POL224 – Are Youth Disengaged with Politics?


These journals will examine the representation of youth’s relationship with politics in the media. I will be questioning whether today’s youth are disengaged or engaged with modern politics. Youth are those from eighteen to twenty five years old. I will explore this age group’s view on politics in a national and global context. “The media” will be based on a collection of journals from news articles, blogs, radio and online video.

Print Media

Views presented in certain print media of youth’s relationship with politics suggest they are disengaged. Three articles from The Sydney Morning Herald each suggest similar messages on youth disengagement with no solution to the problem. Take for instance an article by senior writer John Watson. Watson implies that youth being disengaged with politics is a detrimental issue. He argues ignoring the youth vote ‘…threatens political parties and news media that ignores its implications’ (Watson 2013). He blames youth’s lack of engagement to the politicians themselves as they are using youth’s platform of choice – social media as simply an extra advertising tool rather than an engagement tool. Another article by Daniel Stacey, a columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald’s Lifestyle section Daily Life presents a slightly controversial piece on youth disengagement with politics. Stacey bluntly states people should not be surprised youth are not interested in politics (Stacey 2013). He believes labour and liberal have barely offered up anything for youth to be excited about. Unfortunately the article does not work with youth, but rather against it. The comments on the article are from an older generation. These comments are extremely critical of both youth and the article. They suggest younger generations to be wingers and lazy in regards to politics. This sort of attitude will simply push youth further away from politics. Clay Lucas (2013) a workplace editor for The Age gives a more balanced approach by researching and including youth’s genuine opinions. He goes beyond youth only caring about the topical issues of marriage equality and climate change to more basic needs of jobs, housing and university funds. He includes the excerpts of an interview of a young man from Armidale. Not yet at university, the student finds current politics to be patronising to youth and finds it offensive how youth are defined as ‘superficial’ (Lucas 2013). Unfortunately I do not believe any of these articles help the issue of youth disengagement with politics. Instead they grow a moral panic and attract anger from certain audiences. These messages will only further intimidate youth. The view that youth are disengaged with politics is represented in print media, in contrast blogs show youth are engaged with politics.


Blogs present a view of politics that suggests youth are highly engaged with politics. These blog entries are written from the perspective of students and therefore the youth themselves. Cyndall McInerney a law and advertising student wrote her blog in response to Daniel Stacey’s article. Finding this article too hard-hitting, McInerney used the blog platform to comment further on these issues, and make a case of her own. McInerney is an example of a highly engaged youth, this is evident in her taking part in discussions of politics with family and friends, reading articles, listening to interviews and watching debates on television. Rather than disengaged she describes she is ‘disheartened’ by politics. McInerney believes for herself and other youth there is no one party that resonates with what they believe in (Mcinerney 2013). Youth are left with no direction and rather than asking who to vote for, they now ask if anyone will actually care if they vote. This anti-party politics continues into the blog post by Eamon Waterford from Youth Action, an organisation representing youth. Waterford believes youth care a lot about politics, but not necessary the political parties. He backs this up with idea that youth are turning to organisations that align with their beliefs instead. For instance the Australian Youth Climate Coalition has 70, 000 members whereas the Greens have only 9 500. Waterford believes this is a not a bad thing, it is only concerning if youth do in fact stop voting (Waterford 2013). Another blog entry by Courtney Biggs suggests when youth talk about politics, politicians are often referred to as a “joke” and over hyped (Biggs 2013). Biggs puts this brilliantly in the line “…footage of Rudd and Abbott being treated liked rockstars at high schools is shared widely, what is not, is the fact that a large number of those screaming children student can’t name their local MP” (Biggs 2013). This is a crucial point, and communicates we should be teaching all generations on the importance of knowing your local government. University student Billy Pitt started up his own political blog during the 2013 election. Despite attending University in Sydney, he took great interest in his local town’s electorate in the rural area of the Manning Valley. Pitt used social media to post carefully worded letters on important issues such as refugees to a number of his local candidates. Each received replies and he went on to share this and communicate these replies to friends via social media platform Facebook. This sort of youth blogging gives clear evidence that youth are engaged with politics, but they need to be supported further. Youth blogging started in a global context and is a key example of youth’s growing engagement with politics.

Online Audio and Video Content

In online audio and visual content it is clear that youth’s relationship with politics is one that is highly engaged. Bloggers are on the rise internationally. Social media is being harnessed as an important political tool in historical events such as the Arab Spring. A YouTube video by the UN, brings to light four key voices of these youth bloggers]. One of the bloggers believes social media is a new means of engagement for youth and politics, as it acts as an alternative public sphere, where they can express themselves freely. Another blogger is determined that they are bringing a revolution driven by youth.  In Ted X video Student Anjali spoke youth and politics. Anjali believes youth are transforming global politics. She powerfully states that “…this generation that’s known by many as indulgent and entitled, actually does have some pockets of passion and determination” (Anjali 2012). It is clear youth are passionate and care about issues within the Australian context to. In a segment on ABC radio, a reporter took to the streets of Melbourne’s West and actually asked youth what they wanted. Each and everyone of them had an opinion on topics such as education, refugees, elderly care, marriage equality and more.


In conclusion different media offers different opinions on youth’s relationship with politics. Print media strongly focuses on youth’s disengagement with politics. Whereas online media, shows that youth are engaging in different ways.

