Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Journalism students: you need this.

In my day job, I teach journalism to university students. Specifically media law and online journalism.

It astounds me how many of them do not have an online presence further than Facebook.

And I need your help in deciding what they should be focusing on.

My friend Nikki recently wrote a post about a presentation she gave to an Online Journalism class about how blogging can kick-start a career... and she hit the nail square on the head.

"To put it simply, students have the power to be their own marketing managers. Their personal blog can be the “brand” they want to put out to the potential job market. It can give them an edge on another student, even when applying for internships.

In my day … potential employers only had my type-written CV, some clippings of published work and an interview to go by. Today, employers can – and are – Googling you long before they’ve invited you into their offices to ask about where you see yourself in five years.

And in that Googling, what are employers going to find out about you? Will they be impressed by your “voice”, your passion for fashion photography, cooking, your love of a good rant or will the just find a random Tweet about your disdain for a telco company.

And if you’re long past student age or inclination, then this is worth thinking about too. You don’t really know who’s reading your blog, Tweets or Facebook updates. Opportunities – freelance writing gigs, sponsorships, book deals – present themselves every time you make an electronic communication."

And I absolutely couldn't agree more. It is becoming readily apparent that people are consuming their news online. Newspapers are moving toward more editorialising and commentary, because people already know the news - it's up to them to provide more background, opinion and discussion because they've been scooped by the internet.

Internet, internet, internet... it's where we spend a huge chunk of our time. And yet students are promoting themselves less and less in that arena. And to my mind, it should be the first place they go.

So in wanting to upgrade and update our classes, I'm throwing it over to you - those of my friends that know the value of an online presence and can rock a social media platform like nobody's business. What do you think these students should get a handle on? What has worked for you in the online publishing arena? Help me get them off Facebook!

I think they need one of these as their very first port of call:

A Google Reader. Absolutely, unequivocally necessary. Be across a variety of news websites in one place. Get your news from different countries, differen sources... and it might stop me slapping you when I ask you where you read the most news and your answer is "". You want to be a journalist? You have to read much more widely than that, my friends. I know you don't pick up a newspaper. I know you can't answer more than two out of the 10 current affairs quiz questions I ask you. With this, you will.

Twitter. I am deadly serious. For those of us devotees, we know it is so much more than a place to tell everyone you've just picked your nose or eaten lunch. Every major news event (and some not so) that has happened in the last two years, I have heard about first on Twitter. Kevin Rudd being booted out? Twitter. Brisbane floods? Twitter. Egypt? Libya? Twitter. News as it happens, people. Every major network and organisation have Twitter accounts they update constantly. Get on it.

A blog. The fastest way to get yourself published. And I'm not kidding when I say employers are expecting you to be published several times before you finish your degree. There really is no excuse. And a blog is the fastest way to do it. So much an online portfolio, so much an easy-access example of your voice and writing style.

A blog about the group you've created at uni for journalism students to come together and collaborate. I created a journalism group at my uni when I was studying, to share tips and support, have fun get-togethers and be published online in a slightly more professional setting than a personal blog. If there is no journalism group at your uni, put up your hand to create one yourself. Looks amazing on your resume!

Stolen from my college buddy... thanks Brit! xx
Your own personal website. A one-stop shop for future employers to find everything they need about you (and not your collection of frat party tequila shot photos...). Here you can put your resume, contact details, examples of your work, showreels/YouTube channel, blog, and networks you're a part of.

So peeps, what do you think? Do you agree with these basics, and do you have any more? What about things like LinkedIn... I've never used it, is that a good resource? Do you think it's worth sticking it out with Google Plus? How have Twitter and blogging helped you? What can I tell these future newsmakers about how the online world works?

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Wedding that Was

Today I'm playing along with Shelley over at My Shoebox Life about weddings.

'Cos she's about to be a bride. And I remember that feeling. And it was awesome.

I stupidly got married in the middle of uni exam week four years ago, and therefore never got to take off any time beforehand to just chill... like Penny did... and as such, it went way too fast.

I hand-made all my invitations, scored my dress for a bargain $150, borrowed my veil and used clip-on vintage earrings to decorate my shoes. I did my wedding my way and it was the best thing I ever did.

I walked down the aisle to Jimmy Eat World, played punk music for my mingling guests and boogied on the dance floor to the Wu-Tang Clan.

I made my own bouquet.

I reserved the right to do things I wouldn't remember doing later, nor why I would do them.

I made my sister my Maid of Honour, even though she's hotter than me.

I listened to the whims of my incredibly talented photographer and was glad I did.

My dad walked me down the aisle, and then I filmed a Macleans ad. Ok that was a lie.

I had a cathedral-length veil for a backyard wedding. Oh yes I did.

I annoyed the celebrant by only having one chair at the signing table. I also annoyed him by changing my vows to "I do", not "I will". I also did not tell my husband to do this... he just did.

I had two dresses, just because.

I loved my wedding day. I married an incredible man and we've made an incredible life. I had the best ladies' night before, and a day that was without fault.

