Thursday, May 28, 2009

What is wrong with Manchester United?

Okay, so I'm writing this after finally waking up. It seems that when I woke up at 2AM to watch the Champions League final I was dreaming, because in all honesty I can't understand why Manchester United didn't do more to shut down the Barcelona midfield. Seems something that implausable belongs in the realm of the imaginary.

Okay, so I'm just going to blog about some of the thoughts I had about the game this morning because I forgot to take notes so I won't write a full match report on the thing.

The first ten minutes were when I started to think Barcelona were going to be swamped a la' Chelsea second-leg, when Ronaldo started to rain shots down on Vicotr Valdez's goal and a red bloodbath was in the offing. Then, it all came apart for the Mancurians.

The first goal from Samuel Eto'o, I think, demonstrated why Man United lost the match. They allowed the Barca players just a little too much space and Barca with the likes of Iniesta and Xavi only need a little bit of space to make you pay. A Braca midfielder able to skip through the lines, have the time to thread a ball through, Eto'o turns Vidic inside out and it's 1-0 and effectively game over.

I was absolutely stunned to see Manchester players allowing the Barca boys all that space. Okay, against any other team it would be okay to allow that kid of real estate but Barca, with their smooth passing game, you just need to press them like nobody's business.

The second goal again came down to Manchester players allowing the midfield too much time and space. Xavi, virtually walks through the defence and has time to stop, think about it, order a cup of tea, fill out a tax return before finally hitting a cross to Messi who does superbly to head past Van Der Sar.

Manchester to their credit has their offensive game plan working. It was expected Man United would exploit the wing backslack of pace and they did that with long lofted balls (especially to Rooney) but all too often they lacked the touch of class needed to capitalise on the chances they had and their play was becoming one-dimensional.

Manchester United, simply, were unable to deal with the slick Catalan passing game and they brought the defeat upon themselves. Pure and simple. When you play Barca, you have to take your game to the next level and Manchester just didn't do that which is why Barcelona are worthy champions and played some scintilating football.

'Till next time

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What is wrong with my portfolio?

Okay, so it's almost time to send off my portfolio to The West Australian so what I've been doing is trying to update my portfoilio but also get it up online. Now, I'm hoping this will show the power that be that I'm not neccesarily a techno-wizard but I'm all for exploring ways I can use technology to reach new audiences.

The portfolio is basically a mix of everything I've done so far, which happens to be a pretty broad range. I also included some unpublished stuff I can't include in the actual West Australian application so that they can go to the site and see what I can do with features and business.

Okay, so what I did is scanned copies of articles I had onto my hard drive, and used Nitro PDF to publish stuff up on websites into a PDF file. Once I had the PDF files I wanted I used Scribd to upload the documents. Once I did that, I grabbed the embedding code from the site and put it into the site proper. Now, employers can go to the site and have my PDF examples loaded in-browser instead of downloading the file, finding the directory you downloaded the file to and waiting for the relevant app to open up.

It's a remarkably simple system, and I recommend it to any aspiring journalism as a way to get your portfolio 'out there' and show employers you're ready for "Web 2.0"...whatever that is.

Anyhow, you can find it here but what makes a good portfolio?

Well, the first thing people assume is that you want to show work from a broad range of areas. Well, that's certainly true but you've got to be mindful that you show a range which is broadly crap. By this I mean, don't throw something in there just because it shows you can write in a certain area because it will count against you if you're not fussy about what you choose to show people.

For example, I could have put in a couple of more feature articles into my portfolio but I didn't because I looked at it honestly and I came to the conclusion that it wasn't one of my best. Remember, ideally a portfolio is a sample of your best work, not just a sample of your work.

'Till next time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What is wrong with Tim Andrews?

Okay kids, I bring you a tale which will put a smile on your dial. Now, I pride myself on being a mixture of conservative and radical (i.e- I support more social services but I know it's useles without a strong economy to back it up) but there's a site out there created by a guy called Tim Andrews which shows young Liberal (The Australian Conservative Party) gals in bikinis and skimpy outfits.

In a post titled "Why the Right Will Triumph in Australia", Andrews put forward the theory that where hot women are, men are sure to follow. Well gee whiz, such insight. He then posted the pictures saying that he had permission from each of the young ladies, but it didn't matter anyhow because all of the pictures were in the public domain.

Now, of course none of this was officially sanctioned by the Liberal Party of Australia but you've got to laugh and then shake your head. I doubt whether the girls knew what the pictures were going to be in this fashion if they were indeed contacted (one of the girls has said he didn't contact her) but it's awfully exploitative anyhow. A couple of the girls were posing in the photos while reading a copy of Atlus Shrugged which shows that either they have a sense of humour or all of the conspiracy is TRUE!

Probably the consipracy thing....they are young Liberals after all.

It's all a bit of a laugh, but it does show the potential for exploitation of a media-happy gen-Y. Think about it. Every single event or party you go to has become a photo-op for young people eager to splash photos of themselves onto the internet for the sake of vanity or self-promotion. I'm not immune from this obsession by any stretch of the imagination but I try to keep it under wraps. When more and more images of ourselves are appearing online in spaces with convoluted image ownership laws, people are inviting this sort of thing to happen.

Do I think people should stop posting pictures online altogether? No, after all, if used probably it can be a great way to share photo's among friends but this whole episode has gotten me thinking about the way people can invite this sort of thing. It's also got me nervous about the possibility of not being featured on a "Hot young journalists" site, but mostly the former.

I'm not going to provide a link to the cached site, but if you really want to you can probably find it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What is wrong with my health?

Sorry for not updating for ages, but I've been quite ill so I've tried to take my mind off strenous mental activities such as writing poorly considered rants and putting my energies into getting better and making snide comments on Facebook.

