Category Archives: journalism

9/11 and The Birth of New Media

In 2001  I was in year eight. Yet its still a struggle for me to remember that new media didn’t exist the way it does today. I was reminded of that after reading news stories and personal reflections.

Fast Company

Decade Of Disruption: 9/11-Inspired Innovation


The article speaks about different types of innovation. When talking about “social media and crowd journalism” the article reminds us that “ubiquitious social media sharing” didn’t exist, the internet was much less sophisticated and smart phones with in-built cameras weren’t around making it difficult for non professional journalists to share information and images.

The comparison it makes between now and then makes it very easy to see the differences and appreciate how much has changed. It is a very relevant article both because it is timely and because it reminds us that the knowledge we take for granted on a daily basis was not always accessible to us.


I’ve noticed a difference between Fast Company’s web page layout and the layout of other online media sources. Fast Company puts all the written info on the left and all the extra information such as related coverage and ads on the right. Lots of websites I’ve seen do the opposite or have a three column layout.

Decade of Disruption

The way Fast Company has done it is easier on the eyes because you are not bombarded with as much information and are more focused on the written content. It’s a ‘keep it to the basics’ approach which is great.

Media Rhetoric Blog

How the Internet Changed after 9/11–Citizen Journalism, Social Media and Mobility


This reflection from a university lecturer  (Janet Johnson) who specialises in media described the lack of citizen journalism in 2001 and the void that it left in the coverage and the information flow of the attacks. Here’s a quote which sums it up pretty well.

“Trying to connect to the East Coast during that time was hard. The overload on phone lines was tremendous. I resorted to e-mail to ask my brother what it was like where he lived. My brother and my friends all lived in central New Jersey about an hour from New York City. I tried to connect to during that time, but remember the web site’s message that said was over capacity and to check back later.”

The writer feels that new media and citizen journalism became prominent to fill a need, a gap that the traditional media is unable to satisfy when unexpected disasters strike. Only those present while it is unfolding can share the most precious and useful information.

The entry was written on September 11 so it is timely, relevant and has currency in the news which are likely to continue covering September 11 from different angles even after the date of the anniversary.


Filed under citizen journalism, journalism, new media, social media, Uncategorized

Anna Politkovskaya

Today Digital can take a back seat. I need to write about something else. Today in Russia Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, a retired police officer has been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to murder Anna Politkovskaya. Chances are you won’t know who she is or why I care.

I shall tell you.  She was a Russian journalist who had the misfortune of being a person with strong moral convictions and democratic beliefs. She did something that most Russians consider extremely stupid and unnecessary-she criticised the Putin administration and the war in Chechnya.

So she was assassinated. Those who cared knew Putin ordered the murder, those who didn’t care said she deserved it for refusing to conform and suck up, like journalists of the state owned media.

Today the media has reported that Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, a police officer who was originally assisting in the investigation of her murder is now a main suspect. Politkovskaya’s family comments that the murder will be solved only when the person who ordered Pavlyuchenkov to organise the crime is named.

I of course looked at both the Russian and Western coverage of the story. Partly because I was skeptical about finding much information in the Russian media. Thankfully I was wrong to doubt Russian coverage and found a few detailed articles about the development of the case. Both Novaya Gazeta and Lenta. Ru covered the story. I liked the fact that Lenta backtracked and explained how Politkovskaya died (gunned down in the lift inside her apartment building), because it provided a more comprehensive picture of the current event.

Politkovskaya worked for Novaya Gazeta which provided no background info as to who Politkovskaya was, indicating that readership would probably be familiar with the story. Novaya Gazeta didn’t insert hyperlinks into the text but Russia is not as tech savy as the West so that really doesn’t surprise me. Lenta on the other hand did provide hyperlinks although the rest of the layout was a bit too ancient in comparison to such online publications as the Economist or Fast Company. At least there were a couple of images to distract from the ugliness of the actual site.

RT also ran an article and reported it on their tv channel (and on youtube).  For those of you unfamiliar with RT (Russia Today), RT is a westernised Russian news media, bringing you an image of Russia, with a western spin. I’m pretty sure its propaganda,(very subtle but still)  but then again I just don’t trust anything originating in Russia….except Airflot airplanes. Something I haven’t seen on an online media site is the ‘download’ button that allows you to download the video news item. Me like, (but me no bothered to use).

Seriously though: I read Politkovskaya’s books, watched her Dateline interview and I came to believe and will continue to believe that she has more guts/courage/pride than any Russian man I am likely to meet here in Australia or back in Moscow.Anna Politkovskaya knew. She knew what she was doing was dangerous and she knew she would be killed for it.

Could any of us do the same?


Filed under journalism, Uncategorized

How Education, Drive and Digital Technology Create Entrepreneurs

I have recently had to get past my hermit like, anti-social tendencies to do a feature article. And I’m glad I did because I was able to write about something that really interests me (entrepreneurship) and combine it with something I want to do for a living (digital media).

