ABJ #Reporting Refugees


666 ABC Reporting Refugees#Reporting Refugees was a truly beneficial experience. A public journalism exercise designed to tell the stories of Canberra refugees in an honest, fair and accurate way.

The problem that the public face today is the fact that there are no facts being presented in the main stream media. Although some topics don’t require a critical examination as thoroughly as others might one particular topic that stands out is the topic of policy making concerning refugee/asylum seekers.

Angela Romano a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at the Queensland University of Technology states that the Government polices regarding refugee/asylum seekers are costing the taxpayer money.

“Federal Govenrnment polices aimed at preventing boatpeople from reaching Australian shores have cost taxpayers an estimated $300 million per year since 2001.” (Romano, 2005)

However this fact is not reported on when a story breaks on yet another illegal immigrant boat intercepted of the Australian coastline.

Another fact that the public is not readily informed of is the global number of refugee displaced every year.

“The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there were 43.7 million forcibly displaced people worldwide at the end of 2010, the highest number in 15 years.” Australian Department of immigration and Citizenship Fact Sheet

My point of the media publishing in accuracies regarding refugee/asylum seekers or just not presenting the evidence/facts has provoked Refugee Council of Australia to create a website dedicated to highlighting the media’s mistakes.

“Refugees, asylum seekers and the Australians who support them have had to endure countless media articles full of inaccuracies and stereotypes. But sometimes media organisations go one step further and publish information which is blatantly false. This page aims to draw attention to such outrageous media blunders and to correct the record for people seeking accurate information about issues relating to refugees and asylum seekers.” Refugee Council of Australia Media Mistakes

The Refugee Council of Australia is completely justified in publishing this website as certain mistakes from news organizations have also been picked up by the ABC’s Media Watch.

Welfare and Refugees

However I would also like to point out that there are some organistaions out there that want the help refugee/asylum seekers where possible.

Here is just one example: Finding a refugee a voice

Prior Perspective

What contact had you had with asylum seekers/refugees prior to commencing this project?

Before this assignment I had very little to do with asylum seekers/refugees and even less so before I started at university. Of course I was aware of their circumstances and it was with some interest that I listened intently to refugee policies. However that information was only heard from the mainstream new organizations. I had still never met a refugee/asylum seeker before. Although I could appreciate what they were experience and see their point of view, until I knew one I could never understand with true empathy.

What was your attitude to refugees/asylum seekers and policies pertaining to their management prior to commencing work on this project?

As I listened to refugee policies being made I was torn between agreeing with the points of the policy, from a security perspective to the legal ramifications and the more humanistic value that refugees/asylum seekers create. I understood from previous study on the subject that the refugees/asylum seekers that featured almost weekly in news bulletins and discussion was less than five percent of total migrants that travel to Australia. I’m talking about the migrants that arrive illegally by boat.

Due to the media’s persistent in spot lighting these particular events over and over again I believe is what misinforms not only the public but also the government. Statistics can be a fickle thing on a good day, but it’s the mis representation of the situation from news organizations that are creating a larger thing out of something quite comparatively small.


What did you learn about asylum seeker/refugees during the course of the project?

That they are people too: People that have experienced pain, suffering and hardship throughout their life. It was a stark contrast to the environment that we now take for granted and grew up in. I learnt that they too share the same worries as us. They too want to make a safe harbor for their families and keep them safe. Although in many ways different from us in turns of appearance, culture and beliefs, it doesn’t mean we should toss them aside and not help where we can.

As long as we have the resources to make their wishes come true that is what we should strive for.

What (if any) impact has the project had on your views of asylum seekers/refugees and associated policy issues?

The impact this particular project has had on me, more than anything is that it has opened my eyes more in order to see what they see. By hearing their side of the stories makes you realize how much the news organizations aren’t telling us which in turn can create major problems for policy making.
In my opinion there are three views to take on the situation: the first being the Legal ability of Australian Law. Does our constitution state whether to help those seeking refuge? The second being the security issue of our maintaining our boundaries. As an island nation, Australia is extremely security conscious and our defence and security policy overlaps the migrant policy. The third view to take on the situation is the humanistic approach. This is where opinions are mostly voice by the public and not the government.
Together all three views and this project has made me stop and think more about the individual cases and persons involved and what perspective they are coming from.


What has the project taught you about reporting refugee/asylum seeker issues? and How will you put these lessons into practice when you are next assigned such a story?

This project has taught me to research beyond the front page of news paper articles. By getting to deeper depths and trying to find the true roots or source of the story.
It has also taught me how to communicate to someone with a sensitive story to tell. By gentle probing and understanding, creating an atmosphere of appreciation are vital skills to obtain in circumstance such as these.