Except my 18-year-old brother didn't get drunk and dance to The Thong Song like he did at my sister's wedding. I'm not sure I'll ever get over the disappointment.

It topped off a beautiful romance, a quirky, thoughtful and totally amazing proposal, and started a lifetime of love.

Which is exactly what I wish Shelley. All the best, gorgeous.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Ah Wanderlust. I has it.

I has it real bad.

I can't sit still. I can't concentrate. I feel like I'm wasting time.

My brother-in-law is coming home from Canada in two months, and he's lived there the last two years. He's coming home via Mexico and Thailand. He's just done what I have wanted to do my whole life - live somewhere other than here.

Sometimes I joke with Kristin about homeswapping... my Sunshine Coast abode for her Kansas lodgings. Sometimes it's only half a joke.

I often wonder why I never made it to the other side of the world to set up camp. Life hasn't been easy and I was at uni and I never had enough money, excuses excuses. I tell myself if I wanted it that badly, I would have made it happen somehow. Anyhow.

But I didn't and I haven't. But that's not to say I won't. I haven't travelled much, but I want to so bad. I can feel it pulling in my chest, the deep longing of something you need to complete you as a human, but is always just out of reach.

And it's making me twitchy. Unsettled.

I want to be in places I've only ever seen pictures of before.

And even though I've been, I feel as though it's not enough.

I can't tell you how excited I was to be here. I still don't know why I have such a crush on American politics.  It can't be normal. It's all your fault, Bill Clinton.

I used to have a picture of this castle on my wall for inspiration when I got up every day and slaved 9 hours at a job I loathed. I knew that if I worked hard and saved hard, I'd get there one day. I did, but it was long after I left that job.

When the baby was just born, and I was overwhelmed with the baby blues, I used to sit in the bath and think of New York City. And how much it felt like home. And how sad I was that I wasn't there and I wasn't going back for a very, very long time. oh god, how MAUDLIN!

I want to ride my bike in Vancouver again, and hopefully not fall off this time. Thanks very much, person taking up the entire footpath so I had to navigate a gutter and completely lose my shit trying to re-mount it.

I want to ride along the desert highways of California and Nevada again, Fear and Loathing style. Only without the traffic jam and the too-long bus ride and the pushy lady in the seat in front of me making me pull the shades down so I couldn't see the view and she could watch her 1998 rom-com in peace.

I want to see what mundane life is like in other cultures. I want my toilet seats warmed, and I want them to spray pretty smells and play pretty music to cover up any embarrassing noises I might be making (but that never happens 'cos girls don't poo). 

I want to walk into a restaurant where I can only speak Year 8 Japanese and order something I've never eaten before and have it be the best thing I've ever tasted.

I want my environment to be something completely different to home. Something totally the opposite. I want to be in awe.
I want to be on a tropical island with my love, without a care in the world. And this time I'd like somebody else to pick up the room charges... eep.

Looking over these, I feel so fortunate. And so guilty. I am incredibly lucky to have experienced what I have, and to have these pictures and memories. Not everybody has that.

I feel guilty that this isn't enough for me.

So I need to turn my head around. I have an incredible job, that I love and am excited about. For that reason I won't move.

I have an incredible, amazing family and brand new baby and way-cute kitten. While I could take them anywhere in the world with me, we seem to belong here.

Here, where the sun is like the air that I breathe and makes me happier than just about anything else could. 

Here, where we play backyard cricket, and have barbecues and hang out with our friends and are near our families.

I can't complain. And I know how lucky I am. But sometimes... London really does call.

Where do you want to be?

Friday, September 16, 2011

When the waiter is rude.

Do you say something? When the waiter is rude, the cashier is snappy or your barista is nasty?

I don't. At least I can't remember when I have. But I'd sure like to.

Recently I was reading over my old blog (2009 represent!) and I came across this post I wrote, after at least the tenth time a lady working at my university coffee shop made the whole experience awkward and awful. And it reminded me of a time when I saw Miss Edenland do something I always wish I had the guts to do...

I’m a little bit of a chicken. And by little bit, I mean huge. 
Occasionally, I go to a cafe on campus to buy coffee (cos that’s what collegiates do, apparently), and the same woman serves me nearly every time. The exchange goes a little something like this: 

Act 1, Scene 1 

It is a bright, sunshiny day. Captain is feeling pleasant and motivated to write. All is well with the world. She steps up to the cafe counter to be served. 



CAPTAIN: .....Can I have large flat white please? 

Incredibly scrawny old birdlike woman wearing red lipstick holds out her hand, completely silent. 

Money exchanges hands, Incredibly scrawny old birdlike woman wearing red lipstick hands Captain her order number. 

Incredibly scrawny old birdlike woman wearing red lipstick disappears into the caverns of the cafe. 
CAPTAIN: (To no-one) Uh, thanks? 

Captain walks off feeling dejected. 

Every time this happens I want to stare back, completely silent also, hopefully forcing her to actually speak to me first. 

And although I hate this repeated exchange, and feel slightly rejected by the silent food service worker, I never say or do anything about it. Such is the way of the nerd. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

MySpace Memories

Back when logging on and seeing this was the ultimate.
Remember MySpace? That social network we were all on like crack* before Facebook?

