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JRNL102 Contemporary Journalism Practice – “Drone Journalism”

Contemporary Journalism Practice – “Drone Journalism”

Far from science fiction speculation, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as “drones,” pose immediate and important questions for journalists. Currently used abroad to attack terror suspects and targets, U.S. military drones play an increasing and controversial role in modern warfare. From Afghanistan and Pakistan to Iran and Yemen, they have become a ubiquitous symbol of Washington’s war on terrorism (Corcoran 2012). But while no journalistic uses would have the lethal intentions behind military uses, robotic technology poses serious legal, ethical and social implications (Culver 2014: 53).

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Reaper drone firing missile

Bringing a new dimension to news content and delivery, “drone journalism”, as a digital development cited by the 2015 edition of Trends in Newsroom, offers an inexpensive way to put cameras and sensors in the air for gathering images, information, and data in reporting. While their potential as a newsgathering tool is only just now being explored, proponents for the application of drones in journalism and new reporting emphasize the expanded capability they provide at a minimal cost (Culver 2014: 53). Developed for civilian and commercial use, the low-cost aerial platform is a small fraction of the price of news helicopters and commissioned manned flights, breaking down traditional aerial newsgathering.

Stijin Postema (2015), Journalism lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University, who recently published News Drones: An Auxiliary Perspective, foresees drone expertise as becoming less of a specialty, and more of an integral part of the digital journalist’s toolbox to inform the public about its world in the best possible way. However, although there is a Professional Society of Drone Journalists, for Postema (2015: 12) it is questionable if “drone journalism” will become a professional occupation. He argues that using drones in journalism will not alter core journalistic activities of news gathering, analysing and publishing; but rather the footage and data obtained by using a drone will merely supplement or enrich these activities.

Used as an auxiliary tool for newsgathering, Australian media outlets are moving towards drones for crisis reporting, particularly when surveying damage from natural disasters when it may be difficult or dangerous for journalists to report (See: The ABC’s drone scenes captured of the damage wrought after Cyclone Winston hit Fiji.). Aside from being expendable, drones can also provide the public with far more dynamic crisis-based stories. A slightly elevated view of a scene can greatly aid people in providing context and emphasis of the sense of scale than a journalist could safely deliver on the ground, as seen in these excellent drone shots:

Moreover, they can be outfitted with advanced surveillance tool such as geographic information systems (GIS) to map the extent of wildfires.

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Drone image of a wild fire in Costa Rica.

Remote sensors can also be used to gauge the release of radiation from a failed power plant, such as the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster where the veracity of official accounts of radiation levels were dubious (Culver 2014: 52). Listen to this podcast by Mathew Schroyer, a founding member of the Professional Society of Drone Journalists, who discusses the ways that journalists are using drones, and how they can be used as a check on government power.

However, if innovation starts with values, not technology, as drones are deployed not just for civilian and commercial use a number of serious legal, ethical and social implications need to be addressed. In 2014 we saw Australian drone journalism hit the headlines in controversial style when 60 Minutes flew a mission over the Christmas Island immigration detention centre. Unlike the US, Australia has long embraced the potential of civilian UAVs, however the event raised a lot of questions: is drone journalism a legitimate tool in pursuing public disclosure, or an invasive, unregulated practice and a hazard to our airways? Collecting data on a large scale can be done, with even smaller commercial drones threatens privacy on many levels.

 You can read the current Professional Society of Drone Journalists’ Code of Ethics that addresses the additional responsibilities inherent to drone technology here. However, while this code seeks to address a variety of considerations Journalism ethics faces the same infancy, as the legal decisions evident in warfare, in considering the consequences of drone technology for a variety of reporting needs including investigative, disaster, weather, sports, and environmental journalism.

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The Drone Journalism “hierarchy of ethics”

 

References

Culver, KB, 2014, ‘From Battlefield to Newsroom: Ethical Implications of Drone Technology in Journalism’, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 52-64. Available from: 10.1080/08900523.2013.829679. [11 November 2016].

