Archive | research RSS feed for this section

Can it be done?

13 Oct

I think there is a hole in the market that ‘Cut the Crap’ could fill. While there is plenty of online news-based websites around politics, not many are targeted at a specific age range- they usually are left/right orientated. Furthermore- the aim to delineate between fact, opinion and media spin is something that is currently lacking in political rhetoric.

I think targeting it at generation Y is a worthwhile age group, as my research showed they use online media most frequently. This age bracket means that the content will have to be more creative than the traditional news material, and something that is valuable/attractive for the audience to share via social media.

Many of the survey respondents expressed a desire for political discussions to centre around the policies instead of the personalities, and I think that ‘cut the crap’ will be able to fulfil this desire.

The model for funding and support is still something that has to be worked through, with someone with more experience and knowledge than me, but the target market is certainly sought after by advertisers. I’d like to keep it advertisement free if possible, but acknowledge that means funding will have to be provided by someone with an agenda for the content, another thing I want to avoid.

Considerable effort would be needed to be successful in this market, with time consuming videos and graphics integral to the content model. I’m confident that high production levels and creative thinking would enable ‘cut the crap’ to be viable.


Carbon Tax timeline.

7 Oct

The Carbon ‘Tax’ is a perfect example of the sort of issue I’d like Cut the crap to cover. The media coverage on the issue has been covered all ground, from hysterical to sensible and every other degree in between. A lot of personal opinion has been spread, and many facts mislaid, forgotten or blatantly lied about. I imagine Gen Y finds the hysteria annoying, off-putting and offensive, so I would strive to present a fact-based, balanced case. This post will look at some of the examples of the media coverage; the good, the bad, and the down-right ugly.

First cab off the rank will have to be Andrew Bolt. As the most read Australian opinion blogger, it’s disgraceful how he has handled the whole argument. His blog is filled with anti-carbon tax pieces, and devoted a large chunk of his TV show on the issue too. This video sums of his show on the 9th of October sums up his ‘coverage’ of the issue well.

The ABC’s BTN program breaks the big issues down to a level that primary school kids can understand. I like the way they use hypotheticals and graphics to clarify the jargon and spin around the issue.

The major print companies have included a range of reports on the carbon tax over the last year, from positive, to negative and explainer pieces.

Sydney Morning Herald offered this article on July 10 aiming to explain the Carbon Tax. It’s a reasonable job, but pretty boring and un-interesting as far as interaction and engagement go. Jessica Wright also wrote about the compensation people were to receive on the 10th. These articles are fine factually, but miss the creative thinking that’s needed to engage gen Y.

On the independent media side, Crikey published a range of opinons, some rubbishing Abbott’s opposing views and also shining the light on the environmental lobby groups that support the tax.

Ben Eltam is a regular New Matilda contributer, and published this article praising the carbon tax the day after the detail was released. Three days after that he published this one, that was more critical of the plan, presumably after having more time to sift through the huge amount of detail that was released on the 10th. While rich in detail, and even having a graph, these look boring and seem like ‘hard work’ to chew through with the huge amount of text and not a lot of fun.

The topic is popular in the political sphere as it’s one of the biggest changes to the financial system in Australia’s history, and therefore has a high public interest.

Opinion, opinion, opinion.

1 Oct

The most popular form of online media about politics is certainly opinion writers. Everyone has an opinion and some are more willing to share theirs than others. These are called opinion bloggers and can range from the right wing, to the left wing and not many cover the middle ground. The best use facts to back up their points of view, the worst use hysteria and ‘selected facts’ to communicate their message.

The message is predominately text based, with maybe a clever image or two to get their point across. Text is good for opinion, because it’s quick to produce and is able to be completed in a much shorter time-frame than video or images. Time is of the essence in political opinion, and the quicker you can get your idea up, the better.

I think opinion blogs are popular because the average joe likes to know what someone they ‘trust’ thinks about a given issue, and is more likely to agree with their point of view. Conversely, others like to read what people they don’t like think about issues, to get a range of views about a hot topic.

Good opinion writers analyse the topic and not just regurgetate the political spin that goes along with it. My favourite opinion blog is the Drum because it represents a wide range of views and topics and as an off-shoot of the ABC refrains from name-calling.

Let me know what you think. Take my survey!

14 Sep

I figured since I already have an audience of 350 people on facebook that fit perfectly into my target market, I’d make a survey to see what they thought of the current political coverage in Australia.















Twitter Research

11 Sep

Twitter is a Gen Y hot spot, with the social media scene being our ‘pub’ for sharing ideas and thoughts. Thus, it’ll be very easy for me to find out what young people are talking about, and what concerns them. Apart from footy results and drunken tweets, youth use twitter to connect with people they usually wouldn’t have access to. From celebrities and sports stars to Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott, getting in touch is now just a tweet away.

I think harnessing Twitter’s potential for story ideas, sources and content will be vital to making ‘cut the crap’ work. From offering a twitter account that the readers can tweet to, a visual stream on the website and easy twitter links for content are all things I think will be integral.

Who to follow?