Reference List 

Biggs, C 2013 ‘‘Joke’ and ‘screwed’ young people on the election’, Crikey, Weblog, September 6th 2013, accessed 20th October, <  “http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/09/06/joke-and-screwed-young-people-on-the-election/?wpmp_switcher=mobile&wpmp_tp=0&#8221; http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/09/06/joke-and-screwed-young-people-on-the-election/?wpmp_switcher=mobile&wpmp_tp=0&gt;

Lucas, C 2013 ‘You are not listening, say young voters’, The Sydney Morning Herald, August 7, accessed 7th August 2013,  “http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/you-are-not-listening-say-young-voters-20130806-2rdi7.html&#8221; http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/you-are-not-listening-say-young-voters-20130806-2rdi7.html

Mcinerney, C 2013 ‘Generation Y: Hopeless and voteless?’ BULLSHIT, August 30, Weblog. Accessed 23rd October,   “http://totalbullshitblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/generation-y-hopeless-and-voteless/&#8221; http://totalbullshitblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/generation-y-hopeless-and-voteless/

Pitt, W 2013 ‘Public response to Multiculturalism and One Nation, WILLIAMJPITT, blog post, 21st October, viewed 21st October 2012   “http://www.williamjpitt.com/2013/08/21/public-response-to-multiculturalism-and-one-nation/&#8221; http://www.williamjpitt.com/2013/08/21/public-response-to-multiculturalism-and-one-nation/

Stacey, D 2013 ‘There’s nothing in this election for young people’, The Sydney Morning Herald, August 26 2013, accessed 26th August, <   “http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/theres-nothing-in-this-election-for-young-people-20130826-2slnj.html&#8221; http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/theres-nothing-in-this-election-for-young-people-20130826-2slnj.html&gt;

TEDxTalks 2012 ‘”Radical” Youth and Global Politics: Anjali Appadurai at TEDxDirigo, Nov 23 2012, viewed October 20th 2013,   “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V1VwcDJpUU&#8221; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V1VwcDJpUU

UN HUMANRIGHTS 2012, Youth bloggers – the Arab Spring, online video, Nov 2013, viewed 20th October 2013, <   “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElpGfC5Vo_0&#8221; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElpGfC5Vo_0&gt;

Waterford, E 2013 ‘Young people are politically minded, just not with the parties’, Crikey, August 9th 2013, accessed 23rd October,   “http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/08/09/young-people-are-politically-minded-just-not-with-the-parties/?wpmp_switcher=mobile&#8221; http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/08/09/young-people-are-politically-minded-just-not-with-the-parties/?wpmp_switcher=mobile

Watson, J 2013 ‘Gen Why? Don’t write off missing the youth vote’, The Sydney Morning Herald, October 11th, accessed 11th October, <  “http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/gen-why-dont-write-off-missing-youth-vote-20131010-2vb7m.html&#8221; http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/gen-why-dont-write-off-missing-youth-vote-20131010-2vb7m.html&gt;


POL224 – Has politics simply become an exercise in public relations?

Politics has become an exercise in public relations. Public relations is defined as strategically planned communications designed to exert influence over the opinions of a target audience (Macnamara 2012:159). To understand politics’ relationship with public relations (PR) it is necessary to understand their history together. Political PR originated in 1930s America where a new type of politically orientated publicists and press agents emerged (Louw 2011: 145). These political press agents used a range of PR techniques such as image management, spin and celebrity endorsement. Image management involves the manufacture of identity of politicians, spin is the use of media to control public perception on issues, and celebrity endorsement acts as a form of distraction. This essay will explain the early history of each of these techniques compared to their use today. The techniques will be further explained through media examples from Australian politics. These examples will focus on former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott to prove politics has become an exercise in public relations for both major parties in Australia.

Politics is now an exercise in public relations due to pressure on politicians to form and maintain a desired ‘image’ for the public. ‘Image’ driven politics began in 1950s America due to the introduction of televised politics. Televisual politics was advantageous to some and a huge disadvantage to others. An example of this is shown in Democrat Adlair Stevenson’s defeat to Eisenhower in 1952. Eisenhower was physically ‘made over’ by his media consultants. This ‘make over’ could be clearly shown on television and is believed to be the reason for his victory (Louw 2005:145). Paula Mattewson, a former advisor to past Prime Minister John Howard suggests “…the focus on identity and personality, imported from the United States, is now central to Australian politics.” (Peatling 2013). Matthewson explains ‘image’ now extends beyond the physical appearance of the politician and focuses on identity given by their personal character. Recently, the desired image of a politician is one that is ‘cool’. To describe this particular image, John Street a politics professor at University of East Anglia, coined the term ‘cool politics’. ‘Cool politics’ involves using “…popular commercialized entertainment and stylish aesthetic appeals… to brand the respective candidates as youthful…” and “…hip…” (Penney 2011:84). Joel Penney, a communications professor from Mont Clair State University, studied the phenomena of “cool politics” in an Australian context in his paper ‘KEVIN07: Cool Politics, Consumer Citizenship, and the Spectator of “Americanization” in Australia’. The paper explores the youth orientated appeal of campaign t-shirts in the 2007 campaign of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (2011: 93). These t-shirts created the image of Kevin Rudd as a branded product that was ‘sold’ to audiences (Newman 1994 as cited by Louw 2011: 166). If a politician’s brand is ‘unsellable’, their public relations team must manufacture one that is. Damian Odgen, a political campaigner for United States President Obama, stresses the need for authenticity in creating a politician as ‘sellable’ (Peatling 2013). Odgen explains “You can have the best policy in the world but if people don’t trust you they won’t listen.” (2013). Politicians are typically deemed as un-trustworthy. Tony Abbott, Australia’s current Prime Minister’s leadership has been described, as un trustworthy, along with ‘rash’ and ‘impulsive’. In the latest election, Abbott’s PR team clearly aimed to re-design his image as a ‘calm’ and ‘methodical’ leader (Kenney 2013). To sell an ‘image’ of an improved and trustworthy leader, Abbott’s team used the pubic relations techniques of rhetoric and maintaining media relations. Rhetoric is the art of persuasion through speech, using logic and emotional appeals (Macnamara 2011:27). Rhetoric was achieved through making a pledge at a coalition launch party to offer a “no surprises, no excuses government” (Osbourne 2013). This pledge was featured at length in headlines, suggesting Abbott’s press team have maintained good media relations. To further create the image of politicians, public relations specialists use the media technique of ‘spin’.  

