Journalism 101 Lecture Notes, Autumn 2014

Rosen, J, 2006, The People Formerly Known as the Audience, article, The Huffington Post, viewed 31May14,



from screenplay to i-mitch



Mitchell Lawrence: Imagining the moving image.


Ahh. The power of the image, in a single word answer.

Why did you decide to come to UOW and how did you choose your course?

With pragmatism: The Illawarra region’s youth unemployment is 15%: the third highest in NSW.  Young people are weathering a perfect storm; with the retraction of industry, mining and manufacturing, and slower development of new businesses there are fewer prospects (The Guardian).

But also imagination: When times are tough, little treats like a book, magazine or movie are often still affordable. They provide refuge, inspiration and investment in yourself. As does education!

Mitchell Lawrence is twenty-four and a first year student at UOW. His double-degree course combines a BCMS (Advertising and Marketing) with a BA (Cultural Studies). But his main interest is writing screenplays and stories.

Where does this come from? What are they about and how do you start? The ideas…where do you find them?

Dissatisfaction. “Movies are a hobby. But I find a lack in most of them. They’re far from finished.” But cue again, imagination. “I read to escape the mundane [and] enjoy the fantasy of a world where anything is possible. This is the sort of story I like to write.”

Mitch’s favourite reads are historical fiction, perhaps set in Victorian England or the ancient world. He enjoys the fantasy and moral challenge of A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), also Tolkien, and Conne Igguldens’s Emperor series, even Dan Brown. “It’s a different thing, but I like his writing style.”

Inspiration or scheduled daily toil? The daily writing task becomes too formulaic, a chore. Inspiration, and to “write until I run out of steam” is preferable. Photographs are useful. A picture of a house will lead to him inventing the story of the person who lives there. There’s no waste either. If a story is left unfinished, he will try to salvage and recycle ideas. His favourite writing time is late at night, when the barriers relax. Then he can explore ideas that might have seemed ridiculous earlier in the day.

Can people be defined by the books or movies they like best?  Perhaps a glimpse. Historical fiction, like other genres, has various definitions. To use just one of these, set the story in a specific time and place, with a foundation of historical events and characters, and imagine the details that aren’t recorded, or the voice of a witness. Then think: What if?

It’s not all just the life of the mind, though. There is the fandom from afar of Liverpool FC – one side of the family is from Scunthorpe; just hearing  the name makes people snigger –  and supporting the Cronulla Sharks (the atmosphere and excitement of the match is always better than TV).

And in the future?  More reading, writing, getting through Uni. Travelling, not sure where, but will do it. Oh. And of course…



“All screenwriting books are bullshit.


Watch movies, read screenplays, let them be your guide.”

Brian Koppelman, Six-Second Screenwriting Lessons, #1 (


university life #2: dine with the ducks



photo 2

there’s no such thing as a free lunch

Young people are often warned when they start preparing for university: ‘It’s not like school, you know, you have to take care of yourself, no-one’s going to chase you for assignments and make sure you eat every day.’

Mostly, that’s true. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Except at UOW, which is such an inclusive and wholistic institution that there are now, actually,  free lunches…

‘UOW Wellbeing is a new initiative to help students like you maintain a balanced, positive life and enhance your experience at UOW. Live like it matters!’

So says the Facebook page, and sure enough, last week a small team of student volunteers camped on the McKinnon lawn, serving a tasty balanced lunch to anyone who wanted to ‘Dine with the Ducks’.

But, warned Cameron Faricy of the Centre for Student Engagement, there was a catch: lunch was prepared and served, but the diner was required to sit down at the tables and chairs provided and talk to someone they didn’t know.

That’s nutrition, balance, mental refreshment and social interaction all covered.

It was so popular that the food was gone with half an hour to go,



university life #1: cycle of desire


a green, green machine: the author’s Surly Long Haul Trucker

Now you’ve gotten into Uni,

how are you going to get in to Uni?

My bum hurts.

I get too sweaty.

I don’t feel safe.

I’ve got too much gear.

I’d fall off!

A f*@*ing nuisance on the road.

The UOW campus is nirvana for 600 enlightened cycle-commuters each day, and Illawarra cyclists have both dedicated cycle/foot  paths and quiet on-road routes. The UOW has a Bicycle User Group (BUG) to encourage and support all riders, and provides cycle maps to help students and staff navigate their journeys.

There are facilities for 800 bicycles, from sculpturally enticing curved stainless steel racks to locked, keycard only Bike-Bases, with showers and private lockers. The lucky serial commuter-cyclists are easy to spot as they exit the Bike-Base on their way to learn or teach: jaunty, smiling, ready for breakfast and unmistakeably clean-smelling.

After all, they haven’t been fuming in a traffic jam, agonising over parking or squashed into a shuttle bus.

Cycle commuting to UOW will appeal to those concerned about the environment, social and workplace health and road congestion.

