Kids in the Kitchen

Written on November 24, 2008 – 3:58 pm | by ozjourno

Kitchen Garden Foundation Wordle

About 10 years ago I approached a local primary school about establishing an edible garden at the school. The idea was knocked back. I was told it was not feasible & parents would not support it. End of story.

Stephanie AlexanderThen along came Stephanie Alexander with a similar idea. Seven years ago, in 2001, she started what would be the beginning of a ground breaking program at Collingwood College.

In 2004 the Kitchen Garden Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, was born after the initial success of the Collingwood project. Now selected primary schools, their students and families in Victoria could benefit from growing, harvesting and cooking of organic foods.

But it is so much more than just growing & preparing organic produce to eat. The program offers life-long skills that have an effect on many areas of health and education.

Firstly, lets start with the school environment.

Kids who eat well have better learning outcomes. A while ago I was asked to help an ‘at-risk’ teen at a local high school. I am a great believer in a more holistic approach to kids in trouble – and that includes looking at diet. Breakfast, in this case, consisted of a Mars Bar and a can of Coke. This, I was told by a teacher, is not uncommon. And they wonder why kids burn out halfway through the morning with a sugar crash? How can a child learn when the fuel they put in themselves is toxic to learning?

Kids who ‘do’ learn.

Hands-on projects help kids connect with the learning principles, by putting into practice what they have been taught through co-operative learning and being part of a team. Kids who are interested are more enthusiastic.

They also get the opportunity to connect with others, including teachers, helpers, making new friends & family. They develop and master skills that may also be passed on to the next generation – something that is sadly lacking in communities.

One thing that I believe in, is that kids need to appreciate the ‘quiet’. No video games, no mobile phones, no iPods & no computers. Just being outside amongst nature without interruption. In fact, they have now discovered a ‘green deficit’ which results in a lack of concentration. ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ is another theory that says kids are losing their connection with nature.

Into the Future

Imagine a future where obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease were diminished? Australians, if feeling stressed, would be more likely to hit the vegie patch instead of a bottle of Prozac if they have the right skills and mindset.

In 20-30 years from now, this is a future we could be looking at, with a program like this in place in every primary school across Australia. Nicola Roxon saw the vision and now the Federal Government is about to roll out the program across Australia ot about 190 primary schools. Hopefully we will see this in all schools …

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Retirement Village Residents Council Rip-off

Written on November 20, 2008 – 4:07 pm | by ozjourno

I am annoyed, really annoyed. Actually, as I get older I find I am getting PO’d at a lot of things.

Especially issues that affect the elderly or retirees – I am on the way there at nearly 50, so I guess I get a might sensitive to pensioners and retirees getting ripped off.

They worked hard, saved, paid their taxes & some fought to protect our country. Others were peace-keepers of democracy, like in Korea.

And what about the Vietnam Vets? It may not have been OUR war, but the government made many of them fight via conscription. Let’s not lose sight of that fact.

So, you would think that these generations would be able to relax a bit & be rewarded for their efforts … not bloody likely!

In the City of Casey there are about 11 Retirement Villages. Residents of these villages are being blatantly ripped off through their council rates charges.

Retirement Villages are mainly gated communities. This means they are private property and unless you live there, or are a visitor that is authorised to come in, you can’t get through the gates. They have swipe cards to get in or you have to be buzzed in.

When the villages were built, the developers built the roads, street lights, recreation facilities & community centre. The residents are charged a weekly fee and this pays for the upkeep of these things.

This means that the council does not pay a cracker for them. Everything is maintained by the residents.

Now, get this, the council CHARGES the residents for the upkeep of the roads, street lights & facilities that they are already paying for!

Why should these people have to cop these charges in the first place, when they are already paying for them?

That was the first rip off.

Here is another one … most of the people I have spoken to have shifted from a big house on a fairly large block, to a much smaller unit on a tiny bit of turf. Yet they are paying about the same, sometimes more, in council rates than their family home.

How do they do the maths on that one? Retirement Villages, depending on the size of the development, should be getting a discount of 25%-50% of the council rates. In one council they had no rates at all for retirement villages, until they realised what a cash cow they could be for the council.

