Regional Papers Work to Join the Net

20 Mar

4th of October 2011

Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood visited the Bendigo Advertiser yesterday to discuss the newspaper’s goal to increase regional media on the internet. With the growth of social networking and online communities, newspapers such as the Bendigo Advertiser are working to create more online content to meet demand. Bendigo Advertiser journalist Elise Snashall-Woodhams said many media organisations were focusing on online content, so the Advertiser had to keep up with the trend.

While the news found in the newspaper won’t be all published online, the online arena for the Bendigo Advertiser will be developed further to contain multimedia content which the newspaper cannot offer. “If you look at what percentage of content that goes in the paper is found online it’s probably less than 20 per cent,” Miss Snashall-Woodhams said.
“But there is a lot that goes online which is not put in the paper, such as updates, breaking news, and all our multimedia content – including forums, videos and photo galleries.”

Mr Hywood’s plan to develop online regional papers has been labeled as an attempt to lower the age demographic of local newspapers. “The introduction of more videos and photo galleries online will [attract a younger demographic]. Young people want a more interactive experience and that is what they get online. They are into things like Facebook and Twitter which rely on online content.”

Twenty-year-old Advertiser reader Sarah Edwards said in order to attract online
readers, the newspaper would need to increase the amount of stories posted to its website and social networking sites. “I think it’s a good idea to put more content online because that’s where a lot of young people go to get their news,” she said. “But if the Bendigo Advertiser wants to expand online, a lot more content would need to go up to attract people to the site.”


Low-floor trams in low supply

20 Mar

Getting into the city in a wheelchair is not something that can be easily accomplished. For the average commuter, this journey seems relatively simple, especially when you only have to catch one tram to do it. However, for the disabled, this task is a lot more complicated than just hopping on and off a tram. Let me wheel you through the process:

Firstly, you have to sit and wait for a low-floor tram at not just any tram stop, but a platform stop.  Depending on your luck, it may take up to half an hour, or possibly longer, but you usually have to wait at least 10 to 15 minutes watching countless trams crawl past which you can’t access. The recent development of four large tram platforms along Swanston Street is a step up for Melbourne’s disability access but until more low-floor trams are introduced, they won’t be as beneficial as they could be.  Currently, the low-floor trams down Swanston Street are scarce.

Then, when finally a low-floor tram arrives you have to actually get onboard. Have fun – at some of the platform stops in Melbourne there’s a gap between the platform and the floor of the tram. According to the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport Act, a manual or power assisted boarding device must be available at any accessible entrance to a conveyance which has a vertical rise or gap exceeding 12millimetres. The Victorian Department of Transport decided a 12millimetre gap was not feasible and it was cheaper to go for the 50millimetre gap option when they ordered 50 new trams in 2010. When the former State Government ordered these trams, they were aware they would not comply with Federal standards. So even with the introduction of these 50 new low-floor trams into Melbourne’s tram network, there will still be a gap to board the tram.

At last- you’re on the tram. Congratulations. The tram is a little crowded and you are thankful you had the common sense to buy a ticket on the platform because there is no way you would get to the ticket machine. Lucky. You put on the brakes, grab hold of a yellow handrail and rock to and fro as the tram meanders its way down Swanston Street. You’re heading to Bourke Street Mall but when you get to the Bourke Street tram stop you can’t get off. There’s no platform. So you’re stuck. The next platform isn’t until Flinders Street. So you wait patiently for the Flinders Street stop and when it arrives you get off the tram with a bit of a bump (don’t forget that gap) and proceed to  backtrack up Swanston Street to get to Bourke Street Mall.

A quick trip into the city? I don’t think so.

A $25.6 million refurbishment of one of the main streets in Melbourne aims to be car free, cyclist friendly and pedestrian ruled.  While the trams along Swanston Street will become more accessible at more points down the stretch for Melbournians in wheelchairs and electric scooters, the number of low-floor trams will be the next feat.

Yarra Trams introduced Citadis low floor trams to Melbourne in 2001, followed by the Combino in 2002. Both of these tram designs have no stairs and are accessible for people with a disability. There are currently just over 100 of these trams operating in Melbourne and 300 accessible stops across the tram network to complement these low-floor trams. Compare this with 487 trams in total in Melbourne and 1,773 stops- the numbers seem poor. This means roughly 20 per cent of the trams in Melbourne can be accessed by the disabled and 17 per cent of trams stops are platforms. While these statistics are not terrible, they are far from what they should be.