Clean, green, efficient.



References: (UOW BUG) (Illawarra cycle map)  (Illawarra cycle map)

voxpop #2: if you could turn back time?


Hindsight is 20/20 vision

If I had my time again, I’d…


Songs, proverbs, sentiments.

Maudlin and regretful, invoking three minutes, three seconds or three score and twenty years of revived, regretful recrimination.

Scenes replayed, scripts reviewed and remarks recanted.

University of Wollongong students were asked to consider:

If you could go back five years, what advice would you give to your younger self?

The answers were serious, considered and practical.

Actually, useful for anybody.

And they showed optimism.

Not a flagellant to be seen or heard.

Please, enjoy the communicators:

voxpop #1: what would you be doing if…?

Students at UOW were asked:

What would you be doing if you weren’t a student at UOW?

Excessive soul-searching wasn’t a requirement.

The expected answers?

Oh, I’d need to get a job, I’d be doing my preferred/second choice degree,

I’d be living somewhere else.

Maybe the shadow of disappointment and missed opportunity?

The unexpected, and most pleasing element: all respondents were open and engaging.

No niggards.

Everyone had a good, old-fashioned think, and spoke in detail about what might have been.

 How might you have answered?

the art on journalists

Stereotypes are hard to shake, for both jury and accused. If you’re sympathetic to the one that implies tattoos are mostly worn by rough labourers and ‘tradies,’ criminal bikies and ‘death-metal-heads,’ but never the polite and well-educated, a revision could be the order of the court.

Tattooing – or Body-Art –  is a growing industry, evidenced by more proponents, publicity, marketing, media reporting, and more colourful and prominent bodily display.

In Australia there have been three recent studies that indicate an increase in the number of people with tattoos from 10% in 1998 to 14.5% in 2005. In the 2005 study, for ages 20-29 years, nearly 30% of women and 22% of men had tattoos (and 25% of men 30-39 years). The demographics of body art have changed:

“Tattooing appears to have moved into mainstream society, with roughly one in seven Australian adults reporting having been tattooed” (Heywood, 2011)

These journalism students might be three of those happy reporters:


Amy Starling was once an apprentice tattooist, but she’s now majoring in Journalism as part of the BCMS. She’s not new to the field, having already completed a TAFE diploma, and worked for the multi-media magazine MiNDFOOD, and later for a tourism organisation


Amy Starling: BCMS

Amy’s work is most inspired by the passion and independence of her father, Steve Starling, popular and well-regarded freelance fishing journalist. She says that she struggled to find her own niche, but with her love of writing, learning about politics and the world, is confident that journalism and media is the right fit.

The ’80s movie, The Dark Crystal, informs the style of Amy’s tattoos. Her legs and wrists were the first canvas for tattoos, from the age of 17: ‘I was the freak at school!…tattooed legs…blonde Kiama surfer…’

The tattoo in the photo is partly completed – one like it may total 25 hours in creation – and she’s been having a love:hate relationship with it. The artist altered the design and it may have to be reworked.

John Durrant grew up in Cronulla, and is in his final year at UOW, having almost completed a degree in Law and English Literature. He’s already working three days a week in a commercial law practice in Sydney. Journalism is an elective, and he’s enjoying the reduced stress level, compared to the Law studies.

The tiger tattoo on John’s left arm is linked to his mother and sister and he’s had it for two years. It was done by a friend, so there was trust and the opportunity to see the artist’s previous work. The latest tattoo is a less elaborate line drawing of a bird on his right arm. John says it was ‘spur of the moment’: talking to an artist at a tattoo expo, he liked the design, it was an immediate and quickly applied work and he’s very pleased.

There will be more.


John Durrant: Law and Literature



Teisha Cloos recently completed her HSC, but decided against a gap year teaching English in a UK primary school. Instead she’s enrolled in a gruelling double degree course: Journalism and International Studies. She’s happy with the busy programme: the Journalism major is just right, and the choice of International studies will focus her on issues that matter. She grew up in the Shoalhaven area, and has just moved into an apartment not far from UOW.

Teisha’s tattoos aren’t as large, colourful or obvious as those shown above. Her – ‘two or four, depending   on how you look at it’ – tattoos are an expression of family bonds.

There’s also a peace symbol on her calf, which ‘reflects my lifestyle.’


Teisha Cloos: Journalism and International Studies


Heywood, W, Patrick, K, Smith, AMA, Simpson, J, Pitts, M, Richters, Shelley, J, “Who Gets Tattoos? Demographic and Behavioral Correlates of Ever Being Tattooed in a Representative Sample of Men and Women”, research paper, 2011, Melbourne. Accessed at ABC Online, 20April’14,

From the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society (ARCSHS), La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia (W.H., K.P., A.M.A.S., M.K.P., J.M.S.); Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia (J.M.S.); School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (J.R.); and School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia (J.M.S.).