So, during this period, all not that much has happened in my life. I'm still unemployed, but I have enough money to see me through. I'm still applying for The West Australian cadetship in June, not because I thinkI'l want to be at The West Australian for the entirity of my career, but I hope the selection process will help me see where my weaknesses as a journalist lie.

There's been a federal budget, but commenting now will be really ranting after the fact. I also went to see Der Baader Meinhoff Complex, which was well done but could have been cut by about half an hour.

Anyhow, my health is on the improve and hopefully I'll be back and ranting within the coming days.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What is wrong with today?

Well, apart from my hayfever, not much I'm happy to report.

So, you know how I was banging on about writing an article for The Escapist? Well it's up right here now, and it's the lead story. Yippie-kay-yay Motherlickers! Apart from being featured on one of the more respected games journalism sites, I'm getting paid in yankee green which these days is worth quite a bit more than the aussie dollar.

Apart from playing "Where's my money?" by Busta Rhymes over and over again to celebrate my windfall, I also had somewhat of a successful interview with JB Hi-Fi to get a part time job there. It's all part of the grand plan for my future, and I was able to pimp out the fact I had written for several games sites to demonstrate my product knowledge in the area which is always a bonus.

What else struck me though, is how my cover letter was recieved. Now, these days every single job has about 60 applicants for it so I always try to make my cover letter stand out a bit by cracking a few jokes (my standard 'James is dashing, witty, intelligent and overwhelmingly humble' line got a chuckle). The interviewer actually took more notice of my application because my writing skills made my application stand out.

Just goes to show you; if you can write, you've always got a shot.

Today was also a great day because my new voice recorder and telephone pickup came in the mail. The quality is a heck of a lot better than my old voice recorder and now I have the ability to record telephone conversations which is an absolutely bonus. How often have you missed something somebody has said because you were busy writing down what they had just said? Yeah, that's why a telephone pickup is really valuable. It just allows you to really concentrate on the interview without having to worry about transcribing the interview. I heartily reccommend getting a telephone pickup mic to any up and coming journalist.

The big bits of news on the home front was the revelation the Krudd ws pushing back the implementation of an ETS by a year, and the subsequent revelation it would take six years for the budget to get back into surplus. Oh, apparently raising the target for reduction to 25 per cent from 20 per cent is supposed to offset the delay of the ETS.


Again, it doesn't matter if the government is Labor or Liberal, it seems the environment is going to have to take one for the team once again. I appreciate the Krudd government is facing some unparralelled financial constraints, but this was an opportunity to set an agenda for the next ten years.

If the government pushed ahead with an ETS, it would've shown the people of Australia that the government was actually serious about the environment. Now, it seems money has trumped the needs of the world.

Oh well, at least he's putting a cap on the number of public servants. Now, there will only be 99,000. Meanwhile, the temprature guage keeps on creeping up.

Friday, May 1, 2009

What is wrong with punching an editor in the face?

Okay, so today I open my email messages to find that article I wrote for The Escapist has been edited. That's a good thing, because you know it's gotten so far along the production line they're giving it polish before they whack it up on the intersplice/tubes.

My reaction to editing, in particular getting marked-up stuff back has always been the same, and I suspect it's the same for most up and coming writers or journalists. First there's the wince, and then you don't want to look at it. There's always that moment when you think "damn, that's a lot of red marker".

That initial experience is a really bad one. You just feel bad about your writing, and start to think you may not make it in this business after all. Okay, so maybe it's not that dramatic, but it's certainly no stroll on the boulevard. What I like to do when confronted with this feeling is to go away for about five minutes, and do something you really enjoy doing.

For example, this morning when I got the feedback I first winced and then went to spy on the comely lass next door with a telephoto lens. Okay, so I watched a bit of Seinfeld. Whatever, it's not important. Anyhow, when I came back five minutes later with an open mind and fresh perspective, I noticed the things they changed were to fit the style of their publication and a few things which were a bit stodgy with my writing.

They changed quite a bit, but often the changes were incidental and didn't mean a thing in the broader scheme of the article. I know that's what a good editor or sub editor does. They change the article without changing the crux or the style of it too much. Often, you'll see something changed and you can't figure out why they did it, but it doesn't make the article any worse and that's the mark of a good sub.

Back to my article. So I get the mark-up back, and everything's pretty standard. My article's not a complete mess, and they're just changing it to fit in with the style of the publication. Now, they removed a couple of my quips and softened it up around the edges (I was writing about a form of political protest), so why didn't I complain?

First of all, I'm not working for a major metropolitan newspaper with a readership nudging the million mark. So I know that the changes are not going to change the perceptions of me as a writer to a lot of people. Secondly, it's their damned publication and they're paying me to write the thing.

This is very important. I've spoken to a number of people about making the transition from student to professional, and the bitter squabbles you get into over incidental crap in uni will get you fired out in the real world. In uni, it'sperfectly fine to bitch and moan about every single little change which is made to your work (I often encouraged the people whose work I edited to contact me if they had any concerns) because it's a learning environment where you can ruffle a few feathers.

In the real world, if you march into an editors office with your incidental problems the standard line will be "Oh, I'm sorry we changed your work. I thought we were paying you...maybe we should stop paying you". Of course, this is second-hand stuff so my sources may be exaggerating but there's a way of dealing with criticism.

You go away, you get rid of any negative feelings and you look at them clearly and rationally.

Of course, if they change your article for the sake of pursuing ideological whims, march into their office and give them a piece of your mind. Stand up for your work and what you're trying to do as a journo, but pick your battles carefully. When newsrooms are downsizing and the economy is in the shitter, you'll do well not to unduly rub anyone the wrong way.

Especially those who sign the cheques.