Part of the Aussie culture; the famous Cockatoo’s

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

On 27th April, Sydney Morning Herald featured a ‘true blue’ story about the native Cockatoos in Sydney. There approach to the story was really unique, and I really enjoyed reading it.

Taking a Human Interest angle, the story discusses the community’s  involvement in a fundraising campaign to fund further scientific research into the movements and happenings of the famous Cockatoo.  The study is about determining the whereabouts and distribution of the Cockatoo across Sydney, as little is known about their movements up until now. Some of the birds have been tagged and tracked as part of the Cockatoo Wingtag study being carried out by the Royal Botanic Gardens and University of Sydney, and with the help of bird spotters and enthusiasts, they have been able to keep track of the movements of many of the tagged birds.

This story just made me smile from the minute I read the headline, ‘Spotlight on cockatoo, winged wanderer who loves city life’. I then went on to read the rest of the article, and smiled even more… The fact that the writer has pursued an anecdotal style to introducing the story was so intriguing. I really liked the way the story was introduced, it captured this mysterious world of the Cockatoo,  even personifying them:

“Columbus (01) prefers Mosman, while Pina Colada (05) is a regular on the balconies of Potts Point. A true north shore type, Burt (09), has never been spotted south of the bridge.

As for Party Boy (027), he spends most of his time between the botanic gardens and Kirribilli, photo bombing pictures of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.”

The story is original, fresh… It isn’t very often that we hear of these things happening – it is not only a collaboration between the Royal Botanic Gardens and Sydney University, but also the wider community. With a total of $3o00 in donations from the community this week, the team is closer to reaching their target of $5000 to develop and Android app to match their existing iPhone app that allows for even more community involvement. This is such a great way to get the community involved in projects that relate to our natural environment, I love the idea.

Such a beautiful story too 🙂 Next time you see a Cockatoo about, think about where it has been and where it is headed… it may even be tagged!


Forests, logging, politicians, and the term ‘pristine’…

Let’s take a short trip over the border to Queensland for this one..

This particular article was quite entertaining. It differs from the ‘traditionally’ structured news stories that we see on a regular basis in print journalism.

The article discusses the issues with the Queensland Governments’ recent policy to protect their land from land clearing and logging, but it plays on the politicians ‘throwing around’ of the term ‘pristine‘ in relation to the forests. The article captures attention instantly, not only through the headline – ‘Pristine forests protected’, but also the lead. Take a look:

“When is an adjective a definition?

When it forms part of government policy.

Queensland National Parks Minister Steve Dickson has consistently ruled out logging in “pristine” national parks. But which parks are considered pristine is yet to be defined.”

Quite entertaining right?

I actually had a little giggle when reading it…

What makes this story so interesting I believe, is the angle that the reporter, Amy Remeikis, has used. Rather then writing a traditional story that informs the reader of the policy and the actions that will now be taken because of the ‘pristine’ label, she has conveyed the ambiguity behind the whole idea.  I reeeeeeaaallly like this. It’s gutsy, entertaining, daring… Refreshing!

Whilst the article is entertaining, it also has a seriousness about it. It discusses the The Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill, and the discussion that has taken place between politicians regarding this policy, incorporating the opinions of opposing politicians throughout the article. The tone however, suggests that the politician that labelled ‘pristine parks’, Minister of National Parks (QLD) Steve Dickson, is being mocked. The comparison of opinions shows this, and so does the way in which the article is written.

The article addresses a major and current issue in an alternate way to what most stories like this one would be written. It is different and really captures the attention of the reader as it has a humorous and informal tone.

Source: Google Images

Feeling hot, hot, hot!

Source: Google Images

Slightly shifting from the majoirity of stories that I have been writing about, this one is about climate change.  The story, published on April 21st, highlights the changes to the Earths climate over the last 1400 years. It is based around a recent journal – Nature Geoscience – where a number of scientists carried out a study of the Earths temperatures over the last 2000 yrs. A massive task, and quite impressive.

The article focuses mainly on the findings included in the report –

 “The study found that the global warming that began in the late-19th century reversed a long cooling trend across the planet that lasted well over 1000 years.”  

Whilst it provides us with informative and highly relevant information, with the use of reliable sources such as Dr Steven Phipps from the University of NSW’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, I really didn’t enjoy reading this story. I didn’t find anything within it that was really capturing. Whilst this is very subjective, and depends on different people’s interests, I didn’t feel that there was anything encapsulating about the story. By this, I mean that there are thousands of stories out there about climate change – it is a current, yet ongoing issue that has been debated and covered for some time now, and there have been various reports that have been released revealing statistics like the ones this story covers.

Not only this, but, once again, the changes in the Earth’s climate have been attributed to rising greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity…. Even though there are numerous other factors that contribute to the changes – like the Earth’s natural cycles ?

It is a well developed story in that it provides a great deal of relevant information, with statistics and facts, but I personally, didn’t find any interest in the issues it discussed. Perhaps, the story could’ve been ‘chunked up’ with another issue relating to climate change over a period of time and links could be made between them to make it more interesting and inviting to readers.

Birdtalk – The Wattler Bird.

I really do enjoy these stories about animals and wildlife that aren’t overly common. Stories such as this one –

Cheeky wattle bird not named after the tree

It’s different, unusual, refreshing – not common. In fact, I like it even more, because it is written by Peter Hancock, a nature-enthusiast and  journalist that writes regularly in about Birds. I would consider this story as not only relatively environmental, but also, a feel-good story. It is easy-to-read, likeable, informative and instills a sense of joy in the reader.