That to my way of thinking, and the residents, is DOUBLE DIPPING. First get them on the rates for services they have already paid for … then get them by having a different criteria for valuing retirement village units.

Where’s the respect?

It is disgusting that councils are over-valuing retirement village units so they can access what they feel is the money the retirees & pensioners have set aside. I have seen the rates notices, and after working in real estate for 10 years and viewed hundreds of Section 32′s (vendor statements that have the council rates in them), I can smell a council rat! It is quite obvious to me that they are preying on the vulnerable, thinking they won’t fight back.

You can almost see the councils rubbing their hands together with glee when another devleoper wants to build another village …

Well they were wrong! Grey Power is about to be unleashed.

Today the fight started in Cranbourne, with Casey retirement village residents congregating to hear what the council members of Casey have to say.

Wish I could have been there and I hope they got some video footage!

… and don’t get me started on Carers and what they should be getting (I’ll save that for another post).


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Mojo on the Go Go

Written on November 17, 2008 – 4:15 pm | by ozjourno

Mobile phone journalist = mojo (not to be confused with Austin Powers).

Frank Barth-Nilsen from NRK trains mojos, changing the way story telling is done & Reuters Mobile Journalism considers the mojo as a future form of journalism. Hate to tell them, it’s already here! Their toolkit is below:

Nokia N95

Camera tripod

Sony MicrophoneNokia Keyboard

Being a mojo has its advantages – you can run away faster from bodyguards & there is no heavy camera equipment to slow you down.

“It’s just a phone man!”

Sometimes you can even beat the ‘big guns’ to the punch, like Steve Garfield :

Stories are on the web quicker than you can SMS with live streaming from a mobile using Qik.

In Europe FromDistance is creating waves, specialising in mobile journalism products and services.

In Australia, mojo’s are now being trained up. We are a bit limited, as the availability of unlimited data packages is way too expensive or non-existent with mobile carriers.

I have an X-series Nokia N95 and am with ‘3′, with 200MB a month allowance for $8 on top of my plan. I’m using it more each day; only the other day in the supermarket I did a search on food additives. Call me paranoid.

Smartphones are the most popular for the internet, especially the iPhone. It only has 2% of the smartphone market, yet it is starting to outperform Nokia for internet usage.

Facebook is now on mobile internet. Yes, I have been guilty of checking it, in the dark with the phone on silent (the clicking echoes in the dark), commenting and feeling like a snoop.

Which reminds me … I wonder if I have any comments on this?

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In for a good Vlog-ing?

Written on November 17, 2008 – 11:45 am | by ozjourno

Cartoon Vlog l  Cartoon Stock

Is it internet TV, video journalism or the visual musings of a misguided non-talent? Vlogs offer, in the main, fast paced, quick snippets of visual and the added benefit of stopping content if it bores you to tears in the first minute.

Vlogs allow more human stories at an individual level, such as Alive in Baghdad, not the issue that causes the havoc such as war, filling gaps in mainstream television reporting

However, seeing inside the mind of the operator/performer, which can be messy & damn funny! Ask a Ninja is a twisted yet simple comedy acting as a vlog. Same shtick each week, same formula. Don’t believe me? Check the video below!

Convenience is King. Don’t like it? Stop & leave a comment. Like it? Subscribe through an RSS feed . Interaction feeds the beast and bows to the Vlog God. offers higher quality video, including vlogs and lectures. I posted this video from Mena Trott, below, founding mother blogging. It’s by no means a short piece, but damn funny, informative & self-depreciating.

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Singapore Press Holdings makes a Happy STOMPing Ground

Written on November 17, 2008 – 1:33 am | by ozjourno

STOMP, the User Generated Content (USG) news website, has a main focus – its readers, who are also its contributors. In its first six months of launching, STOMP attracted nearly 7% of Singapore’s total population as visitors. Often contributor’s stories make front page of The Strait Times and are spread through the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) group.

Readers become a part of the process by sending in stories to  a dedicated mobile number or by email, so no waiting in a phone queue.

Producers edit & rewrite but also check with the contributor, always to their complete satisfaction.