So in the video below you’ll see me raving on about entrepreneurship and the glory of online start ups.

Note: When I rave, my accent tends to become grotesque and at times incomprehensible, so watch at your own peril.

Here are the links to Start Ups I mentioned in the video:

1. TaskRabbit



Voila: This is the article I spent days concocting, cutting and pasting bits and pieces, then frantically undoing the cutting and pasting until I stopped giving a shit and just submitted it.

It’s pretty damn long for a post so I encourage you to skim and just click on links.

Entrepreneurship Education Goes from Niche to Mainstream in Universities


Entrepreneurship students at UNSW

“The whole point of teaching entrepreneurship is to help students avoid some of the obvious mistakes, so they don’t have to fail quite as often or quite as fast” says Dr. Martin Bliemel, the director of the UNSW Centre of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It might seem odd to think that creativity and inventive thinking can be taught but entrepreneurship education in Australia is steadily growing.

Dr. Bliemel’s insight into entrepreneurial education is certainly more reliable than most; after all, he has travelled the rocky road of entrepreneurship himself. Before joining UNSW from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Dr. Bliemel completed an MBA with a venture specialisation in 2002.  He reflects that while he was studying he could tell that “some [students] wanted to get into start ups and entrepreneurship but at that time there was only one course in entrepreneurship in that entire MBA program”. Consequently his desire to “help other people commercialize their cool ideas” propelled him to start a business consulting company that assisted entrepreneurs with business plans, raising capital and financial modeling.  According to Dr. Bliemel “Its only recently we’re starting to see education programs specialising in entrepreneurship”.

UNSW’s Diploma in Innovation Management is one such program designed to filled this new niche in education. The undergraduate Diploma is offered in conjunction with students’ undergraduate degrees and spans three years. Those willing to tackle extra study for the diploma have their chance to learn the secrets of entrepreneurial trade before graduating. Only the extremely brave, dedicated and ambitious take on the challenge but even before being accepted in the course, they are subjected to CIE’s scrutinising eye and judged on the basis of past leadership and entrepreneurial skills, enthusiasm and academic achievement. The end result: a carefully chosen breed of  motivated entrepreneur hopefuls. “The students are a lot more engaged and they learn a lot from each other. They’re not taking [the course] because they have to, they take it because they want to.” Dr. Bliemel says proudly.

According to CIE’s internal statistics 11% of students come from the College of Fine Arts, 14% are from the Faculty of Science, 24% are from the School of Business, 18% come from the Faculty of Social Science and 17% are from the Engineering Faculty. Dr. Bliemel says that there is also interest in the course from students in other universities. “They see that, ‘Oh my God, I wish we had that at our university’”.

What they might not be aware of is that entrepreneurship in education was being picked up as early as in 2004. According to the Journal of Asia Entrepreneurship and Sustainability, out of 39 Australian universities surveyed in 2004, 13 were offering entrepreneurship units in bachelor and masters programs, 8 offered bachelor programs in entrepreneurship with major or minor in entrepreneurship and 11 offered post graduate programs such as graduate certificate, diplomas or masters in entrepreneurship.

And the trend is gathering momentum. The Murdoch university for example, currently offers a specialization in entrepreneurship as part of its undergraduate commerce degree and is not shy to use lines like ‘Love to be your own boss one day?’ and ‘you could be the world’s next Richard Branson!’ to entice students. The University of Adelaide has created an exclusively entrepreneurial undergraduate degree with the grand title ‘Bachelor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship’. Taking a leaf from UNSW’s book, UTS had recently created an Entrepreneurship Centre ‘to build an entrepreneurship ecosystem’ and aims to provide highly specialised courses for entrepreneurs.

Sean Marshall plans to give his own suggestions to the centre. After all he is the president of the Australian Collaborative Entrepreneurial Society (ACES) society at UTS and a fierce advocate for improvements in entrepreneurial education. His response to whether Australia is doing enough to assist young entrepreneurs speaks for itself. “Hell NO” he says with passion, “people need to know that entrepreneurship is a valid career path”. Which is just what he’s working on. A serial networker who goes to about four entrepreneurship networking events each week, he also runs The Vanguard, an organisation that helps encourage entrepreneurial skills in students.  “We build a community of students from high school and university who want to be involved in entrepreneurship and  run training events. For example a day work shop on how to build an e-commerce site” he says, before pausing for a moment to give the taxi driver directions. He is in fact on his way back from the ‘Final Pitches’ event at UNSW where entrepreneurship students showcase their innovative business ideas. “There needs to be a shift away from education focused on theory and to education that involves solving a problem in the real world” he concludes adamantly.