Tact, gentleness and a lot of research into the subject are extremely important in extracting the information or story. It does raise some ethical issues that one might have to face and make a decision on the spot: decide on whether to continue with the interview and/or whether to cut it from the final package. It is hard to say how one would react in such a situation and lucky for us we didn’t face any major ethical issues.

Next time a story like this is assigned to me I will take on board what the angle is and how best to get it. I will look at all sides to the jigsaw, the practical, logical and also ethical. With incredible amount of resolve and tact I will approach the situation.

Gentle probing, patience and understanding will hopefully ease the circumstance into one of easy banter and professional chit chats. However this doesn’t come overnight, years and years of practice and inevitable mistakes made and persistence is how one will learn.


Is it Sustainable?


Research – Sustainability

Confident is such an awkward term to define. In this venture I have discovered there are many extreme sport websites and some dedicated blogs but I believe the area of interest is not overly saturated. My amateur marketing and entrepreneurial knowledge and skills tend to make me naive of such exercises however I do think that there could be a market for a website dedicated to the psychology behind extreme sport athletes.

Such a website would contain research from academics marketing and advertising gurus while still staying current and change with the trends of the extreme sport culture. Although it’s very easy to write and say what it will be and represent, actually creating it and bringing it to life so to speak is much much harder.

There are many websites out there created to stay in touch with extreme sport events and athletes, there are not so many that are solely dedicated to the psychology links of why individuals take part in such life threatening activities.

Why do they do it? What makes them do it? Are very common questions that are on everybody’s lips after watching someone dive off a cliff with only an aero- dynamic suit to keep them alive. This is one of the reasons why I think a website dedicated to such questions would fill a void in the extreme sport market.

Not only would it be a one stop shop to all your extreme sport questions but it would also be of use to the friends and family members of an extreme sport athlete.

The sustainability of this website idea would mostly be through advertising extreme sport sponsors. It would also have the have links to other websites that talk more about extreme sport events and extreme sporting personalities. This caters for the extreme sport enthusiast and the extreme sport fan in keeping them up to date with all the goss from the crazy world of extreme sport.

Will it stay or will it go?


Research – Timeline of News articles

“700m plunge at Avalanche Gully: doctor killed in extreme skiing accident” the Sydney Morning Herald reported on August 25 2011.

“Extreme skier killed in 700-metre plunge” stated The Age online on August 25

“Australian Dr Graeme Nelson dies in ski accident at Mt Feathertop” declared the Daily Telegraph on August 25

And the headlines go on and on. At the beginning of this blogging exercise the term ‘Extreme sports’ was defined.

Although there are many different and complex definitions one could sum it up to being a sport that produces a certain level of risk to ones’ life.

Sadly these headlines are quite often read in the extreme sport industry. The risk that an individual takes when performing the death defying acts is what makes this topic both popular and at the same time, newsworthy.

Although it may never have a regular spot in the mainstream media publications it will always have followers.

The media followed this story until the very end. However it was not really the major players that stuck with the story but smaller regional papers and radio programs that reported on the community and the family of the deceased.

“Skiers body recovered from Mt Feathertop” Ninemsn news reported

“Skier who fell to his death at Mt Feathertop ‘not a risk-taker’” said The Herald Sun August 25

“‘Committed’ rural GP dies in tragic skiing accident”
from the Medical Observer August 26

“Eden mourns Doctor lost in ski plunge”
stated The Border Mail August 26

“Community farewells Dr Graeme Nelson”
from the Merimbula News September 7

Anybody out there?


Research – Audience and Participants

This week it is all about research in extreme sports, who has done it and why. Since doing this blog I have discovered that compared to other interests, extreme sport has only a limited amount of fans. These fans also include researchers in either marketing, academic or even advertising. This made researching for this blog quite difficult.

However I am not here to disappoint. I have found two different studies one academic and the other more for marketing and advertising purposes. Both of these studies relate very closely to the same topic in extreme sport, what makes people do it?

The Daily Galaxy: the great discoveries channel, is a more marketing and advertising website almost commercial in its purpose but the research published on the website was done by a University of College London by Bianca Wittmann. The article talks about how British researchers have discovered that the human brain has a primitive area that makes us adventurous. The new research suggests “that new experience drives choice behavior in humans, even when the degree of familiarity with an option is completely unrelated to choice outcome”.

Studying Extreme Sports: Beyond the core participants discusses not only the limited range of extreme sport research but also looks beyond the subculture of the sport genre to examine the forms of authentic participation. This type of research is an academic paper from McMaster University by Michele Donnelly.