Whether working, studying or just living in Melbourne, every person with a physical disability should have access to get into the city. The State Government has tried to ease complaints about the accessibility of public transport by issuing physically disabled people with half price taxi cards. However, the Maxi taxi service in Melbourne can sometimes be just as time consuming and frustrating – don’t get me started.

People with disabilities have enough trouble trying to integrate into society as it is and the lack of low-floor trams and their access to the city is something of a hindrance. The State Government needs to put themselves in our wheels and realise just how hard it can be!

True Flood?

20 Mar

If you’re looking for a new television show to sink your teeth into over the summer, you might want a taste of Alan Ball’s hit television show True Blood.

 True Blood was first aired in America on September of 2008 and since then, the sex, drugs and vampires have recruited millions of fans from across the world. True Blood is a fantasy horror entertainment series that is based on the novels by Charlaine Harries titled ‘The Southern Vampire Mysteries’. The widely popular HBO series has received critical acclaim and won several awards, including one Golden Globe and an Emmy. Creator and executive producer of True Blood, Alan Ball, has acceded to a new form of television show, often described as “Quality Television”, that has demonstrated new ways of producing and distributing a narrative.

What can only be described as a flood of entertainment, True Blood uses 21st century technology and other mediums to create a television show that goes further than the television screen in your lounge room. If you don’t want to watch the show, you could read the books, read blogs, watch videos online, play games online or you could read the comic book series. True Blood is emerging, along with other TV series like it, as a new form of television program that, if you’re not careful, could drown you in entertainment.

The show is set in Bon Temps, a fictional town in the state of Louisiana, and revolves around Sookie Stackhouse, played by Anna Paquin. Bon Temps is dealing with the recent unveiling of the existence of vampires and the creation of a synthetic blood which means vampires need not harm humans. Of course, not all vampires feel this way.

Producers, such as Alan Ball, are becoming more creative with television programs to try and take audiences to a whole new level of engagement. One of the ways in which True Blood tries to achieve this is through the concept known as transmedia storytelling. Transmedia storytelling, which is a term described in an online blog by Henry Jenkins, is a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.

One of the main delivery channels which True Blood uses to engage its audience further is the internet. The websites were popular even before anyone had ever heard of True Blood and recruited fans before the first airing. True Blood’s marketing campaign originated with viral marketing/alternate reality game (ARG) campaign, based at This website contains a blog written by a “vampire” who attempted to reach out to other vampires to discuss the recent creation of “TruBlood”, a fictional beverage which is featured in the series. Other online marketing tactics comprised of setting up numerous websites, encoding web addresses into unmarked envelopes mailed to high profile blog writers, and even videos were released that were a faux advertisement for the “TruBlood” beverage. The novels by Charlaine Harries were not very well known before the television series aired and so the advertising campaign helped to set up the context and setting for the fictional world that is depicted in True Blood.

After the show aired, the creator Alan Ball released a comic book series which offered viewers of the show yet another way of consuming the True Blood franchise. Written by Ball, these comic books offered new storylines and gave those interested a chance to get a deeper insight into the characters of the show.

The world of television is changing. Narratives are becoming much more complex and the fictional worlds which are created are becoming more accessible from multiple mediums. The great thing about True Blood is that although it may disperse its narrative across these mediums, the audience can choose whether or not they want to delve deeper into the world or are just happy watching the show alone; it is not necessary for a consumer of True Blood to access these different mediums in order to understand the show.

If you’re a bit of a vampire-buff or love the supernatural, True Blood will definitely quench your thirst. In the world of vampires, shifters, werewolves and faeries this is definitely a flood of fantasy that you can get swept away by.

Don’t Mess With The Chef.

20 Mar

Dear Channel Ten,

We need to talk. There have been some things troubling me lately and I think we need to hash it out. Unfortunately I cannot say the “It’s not you, it’s me” cliché because it is very much you.

You’ve changed Channel Ten.

It’s been a slow process but I’ve definitely been noticing some differences in you. You’re changing… and not for the better.

First it started small: longer ad breaks, louder ad breaks, but I can hardly blame you for that. Advertising has become something embedded in the typical life of a Gen Y. I am constantly surrounded, immersed and basically battered over the head with it. This, I can put up with.

