Sunday, 24 April 2016

Writings of a Journalism Student

This is an old piece I wrote for a magazine as I was finishing my degree. I talk about what it's like to be a journalism student in a world that believes journalism is dying. Enjoy! (Forgive any outdated references as this was released to the magazine almost a year ago)

As I was finish grade 12, my senior English teacher asked me what I was planning on doing once I graduated. I replied rather excitedly that I would be undertaking a degree in journalism, to which he replied, “Why would you pick a dying field?”
This hit me hard. I had no idea journalism was dying. I watched the news every night, every morning I would be checking social media for any breaking news. It seemed to me that not only was journalism not dying but, journalism had never been stronger. So if this were the case then why would a senior English teacher tell a student going into journalism that journalism was dying? 
That’s because we have reached an end of an era, that era being the rule of print media. Since the beginning of media Print Media had been the clear winner of media outlets.  However, the rise of technology has cause print, the giant of media outlets, to fall.

As a modern journalism student it’s important to not just learn the old ways of journalism but to learn and try and predict the future of journalism. It’s an exciting time to be getting into media but it’s also a terrifying time. I remember walking into a lecture and being told that in modern society any average citizen can be a journalist at any time. This is the equivalent of a doctor walking into their class and being told, well done for getting here, but people are probably just going to operate on themselves now. It’s a terrifying concept, but this is only if we look at traditional forms of journalism and print media.

Thankfully we have more options and news outlets than ever before. From TV and radio through to online and even social media. Social Media has been one of the biggest players in journalism recently. Twitter has recently released a new app aimed at citizen journalists called periscope. Periscope is a live streaming app that allows the user to video and stream events to twitter as they happen live. This is exciting because no longer do we rely on a TV crew to get to the scene before we can see images of breaking news, because now eye witness are able to broadcast the events from the beginning as it happens.

However despite the growth of broadcast journalism across the globe, journalism as a subject seems to be depleting. There had been rumors of University of Queensland reducing their journalism program from a full undergraduate degree, the bachelor of journalism, to just a postgraduate degree, a place for a few elite students to take part in. This is seen across the globe, from Columbia to Berkley and Even in Melbourne.

However it’s important not to confuse the dropping numbers in traditional news rooms with the over all health of journalism in a general sense. One of the biggest players currently in the journalism field is Buzzfeed. While this name may bring to mind cat videos, and lists of why Dr. Malcolm should have been in the latest Jurassic Park Movie, Jurassic World. Yet this entertainment section of Buzzfeed is but a small portion of the over all website. If you take some time to explore it’s depths, there is a bit of everything, from news and lifestyle through to cat videos and personality quizzes. Buzzfeed is but one example of the future of journalism, that proves not only is journalism not dying, but also is obviously growing strong. We just need to be able to adapt to the future of journalism, which may include a cat video every now and again.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Dawn of Justice: A Review

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. Possibly the most exciting superhero movie title we have seen to date. However, the question has been raised - does the movie live up to its title?

This is a harder question to answer than I first thought. My initial reaction was to say no, no it wasn't. The reviews have been harsh (My favourite being Batman v Superman: Yawn of Justice), the plot was a little all over the place, and more importantly it was missing some crucial components to the characters. However there was a lot of good in the movies as well, so I think it's time to break down the good and the bad of Batman V Superman. 


I'm going to start with some things that I didn't like. We all know the story of how Batman became Batman. As a young Bruce went to the theatre with his parents, where he got scared when he saw bats. So being the loving parents Mr and Mrs Wayne were, they snuck out the side of the theatre with young master Bruce, right into crime alley. Here is where they ran into a mugger, who accidentally shot Mr and Mrs Wayne. Bruce then blamed himself for the death of his parents because he wasn't able to overcome his fear, from that moment on he vowed to control his fear and protect the citizens of Gotham. This is a nobel beginning to the silent protector of Gotham... However it was not how things went down in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In this rendition, the Wayne's are happily walking along a main street of Gotham (granted you can see the theatre in the background) when out of nowhere a man steps in front of them, shoots Mr Wayne and then shoots Mrs Wayne, leaving Bruce stunned until the funeral where he runs way and falls down a hole. This hole is filled with bats who begin to swirl around Bruce. He then begins to fly out of the hole with the help of the bats before waking up from a dream sequence. 

This brings us to the next issue of the movie, the dream sequences. Firstly there are far too many of them, including taking a page out of Inception where there was a dream within a dream. Neither of theses dreams have anything to do with the story line (other than re-enforcing Batman's paranoia of Superman).  The dream sequences end up getting tangled into flash backs (as seen in the Wayne's death scene) and generally add nothing to the over all profession of the story line. 

The story line itself is another big issue I have with this particular film, well it's more the story lines (plural), there are too many of them. We have 5 introductions before the film really starts (Superman's intro, Batman's intro, Lois Lane's intro, Lex Luthor's intro, and finally the reason behind why batman doesn't like superman intro) by the time the introduction scenes are over you forget what has happened in the first introduction scene. This all happens before we even think about introducing Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League. We are then introduced later on to Doomsday, and then at the very end of the movie another villain is mentioned. Over all this movie tries to cram to much into the movie. I understand why they do this, they are using this as a launch pad for the future Justice League movies, but I disagree with sacrificing a movie for the sake of future  movies. 

And finally the last issue I have with this movie is how the conflict between Batman and Superman is written. In the comics Batman and Superman have fought many times. In Frank Millers Dark Knight Returns, Superman is sent to kill Batman due to Batman's showing up the president of the United States. In Jeph Leob's Batman:Hush, Superman is under the mind control powers of Poison Ivy's 'Kiss'. All of these stay true to the characters, Superman doing things the right 'American' way, and Batman fighting for justice in his own way. Both hero are nobel in their cause. However in Snyder's version they become jealous school boys who are trying to prove they have the biggest muscles. For me this takes away from the core of these characters. This isn't the fault of the actors however. 

Time for the good! I loved how the actors portrayed their characters. Jesse Eisenberg did a brilliant job as Lex Luthor. While not a traditional Lex that the audience is used to, I believe we walked a line in-between the characters of Lex and the Joker, being simultaneously Superman's and Batman's rival. I also enjoyed Ben Affleck's portrayal of Batman, this batman is older and hardier than the previous versions we have seen. This makes him battle worn and more experienced, which I believe led to an exciting new addition to the Batmen. Finally Henry Cavill is an incredible superman, he is able to play the glorified boy scout role perfectly, all muscle, truth and justice. It's unfortunate that these actors weren't given a better script and story line to work with, but I am excited to see what is in store for the future of the Justice League.

Over all I would give this movie a 4/10. With good cinematography and character portrayal, it wasn't enough to save the lack of plot or script. 

Friday, 1 April 2016

Would I Survive An Apocalypse?

I love watching end of the world movies and thinking about what I would do if thrown into these situations. From zombies and diseases to asteroids and the four horsemen. Now it's easy to say I could survive these movies if I had the same training and resources as the hero, unfortunately I do not have the same training or resources as any of the hero's (except maybe Shawn from Shawn of the Dead). So today I thought we would explore exactly how fast I would go in an apocalypse (who knows, maybe I survive one or 2!)

Let's start with what could be the most likely apocalypse on my list - disease.
If any of you have seen the movie contagion or played the game Pandemic 2 you would know how quickly a disease or virus can travel (everywhere except Madagascar apparently, who close down their boarders anytime someone in the world so much as sneezes...). What we learn from movies and video games (obviously the most reliable source for apocalyptic facts) is that when it comes to disease the first people effected are people in airports, on public transport and in hotels. Now for those of you who are unaware, I work in a hotel and I catch public transport to and from work.
My prediction: I wouldn't be patient zero, but I believe I would be one of the first to go. Living in a busy metropolis, working in a hotel and traveling on public transport are all working against me. The best case for this would be to discover I am immune to the disease. That way I could save people without being infected myself.

Next on the most likely list is earth being hit by an asteroid.
The good news is, going off our scientific evidence as shown in movies, the asteroid will hit somewhere in the USA (either New York or LA). This is good news for me as I live in Australia (possibly the furthest country away from the USA). The key to surviving this scenario is to be up to date on the news, as a journalist this is fairly easy for me. I would have to hope that mum is home so I have access to a vehicle so we could drive into the centre of Australia. Hopefully this would be far enough that we wouldn't be effected by the earthquakes or tsunamis that follow the crash. That's best case. Worst case, the asteroid hits Sydney (they always hit a major city). If it hits Sydney then I would unfortunately still be in the impact zone, my clothing will ignite and the surrounding buildings will collapse. I don't think I could survive something like this.
My prediction: This is very much up to chance, if the asteroid hits a place far away then I will survive, if it hits closer to home I'm a goner.

Let's move into the world of fantasy and horror with one of the most popular apocalypse scenario - zombies.
Firstly we need to decide what type of zombies we are dealing with, every one knows if the zombies are awake during the day and the night then they are slow moving, however if the zombies are just night or day zombies then they are going to be fast. I'll look at if I can survive either scenario.
First - Slow walking day and night zombies.
The key to 24 hour slow zombies is to always keep moving and stay hidden. This is easy at the beginning when you have a car and petrol, however petrol will soon run out leaving your car useless. I would then have to rely on my ability to run long distance... This is the point I would die. I wish I could say I am an incredibly athletic young man, but we all know I'm a blogger (not a photoblogger, or a video blogger, just a regular every day blogger) so we can all guess I'm out of shape. I would either die of exhaustion or the zombies would catch me, where I would double die because I wouldn't be able to catch any humans to eat.
Now the fast night or day zombies.
The trick to these zombies is to go out when they are asleep or hiding and gather supplies. Which seems easy enough right? Wrong, my downfall will be my sleep talking and snoring. Now I'm not every loud, but any noise is going to attract these zombies and I'll be caught in my batman pjs and will become the most stylish of the zombies.
My predictions: I will not survive a zombie apocalypse.
EDIT: I forgot to mention that there is a scene were I would die a lot sooner than predicted. That scene would be if my dad was my get away driver... Don't get me wrong, I love my dad, and he is a brilliant driver once the car is in motion... however the problem is getting into the car. Dad (being the safe man he is) likes to make sure his car is locked any time we aren't in it. This sounds like a brilliant idea for the zombie apocalypse right? No zombies will get in the car while we are off sleeping or collecting supplies. Unfortunately dad also doesn't like to unlock the doors at the same time. He will instead unlock his door, get into the car, close his door, start to do up his seatbelt, realise no one else has gotten in the car, and then finally he will unlock the other doors. I feel like this would be certain doom in a zombie apocalypse.

And finally the apocalypse to end all apocalypses - The Apocalypse
Yes, the original apocalypse. we are talking 4 horsemen, raining fire and good christens being saved my the Lord above.
I will not survive this. I eat seafood, support gay marriage and haven't been to church since I left the high school that forced me to go.
My prediction: There is no way in hell (get it, biblical humour) that I will be surviving this apocalypse.

What have I learned from this post? I need to run more, attend more church and of course carry a bottle of hand sanitiser at all times.