  • The traditional political parties all have active ‘young’ twitter accounts. These will be essential in looking at what issues the parties are addressing and what their stances are.
  • GetUp is currently the most successful community activist organisation in Australia. Their campaigns will no doubt throw up issues that will need to be explained on ‘cut the crap’.
  • Politicians themselves can be fantastic to follow on twitter, not only for their accessibility, but also for seeing them as ‘people’ not just talking heads following the party line.
  • Other news outlets. These will show what the ‘traditional’ media is reporting about, and will un-cover any topics that may be confusing or complicated for ‘cut the crap’ to explain.
  • Government departments- the Gov 2.0 movement is taking hold, with more and more departments having a profile on twitter. For example, following the Bureau of Statistics will notify me when new data that may be helpful in explaining a story is released.
  • The parliamentary library is a great source of information for everyone, not just media professionals. Their explainer pieces are already fabulous, and a great launching pad for ideas, links and statistics.

[View the story “Twitter Research” on Storify]

Scholarly thoughts

7 Sep

There is a wealth of information available online about Australia’s political system and current issues. What is not so easy to come by is Gen Y’s involvement in the political system and what motivates them to get involved, or disengage.

There was an article done in 2000 reviewing the way the ‘youth’ connects with current affairs programs on television which I thought had a very interesting take on the youth and media relationship.

This article has suggested that due largely to the news media’s presentation, politics, democracy and citizenship have developed a bad reputation with young people. In many respects, the very foundations of democracy have become contradictory and marginalising for the young. However, Tara Brabazon46 states that in an era of few alternatives youth are inherently suspicious of the rhetoric behind the media while at the same time they are naturally drawn to the reflexivity and social consciousness the media yields for them. This attraction may be especially strong for new media such as the internet, but it also exists for more enduring cultural technologies such as television, radio and magazines.

I think their predictions were quite correct in saying that the youth will engage online instead of with traditional media.

A more recent study was done by the University of Western Sydney on the youth’s engagement with politics and democracy. Some of their findings were also pertinent to what I want to achieve. The authors came to a number of conclusions including:

  • Young people express frustration that their participation in formal Political institutions and processes are neither acknowledged nor seen as relevant.
  • The contribution that young people can make to the civic and Political life of the nation through their utilisation of information and communication technologies (ICT) should be acknowledged.

As part of their paper they included a quote from one of their research participants which really hit home to me.

even as someone who is extremely knowledgeable about politics relative to the rest of the population, I have no idea how government decisions are made in Australia to some degree…Even if you are seeking to find out as a young person, what you’ll probably be told is something very different from reality which I think is very confusing for a lot of people.” – Markus

Overall the paper found that Generation Y doesn’t like to be lied to or taken for granted, and we’re very unforgiving to people and organisations that abuse our trust.

All of these are very important things to keep in mind while developing ‘cut the crap’ into something successful.

Research for ‘Cut the Crap’

1 Sep

The internet is flooded with political opinion blogger and the main news services that deal in political journalism every day. My job is to differentiate ‘cut the crap’ from these already popular sources.

Andrew Bolt’s blog purports to be the most-read political blog in Australia. He certainly opinionated and doesn’t hold back on sharing his right-wing views on the news of the day. He is certainly good at engaging his audience, in just seven hours since publishing his piece on the High Court’s asylum seeker ruling he’s had 420 comments, most of them agreeing with his views. People read him because they love him, people read him because they hate him- but generally, in my opinion, his views on any issue are predictable and very biased towards the coalition. Fundamentally, his blog fits into the ‘crap’ category that I want to stay away from.

In terms of facts and statistics, Pollytics does a great job of analysing the opinion polls and telling the reader in much more detail what the numbers mean. He creates graphs and charts to visually show the numbers, an idea I think could work really well on my site. Sometimes the more complicated an issue is, the easier it is to understand when it is represented visually.

There is a UK site dedicated to representing the ‘youth’ voice and includes data visualisation and videos which I think is really effective. All the data is open source too, which enables others to use it to create their own projects. Very web2.0.

I even think hungry beast-esque ‘beast file‘ audio-visual presentations could be incorporated into the site successfully. This would also give the opportunity for these videos to be shared via social media, and help build the profile of the site from peer to peer. Generation Y are much more likely to view a video that their friend has posted instead of just clicking a link to a text based blog.

Other current publishers that I think do a reasonable job are Crikey and New Matilda, but they also include opinion pieces – which I want to avoid.

I’m inspired by ABC’s ‘Behind the News‘ programme, which is aimed at 10-15 year olds. I think it makes sense to follow their lead and break down the ‘big’ issues into smaller chunks to help people understand the different elements that are making our political processes so complicated at the moment. Obviously, ‘Cut the Crap’ will be aimed at an older audience, but I think there is something to be learnt from the simplistic posing questions and then answering them accurately. I’d like to think that the readers could also pose questions on ‘cut the crap’ and have the team answer them, incorporating more interaction into the site.

Triple J’s Hack daily radio show also does a fabulous job at engaging Gen Y with current affairs. Their presence online also generates good content and compiles podcasts and other content related to their show. It’s aimed at the audience I also want to target. They use phonecalls, texts and tweets to enable their audience to interact with the show, which I think will be a challenge to incorporate into my site, but a valuable inclusion if it’s possible.

55. Beneath the sheets of paper lies my truth.