However Both Marshall and Bliemel are likely to be disappointed with Oliver Milman’s cynicism about entrepreneurial courses. The editor of Start Up Smart, an online publication for entrepreneurs, is skeptical about the impact of tertiary education on the entrepreneurship sphere. “There is a big debate about whether entrepreneurship should be taught as a course. Rather, it’s possible that its a state of mind.” he comments pensively. “There is a belief that teaching entrepreneurship itself doesn’t really help you out” he continues, “that you can’t teach people to come up with ideas”.

The experience of Sam Sidney, 24 year old owner of online clothing store Twin Cat Vintage seems to support his ‘mind over matter’ rationale. For Sam, who studied journalism at Melbourne University, lack of entrepreneurship education was simply a challenge to be tackled, not an insurmountable barrier.

“I particularly found the actual ‘business’ side of things tough. Being mathematically illiterate also didn’t help matters!” she admits. But  she is far from being resentful about this difficulty. “I think fear is a fantastic motivator and whilst there were always fears and stresses involved, I never lost the motivation to keep trying”.

She describes her love for vintage clothing and the satisfaction of giving people a “special shopping experience” as the reasons she started the business.

“I had an incredible long white 70’s lace dress once, which a girl bought for her wedding dress – that was an amazing sale!”.

When speaking about motivation, Fiona Anson, a serial entrepreneur who’s owned a total of six businesses, has her own philosophy. “Entrepreneurs have an internal drive. They are motivated by doing things better.” she says with conviction.

Her newest venture HireMeUp, which she started with business partner Allison Baker, is a job search site for finding flexible work and attracts 10000 visitors per month. Like Sam, Fiona is optimistic about business challenges. “You might get a bit disappointed, but you pick yourself up and dust yourself off ” she laughs, “it’s all trial and error at the end of the day.”

Regardless of the role education plays in creating entrepreneurs, there is most certainly a growing demand for entrepreneurial courses in Australian universities. Yet the experiences and mentality of entrepreneurs like Fiona and Sam indicate that the desire to create something is what underpins the success of educational incentives.

“Somebody who’s an entrepreneur gets the thrill out of finding something new to do all the time”, Fiona declares, before adding with a smile “and I love it.”

Fiona (on the right) and her business partner Allison

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Filed under digital media, entrepreneurship, journalism

Meeting the Entrepreneurs and Hazards of a Busy Life

Before the collapse of my immune system I had managed to do at least some useful things.

As I mentioned at the end of my video (if anyone was patient enough to reach the end) I was asked to write a blog about an event called Meet The Entrepreneur.

Here they are, the wonderful men with the big brains

And here is the blog for the event. As a firm believer in the power of the digital word above the printed word, I was more than happy to write it pro bono.So thanks to the good people of the UNSW Centre of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Actually I had turned up at the event for a completely different purpose. I was writing an article about entrepreneurship education in Australia for uni, and it seemed relevant  (it wasn’t). I remember turning up and  thinking “what the fuck?” when I saw that every person there was casually sporting corporate attire (I was sporting a baby blue sweater and ever so slightly ripped jeans). In other words I stood out like a (blue) beacon.

Anyway I did have fun as the token misfit because that’s the reason I got noticed and asked to contribute. Oh and I got to interview Valerie Khoo who happens to own the Sydney Writers Centre (where, incidentally, I had done a writing course years back).

Did I get anything out of the event for myself? You may ask. Why yes. Yes I did.

I realised that I never want a job that forces me to wear corporate/business clothes. Ever.

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Filed under blogging, entrepreneurship, journalism

Two Ways Twitter has Changed the Way We Consume Information

The way Osama Bin Laden’s Death broke on Twitter gave rise to new questions about its role  as an informational hub and the role of the audience in generating news. In my opinion,

  1. Twitter has changed the way in which people search for information
  2. It has also provided certain individuals with the power to influence and generate news

The truly innovative aspect of Twitter is that people are able to search for and find news that have not yet been broadcast, written about or published.This was the case with the news about Osama Bin Laden’s death.

According to Fast Company the interest of the public was sparked when the White House announced an urgent presidential address. Amongst this demand for information  Keith Urbahn’s news breaking tweet about Osama Bin Laden’s death was spread freakishly quickly.

Urbahn’s power to create  news came because his information responded to the public demand.

It was only because his tweet coincided with the most talked about topic and the time at which it was delivered that it had such prevalence. This demonstrates is that unlike traditional media that used to ‘push’ news towards the consumer, Twitter provides a place where people can ‘pull’ the right information from their network.

Just want to show you a Twitter visualisation that demonstrates how information networks are created on Twitter. I know the topic has nothing to do with what I’m talking about but I thought it was a good visual example!

It seems that information is trusted when it either comes from a variety of unrelated, unbiased sources or if it is provided by influential and credible individuals.