The public relations technique of ‘spin’ plays a major component in political reportage. Spin-doctors control politicians and journalists, indicating that politics has become an exercise in public relations. The evolution of spin-doctors began in 1960s America after President Nixon was poorly televised, resulting in a loss. From this experience Nixon learnt the importance of PR and the media. Once president in 1968 he adopted spin-doctors as a way to steer public opinion. By the 1990s spin had become a major industry in the U.S. (Louw 2005: 45). Today spin comes under major criticism due to its focus on hype through sensationalism and the misrepresentation and fabrication of stories (Macnamara 2011: 424). In political reportage the story’s are often ‘spun’ by ‘spin doctors’ trying to shift the audience ‘…as close to one’s own perspective as possible.’ (2005:167). Stories can be planted to generate a desired response from audiences. Peta Credlin, an advisor to Tony Abbott publicly spoke about her IVF struggles in a Marie Claire interview. In the interview, Credlin painted her boss as highly supportive and compassionate towards her in this difficult time. The story was picked up in major newspapers questioning the intentions of the article so close to an election. Columnist Louise Adler believed it was not a calculated attempt to ‘humanise Abbott’, but a genuine confession from Credlin (Adler 2013). Former advisor to John Howard, Paula Mathewson disagreed, noting it was very much a plotted story. Matthewson commented dryly on the issue “We run presidential campaigns now and apparently we vote for staff too.” (Peatling 2013). Spin does not only come from journalists reporting the issues. Spin can also be generated from politicians ‘selling’ policies (Louw 2011:163). In ‘selling’ policies, spin is able to exaggerate the benefits and distract from the negatives (2011:167). Paul Sheehan a political columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald reported Kevin Rudd has entered into ‘a endless spin cycle’ on manipulation of the employment rate. This manipulation involves miscommunication of official statistics. Rudd and the Labor government have communicated the employment figure as 5.7%. Andrew Baker of the Centre of Independent Studies has found this figure does not include those listed as ‘non-job-seekers’. Baker found the actual figure to be 6.2%. Also left out of the conversation is that the figure has grown by 10% from 2012. Sheehan believes this alarmingly growing rate has been deliberately ignored, to take unemployment out of the agenda (Sheehan 2013). Agenda setting is a fundamental part in spin and political public relations. It is commonly used as a way to control public perception on what is important (Louw 2011:167). Within agenda setting people are encouraged to ‘forget’ certain issues. To achieve this, the tool of distraction is often employed. In political public relations celebrity endorsement is used as a common way to distract audiences.

Celebrity endorsement has blurred the lines between celebrities and politics. Without this clear distinction politics has moreover become an exercise in public relations. Celebrity endorsement in politics became a trend in the late 20th century. There are three forms to this trend; spin-doctors pushing politicians to openly associate with celebrities, stars such as actor Arnold Schwarzenegger becoming politicians, and politicians like Ronald Regan becoming scripted performers (Louw 2005: 173). Boorstin argues this blurring between celebrity and politicians is simply a result of image management (2005:26). Goffman agrees, that in order for a politician to be accepted they must adopt a certain ‘mask’ (Goffman 1971 as cited by Louw 2005:27). PR communication professionals make the decisions on what sort of ‘mask’ a politician should adopt. They ‘invent’ and ‘script’ politicians into existence as a type of manufactured celebrity (2005:28). In the 2013 election Kevin Rudd had the challenge to maintain and build his previously established “cool” mask. To achieve this, Rudd’s media team employed three veterans of President Obama’s campaign team that specialise in social media (O’Malley & Johnson 2013). Rudd has often been remarked as up to date with social media and this year started using photo sharing application Instagram. Rudd uploaded a ‘selfie’ of himself with a cut from shaving on to instagram. The unexpectedness of the photo circulated widely across traditional and new media platforms. The photo’s intention was applauded by some, but questioned and criticised by others. Journalist Mike Steketee concluded that Rudd must stop aiming to be the ‘Kim Kardashian’ of politics and focus on policy solutions rather than celebrity appeal. Steketee stated figures from the Australian Election Survey in his article discussing Rudd’s social media activities. On a scale from 0 to 10, leaders are rated on their favourability. After the 2007 election Rudd received 6.3 the highest number ever recorded for an Australia politician. In 2010 Tony Abbott received a score of 4.3, the lowest score for a major party leader besides Paul Keating. Sketetee acknowledges Rudd’s poll was taken at his peak popularity while Abbott’s was taken just after losing the prime ministership. Sketetee contests that despite the polls timing, not much has changed in contemporary polls. Public relations monitoring polls such as these are an essential way in determining how to best approach ‘selling’ a politician. In Abbott’s case, his poor likability indicated he could not easily market himself as a celebrity. However Abbott had ‘two weapons of mass distraction’ – his daughters. Frances and Bridget Abbott have been described as ‘articulate, photogenic and intelligent’. They became celebrities in their own right by featuring in a spread in fashion magazine Harpers Bazaar. The spread featured the girls modelling high fashion clothing forming them into fashion icons. The interview was light hearted, in attempt to ‘soften’ their fathers ‘image’ (Hornery 2013). To further change his ‘image’ Abbott appeared on Sydney’s 2Day FM popular radio segment with Jackie O and Kyle. Abbott was set up to talk to popular songstress Katy Perry. Abbott did not speak about politics, but rather asked Perry when she was coming to Australia and gushed about his daughter’s and his own love for the pop star. When politicians tell us their favourite items of popular culture this is a deliberate exercise, done to enhance their chosen image. This is known as ‘Candidate positioning’ where politicians are told to mobilise the icons and symbols of popular culture (Louw 2011: 177).  