Corcoran, M, 2012, ‘Drone journalism takes off’, ABC News, accessed online [11 November 2016], < http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-21/drone-journalism-takes-off/3840616&gt;

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JRNL102: What’s hidden? Crohn’s disease – An invisible illness


Being told that you “don’t look sick” when your life’s under constant assault because of a chronic illness can be challenging, especially when the symptoms are what most people would rather not talk about.

To look at him, you wouldn’t know that 20-year-old Nick Toirkens has been dealt a tough hand when it comes to his health. As someone who has been living with Crohn’s disease for 12 years now he is no stranger to the physical and emotional toll that life with an incurable chronic illness brings.

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For sufferers like Nick the realities of living with a chronic disease like Crohn’s can be difficult and isolating. People don’t understand that Crohn’s is a serious chronic illness that can be both painful and debilitating, and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications. For Nick’s close friend, 21-year-old Zoe Jarvis, she too was very surprised to learn about the nature of his condition, “I don’t understand how I’m only just learning about his struggle with Crohn’s now. I knew he was taking medication but I didn’t think it was that serious.”

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus, but it is more commonly found at the end of the small intestine. Crohn’s is an immune deficiency disease whereby the immune system attacks the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract causing inflammation throughout the body. Such inflammation can cause abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.

After several misdiagnoses, when Nick was identified with having Crohn’s disease at the age of eight at Randwick Sydney Children’s hospital, he tried pretty much every kind of treatment available. From a course of steroids to fasting for a period of two months where he could only have a supplement drink, as well as trying several different medications, Nick was hospitalised at the age of 9 and again at 11 each time for a period of two weeks with pancreatitis.

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While there’s no known cure for Crohn’s disease, therapies can greatly reduce its signs and symptoms and even bring about long-term remission. With treatment, many people with Crohn’s disease are able to function well. Since Year 11 Nick has been managing his condition well, and after recent tests (the colonoscopy results seen in the video) he is currently in remission. However, since moving for university his weekly injection of methotrexate and twice-daily dose of sulphasalazine, under the guidance of his medical support team at Wollongong hospital, is a constant reminder of his condition.

While no one will know, or likely understand the condition unless you tell them Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an emerging global disease, with Australia having one of the highest prevalence in the world. More than 75,000 Australians live with these conditions, with numbers expected to increase to more than 100,000 by 2022.

For more information of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) visit Crohn’s & Colitis Australia <https://www.crohnsandcolitis.com.au/about-crohns-colitis/&gt;

Song: Search and Destroy – Sanders Bohlke. Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favour of fair use.

Link to tweets: < https://twitter.com/frankie22895&gt;

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Case Studies of Successful Advocacy Journalism

(Final campaign: The human cost of offshoring Australia’s e-waste)

Charity not activism

Awarding us unbridled voyeuristic access into the lives of others, the unprecedented proliferation of social media platforms has resulted in the extension and redistribution of viewing spaces. In the case of National Geographic’s most recent awareness building efforts, we saw the provocative #EndPoverty Hashtag Challenge encourage users to submit their most compelling photographs that best describe the term #EndPoverty. However, the problem with awareness-building efforts like NatGeo’s is that it ignores diversity within the poverty/wealth spectrum. The consistency in which global development was conceptualised in the 3,000 photographs submitted to NatGeo’s #EndPoverty Challenge imposes our own constructs of poverty, instead of creating avenues that allows the voices of those effected to be heard.

Reducing these systematic issues concerning global development into one, entire peoples are represented as destitute, starving and downtrodden, removing all respect for their agency. From kitschy development programs like Teddies for Tragedies, Soles4Souls and Pedal for Progress, in practice poverty porn leads to charity, not activism: donors, not advocates. Advertisements and marketing materials depicting the suffering of the poor and soliciting financial support defines poverty as merely observable suffering resulting from a simple lack of material resources. When material resources are the problem and the solution that can be addressed through a simple phone call or monthly donation, organisations “fail to produce both a deeper understanding of the issue of poverty and the necessary structural changes that must occur to effectively address it”.