But then you started disrespecting me. It didn’t happen all the time but when it did it wasn’t easy to smile and look at you the same way. No longer did programs start when you said they were going to start but ten or even fifteen minutes after the scheduled beginning. Not cool.

You may think this is trivial and most people would not even remember when this started happening. But I remember, Channel Ten.

I remember because I was young when it started happening, at the age of early school mornings and strict bed times. What do you think happened when my parents yelled “Bed time!” but the show I was so innocently watching on television was running a little over time? I missed the ending. Then older, when I myself knew I needed to go to bed but the television show before the program I was planning to watch was running way over time and instead of ending at nine thirty, ended at ten. Do you know how many mornings I woke up tired and exhausted because of you?

The reason for this behaviour is obvious – you want to keep as many people watching your channel for as long as possible so that when they miss the start of other television shows on another channel, they feel lost and consequently end up back on Channel Ten to watch the next show you have on to offer. Greedy, Channel Ten, very greedy.

You keep asking me to take you ‘seriously’ Channel Ten but how can I when you continue to take commercial television for all its worth? You try and hide your devious ways behind a bubbly personality. Getting celebrities to press your little yellow button and making it look like they’re having such a fun time chasing your logo.

Seriously, Channel Ten?

Then you have these Channel Ten Promotions of celebrities naming what they believe. Apparently a lot of American television stars believe there’s no better place to be than Channel Ten! You know what I believe, Channel Ten? I believe you’re lying to me.
I was willing to put up with all of this, Channel Ten; after all, you have been a part of my life for such a long time. You kept me entertained and were always there for me when I had nothing better to do. I could ignore your flaws and just take you for what you were. However, a few days ago I reached breaking point. On Friday the 5th of August I was minding my own business and catching a tram up Swanston Street. In my hand I held the mX newspaper which I had just picked up from Southern Cross station. Having not had a chance to even glance at the cover story as of yet, I rolled out the paper and there, on the front cover, was the story that ruined our relationship.

This is it, Channel Ten, now it is time to be ‘serious’.

This story described your plan for the MasterChef finale: to have one episode air at seven thirty, then an episode of The Renovators AND THEN the results of the MasterChef finale at nine thirty. Needless to say I was not impressed.

Channel Ten, I hate to say it, but I think it’s over.

Putting an episode of The Renovators between the two episodes of the MasterChef finale was incredibly rude of you. Is it not enough that I am force fed advertising through the product placement already inherent in the MasterChef show? Now you are blatantly forcing me to watch a show that has poor ratings to get your loyal and vulnerable audience addicted to another one of your product-happy, mind-numbing reality television shows! I feel like you want more from me than I’m prepared to give.

We’ve had a good run, Channel Ten but sometimes too much of something makes you sick. I think I need to take a step back. Maybe we should take a break? I honestly just don’t feel like being in a relationship right now and I think I need some space.

Yours Truly,

Ex Channel Ten viewer.

Gap in the market

20 Mar

Young adolescents challenge themselves everyday with opportunities to travel overseas, study abroad and experience cultures of different countries but nineteen year old Emily Yates believes there’s a massive gap in the market for disabled travelers. “I love traveling, that’s my passion” says Emily.

With a smile on her face and her piercing blue eyes are what you first notice about Emily. Then the pink streak through her otherwise blonde hair comes next. It is only after this you notice her wheelchair.

Emily was born with Cerebral Palsy and has been in a wheelchair since she was nine years old. She has never let this fact hold her back from travelling the world. “If I can’t do something, I find my own way of doing it and just sort of think, oh well, I’m not going to do that, I’m going to do something else instead” she admits.

The English exchange student reveals that the “best experience of [her] life” was a month long expedition to Africa with JOLT (Journey Of a Lifetime Trust) where she experienced the safari’s and sand dunes with other disabled people aged between 16 and 21.

“I love travelling, that’s my main passion.”

Emily believes there is definitely not enough information for people with a disability about travel and then discloses “that’s one of the thing’s [she’d] like to do, because that’s something there’s definitely a gap in the market for, especially a wheechair user”.

“If I can’t do something, I find my own way of doing it or just sort of think, oh well, I’m not going to do that, I’m going to do something else instead”.

“I think it’s a total waste of time to get down about how you can’t do something, you’re not going to change it, that’s just how it is and that’s how life is” the nineteen year old says, content with life. Emily wants to get a job involving travel and people and with all the experience this young, vibrant girl has had, it shouldn’t be too hard.