In conclusion politics has simply become an exercise in public relations. As shown by my examples politics today has a great focus on strategic communication. This strategically planned communication involves harnessing a range of public relations techniques. In the techniques of image emphasis, politicians are now crafted to fit in what the public what to see and will best identify with. Spin involves strong media relations where stories are able to be planted and issues can be framed in a particular way. Celebrity endorsement is a way to distract from important issues through mere association.  These techniques all take direct attempt to influence public opinion and preference within politics. The examples taken from both Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott in their electoral campaigns indicate of the major parties in Australia find it necessary to engage strongly in public relations proving that politics is now an exercise in public relations.

Reference List

Adler, L 2013 ‘Enough is Enough: It’s time to leapfrog from the personal to the policies’, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 8, accessed 16/9/13



Horney, A 2013 ‘Daddy’s girls’, The Sydney Morning Herald, August 3, accessed 18/9/2013



Kenny, M 2013, ‘Abbott is a new man, but the left can’t see it’, The Sydney Morning Herald, September 12, accessed 16/9/2013



Louw, P W 2005, ‘The Media and Politic Process’, Sage, London.


Macnamara, J 2011 ‘Public Relations –Theories, Practices, Critiques’, Pearson, Australia.


O’Mally, N and Johnson, C 2013 ‘How Barack Obama is changing the face of Australian political campaigns’, The Sydney Morning Herald, August 4, accessed 16/9/2013



Osborne, P 2013 “‘No Surprise’ from coalition, says Abbott”, The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 August, accessed 18/9/2013



Peatling, S 2013 ‘Image is everything for leaders’, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 12, accessed 16/9/13



Penney, J 2011, ‘KEVIN07: Cool Politics, Consumer Citizenship, and the Spectator of “Americanization” in Australia’, Communication, Culture and Critique, vol.4 iss.1, pp.78-96, accessed 18/9/2013, Summon


Steketee, M 2013 ‘Rudd must give policy solutions not just celebrity appeal’, The ABC Website, 11 July, accessed 18/9/2013




Sheehan, P 2013 ‘Smile, you’re on candidate camera’, The Age, 26 August, accessed 18/9/2013


POL224 – Were the mass media too critical of Julia Gillard as Prime Minister?

Let me paint you a picture. A woman dressed in a suit, a symbol of power. Red hair frames a face holding a warm smile. She is surrounded by a blaze of havoc, but remains calm as if she could negotiate and sort out any of these problems. This is not the only painting of this woman… there are many more. These are less flattering pieces. These paintings display her wearing ill-fitted jackets while drawing attention to her less desirable features. These paintings offer the same background of havoc, but she appears smaller and less in control. Her smile remains, though this time it appears icy and fake. Is this even the same woman?

Yes, it is.

This woman is Julia Gillard and above is a representation of the way the mass media has the ability to make certain impressions of public identities more prevalent across audiences. As hinted by my analogy I feel the mass media were far too critical in their representation and treatment of Julia Gillard during her time as Prime Minister. To properly explore this statement we must ask how they have done this in relation to her personal life and achievements and why they have done this in relation to gender and sensationalism in media.

As our first female Prime Minster, you would think what an achievement!  She’s our “first”! Our Obama! Though the mass media saw things differently, framing gender as an immediate flaw to Gillard’s leadership rather than an opportunity for this country to grow. This gender bias resulted in Gillard being scrutinized for her looks and fashion choices, with them often being remarked as masculine. Insultingly the prying into her personal life continued where it was often pointed out that she was childless with her husband’s sexuality later being questioned. A majority of these calls game from the opposition, with many of the harshest insults coming from those either inside or heavily aligned with the Liberal Party. One such example is the disrespectful treatment of Gillard’s Father’s death by Radio Shock Jockey Alan Jones. Due to the scandalous nature of these incidences the media would report it extensively. This only further drew out Gillard’s pain and embarrassment, sadly creating more attention for Broadcaster’s like Jones.

Away from the flaws in her personal life news reportage of Gillard focused frequently on her flaws in leadership rather than her achievements. Her achievements in office included disability care, the Gonski review and her work towards affordable childcare. All important and essential reforms, yet her dealings with more topical issues like the highly sensationalised carbon tax, were drilled time and time again with her labelled as a liar. Even Kevin Rudd as her successor failed to acknowledge Gillard’s achievements in his speech and focused only on her work as Deputy Prime Minister during his term. This insulting final blow to her time as Prime Minister of Australia should have been a major topic in the mass media.

Not often noted through all of this, was Gillard took this mistreatment in her stride. Often continuing on with the job despite the sensationalistic headlines that followed her. Not all representations of Gillard given were harsh with female journalists Hooper, Bastow and Summers creating a flattering yet fair image of our past leader. Unfortunately these types of opinion pieces are too often labelled as playing ‘the gender card’ and are not as popular amongst the mass media.

In conclusion it appears the paint dries quicker on the harsher images of Julia Gillard; we must hope that the flattering pieces will one day dry and be put on display to.


Bastow, C 2013 ‘Will it be easier for the next woman?’ The Sydney Morning Herald, June 27, viewed 9th August 2013



Cox, E 2013 ‘Why Julia Should Stay?’ The Sydney Morning Herald, February 2013, viewed 9th August 2013

< http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/why-julia-gillard-should-stay-20130220-2eqvz.html>


Hooper, C 2013 ‘On the Road with Julia Gillard’, The Monthly: Australia Politics, Society & Culture, no.92, viewed 7th August 2013 

< http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2013/august/1375315200/chloe-hooper/road-julia-gillard> 


Pobjie, B 2011 ‘Julia Gillard: Why She’s So Easy to Hate’, Kill Your Darlings: New Fiction, Essays, Commentary and Reviews, no.7, viewed 9th August 2013



Summers, A 2013 ‘Bully Boys Win Gillard Stoush but We All Lose’, The Sydney Morning Herald, June 27, viewed 9th August 2013

< http://www.smh.com.au/comment/bully-boys-win-gillard-stoush-but-we-all-lose-20130627-2oysw.html>


Summers, A 2013 ‘Gillard is right to play the gender card’, The Sydney Morning Herald, June 15, viewed 9th August 2013


JOUR206: Transcript from Interview with Dr. Leslie Cannold

Below is a rough transcript taken from a phone interview undertaken with Dr. Leslie Cannold. As found here. 

For further information on our research within this topic, see our storify.

Transcript of Leslie Interview

0:00 LESLIE …If governments who understand that philosophy and are concerned about it, who believe it is the correct analysis and are concerned about us (regarding whistleblowers) and don’t want it to happen, and I think arguably that is what is going on at the moment, you’ve got a whole range of people who traditionally have been in command and control of what we know and if we know it and if we ever know it.

0:30 They are quite concerned that the Wiki leaks philosophy is correct, what they can do is they can say to insiders who are thinking about leaking, because they think they will get that form of anonymity, think again, and what they are doing to Julian arguably is to say this is what we’re going to do to you when we find out, and what they did to Bradley Manning is arguably what they were trying to do, and that is certainly what Julian’s view of that would have been. That they were going after Manning and the kind of vicious way they went after him,

1:00 and if you apparently look at the transcripts of the Manning trial which I have not, but I have heard reporting on them that Wiki leaks was mentioned many, many times, and certainly people know there is a grand jury out against Julian, that the intent of the US government was to say anybody who is thinking of leaking information because they are an insider, because they think they won’t get caught, they were trying to say no you will be caught and this is what we’re going to do to you.

1:34 JAMES Do you believe there should be some sort of legislation to outline the rights of a whistleblower or to protect a whistleblower.

1:44 LESLIE Absolutely, and we do have some, and there certainly have been some recent legislative changes that have made the situation slightly better, but there still needs to be some very important extensions. However people like Nick Mackenzie and Richard Baker have really come under fire, they’ve certainly been defended, they’ve got lawyers, however our defences and our legal protections for private whistleblowers so insiders who might leak, and for journalists who can be the conduit for those leaks or organisations for Wikileaks.org which might be the conduit. I think there are certainly not adequate protections, and the reason is that the case is arguably that the public still isn’t across enough with the importance of what these people are doing and the importance of public disclosures and the transparent running of democracy, the connection between transparency and democracy as well as integrity, in corporate dealings and in government and that is a huge issue and something I think is needs to be taught much more in terms of how our students grow up understanding things particularly privacy and its importance that something that needs to be taught to the current generation because they tend to, they can see the concerns the adults have in privacy and that they are paranoid. You see this for instance the way they put information through facebook and other sources of social media. When creating a new personal account you need to think about how long that might be around and who might actually look at it other than the people you are intending it for and I have kids who ar e young people in my house who are 17/19 and it is only the 19 year old who is going ‘hmm.. maybe I should have been a bit more careful about what I put on facebook’ but up to now when I suggested that maybe they should think a little more carefully and he’s like ‘who cares?’ because what is often felt is that it’s hard to heard and what is going in social media is a lot of people talking including them and very few people listening so the idea that somebody could be listening is so much so that many years after they’ve said things that could come back to bite them because they have become important enough for someone to care about what they say that seems very far fetched.

5:07 JAMES Particularly as you don’t think about the consequences until you’ve seen them.

5:12 LESLIE And you tend to think you’re not important enough to ever have those consequences because you’re generally experienced with doing a lot of talking and nobody listening.

5:21 JAMES On the note of consequences, one of the major accusations against the whistle blowing is that 2000 informants have been compromised due of the leaks (warzones Iraq and Afghanistan). What are your thoughts on the accusations?

6:15 LESLIE I haven’t seen any evidence to date of that so I think there are two arguments to be had here, one is the kind of empirical argument which is where there is a claim that… often the kind of argument made against transparency is the argument made around national security so we need to be so needs to be evident surveillance is invading your privacy. Also at the cost these leaks are compromising national security. There’s two ways you can look at that argument, one way you can look at it is to say ‘Okay, show me who is being put at risk’ while that is a valid argument you can’t substantiate it without giving evidence. You were saying one of the claims made is that this number of people have been in fact harmed and then I guess you have to look at the evidence of that and look at how serious or otherwise the harms were and then you have to try and weigh it up against the benefits that have come from the leaks and then you have try do a balancing act to say in this particular instance probably it was worth the harm that was done, that’s how you can proceed retrospectively to analyse whether in any particular instance the leak was or wasn’t beneficial, you use that kind of balancing act and well, sometimes people will disagree or agree, some people will say it wasn’t worth it. I think those are really interesting arguments to have and I believe the claims that can be made that national security or harms isn’t really the reason why competitions don’t really want to see the information put into the public domain or leaked, is often not really the reason for their concern. So for instance this is one way you can really cash out that claim that what they’re concerned about is people being harmed and in fact there is very little evidence that any one every really does get harmed. In fact what they’re really worried about is being embarrassed or losing power because information is power. So when things are revealed you can lose your power and control over them because now everybody knows that you don’t have them (secrets). Certain things you are trying to keep secret not because you are trying to protect people but you are trying to keep secrets because you are trying to hurt them. So you know there are all sorts of reasons why these things remain secret. And I think it would be silly to suggest that transparency in every instance empirically cashes out to benefit.