As sustainable change in poor communities is more than just a sum of financial donations, instead of typecasting those affected by Australia’s e-waste, particularly in poorer Asian nations, as helpless beneficiaries dependent on the support of the wealthy. My campaign aims to hold government, councils, and the manufacturers of these goods to account. With a particular focus of the Australian government and their refusal to ratify the Basel Convention ‘Ban Amendment’ which would subsequently put a stop to the export of all second-hand electronic goods to the third world.

The Blackfish Effect

The 2013 investigative documentary Blackfish serves as a poignant advocacy tool, presenting a harrowing narrative of whales in captivity with a particular focus on SeaWorld and the attack on trainer Dawn Brancheau. In an era of increasing corporate dominance, the low-budget film succeeded in sending shock waves through the established corporation, with the company in March 2016 announcing the end to orca breeding and theatrical shows and programs at all of its theme parks. However, while the film succeeded in painting a compelling picture of an inhumane industry, the full extent of the film’s social impact was not felt overnight. The path to change was paved over three years, a period marked by sustained activism, multi-platform distribution, and media coverage. Informally dubbed as the “Blackfish Effect”, SeaWorld could no longer ignore or dismiss the film’s impact as insular, niche activism.

While capturing the measurable social impact of a documentary is challenging and highly individualized, the life of the documentary can be extended far beyond the traditional first year of festival/theatrical release or broadcast. Linked to a strategic distribution strategy, online platforms such as Netflix, served as a catalyst in reaching outside the animal-welfare community to new audiences. Moreover, in response to stock prices and attendance hitting an all-time low, SeaWorld and the filmmakers engaged in a prolonged public relations battle – SeaWorld reportedly spending $15 million attempting to counter the $76,000 films message. However, the films profile only increased as SeaWorld’s PR firm released statements attempting to pick holes in the testimonies presented by the former SeaWorld trainers in the film.

While the story-telling model in Blackfish narrowly applied to one category of animal species, and this may, according to Freeman (2012:3) downgrade the value of other non-human animals significantly by comparison. If Blackfish was a documentary cultivating ethical perspective’s of animal rights more holistically, we would not have seen an end to SeaWorld’s multi-billion dollar industry in theatrical orca shows and programs. While activist campaign goals and issue-based documentaries can be broader in terms of changing worldviews (Freeman 2012 pp.11). Call-to-action efforts tend to succeed when the action is clear, even if that means only challenging certain behaviours toward certain animals, e.g. increasing community awareness about the plight of battery hens.

Power in the hands of the consumer

Despite the criticism associated with online campaigns, that is, if this ‘clicktivism’ phenomenon is really activism, the online and the offline coexist to make participatory advoacy engagement possible for the users of today. Take for example the grassroots not-for-profit organisation Palm Oil Investigations (PIO). What started by accident three years ago when a distressing image of a burnt orangutan, whose death was linked to Palm Oil plantation development, was circulating on Facebook. Lorinda Jane, founder and president of the not-for-profit, created PIO as a way to share with others the products on Australian supermarket shelves containing Palm Oil. Within a few days the page gained 15,000 followers and has since become the world’s largest palm oil consumer activist movement with close to 200,000 members on Facebook worldwide.

Placing power in the hands of Australian and New Zealand consumers, PIO has developed the world’s first palm oil product barcode scanner phone application. As the palm oil supply chain and certification system is extremely complex, with so many different ingredient names used to disguise palm oil and palm oil derivatives on packaging, until now comparing product claims has been incredibly ambiguous. By raising funds via their Facebook page to cover the costs of development, customers can now scan the barcode for over 150,000 products at the point of purchase to reveal the Palm Certification Status.

Moreover, as a feature built into the app, when a scan result turns up ‘Fail’ (uncertified palm oil, or the brand did not respond to official certification request) or ‘Mass Balance’ (mixed certified with uncertified with zero traceability), customers have the option to use send a pre-written email to the brand encouraging them to fix their supply, or users can also share the scan result to Facebook so others can see the certification status of the product.