This guy’s quote, published by Arnnet perfectly describes how info trust is built:

“After first seeing one or two tweets on the subject, I quickly did a hashtag search to verify that what I was reading was being referenced by a large number of people and linked to a reputable news source. After that little process, I felt as though I could trust what I was reading and that I had been informed of the news from many different vantage points, each with independent motivations, backgrounds, national histories. I find that process much more trustworthy than listening to a single TV station.”

The way the news broke also makes it possible to suggest a profile of the twitterer who can successfully act as an influential citizen journalist. The key individuals in the OBL case were Keith Urbahn, the former Chief of Staff in Donald Rumsfeld’s office and Brian Stelter, a digital media reporter for the New York Times, who re-tweeted Urbahn’s tweet.

Both were professionals in their respective fields and both were active on Twitter during the crucial time. Although Urbahn had a relatively small following of 1016 people, according to Social Flow he “had the right combination of influential people reading his tweet and confidence in the accuracy of the information.” This of course included Brian Stelter who was not only a reliable source but also had a huge Twitter following of 57 535 people. When he re-tweeted Urbahn’s tweet it was spread by his following, making the news viral.

Based on this information I am suggesting that the successful citizen journalist on Twitter must be credible and reliable, he or she must be timely in providing information and they must have the right twitter following. This can either be a very large following but most importantly it must contain the right people.In other words the twitterer must have influence.

Here is a list of most influential twitter users.

You can use Twitter Grader to find out how influential a particular twitter user is.

I found this tool really cool too. It lets you search for influential people who are interested in the same things you are.

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Filed under citizen journalism, communication, digital media, digital technology, information, journalism, new media, news, Uncategorized

Osama Bin Laden and Twitter

At this point we are all familiar with this:

I could rave on about Osama Bin Laden related issues for the next five hours. I could tell you that I want to write a letter to the American government saying something like “shhhhh, please be quiet and stop celebrating the murder of a terrorist master lord! You might hurt Al -Qaeda’s feelings!” I could ponder the pros and cons of releasing the photos of OBL’s dead body or re-watch old September 11 documentaries in morbid fascination.

Instead I’m going to say what Osama Bin Laden’s death has done for Twitter. In the international relations/war on terror scheme of things, the way his death broke on Twitter is a trivial matter BUT it is important for the future of news and information spread. It’s important for us, the people who have never had much control over news, to recognize that we can all create news now, one tweet at a time.


Because if you know how information spreads on Twitter, you can spread information on Twitter. Fast. Like wildfire. Like the ripple effect. Like a Lamborghini on the freeway.

But it ain’t easy.

How did people find out about Osama Bin Laden’s death and when? May 1st around an hour before the official presidential announcement by Barack Osama (oops Obama). Here’s good timeline.

People are naturally inquisitive and people who use social networking are neurotically inquisitive. They are addicted to information and they hunt for it like…hunters…SO speculation about what-the-hell-is-going-on began as soon as the White House announced that there would be a presidential address. It was after a bit of a wild guessing game that people began to mention Bin Laden. But at that stage it was still just the blind leading the blind.

FINALLY Keith Urbahn (sorry people, not the singer/husband of Nicole Kidman) tweeted the tweet that made the difference.

Urbahn was a reliable source because of his position as Chief of Staff in the Office of Donald Rumsfeld. The trustworthiness of his information meant that it was re-tweeted by 80 people in the new minute.

His tweet also got re-tweeted by Brian Stelter, a very influential tweeter (he is a machine. I’ve never seen anyone do that many tweets in one day).

And that’s how it took off. The crazy tweetering, digital river of information. And then Obama gave his speech.

For the twitter universe, he was a bit too slow (and a bit too triumphant for my liking).

But you know what? I’m glad that he was too slow. Down with the controlled media. We don’t need it to tell us everything anymore. We can tell each other whatever the hell we want. As long as we have access to information and the right twitter following, we can break news. Of course a lot of elements come into play, but that’s the essence of it.

Social flow did an awesome analysis of how OBL’s death broke on twitter zoomed through the wired world (I just like the pretty graphs). Actually I gonna insert the pretty graph;

Based on what I’ve read and the Social Flow analysis this is the way to break news on Twitter:

  1. Have the information
  2. The news has to be timely. No one will care if it happened a week ago (unless its something massive) or if no one knows about it or its significance.
  3. Be well connected on Twitter. That doesn’t necessarily means have millions of followers, just have the right ones.
  4. People must trust that you’re not the boy/girl crying wolf. Reliability is the key.

I actually think that by using Twitter as an information hub, we are making a statement about the world we live in and about our own role in it. We are shrinking the world and growing our individual significance. News is no longer decided by journalists and the media, nor should it be.

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Filed under communication, communications, digital media, digital technology, journalism, social media, Uncategorized