I'm clearly not that great at blogging anymore, unless it's about things I'm passionate about. That's one of the tricky things about a media degree - in my perspective, anyway. I spend so much time being able to talk and create and do that words don't have the same hold over me that audio and images (especially those movin' images!) do. I need to get back into the game though, because sometimes writing is exactly what's required. To crudely paraphrase the great Godard, it's important to have the ability to express your ideas no matter what the medium, moving fluently from film, to television, to pen and paper - probably even to yelling on street corners if all matters of inscription were to disappear completely.
Anyway, on to what this post is really meant to be about: a reflection (and an assessed reflection, at that!) which I am going to conduct as if I was having an interview with myself, in order for all of us to get through this. (In case you're reading this and horribly worried, Rachel, don't be - I promise I will write very formally and professionally when it comes to our actual project.)
Q: So, Cassie - what's this all about?
For this Media Industries Research Project I have been working in a group with Jae and Verity. Our project is focused on the idea of "Youth Oriented Radio in the Digital Age", and how youth-oriented radio stations are adapting in order to deal with these technological changes.
Q: Wow. That sounds interesting. What role are you taking in all of this? What's your particular research job?
One of the best things about this project is that we picked it because of our interests, and also our strengths. I'm one of three brand-spanking-new Online Editors at SYN Media, as part of the new Online Team put together for 2012 in order to improve SYN's online services, resources, material and culture. (In case you were wondering, SYN stands for Student Youth Network, which is an Victorian organisation run by 12-25 year olds creating radio, television and online media, broadcasting 24/7 on 90.7 FM, digitally and streaming online at http://syn.org.au.) I'm also currently preparing for the show Room With A View on Triple R as another uni subject, so I've been immersing myself a fair bit in the world of Community Radio.
This is all backstory for the role I've taken in the group - looking at issues and transitions from a broadcaster's perspective. Although I do have experience only in the community sector (I also volunteered for Vision Australia Radio for a while) the experience I have had has been extraordinarily youth focused, and I also have been privy to internal discussions and meetings that an 'ordinary' listener may not have had the chance to experience. At the same time, when it comes to other stations such as Triple J I am purely a consumer (well, a listener of the radio station, download-ee of the iPhone app, subscriber of the email newsletter and podcast, liker of the Facebook page, follower of the Twitter and occasional purchaser of the magazine. Phew! - Oh, and entrant of the competitions!) My job, therefore, is to look at the measures these stations are taking with their online and mobile content and assess what is working well and what could be improved.
Q: What have you done so far? What strategies have you used?
Well, so far I've been primarily engaging in primary research (see what I did there?) by immersing myself all the goodies these stations have to offer - in terms of Nova, Triple J & RRR, my engagement has been as mentioned above (such as getting my grubby little paws on anything I can get my hands on, as well as making analysis of their sites, apps, competitions and following some of their well known personalities on Twitter such as @DHughesy, @MacleanBrendan & @triplejmornings, to name a few.
When it comes to SYN, my involvement has been in quite a different manner, as I am drawing on my past and current experiences in different ways. In the past, as a presenter, I have been acutely aware of the 'basic minimum' expected of me in terms of online content, having sometimes ignored this without retribution (although it pains me to admit it!). Nowadays, as part of the Online Team and also as an involved SYN member, I have stayed ever vigilant in the closed SYN facebook group (only current mediamakers can join) to gauge concerns of those broadcasting at SYN, as well as attended meetings such as the 'Online Futures' vision meeting, held in March, where members discussed their discontent with the current online process and talked about their aspirations and hopes for the future online direction of SYN. Something that came up a lot was a wish to 'revamp' the 'outdated' website, have better Twitter integration and to make uploading files easier and more reliable, while on the management's side there was a desire to streamline the process and have more shows upload podcasts and online content to the SYN website itself, rather than to other channels such as Facebook and Tumblr, or external private websites. From this meeting there came a set of Social Media Guidelines which is currently being implemented across the various shows, with a little push and pull!
As an individual, I have also met up with one of the Executive Producers of the Naughty Rude Show on SYN to discuss why they were not podcasting this year, or uploading any online content at all. Due to my interference, I learnt that they actually were really interested in branching out online, but just didn't have the know-how to do so (or the proper login details!). Learning that this was just a communication breakdown was a good start for all of us, as they are not only excitedly posting up new content (such as this video on the correct way to put on a condom ) but I was able to speak to the rest of the Online Team about this communication breakdown, notifying them of the way the show had managed to 'slip through the cracks' so such an event would not be repeated.
Q: What problems have you encountered? How have you solved them?
To be honest, one of the problems I have encountered has been my cavalier attitude. I felt perhaps that because I had been so involved in these sort of interest areas that I perhaps I wasn't taking this research seriously enough - until I realised that primary research was in fact a big component of our project, and all I needed to do was channel these experiences into written words.
Another problem I had was an ethical one, involving the protection of people's privacy and thoughts. Is it ethical for me to report back on SYN meetings, or private Online Team meetings, and then use this for research? To be honest, this report would have been a lot more interesting had I been able to upload pictures of actual Facebook conversations that had occurred - but I realised that groups on Facebook are private for a reason, and reposting such information here would be a betrayal of that privacy, without consent. I am resolving this issue by informing anyone whose opinions and experiences may assist me on this journey that I am also doing this project, to check whether or not they would mind being featured as a part of it.
Q: Finally - is this any use? Does it fit in with anyone else's work?
I think by the Naughty Rude show example I mentioned earlier, we can see that knowledge is power - especially when it comes to online know-how. If there were people our age (who had done Communication degrees at RMIT, may I add...) who managed to 'slip through the cracks', then information we produce will definitely be useful and in demand. The SYN Vision Meeting shows that these issues are important to broadcasters in the here and now, and that many people are still looking for information. At this point in time, there is no clear 'right' way to do things, but people are certainly developing their own styles, such as with the Social Media Guidelines. Furthermore, I do think this project ties in with other groups in our class, such as Branded Entertainment and Online Journalism, because we're talking about a 'brand' that each station wants to promote and maintain, and also trying to upload content that distinguishes itself from anonymous 'amateur' unregulated media.
So, leaving you with that thought, I am signing off. To be honest, blogging hasn't been all that bad. I should do it more often, no?