Building relationships between businesses and advocates

While corporations and advocacy groups often appear to be on opposing sides, in the case of the not-for-profit, advocates have come to build relationships with businesses, spurring many brands into action. Furthermore, PIO does not advocate for boycotting palm oil, it does campaign for all oils to be clearly listed on food products and encourages brands to switch to a sustainable supply. In Lorrinda’s experience working with businesses, such as Arnott’s and Lindt, to educate brands about Palm Oil and assist in their supply transition is an important aspect of championing ecological sustainability.

“There’s no point going in with a big stick, they’re just going to avoid your calls, but if you can build that strong relationship then you’ve got a better chance of getting those brands to do the right thing, hear what you’re saying and follow what you’re asking them to do.”

Here, Palm Oil Investigations demonstrates that accountability shouldn’t be exclusive to governments. Working with leading businesses is just as important in order to create change within the whole sector. In the final campaign, due to the high costs to local governments needed to provide appropriate collection and recycling infrastructure, building relationships with leading brands is needed to extend producer responsibility for the entire life-cycle of a product.

The “fashion revolution”

A symbol for the larger uncomfortable truth about the global apparel supply chain, the Fashion Revolution campaign challenges brands and retailers to take responsibility for the individuals and communities on which their business depends. A stark reminder of the shocking conditions that women continue to face within global value chains, 1,134 is the official government death toll of the April 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse home to five garment factories in the suburb of Dhaka (Labowitz 2015:15). Injuring over 2,500 others this event stands as the deadliest industrial accident to hit the garment industry. The enormity and visibility of the Rana Plaza catastrophe demanded Western audiences to be confronted by and recognise that there is a true cost for a $5 t-shirt. In fact, 1,134 people had just paid for our cheap t-shirts, with their own lives.

Selfies – the catalysts for change?

While campaigners have been battling for an ethical fashion industry ever since the first sweatshop scandals broke back in the 1990’s, Fashion Revolution’ social media campaign has advocated for all of us as consumers to take to social media to ask the ethical questions, the simple questions, about where our clothes are made. Right from the very start in 2014, on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, for an entire week (18-24 April), Fashion Revolution has emerged as valuable discourse in promoting greater transparency throughout the apparel supply chain. Even though these women who make our clothes live far away, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t equally worthy of a sense of obligation. By taking selfies with a piece of clothing on insideout and the label showing, accompanied with the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes, ignorance within a companies supply chain is no longer bliss – it’s increasingly becoming a liability for brand reputation.

Like fashion, we tend not to display the same curiosity about the end-life of our technology. As consumers we deflect the responsibility with the same negligence as government, councils, and the manufacturers of these goods. In the final campaign, a hashtag and photograph campaign following this format will be launched to generate consumer awareness, connecting the actions of Australian consumers and the end life of their products to the unscrupulous process of offshoring.

References

Freeman, C. Packwood, ‘Fishing for animal rights in The Cove: a holistic approach to animal advocacy documentaries’, Journal for Critical Animal Studies 10.1 (2012): 104–18, <http://www.criticalanimalstudies.org/volume10-issue-1-2012/&gt;.

JRNL102 Emotional History

EMOTIONAL HISTORY TASK 1. JRNL102

AUDIO REPORT – FRANCES JOHNS

EMOTION: Happiness that ends with frustration and sadness

INTRO SCRIPT

Everyone, at least at one point of their life, is faced with giving up something they love. The former drummer for the band Capital Coast revisits the highlights of being in the band, and ultimately what pushed him to quit.

IN: “Even today I wonder…”
OUT: “…but that’s that.”
DUR: 1:59

MUSIC: Capital Coast- “Inside Times”
(I obtained permission from the band, Capital Coast, to use this song in which they recorded and published.)

