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Ice is nice

Hi again everyone,

Most of you will have heard about the terrible accident that occurred with the helicopter flying to the French base Dumont D’Urville from the ship L’Astrolabe. It was with sadness that we had our final briefing about the incident on the weekend, and observed one minute’s silence as a mark of respect. When the incident occurred, the Aurora Australis was diverted to assist. We continued to remain on standby as the situation progressed, in an area where we would be able to assist with a rescue or recovery operation, and then to assist L’Astrolabe should she have trouble breaking back through the ice. We were stood down once L’Astrolabe made her way safely out of the ice. She is now on her way back to Hobart with the four bodies of those from the helicopter on board. In the words of the Director of the French polar program, we all hope that this accident will be the last for a long time in Antarctica.

We are now heading westwards again on our way back towards Davis. Saturday night and Sunday we encountered some of the roughest seas of our voyage. 8m seas, with some wave sets of around 10m. Although my first couple of days on the ship weren’t so good, I’ve surprised myself with how well I seem to have gained my sealegs (certainly a lot better than some other poor people on board)! Trying to sleep that night was a challenge though. There were some tales of woe told the next morning over breakfast (as we gripped the table and our breakfast bowls, adjusting the angle of the bowls constantly to save the contents). I’m glad I’m not in a top bunk!

Big seas

My social committee colleagues and I have been busy with a number of events since I last wrote. We made decorations for Halloween, and held our quiz night which was great fun, although not without controversy! Questions were read to the eager crowd, answer sheets were marked and correct answers read out. And this was when the inevitable heckles and challenges from the audience often appeared – including on one question written by my cabin mate Barbara. She had written all the questions in the ‘Antarctica’ round, including a question about when and on which voyage emperor penguins were first sighted. There were some hearty challenges thrown back from the audience, however what I think some of them didn’t realise was just who their question writer was! A penguin biologist, Barbara has written a paper on the discovery of the species. She knows her pengies!

It’s been lovely sharing a cabin with Barb. Her enthusiasm for her work and her love of animals – particularly birds – is a joy to be around. And it’s great having a walking talking bird identification encyclopaedia right next to me! Looking through our cabin window, she pointed out the first penguin I’ve seen for the trip yesterday afternoon – an emperor sitting on his lonesome on an ice floe 100 metres or so from the ship. A couple of people saw seals yesterday too. My camera has been getting a good work out trying to take photos of the petrels and albatrosses that like to keep us company. I’m now very grateful for having gone digital. With my current blurry bird to in focus bird ratio, I hate to think how many rolls of film I would have churned through.

Emperor penguinAntarctic petrel

We’ve been in and out of ice now since Monday, which is exciting. With all the ocean-going up to this point, things hadn’t been feeling all that, well, ‘Antarctic’. We definitely know we’re here now though. Ice means relatively flat seas (hooray!), but it also means that the iceberg observation roster of which I am part is finally starting to get interesting! I put my name down to be part of the team at the start of the voyage, not realising at the time that it would involve shift work! They are only 2 hour shifts, but still, on top of changing our clocks back gradually by four hours since we left, my body clock is a bit out of whack! Monday involved a 4am shift, followed by a midnight shift that night. Ick. Ah well, at least I have a nice shift partner to talk to, and I’m making my contribution to science!

Icy railings on the Aurora AustralisPancake ice and petrelPancake ice

We have seen a few icebergs now, mainly on the horizon. The very first one that appeared on the radar as close enough to be visible (and for which everyone gathered on the bridge in anticipation, camera in hand) unfortunately ended with squinting and vague hand gestures as people tried to point out “that slightly lighter bit” in the fog. It was decided that that one wouldn’t count as the first berg for our competition, as you couldn’t actually ‘see’ it. The next day there finally was a visible one, although no-one had put their name down next to that time, so the winner was Camp Quality, who will get all the money placed as bets.

Expeditioners gathering to see the first iceberg

Speaking of betting, we had the running of the Melbourne cup yesterday. Four sweeps were drawn, with most of the money again going to Camp Quality. We all gathered in the theatre at 2pm (four hours after the actual Cup had been run) to watch ‘the race’. No champagne nor chicken here, nor fancy fascinators – polar fleece was the fashion item for the day. Everyone sat in anticipation as the inevitable problems getting computer to talk to projector were sorted out. Eventually the words “Emirates Melbourne Cup 2010” appeared, everyone went quiet, and the audio of the race call started. And they were off and racing! The laughter erupted as the cardboard cut-out horses stuck on drinking straws danced across the screen. An orange cardboard chicken, a seal, penguin, and ghost leftover from the Halloween decorations also took part in the jostling. Eventually the horse won by a nose, but many cried ‘fowl’ – the chook was the clear favourite.


Since I found my sealegs, I’ve been trying to make it to the gym most days. You have to pick your times though – with over 100 of us on board, the mornings are always really busy, and it’s only open for one hour in the afternoon. I might have to try going at some strange hour of the night, just so I can at least get in there! There’s only one treadmill, which has been free for me to use once, for fifteen minutes, out of all the times I’ve been in there. There’s also a recumbent bike (yuk); rowing machine, which makes me feel sick (that extra plane of motion seems to be just a bit too much to handle); an elliptical trainer with a distinct limp; and two exercise bikes, only one of which has all its adjustable bits working. So that one decent exercise bike has had me give it a good work-out, whenever I can get on it! I’ve never really been much of a gym person though, so at the moment I’m really craving a nice long walk, run or ride in the sunshine!