STOMP is about connections. Connecting with their readers through forums, technology & building social networks.

It is so completely about service and something that Western publishing groups should take note of.

Nothing in Australia comes close in content, application, social inclusion or use of technology, especially the mobile phone. With an IFRA award to STOMP, you would think some Aussie media concern would be doing something similar.

STOMP is full of youthful exuberance and incorporates the latest technology, from the use of mobile technology in a singing competition to vlogs & blogs.

There are even classes to educate their contributors in technology applications.

Convergence has been completely incorporated into the site. It creates communities and connects its members. In fact I doubt that there is anything that they have not included as a topic!

Although it is obviously aimed at the youth market, STOMP have found that middle-aged members are on the increase, especially in the citizen journalism section and forum. There is a good mix of youth and experience.

And that gives me some hope for my job prospects …

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Getting Picky About Photo Gallery Editors

Written on November 16, 2008 – 1:21 pm | by ozjourno

It bamboozles me the extent to which technology adapts to the wants of netizens. These days it is a necessity for internet companies to evolve to the expectations of their users, in the process creating impatience & addictions for the “next big thing”.

Internet related companies don’t stand still for very long & are always looking to expand their products. Take Google for example which owns Picasa & Youtube, 54 companies in all since 2001.

Robert Niles, in Online Journalism Review, reviewed 4 such gallery editors. His criteria was they had to be able to add captions, control the style & how fast the images are displayed – and they had to able to embed as a flash gallery in a website. He chose Picasa, Picturetrail, Bubbleshare & SlideFlickr.

Picasa, owned by Google, proved simple but not good for Mac users. It came a close second. I don’t like that you have to download the software & I found it a little hard for my middle aged brain to contend with!

SlideFlickr came in front. After a bit of manoeuvoring I finally got it. They also claim to be able to do a slideshow in 10 seconds. From start to finish? Not likely – I don’t move THAT fast! Here’s the result:

Imagery in journalism goes hand in hand with text. Each compliments the other with images giving a better overall perspective. Slideshows give the story more depth  & images are easier to upload than large file videos. The “best of” images can be incorporated into a slideshow & uploaded fairly quickly.

Now excuse me while I grab my camera …

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Flying Solo – blogging tools & getting it out there!

Written on November 14, 2008 – 6:04 pm | by ozjourno

It used to be that a talent in writing was all you needed to become a journalist, but “the times they are a changing”, to coin a Bob Dylan  phrase. His words are particularly pertinent to journalists today.

Traditional journalism does have restrictions on time and space, as recounted by solo journalist Kevin Sites. Elements of the truth can be manipulated in traditional media. Smaller, personal stories can be told which in turn can create interest in a bigger issue, a reason for the successes of OhMyNews & Witness.

Tools for the mojo (mobile journalist) & moblogger are evolving rapidly. From wireless broadband, video & camera enabled smartphones & wireless keyboards for mobiles, for mojo’s on the move, to compact video cameras as seen in the U.S. elections. The internet demands journos multi-task. This is needed for fast uploading of stories – variety & convenience rules.

Cover It Live video blog is used by leading news agencies & has upload capability from your mobile for faster visual story-telling.

CoverItLive vlog website


Unless it is getting read – what’s the use? How do you tell? Technorati, in particular, ranks sites, with the more you are linked to other sites, the higher ranking your site achieves. You can also see ranking by fan base numbers:

Technorati authority ranking example


or comments numbers:

Technorati ranking by fan numbers

You can also try joining a newsgroup as a community columnist, such as on Newsvine, which also pays the columnist 90% of the advertising revenue generated from your column to you!

Still, unless your writing is credible – forget it. Australian sites ending in, & contain more credible information & contacts. Check domain names at Whois. The longer they have been around, the more likely they are to be credible.

Write On!

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Oh My Word! Media Dreams in Korea.

Written on November 14, 2008 – 12:45 am | by ozjourno

Oh Yeon-ho

Every so often a dreamer is born. They don’t listen to their critics. Single-minded, they will just go out there and follow their dream. After all, aren’t dreams just goals with a face?