Reflection

When it came to finding an interviewee for the emotional history task, I decided to interview a friend of mine who has quit his band at the end of last year. A lot of people, including myself found this to be very unexpected given that he had put so much time and effort into getting the band to where it is today. And while I acknowledge that this may not be considered the strongest narrative, as a natural talker, I knew he would be able to convey that emotional moment of when you stand at a precipice of making a hard decision. As many people in their life are faced with figuring out what they’re willing to give up in order to do the things they really care about, as well as dealing with less than favourable people, this audio story will resonate with a wide audience.

Ira Glass in the talk he gave at Sydney Opera House, ‘Ira Glass on Journalism’ (2016), discusses the nature of narrative structure, and what stuck with me is when said, “Narrative isn’t a smart structure, it’s entirely about emotion. And literally all you want to do is set up a sequence of actions”. While my subject was an excellent talker, at times the narrative was derailed as he had a tendency to veer off with other anecdotes. So with Ira Glass in mind, when it came to putting together a succinct narrative arc I aimed to capture the essence of why he quit, without getting lost in the immense amount of detail I had recorded, which allowed for more pauses. Deciding journalistically what didn’t add value did prove to be difficult, especially when including his final and very emotive reflective points, while also zooming in on that moment of finally leaving without giving it away all at once.

In this process we did two recordings, the second was to get the lighter stuff at the beginning when he was having a lot of fun with the band, so their was more impact and the audience has a reason to care for when he left. To add a layer of authenticity, I obtained permission from the band Capital Coast to use one of their songs ‘Inside Times’ to enhance the interview. In the lecture from Week Five, I drew inspiration from the Liz Burton podcast that used the Aretha Franklin song as a significant storytelling device. The song chosen from the band served as a significant storytelling element as it had both shades of light and dark, helping shape the narrative direction. While the music used immediately sets an underlying melancholic mood, the high points in the chorus work well in underlining the ‘good’ times, while snapping the audience back into active listening and giving the material time to breathe.

Since podcasting is a linear medium, to enhance the sequence of actions at the beginning of the audio I used the actuality of a crowd cheering just before a set starts to immediately evoke the feeling of being at a live concert. I thought about the podcast we listened to in class about the Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory and how different ambient sound can inflect different meaning. With this in mind I used ambient sounds of people at a party to give the feeling of a crowd watching them perform, almost as though you’re standing in that crowd with them. However, I was careful to find a crowd had happy undertones, not a jeering crowd. For maximum narrative impact, the actuality lightly floated in the first half to evoke nostalgia. However, while I wanted this heightened impact and authenticity in the second half of the audio, all of the sounds I tried sounded forced and out of place, and even when given space they still competed with what he was expressing. So I decided that the change in the tone of music would have to carry the end of the piece.

References

Aboriginal community NT: kids playing footy – healthy, cited in McHugh S (2016), Lecture, Week Four, “Introduction to Convergent Media Reporting and Production”, 15 August 2016.

Glass, I, (2016), “Ira Glass on Journalism”, in Sydney Opera House Talks & Ideas, Sydney Opera House.

Liz Burton podcast, cited in McHugh S (2016), Lecture, Week Five, “Introduction to Convergent Media Reporting and Production”, 22 August 2016.