The factual structure of the story separates it from the traditional ‘news story’, leaving it to be unique in that sense. Considering this, though, it is very well written, and as I mentioned before, it is easy to read, and enjoyable to read. The story covers depth – Historical information is provided, as well as there being a depth in the description of the bird and where it can be found. It also provides the readers with a ‘Did You Know?’ fact at the conclusion of the story, which I felt was really inviting, making the reader get involved in the story more.

Peter Hancock provides the reader with insights into the naming of the birds as the title of the article alludes too quite cleverly.

All in all, stories like these are nice to read every so often. Whether it be for educational purposes or simply just out of interest. 🙂 Either way, I enjoyed it.


The wattle bird gets its name from the fleshy red growths hanging from its cheeks.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

India, following our lead ?

The MurrayJunction of the Murray and Darling Rivers at Wentworth.

 Photo: Justin McManus  – SMH Website

I found this story really interesting.

Renowned Sydney Morning Herald writer Ben Doherty  covered a story on April 15 2013 titled ‘Thirsty India looks to Murray-Darling model.’    It provides an interesting insight into India’s struggles with water-related sanitation and diseases, whilst simultaneously, identifying that these problems are being addressed. I guess what intrigued me the most about this story was that it not only provides hope for India, but also commends the work of many Australians in managing the Murray- Darling Basin so competently.

The story is not only highly informative (which I feel is necessary), but too, addresses real-life problems in a realistic manner. It gives the bare facts, with no sugar coating or unnecessary justification, it is raw, and real. Which is why, I feel I like it so much.The use of statistics and facts such as:  “About 600,000 Indian children die each year largely because of inadequate water supply and poor sanitation, according to UNICEF.”  Allows the reader to realise the reality of these people, and for some, it may even evoke responses in ways of actions, rather than just words. The use of reliable sources such as Professors and Authorities is imperative within any story, particularly stories such as this one.

It is not an overly biased story either. It does consider the possibility that the Murray-Darling model has the potential to fail in India due a number of reasons. It talks about the potential for our model to act as a base for India to create their own model around. The story does too, consider the faults and possibilities that this may provide for India, in hope that it does provide greater possibility for such a terrible situation that the vast majority of the country is stuck in.

I really did enjoy this story, I found it beneficial in that it instilled more knowledge about the issue – it was informative (in the right way), provided us with realistic statistics and, was interesting to read and I wanted to know more….  It is such an important issue, and I think that Ben Doherty covered it in a civilised and responsible manner, as all journalists should.


Black Mountain becomes ‘blacker’.

April 12 2013 – Sydney Morning Herald inserts a little fear into its Canberrian readers with this story – ‘A little bit blacker mountain’.

I’ll keep this post short and sweet – just like The Sydney Morning Herald did with this story.

The headline itself invites fear.. Without even reading the story I felt this slight sense of worry, asking myself questions like … What could this mean? What are they referring to?  So, it does its job… It invites the reader to want to know more.

But it does not give more. The story itself is bland. Dull. It simply invites us in with fear and anxiety  and leaves us hanging with simply an environmental and health warning that ‘a controlled burn at National Botanic Gardens’ could cause problems for those around Black Mountain.

I personally, don’t believe that this is even worthy of being posted in the National daily paper. I mean, If you don’t live in and around Black Mountain, then what appeal does it have?   After reading the headline to this story I thought, Wow, this could be really interesting – what has happened? I didn’t hear about this on the News! – But instead I felt nothing at the conclusion of the story.

So, I know pose the question, of Why. Why did they publish a story like this in the national newspaper? Is there a ‘hidden meaning’ behind it? What were SMH’s intentions with this story?

It is open for interpretation, however, I do think that the story serves a purpose in identifying the necessity of controlled burns in familiar (if not famous) areas for safety and preservation purposes. Not to mention, the need for residents and the general public to be aware of the possible health implications that these controlled burns can cause.
The story itself was approximately 130 words, consisting of two quotes, it is simple, and perhaps wasteful in my opinion.

Coal Seam Gas mining – not so safe after all.

On Monday 1st April, Four corners featured a story on coal seam gas mining in Australia. It is a jaw-dropping story. A very well done story to say the least. 

The story discusses and shows the implications that coal seam gas mining has had on the land, in particular the Condamine River at the top of the Murray Darling Basin in Southern Queensland.  At this very location, both the reporter ( Matthew Carney) and farmers watch as the river bubbles with Methane gas, so literally that a match that is held to it, ignites the water. Unbelievable. Some would consider it impossible.  Four Corners shows it is far from impossible.  

This story is a fine example of the way that news should be delivered across all stations, whether it be environmental or entertainment. Four Corners provides a highly informative, well structured story that considers both, if not all sides of the story, with reference and discussion to and with all parties involved, that is, Government, Coal Seam Gas industry, and farmers/locals. The story is covered in great detail, presenting us with a very real and concerning issue – not only is the Condamine River bubbling unnaturally with Methane gas due to ‘fracking’ (or perhaps over-fracking), but Australia’s greatest underground water source – The Great Artisian Basin – is seriously depleting as it is being used by the CSG Industry.  

Not only is this an environmental story, it is reported by Four Corners in such a way that it becomes almost Human Interest because everyone is so concerned about the idea. The reporting by Matthew Carney is highly professional, informative and precise. The material shown in the story is similarly, excellent and well researched and developed. All in all, it is the type of story that encapsulates the true purpose of News and what it is intended to do – inform. It is somewhat refreshing to see a story presented in this manner.  

It is truly worth a look: