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.

Politics minus the spin cycle

31 Aug

I’m interested in Federal Politics, but this isn’t exactly ‘niche’ as there are countless blogs on this rather fiery and divided topic already. So after jamming my thinking cap on, and working in the Press Gallery in one of the most heated sitting periods on record, I got to Friday afternoon and had a brain wave. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone just concentrated on the facts, figures and actual legislation before parliament, instead of name-calling, back-stabbing, soundbites and spin.

As a generation Y’er, it’s easy to understand why most of my friends are completely apathetic about politics. We’re the generation that gets bored easily, but are also driven problem solvers. Hearing Julia and Tony say the same negative things about each other every week and never appear to be offering solutions, makes us tune out and switch off.

It’s my aim to engage and inform people who aren’t interested in the high-school politics that seems to be possessing Parliament House and focus instead on what is being achieved or not achieved, as the case may be. I will aim to present the best arguments from both sides, along with facts and figures that can be substantiated.

The tone will be light and conversational and will assume that the reader doesn’t know the background issues.

This isn’t an opinion blog, and I won’t be drawn into arguing about the Carbon Tax or defending a political party. My aim is simple really, to cut the crap.

Homeless in San Francisco

7 Aug

For all the blue skies, beautiful bridges and bays, San Francisco also has a dark side. You don’t have to walk for hours or seek it out- it’s on every street corner, down every alley and probably following you across the park. I’m not talking about drugs, although sometimes they go hand in hand. I’m talking about people who lack the most basic of life’s necessities, homeless people. They are everywhere.

According to the San Francisco city statistics, 6000 homeless people ‘live’ in the area. With no fixed address or regular reporting, these figures are widely considered to be much higher. Just based on what the locals have told me, their prevalence is due to a number of factors. Firstly California provides more financial support for homeless people than other states, so they have flocked here from around the country to cash in on the ‘generosity’ of the government.

Secondly, and probably more influential is the easy access to marijuana in California. Legalised for ‘medicinal’ purposes, all you need is a script from a doctor and bingo, you’re able to buy grass over the counter. Walking down the street the constant waft of weed washes over you when you pass a group of people smoking or a ‘lounge’ where people go socially to smoke. The police don’t seem to care.

California is also famous for the cheap and easy illegal access to amphetamines, with dealers hanging out in every neighbourhood. I’ve only been in town for 4 days, but already I’ve seen six people use crack pipes, in public, without a care for who is around or watching- namely me.

One of the side effects of the sheer amount of homeless people is that it scares the tourists off. Speaking solely from experience, it seems like they congregate around the public areas like parks, fountains and hotels because of the ample seating, public toilets and said tourists that are easy to pester for money. The hotel strip is also a good place for them to hang out, again preying easily on the tourists and not having any long term residents to come up against mean they are able to stay in the area longer. San Fran simply doesn’t have enough beds in homeless shelters or church run refuges to house them all.

Some would argue it gives the city ‘character’, others would say it makes it look dirty, unsafe and changes the messages travellers tell their friends. My message will be, ‘amazing city, cool bars and restaurants, world class museums but a whole heap of homeless people.’

As a solo female traveller, I’ve always had the principle that I won’t be scared to walk somewhere just because I’m a girl and alone. I’ve questioned this principle more than a couple of times in the last few days, jumping into cabs when I don’t feel safe. Don’t get me wrong; mostly, the homeless are friendly enough, they might say hello, tell you you’re beautiful or ask for some money for a ‘bus’- but naturally some are really persistent in getting you to give them money.

Simply saying you don’t have any change on you isn’t a good enough excuse for some, they’ll follow you for a couple of blocks pleading how they’re hungry, cold, and have a child/dog/cat to feed too. Objecting to giving them money I know they’ll just spend on drugs, I’ve started carrying a couple of bananas in my handbag to give to the really persistent ones. This seems to be an alright compromise in their eyes, even though I don’t really owe them anything in the first place.

I guess I’ve been overwhelmed by the stark contrast of such a financially wealthy district, with luxury stores like Louis Vuitton and Chanel lining the streets with homeless people sleeping in their doorways after closing. Undoubtedly every country and city has its problems with homeless people, but I can’t help feeling that the ‘super-powered’ America should be able to do better, because no one should have to sleep like this.

Photo of the day.

1 Aug

Summer Saturday fun, Boston Style.

I spent a warm Saturday wandering aimlessly around Boston, soaking up the summer sun and watching families play in the numerous public parks.

Boston seems to have an excess of fountains, and a lack of swimming pools- so kids grab their swimmers and towels and head to a fountain to play.

Fun for the whole family, including the dog.


lBoston was one of the first places settled by Europeans, so it has the ‘oldest’ pub, ball park, restaurant, cemetery and wharf in the country. I can now say I’ve been to all five, with the wharf being my favourite. Not hard to see why.