AUDIO LOG #1 Emotional History Assessment

TIME CONTENT – Summary EVALUATION
0.06 This was my first serious band, and I have great some great memories **
0.17 At the start it was good, the lead singer introduced me to everyone **
0.52 And it guess it got to a point where the bass guitarist didn’t get it *** strong voice
1.04 He wouldn’t listen, and he was so arrogant… ***
1.16 And I guess that really made me question if I wanted to be in the band or not **
1.36 And when it came down to it ummed and arred over it for weeks *** narrative tension
1.48 He knew how to push my buttons and it really got to me ***
1.58 In the end, I think I made the right choice in quitting
2.11 Even today I wonder what would happen if I was still in the band.. I’d still be making the music I love to make *** good opening hook
2.35 I wish I was still making music but that’s that *** good out
2.41 But it was my band… **
3:01 Obviously there were times where uni would come up… exams etc. *
3:20 It was always expected that the band would come first *
3:30 the band was going great, but there was no fight for it, had the most fight out of all of us *** good emotion
3:59 …the best times we shared were playing the show, where all our friends showed up ***
4:10 And that was really special ***
4:18 Everyone was happy in the band, and that’s what made it fun ** too much detail here
4:29 We were travelling up and down the coast a fair bit… started getting emailed to do gigs **
4:59 I remember one time a gig in Newtown, guitarist looked over at me… and he was just grinning *** sweet moment
6:30 And I think that was such a high point ***
6:41 We were playing for peanuts… but it was more about the music ***
6:58 And while that was great, we started having a few problems *** good connecting sentence

Is it time to give up on Australian content?

Final debate: is it time to give up on Australian content?

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Paper Planes (2015)

A host of testing issues are currently confronting the Australian creative industries, however, upon reflecting on the previous themes debated in the weekly blogging tasks- it is not time to give up on Australian content, instead recent trends suggest quite the opposite. Despite the poor commercial performance of Australian movies since the early mid-2000s, based on an economic assessment, the recent success of this year’s crop of Australian films represents a unique trajectory for the local film industry. The previous year marks a distinct turnaround for the Australian film industry, with 2015 being a record year for Australian movies, collectively taking $84 million at the local box office, or 7.7 per cent of the total (Quinn 2015). However, the failure to find a larger audience for Australian films until recent requires a more self-reflective response than the industry conventionally musters (Verhoeven, 2005).

Just a year ago the local industry looked to be in terminal decline, however, in terms of raw dollar 2015 marks the industries most significant result ever, and the best share since 2001. Conversely, up until recent, the apocalyptic observations focussing on the perceived failings of Australian cinema have most commonly been verified by a succession of disappointing domestic box office returns for individual film titles. In response to the value ascribed to the local production industry’s percentage of the domestic box office, many media scholars have regarded this as a “blunt but exploitable indicator between film product and consumer” (Verhoeven, Davidson & Coate 2015 pp.1).

At present an oligopoly of Hollywood studios comprising Universal, Paramount, M.G.M, United Artists, Fox, Columbia, Warner Brothers, R.K.O. and Walt Disney, known collectively as ‘the Majors’ (Silver 2007 pp.15) are squarely pitted against the resilient values of community experience through local cinema. When assessing Australia’s progress in stimulating demand from audiences- we need to make assessment about the value audiences are getting from Australian content and the overall cultural merit of the product. According to Screen Australia’s “What to Watch? Audience motivation in a multi-screen world” (2012) report, Australian audiences do value Australian stories. Nine in ten people indicated that the local film and television industry, responsible for making these Australian stories, are important, with the most commonly cited concern being the assurance that local stories aren’t overrun by Hollywood productions. Despite Australia’s cultural insecurity concerning the continuity of Australian productions, the real challenge is ensuring that audiences can continue to find them in an increasingly competitive multi-screen world (Screen Australia 2012).

Box office returns fail to recognise how audiences are in fact accessing this content and the total number of audiences who are watching Australian screen content across all different platforms over its life (Kaufman 2009 pp.1). Contemporary film producers are working with a set of challenging circumstances, a primary concern being audience fragmentation. How Australians engage with content is currently in the midst of significant change, with recent screen culture patterns indicating that Australians are increasingly watching their content online. Screen Australia (2012) have outlined lifestyle factors as being a key motivator when viewing scheduled content, in which on-demand platforms offers a growing mobility across multiple screens. Australia’s creative industries need to reconsider the strategies they are currently using for exhibition and distribution and embrace alternative distribution models in order to remain competitive in telling these stories (Van Hermert & Ellison 2015 pp.12).