Remember Facebook, that social network we were all on like crack before Twitter?

Twitter Rules. Facebook, not so much. MySpace? I just looked on my page and the last time I was active was over two years ago. Poor old MySpace. What happened to you?

Looking over my profile is like reading a time capsule.

For example, my About Me:

I am a particularly tall girl that has absolutely no clue about how to be comfortable in such a large expanse of human. I will come to your house and totally ignore you by reading all of your books that I cannot resist looking at right there and then. I am also partial to looking in people's pantries (note the 'r'...) to see what they eat. I am particularly fond of learning, academia and universities in general. Although I usually dislike the people that attend them. Especially if they're loud. I'm a huge fan of women that make a difference. I am incredibly grateful and humbled by those who have gone before me to allow me to vote, to be heard and to have a choice: to do what I want, when I want and how I want to do it. I have a love affair with the English language and will go weak at the knees at a beautifully constructed sentence. (or at least be mildly impressed.) I love dresses and vintage jewellery and weekend hideaways and newspapers and antique books, although not necessarily in that order. I've found the kind of love people write volumes of poetry about, and if I had the technicological resources, I'd clone him so you could have it too. I appreciate the fact I can choose between pasta or salad for dinner instead of between damp dirt and bone dust. I'm glad my bed is a bed and not a hessian sack on a muddy floor. I'm glad my water comes in a sterilised bottle and not infected with bacteria that I had to walk four hours to get. I'm glad I live in a democratic country where I can criticise the government if I so choose, and have the freedoms to enjoy my life. I don't eat meat and neither should you. You'd be surprised how most of your food got on your plate, and hopefully horrified. Ignorance sure is bliss. I don't like people that drive with disregard to others, people that talk really loudly in inappropriate areas and people that whine and complain and are generally in a negative frame of mind. YOU control your life, so go do something about what it is you think is so god-awful. The end.

Wow... I had a lot to say! I must have hit my stride two years ago (Oprah would say I started living my authentic life) because I still adhere to all of this.

My heroes were pictures of Fran from Black Books, Marc Jacobs in drag, Michael Jackson and Louis Theroux.

My husband and I started our relationship with the help of MySpace (and MSN Messenger) in 2005. I posted a ridiculous poem I made up about him while I was bored at work. He posted random pictures of Hot Shots movie stills on my wall. I posted videos of A Night at the Roxbury. We quote warred with Super Troopers. We fell in love.

What did you do with MySpace? Did you ever have one? And what was your About Me?

*A million thanks and copyright to Lori

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Aussie Goody Bag

First of all... if your name is Stephanie Holden, STOP READING NOW! This is meant to be a surprise.

For the rest of mah peeps, I need your help.

I'm sending my US friend a box of things that are quintissentially Australian. I'm not sure I can fit in a kangaroo, and meat pies are probably out, but I'm thinking I want it to be so much more than a jar of Vegemite. That will more than likely freak her out, as it does most Americans. Because ur doing it rong. White toast, lots of butter, a scrape of Vegemite - anything else is likely to kill a man.

Anyway, I'm going more along the lines of this:

The most obvious, but probably the best. And this is coming from somebody that used to rarely eat chocolate. And biscuits. I've heard of people doing weird things like biting each end off and sucking their coffee through it... I ain't never done that and I'm not sure I would. But I'd definitely have trouble stopping myself from eating a whole packet.

I don't know anybody that didn't wear this growing up. This is so early high school for me, so Australian. One sniff and I'm instantly transported to muggy lunchtimes playing handball, eating sausage rolls and bemoaning my double maths coming up next. 

What's an Aussie goody bag without a Freddo? And a Caramello Koala? And probably a Furry Friend or two...

I once talked to a Canadian fellow whose mother was Australian. When he came over for a year to live and work, she demanded he supply her with as many Cherry Ripes as he could send home. I understand this.

Now before you go all Violet Crumble on me, I have to say Crunchies are better. Violet Crumbles are too hard and I don't like their chocolate. Crunchie = 1, Violet Crumble = 0.

Australis makeup. I remember my ma buying a whole bunch once (which was a big deal, as we were poor. Actually, as Oprah says, you were either poor, or po'. We were po'.) and received a free t-shirt. I wore that t-shirt one day and all the bullies left me alone for once. It was that popular, haha

Again, I could never afford these, but used to get old ones from op shops. And Girlfriend magazine. There was nothing better than going through a Dolly Doctor or two with a bunch of friends and dying of either embarrasment or hilarity. Often both. I'm sad they make them up now. I used to spend my hard-earned babysitting money on TV Hits magazine instead of Dolly because they had better posters of Edward Furlong and silverchair. True story.

Sure they're never going to be as good as homemade, but what can you do?

When I was a kid, it was imperative that you eat these WITH a chocolate paddle pop. You took a burger ring (after putting them on each finger and waggling around being an idiot), and you scraped it up the side to get a little layer of chocolate ice cream. Then you ate it.

So think back to your Aussie childhoods... what did you HAVE to have? Help a brother out here!