9:46 JAMES On the notion of power what did the party hoped to achieve if you or one of the other member was elected to the senate?

9:56 LESLIE The aspiration was or at least what was conveyed to something that could have worked is that if people who had of view about the importance of transparency or the issue were put in an insider position to try to fight the fight, to get for instance whistle blowing protection and protection for journalists from the inside. Certainly in terms of trying to achieve changed you’ll need wind from the outside, you’ll need activism sort of thing. And that is what I was saying before, you’ll need the community aware enough of the issue that they are agitated from the outside. What they are trying to do is agitate them so they can actually influence the people on the inside who have the power to change things. Some of the things that need changing are legislative change so you need people on the inside who will be receptive to community agitation from the outside. So if you look at somebody like Scott Rudlum who arguably has been active in the Senate in exactly the sort of way that Wikileaks would have hoped. Rudlum has been one of the few people who certainly has been creating awareness about what’s happening to Julian and why he thinks that sort of thing is happening but also he is agitating in the Senate around the kind of issue that a Wikileaks kind of person would have been concerned about, he was trying to get whistle blower protection, he was trying to raise awareness about the cost of the range of surveillance that has been going on by the Australian government.

12:00 JAMES With the movie ‘The Fifth Estate’ coming out, after reading letters from Julian to Benedict with his thoughts on the movie it seems like it’s certainly going to give a negative portrayal of both Julian and the party. Do you believe that is going to really hamper the efforts of the party in general?

12:43 LESLIE Look, I think there’s something going on here that is a confusion between Wikileaks.org and the Wikileaks party and the are in fact two completely different organisations. The Wikileaks party was something I was involved in here in Australia and that had a very specific agenda trying to get people elected to the Australia parliament to actually do some of the things we were talking about like Scott Rudlum and the Greens. Wikileaks.org is completely different organisation, there were connections between the two because the founder of Wikileaks.org was Julian and Julian was also the first Senate candidate in Victoria for the Wikileaks party, but they were in fact separate organisations and they remain separate organisations so while the Wikileaks party may not survive Wikileaks.org is still running. I think a lot of the questions you’re asking are about Wikileaks.org and what the founder of Wikileaks.org and the CEO arguably has to say. So because I have resigned from the party I’m not even connected to the party anymore, I was never a part of wikileaks.org.

14:01 JAMES I still believe to the public that the distinction between the party and the actual organisation.

14:16 LESLIE I think the intent was originally to draw that connection by naming the party the Wikileaks party

14:24 LAURA Do you think the association between the two hindered or helped the party’s progress?

14:42 LESLIE I think as it turns out, it’s my personal view that it would be a problem because I think the face of the party is now forever bound with wikileaks.org and I think there are some significant concerns about their fates and futures, successes will ride together. I think that is probably unfortunate but I think that is probably the fact. So going back to the question about the movie isn’t about the party as far as I’m aware of, I don’t really know a lot about ‘The Fifth Estate’. I did see the one that’s already out… [waffle] as an artist myself writing books and I’m in the middle of writing a screenplay, I certainly have sympathies for both the real life fictionalisations because the real life person wants their story to be told in a particular way and for obvious reason they are sensitive about that, and I think that’s completely understandable but at the same time when they’re utilising the real life person has to be sensitive to them and has to be sensitive to the fact of a real life event but they also have to be ultimately, I think people disagree about this. [waffle]

17:39 LESLIE The argument I have on fictionalising real life events what are their responsibilities to accuracy, but my view would be, as a creator… is that ultimately it’s your responsibility as a creator to the story that you have to make the story a success as a creative piece and therefore sometimes you have to supplicate the accuracy of the real life event that you are fictionalising to the creative news, to the demand of creativity and the demand of making a film that works, writing a book that works. That would be my particular point of view but I don’t know if some of the issues that have arisen around this upcoming movie or around tensions that have come out of that argument but if they are that would be my view.

18:43 LAURA What we’re looking at in regards to ‘The Fifth Estate’ despite them not being associated, we thought with mainstream media sometimes whistle blowers like Assagne are really demonised and we’re wondering do you think there is ever going to be a day where whistle blowers will be celebrated in the mainstream media and why do you think they’re not?

19:14 LESLIE Well without me seeing the actual particular film I can’t even comment as to whether or not the sensitivities that Julian has expressed around it really are true, and he would be the worst person (to ask), one argument you could make is that the person who is being fictionalised is probably the worst person to judge of whether or not it is a good piece of fiction or a good piece of art or a good piece of creative product, even if it is a doco (documentary) [waffle]

20:04 LESLIE I think in general they are not a well understood, the whole phenomenon of whistle blowing is not understood and therefore it arguably is not going to be very well portrayed by creators, but for instance… Julian had very serious and significant problems with other documentaries… I don’t have the same degree of concerns that he did. I could see what his concerns were, I read his concerns, through each one of them and I had already seen the film on some of them I thought was probably fair enough but certainly the level of indignation and outrage I did not share and I thought it was more balanced than he did, and I think it is probably a really hard call to ask the person who is the subject of the doco to weigh in on how good or poorly they were represented because it’s them and it’s their lives and they’re likely to be sensitive about it being… absolutely a one to one correlation between exactly what happened and how it’s represented, and again if I return to being an artist that is impossible. It is simply not a possibility for there to be a one to one correlation between how it actually went down in their lives and how it is creatively portrayed because the demands of whether it’s a historical novel or documentary or fictionalised account the demands of the form are such that you can’t have complete accuracy with the actual thing. So do I think there will ever be one day a representation of whistle blowers that is more sympathetic to the endeavours of whistle blowers? I think there could be some things that would be a little bit better than the film that we saw, but I don’t think that one was entirely unsympathetic…

22:52 JAMES How do you think it’s going to end for Julian, the Wikileaks organisation and/or party?