Furthermore, unlike television there are no local content quotas for film distribution and exhibition. Digital video giants could be decisive players in the fate of the Australian content market instead of leaving the fate of this content in the domain of traditional broadcasting networks and Screen Australia in securing government funding and subsidies. The ‘failure’ of Australian films is often attributed to the deficiencies in the funding of government film agencies, with implications for contemporary film policy and practice proving inadequate. However, in 2016, the video-streaming company Netflix is said to double its output of original content. In addition to this scheme ABC boss Mark Scott has floated a proposal of forcing on-demand sites, like Netflix, Stan, and Presto to contribute to a digital content fund, which would help pay for the creation original Australian TV and video content (Christenson 2015).

Despite concerns about Australian content remaining uniquely Australian, as the Netflix business model is based on content with international appeal by amortising the cost of producing that content across hundreds of markets, telling Australian stories within the blueprint of genre cinema will resonate with an international audience. The Australian filmmaking community has embraced a newfound commercial sensibility renouncing the cultural pedigree of Australia’s ‘prestige’ or ‘art house’ cinema while telling unique Australian stories that are both culturally and socially didactic.

Although Screen Australia maintains that Australian audiences value Australian stories, Brabazon (2010 pp.2) is concerned with how the Australian adjective operates within the phrase Australian film industry. And if this discursive pronouncement of a films ‘Australianness’ is turning audiences away from Australian screen content. Although the official idea of the Australian film has broadened since the end of the 1980s, Australia’s content and control requirements still constrain creative content industries, permitting the familiar tropes of ‘landscape as a character’ to persist. A range of possibilities that Quin (2014) points to for this seemingly enduring disconnect between Australian content and audience include the dark and depressing themes, the outmoded ocker stereotypes, the price point of ticket sales for Australian films, marketing strategies and as aforementioned distribution and access.

Despite the relative success of this year’s crop of Australian films, the fundamental challenges for Australian cinema remain. Australian films are not made for the multiplex and the familiar narrative tropes of authentic ‘Australian story’ persist, failing to connect and resonate with an audience. The rhetoric of ‘significant Australian content’, that is the need for Australian cinematic expression to provide national, societal and individual significance, embedded in policy leaves large gaps in the current marketplace for Australian genre films, and need to be waned in order to secure Australia’s future within the creative industries.

film-money-420x0

References

Brabazon, Tara “A pig in space? Babe and the problem of landscape” in Craven, Ian (Ed) (2001) Australian Cinema in the 1990s. Frank Cass: London.

Christensen, N, 2015, “ABC boss proposes forcing Netflix to contribute to creation of Australian content with new fund”, ABCNews, accessed online 4/5/16, <http://mumbrella.com.au/abc-boss-proposes-forcing-netflix-to-contribute-to-creation-of-australian-content-with-new-fund-318859&gt;

Kaufman, T, 2009, ‘Shortcuts: finding Australian audiences for Australian films’, Metro: media & education magazine no. 163, pp.6-8

Quinn, K, 2015, “Australian film has had its biggest year at the box office ever. Why?”, The Sydney Morning Herald, accessed online 4/5/16, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/australian-film-has-had-its-biggest-year-at-the-box-office-ever-why-20151204-glfut3.html

Quinn, K, 2014, “Why won’t we watch Australian films?”, The Sydney Morning Herald, accessed online 21/12/15, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/why-wont-we-watch-australian-films-20141024-11bhia.html?rand=1449200398857

Screen Australia, 2012, “What to Watch? Audience motivation in a multi-screen world”, Australian Government, accessed online 4/5/15, http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/getmedia/4972fa65-caa5-4235-86be-1800e4a2815b/rpt_whatto

Van Hemert, Tess and Ellison, Elizabeth (2015) “Queensland’s film culture: the challenges of local film distribution and festival exhibition”. Studies in Australasian Cinema. 9:1. p 39-51.

Verhoeven, D, 2005, “The crisis the Australian film industry refuses to see”, The Age, accessed online 4/5/16, http://www.theage.com.au/news/Opinion/The-crisis-the-Australian-film-industry-refuses-to-see/2005/02/06/1107625057175.html

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