Having found two pieces of research on extreme sports it suggests that there is a market out there for a website dedicated to extreme sport research and findings. Although this idea is only in its raw and new babe stage, it does make you wonder and almost admire how much work goes into marketing to create a product for the right niche market.

But what’s in it?


Research – Common Form of Content

Okay so this week I will be discussing the most common forms of content representing my area if interest.

As you should know by now, the area that draws my particular interest is extreme sports and WHY people part-take in life threatening activities. There are many different theories but none of which I will focus on today because today I wish to tell you why I think that most forms of content in extreme sports seems to multiply itself via the medium of visual representation.

By visual representation I’m referring to mediums or media like, DVD’s, YouTube clips, Video’s, and Online Multi-media content. Although these are the main supporters of extreme sport print media still plays a small hand at the extreme sports table. Things like glossy photo shopped adventure advertising, posters and billboards, magizines that tell of a magical place far away from the hum drum office desk life.

The above mentioned forms of content may be different in delivery but all still have the same affect on the consumer. The strong visual images that stir feelings and passions that lay dormant inside a person in other surroundings. Although these forms of content play directly to the consumer’s visual sense it also captures their other senses like touch and sound.

Have you ever watched a snowboarding DVD or been a member in the crowd at a Banff Film Festival screening? Then you would know what I’m trying to say. With pumped up sound tracks, action packed sound effects and awesomely stunning visual photography or cinematography we can’t but help be in absolute awe of the extreme nut heads.

Thus my point is that any other form of content just wouldn’t have the same visual pull and stirrings of passion as what the above mentioned visual forms have in regards to extreme sports and really would you want it any other way?

Will you come and play with me?


Research – Interacting Online

In this blog post I aim to explore who one should follow in the online world to establish themselves in a particular area of interest.

As there are quite a few websites a that dedicate themselves in some way to my area of interest I will only focus on a small hand full of them as some i have already mentioned in earlier blog’s.

Eric Brymer: http://eprints.qut.edu.au/view/person/Brymer,_Eric.html Follow him by RSS feed. Why? Because he is an academic that has done extensive research in the area of extreme sports.

The Psych Files: http://www.thepsychfiles.com/2007/11/episode-35-the-psychology-of-extreme-sports/ Follow them by RSS Feed, Twitter and on Facebook. Why? Because it is run buy one guy, Micheal Britt and he offers in sight not only into extreme sport personalities but also talks more general about other everyday life activities which is great to compare against.

Science Line: http://scienceline.org/2009/07/health-konkel-extreme-sports-risk-psychology/ Follow them by RSS Feed and on Twitter. Why? Because this page offers more than just the psychology behind people who participate in extreme sports it also offers the science behind why people do what they do. It looks at why some people are more septible to extreme sports and risk taking activities compared to other who would much prefer a nice cup of tea and a comfortable warm couch.

Freecaster TV: http://freecaster.tv/ Follow them by Twitter and Facebook but also sign up to their Newsletter. Why? Becuase they cover all kinds of extreme sports events and individuals both in Australia but also world wide. This offers a solid overview of what is happening in the extreme sport arena.

Xsessions: http://www.xsession.com.au/ Follow them by RSS Feed. Why? Because of similar reasons to following Freecaster TV. They offer an extensive overview of the extreme sport area with particular focus to Australian Extreme Sporting events and Individuals.

What do you know?


Research – Media Professional

In this particular area of interest there are a few individuals that are or at the very least have engaged with online journalism in extreme sports.

Although from what my research has told me the definition of what makes an extreme sport is a difficult one to define as it keeps shifting from era to era.

In the 1980’s to the 1990’s for example the definition of extreme sport took a major make over when marketing guru’s covered the Xtreme games. One grossly over generalized definition of the term ‘extreme sport’ is “activities perceived as having a high level of inherent danger” (wikipedia.org)

However in 2004 Joe Tomlinson redefined the term buy categorising each of the extreme sports into those that take place in the air, land and water. This was a massive shift in the industry as never before had it been done.

It has also been defined as a counter-cultural concept, “as the norms of the sportsmen often go against those of the social mainstream” (Juliapsych.wordpress.com) Which I must admit is easy to see as most people would decline an offer to tied themselves to a piece of stretchy cord and jump off a bridge.

In 2005 Eric Brymer’s paper the ‘Extreme Dude: A Phenomenological Perspective on the extreme sport experience’ suggests that the broad definition for extreme sports has created a confusing array of research findings however from said findings, Brymer concludes that the young, male, thrill-seeking, adrenaline junky stereotype is exposed as an over simplification. Instead extreme sport participation points to a more potent, life-enhancing endeavour.