23:00 LESLIE So what is going to happen to Julian is a completely separate thing that is going to happen to Wikileaks.org, though I think those two things are tied very intimately and then what’s going to happen to Wikileaks.org and what’s going to happen to Wikileaks party are probably connected. What’s going to happen to Julian, personally I don’t know, I don’t have any inside information but am I concerned about it, I am highly concerned about it. There is a bi-partisan indifference if not a bi-partisan antagonism in the Australian government to what is going to happen to Julian as an Australian citizen and I think that’s reprehensible, and I think anytime, referring to foreign prime minister Malcolm Fraser, his comments not in reference to Julian but in reference to the two Australians caught up in the debacle in Dubai… what Malcolm Fraser said is

The key reason given for governments protecting information is often ‘in the interest of national security’ Is this always the case and if not, what steps need to be taken to change that?

What Malcolm Fraser said is that anytime he Australian government is indifferent to what happens to its citizens is a complete and total betrayal and catastrophic. (Paraphrase) And I would agree with that. And I would encourage that every Australian should be concerned about what’s happening to Julian Assange on that basis alone. And do I think its going to change? No I don’t think its going to change I think it’s a reflection of the Australian governments general attitude towards the United States. That wherever they go, we go too and that the Australian government has the view that that’s necessary because of our vulnerability to international security… I can’t comment on how closely aligned we are to the U.S. in terms of our national security… But I am satisfied that’s a motive and that I would say that as an Australian citizen I feel concerned about it and concerned about in that kind of way in which you think about what’s going to happen to other people, what’s going to happen to me, and when you look at Julian Assange I think the wiki leaks party was certainly aware of this and you know running its campaign around the senate there was an awareness about the concern of Julian’s plight because they thought to themselves if the Australian government can turns its back on this Australian citizen what happens to me if I’m found in this situation and what happens to one of my children if they’re caught in trouble.


25:59 JAMES It is concerning when you look at it in comparison to Julian the lack of support he’s been given in comparison to Schapelle Corby for example where everyone jumped on the bandwagon to support her.


26:13 LESLIE Yes, although I think there is an argument that has been made that Schapelle Corby was in fact abandoned by the Australian government… there was certainly an argument out there and I have not checked its validity or otherwise there’s an argument out there a knowledge in the Australian government that there was tampering and problems that didn’t get pushed in terms of what happened at Sydney airport, as a result of a whistleblower. And I’m gonna forget his name too, but there was a man who blew his whistle that there were already security problems at Sydney airport, that he would be persecuted mercilessly, the law report did a story on him … he was a very well known whistleblower … the argument was that when Schapelle Corby’s case was going down, the Australian government were aware that there were the sort of problems that she claimed, such as things being put in her bag and validated that she had been tampered with. But did that actually happen to Schapelle Corby? I don’t know that report really leaves anything in the wind in regard to did the Australian government know anything about it and were thinking about agitating around her case, but that’s certainly one claim, and I think you’re right that the public were concerned about schappelle corby, biut whether the government was actually doing its bit around Schapelle Corby, and whether it was actually doing its bit about Julian Assange, yes, the government did at least on the surface did make a bigger deal about Schapelle Corby but probably there’s a connection between those two things, and there’s a connection between what the government does, and how much pressure it’s feeling from the outside community. Because the Australian government has a lot of stuff on its plate, and ultimately if its driven to the top of the agenda, is what the community is concerned about f we don’t care, then the Australian government is just going to put stuff on the backburner. I don’t think there has been enough concern expressed, and there is enough knowledge in the community about Julian’s plight and about the more general issue around whistleblowing that persecution represents.

28:49 JAMES Do you think that awareness and knowledge has been suppressed intentionally?

28:58 LESLIE I think like I said, there’s no question that there’s a bipartisan view and a bipartisan antagonism towards Julian because of the American alliance and I know that I would feel pretty confident that that is the view on the surface and I also know that from some background knowledge that there’s just not that level of concern.

29:26 LAURA I have a question in regards to your own personal advocacies its clear that you’ve kept up your principles of democracy, transparency and accountability, and the other day you tweeted, Re tweeted actually, by ABC news intern, the decades conspiracy theorist that the U.S were storing aliens is almost more concerning than the idea that the U.S. is storing us. It was a tweet that was quite celebrated on twitter, in regards to be being quite popular. Do you think that humour is the way to go in communicating whistleblowing to people?

30:10 LESLIE Humour is very effective, in terms of my knowledge of communication and how we need to change people’s hearts and minds we know things that move peoples emotions are the only thing that puts people into action. So if you want to give people information and let them accumulate the facts, you can talk to the head, but if you actually want them to do something, if you want them to change their behaviour, you must connect with peoples hearts. Change just doesn’t happen otherwise, and humour is certainly one way to move people’s hearts, it’s not the only way. Humour and fear are the two primary things that move people. But within the categories of provoking fear, the whole … I think hope and fear are a little bit too narrow in terms of the emotions that move people. I think that category is actually broader, humour is definitely in there as something that changes our emotional state and it changes it in a positive way, and once our emotions are moved we are much more likely to care about things and that’s the key to making us do something. Humour is one way, activating hope is one way, you know raising our concerns to the climate change argument does revolve around activating fear, if you look at election campaigns you’ll see there’s that kind of agitating element to try and activate us to sway us on how we vote and actuating our emotions is imperative to how we act one way or another.

