Semester Two Social Media & Blog Reflection (#JELP16)

Now that I’m writing this reflection, which also happens to be my final assessment for the year, I’m beginning to realise that my first year of university is already over. I still remember that first photojournalism lecture like it was only a week ago… it’s crazy to think how far I’ve come since then. I was so nervous on that morning… I’d like to think that I’ve settled in quite nicely now, though.

This year alone I’ve learned and created so much, both in class and out. I’ve started volunteering at SYN Media, both hosting and producing radio content, and I’ve contributed to Catalyst – the student magazine. Basically, I’ve been trying to get involved in as much as I can, and I think I’ve done that pretty well so far. Plus – not trying to toot my own horn or anything – but I’m going to be one of the editors of Catalyst next year! Definitely looking forward to that.

Regardless, this past semester in Ethics, Law and Power has been quite an interesting one. When the semester started, I felt like the content was going to be quite dry, and I didn’t think I’d enjoy it – yet I quickly realised that we’d need to know this stuff, both to avoid doing anything stupid and/or illegal, and to keep our journalistic reputation intact. Overall, I ended up enjoying the class – all while learning how to keep myself out of trouble. Learning about defamation, the court system & contempt, media regulation and so on will certainly hold me in good stead into the future – I’ll be sure to keep all my notes safe.

In terms of my online presence this semester as opposed to semester one, I feel like I could’ve done a lot better. I found myself tweeting a lot less, but I guess that was partly due to the fact that I wanted to pay more attention to what was actually going on throughout 4Corners/Media Watch/Q&A. Last semester I’d be putting out a lot of tweets, but I found myself paying more attention to my computer – and my twitter notifications, making sure I was raking in the likes and retweets – than my TV screen. I really needed to find that watch/tweet balance, and I’m not sure I’ve found it yet… I’ll keep working on it though!

My contributions to G+ this semester all but ended around week three. In week one, I told myself that I’d be much more active on there than I was last semester – and I was! I posted a few articles about the Don Dale story, and one on the story about Syria. I didn’t post anything else though. I always made sure that my G+ tab was open, and I did find myself reading articles that were posted there, most weeks – but again, I was more focused on watching what was happening.

Also, my tweets probably thinned out because I tried to be much more careful with them this semester, especially in terms of objectivity and defamation – to the point where I actually picked up a copy of ‘Blogging and Tweeting Without Getting Sued’ by Mark Pearson, following Gordon’s recommendation. There really is a lot of good advice in there, and I’ll be sure to keep it as a constant reference in future. Like what we learnt this semester, it’s invaluable information for journalists – beginners and experts alike.

While I tried to be as unbiased as possible, I also found hard reportage to be somewhat pointless – especially when everyone would be reporting the same information at the same time. In this sense, I tried to report mostly on moments that I figured many people would have missed which I still found to be quite important. This would allow me to tweet in an unbiased manner whilst also being somewhat ‘unique’, in the sense that I’d be covering what others hadn’t.

Furthermore, I’ve learnt that tweeting as a journalist is quite different to tweeting as a regular ‘tweeter’ – we, as journalists, need to ensure that what we’re putting out into the public sphere is truthful, ethical, and as objective as possible, so as to successfully complete our ‘fourth estate’ role. There’s always room for opinion online – and no opinion is necessarily ‘wrong’ – yet our aim is to present news on the public’s behalf. We need to ensure that we hold those in power to account, while also facilitating discussion within the public sphere through our own objectivity.

My blog is something that I’m quite proud of, and as such, I tried to keep it updated as much as possible throughout this semester. It’s really starting to come together as a digital portfolio of sorts, and I’ll be sure to keep it updated in future. I was wary of uploading my court reports, though – I’d rather err on the side of caution for now, from an ethical standpoint, at least until they’re marked. Both of the cases were completed on the day, yet I’m not sure if I’d want to put the defendants’ names out into the public sphere. This is an issue that I’ll have to grapple with in future, though, and this class as taught me how to deal with it – weighing up the notion of “do no harm” against the public’s right to know and the public interest.

Overall, I’ve learned some invaluable lessons throughout the duration of this class, which I’ll be sure to take with me in future – or else I could be sued, fined, thrown into jail, and so on. I’d like to avoid that, and this class has given me all the information to do so!

I’ll miss our Monday night online gatherings, but I’m also relieved that I won’t have to juggle the programs with twitter and G+ – at least for now. Nevertheless, I’ll be sure to maintain my online presence and journalistic integrity, all while being ethical, lawful (and powerful) about it. 🙂

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