In this case, the visionary is Oh Yeon-Ho, CEO of Oh My News, the first Citizen Journalism website.

Armed with an ambitious set of ideals, including gender equality, no age discrimination & power being with the people, Oh Yeon-ho gave new meaning to giving ordinary citizens a ‘voice’ and backed it up with support to ordinary netizens.

Traditional media started to follow his lead by encouraging discussion, especially when papers went online. It became interactive; the public can comment on the story on the website therefore becoming part of the evolving story.

If the writer made front page of OhMyNews, they were paid a small amount & would gain instant credibility through being a featured writer. Money is not driving the contributors to write, it’s more than than that – it’s reputation & recognition. Job satisfaction.

However, “citizen journalism” is not without its potential problems. Maintaining trust, integrity & accuracy is one issue as shown by Jeff Howe when Apple stocks went down after a citizen journalism report on CNN

OhMyNews started a Citizen Journalism revolution.

Also the OhMyNews team are forward thinkers. Having restrictions on cross-media ownership in Korea, OhMyNews are pushing live webcasting with uninterrupted content, podcasts & a weekly newspaper. This gives the potential of a a 3 tier approach to media, whilst still using only one platform – the internet.

These timely changes will set OhMyNews up nicely, especially if the Korean Communications Commission comes good with its plans of deregulation of media ownership, so determined are they to become a global media powerhouse.

Cartoon by Nicholson from


Maybe this is something Australian officials could take note of?

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The Concept of FREE – but is it really?

Written on November 12, 2008 – 9:53 pm | by ozjourno

When King Gillette first started flogging disposable razor blades in the early 20th Century, giving away razors as freebies to generate blade sales, I bet he didn’t realise the marketing phenomenon that still exists over 100 years

by King Gillette

The Freebie. These days free takes many forms. Free to download, free to join and even free online storeage.

However, how much of it is really free? Much of the “free” is supported by advertising content. Do a Google search and you have click-based advertising, with some of these affiliate driven advertisements, third parties trying to make a dollar off the internet.

Communication has changed with the new generation, with as few words as possible being written and even those are shortened into SMS or Text Speak. A new language has mutated, developing new products to support the novelty, leaving some of us a little bewildered as we try to learn what our kids are saying! It’s not all that gr8.

This new communication feeds the technology addictions that many are falling prey to.

With the many changes taking place in media, will the media business model be able to evolve and mutate? The public radio model has started to use the internet more enthusiastically, adding value with podcasts, whilst still following the business model’s sponsorship and membership criteria.

The notion of FREE has never been more misleading & manipulative. Facebook, a free social network, even involves viewers with what advertising will appear on the advertising side-bar, with a ‘thumbs up or down’ voting system that even asks for a reason!

So next time you think you are avoiding advertising content – look again, it sneaks up on you. Possibly the newest form of subliminal advertising?

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Publish, Perish or Podcast?

Written on August 11, 2008 – 2:01 am | by ozjourno
At a party the other night for XYZ Studios, I was surrounded by media professionals. All had the same opinion on blogs - they are essential web content. So, what are blogs?
Blogs are about content. Lots of it. They have graduated from being online, personal journals to being newsworthy & content rich. Remember those first images of the London bombings? What about the Boxing Day Tsunami or 2004?

User Generated Content (UGC), on these 2 occasions, changed the news cycle forever. Journalism came into the realm of the reader. It became interactive. No longer did the public just read the news, they made it.

The public took to Citizen Journalism like my kids do with a packet of Tim Tams. Not satisfied with just covering it, they experience it & often get right in the thick of it.

So, how reliable is the information? Do they do this for sensational reasons? Who will be responsible if legal issues arise? If so, will it turn into a David versus Goliath scenario?

Citizens have a DIY mentality. Podcasts have set up people as newsreaders, and Vlogs and Moblogs as news gatherers. These all have a viral capability. if one person gets caught up in the vision, they then pass it on to friends. Just how viral it is determines its success.

Without extremely current news, media groups will not survive. UGC supports on-the-spot reporting. In this era, news groups need citizen reporters.

One thing is for sure, the UGC phenomenon is really only just beginning … and its catching!






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