Til next time, Kristin

Iceberg in pancake ice

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Where to from here?

Well, the ‘Online News Production’ unit I was studying – for which this blog was created – has now well and truly finished. I’m not exactly sure what to do with this blog from here, but ‘newsworthystuff’ seems too cool a blog name to just discard. The stuff I put on here from now may not exactly be terribly newsworthy to the broader population…. but then again, who knows? When I become super famous one day, the minutiae of my university studies in 2010 may be newsworthy to the gossip columnists who’ll be searching for exciting information from my past. Yeah.

So, the plan for now is just to upload some of the essays and assignments I’ve done well at. And perhaps update the photography section if/when I have some time again to do some more photography.

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Assessment 1 – online news sites critique

Resource Critique

Analyse and critique 2 On Line News sites. Pay particular attention to how sites use the characteristics and capacity of the internet to engage their target audiences. Discuss story presentation, production and trends in technology. Fully referenced.

Word count: 569

Convergence is a term widely used to describe online news sites. One way of summarising convergence is “the merging together of previously distinct technologies and most commonly used when referring to the convergence of computer, communication and broadcast technologies” (Hearn & Mandeville 1998, p. xi). However, it is important to consider convergence as a means, rather than an end state (Jenkins, 2001): a constant evolution. This constant evolution is something particularly important to online news sites, in order to effectively engage their target audiences: not only in the short term, in terms of constantly updated content, but on the larger scale of changes and trends in technology.

News.com.au and Crikey.com.au are both examples of convergence; merging text, video and audio, and providing interactivity – allowing feedback from readers. However they are quite different sites, particularly in terms of story presentation and content. Being a global corporation with a big audience attracting huge advertising contracts, News Limited’s news.com.au is much more conservative and has much more of a plain, hard-news style. Crikey however, publishes more opinionated pieces, or as they purport, “the stories insiders are talking about but other media can’t or won’t cover” (Private Media, 2009). They are a much smaller company who openly claim to both advertisers and their audience to be a “showcase for information that might otherwise remain suppressed” (Private Media, 2009). Because of this, they have a relatively small target audience, which does not attract the big advertisers aiming to gain broad reach. However, it is precisely because of their smaller audience and lack of big advertisers that they can remain a small company and have the editorial policy they do.

Research by Stanford University and the Poynter Institute shows that “online news readers read shallow but wide, while at the same time pursuing selected topics in depth” (Stanford Poynter Project, p.1). They tend to scan the page, picking out words and sentences, and noticing headlines, clicking through if a headline seems interesting to them (Stanford Poynter Project, p.1; Neilsen 1997, p.1). Good websites have easily scannable text with highlighted keywords, meaningful subheadings, bulleted lists, and a smaller word count (Neilsen 1997, p.1).

Both news.com.au and Crikey make use of sub-sections and headings on their sites, and are both quite easily scannable, providing a brief, meaningful, clickable title (and description in some cases) to grab the attention of their readers. Both sites are divided into sections, with main news stories at the top, and sub-sections further down the page. These sub-sections are slightly different on each site, suiting each site’s target audience. For example, news.com.au features a prominent sport section, which is only present as a sub-tab of a section on Crikey. News.com.au also features a clickable map for the reader to choose their state, which then links through to the local News Limited newspaper’s site. The sections of Crikey show a more political and media focus, without specialised sites with news by state.

Both sites make good use of current technologies, with text, photos and video. However, podcasting is an increasingly popular format for internet news, but both sites are lacking in this area. Both sites do however include prominent ‘blog’ sections, providing their audience with plenty of opinion pieces alongside their more ‘hard news’ style articles. This may be a trend that grows both within these sites, and across other news sites as “the line between weblogs and journalism begins to blur” (Hiler, n.d).

Hearn, Greg; Mandeville, Tom & Anthony, David 1998, The Communication Superhighway: Social and Economic Change in the Digital Age Allen & Unwin, St. Leonards

Hiler, John, n.d. ‘Are Bloggers Journalists’ accessed 24 December 2009 from Learning@Griffith CJR330 Online Course Content

Jenkins, Henry 2001, ‘Convergence? I Diverge’ Technology Review accessed 14 June 2007 fromhttp://www.technologyreview.com/Biztech/12434/

Neilsen, Jakob 1997, accessed 22 December 2009 from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9710a.html

News Limited 2009, News.com.au, accessed 17-24 December 2009 from http://www.news.com.au

Private Media Pty Ltd, 2009, Crikey, accessed 22 December 2009 from http://www.crikey.com.au

Stanford Poynter Project, accessed 22 December 2009 from http://www.poynterextra.org/et/i.htm

 

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Testing, testing, one, tchoo

Well, here I am, trying to work out how to use this thing. Work and life have all been a bit crazy at the moment, so I would have liked to have started this earlier, but this will have to do. I’ve got a bit of work to do to get some more content in here before the due date of Christmas day!

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