32:00 LAURA Earlier you said that now a lot of whistleblowers will be more cautious in what they give out, but what would you suggest to young journalists that they maintain transparency and accountability in their own work?

32:15 LESLIE Look, I think that the problems facing journalists are a lot more pragmatic than their concerns about not having adequate protections around what they do and you know in terms of the way the government might go after them for behaving in certain ways as journalists, you know investigative journalism essentially and those pragmatic concerns are to do with time, the 24/7 news cycle and all that and certainly what journalists need to do as citizens and what journalistic organisations need to do is that there’s so much going on that is not to do with the institutional organisations doing journalism anymore like the old estate which we are a part of that’s going on … in terms of where there are institutional structures to do that for their advocacy, we certainly need to ensure there are protections for journalists, and like I said Australia does have self protections for their journalists but they’re just not as good as they might be. One way to achieve that is certainly to get people into parliament who are primarily concerned about that, and you know I’ve had a lot of trouble with the Wikileaks party and I’m very concerned about the way it operates, and I cannot advocate for people to vote for it which is why I had to resign. But do we need a wikileaks like party? Yes we absolutely do. We need a party that is advocating around these issues about global surveillance and advocating around certain issues that are trying to undermine that and the ways you try to undermine it is to ensure protections for those that seek to bring things to the light of day so that the public can see and get that transparency.

34:19 LAURA Thankyou and finish.

JOUR206: Emotional History Reflection

Once completing the HSC in 2011, Rachel Braude went straight into a degree at University of Sydney in Vet Science. Two years later she finds she isn’t happy where her life has gone. Rachel talks of the pressures she faced then and now, showing the reach for success and happiness is never an easy one.


In: Clock ticking, Bell Ringing “In 2011 76, 391 students completed…”

Out:  “…pressure to do something meaningful in life. ” Music

Emotion: Fear

Duration: 2:11


In undertaking the emotional history assignment I myself felt my own range of emotions starting with fear, stress and at last happiness! These emotions underplayed the important journalistic lessons I learnt in choosing your story, interviewing and editing. While overall learning how to successfully create an audio piece with impact.

The Fear in Choosing my Story/Interviewee

I chose to explore the emotion of fear. Fear can underpin many of the choices we make in life. One of the biggest choices you will make is what do you want to do when you “grow up”? This adds all sorts of pressure to picking the right university degree and once you choose the pressure builds for you to just “stick with it”. So I had my idea, but would it work and who would I interview?

Rachel Braude and I had known each other since year seven. At the age of fifteen she left our country town of Taree to attend the prestigious Sydney north shore school, Pymble Ladies College. During Uni break I caught up with Rachel and was shocked to hear her utter dread in returning to university to continue her degree in veterinary science. Rachel had presented the emotion I was looking for. Though choosing someone I knew so well I was unsure I could pull the interview off to really demonstrate this fear. I mean what if with me she couldn’t take it seriously, and just laughed?

This was my first major risk and one that could potentially derail my entire assignment.

On the 21st of August I caught the train to Sydney University where we ventured from the lunch hall to the grass, to conduct what I would say was a highly successful interview. As soon as the microphone was switched on, we were transformed from old friends to a journalist and her respondent. Rachel expressed genuine emotion, with answers that came as cross more powerful that was expecting. I felt like the pressure and insecurity she expressed was important for her to talk about, maybe even for the first time. Throughout the interview I stayed as silent as possible. This paid off, as I was able to record excellent “grabs” where fear was communicated subtlety yet effectively.

The Stress of Editing

Editing is CHALLENGING. First you have too much… then you have little.. oh wait too much again! The whole editing process feels like a “tug-a-war”. Everything begins fast as you pick and choose your team (the best parts). This is rapid and you start to feel confident in your team and the progress you’ve made. Then it begins and everything gets much…       much…      slower. Pulling as hard as you can you still are only making tiny changes. The work can be tedious and the words of your story become ingrained in your brain as you trim, trim, ugh I’ve trimmed too much.

The most important lesson I learnt in editing is if you have doubts in aspects of your work listen to them. As soon as I showed Julie Posetti my lecturer my work in class she picked up on all the trims I was worried about straight away. Proving that with out seamless cuts it can really break the flow of an audio piece. This did cause a pitfall in that I had to extend pieces I didn’t really want to as to ensure a better quality cut.

In editing, we were lucky enough to have the support and expertise of Tech Support, a resource I’ll definitely be utilising is the future. The program they taught us – Hindenburg was relatively easy to use, and one I’d like to continue working with in the future.

The Happiness in Learning (…and finishing!)

The happiness in completion really is like winning a tug-o-war. Though the true joy comes in the lessons I have learnt which I know has improved my practise as a journalism student.

Firstly in choosing topics, you don’t always need to go for the obvious. Fear comes in all shapes and sizes and can be expressed just as powerfully from one of Rachel’s frustrated sighs, rather than a piercing scream. If I were to undertake the assignment again I would make sure to have Plan B as there was every chance I wouldn’t receive what I wanted. This pressure definitely added to my stress before interviewing Rachel.

Secondly, let the interviewee talk. It is about them and not you. The more they talk the more comfortable they become and the higher the chance you’ll really delve into their emotions. In interviewing it would have useful if I had asked Rachel after the interview to re say some of the important things she said. Unfortunately due to the quick nature of how she talked it made it harder in editing to separate grabs cleanly.

Finally I learnt editing is a really powerful tool. Without the use of atmospheric sounds and music my piece would have fallen short. A ticking clock can bring a whole new meaning to a simple school bell… the voices in a lunch hall can carry an overwhelming buzz. Incorporating these extra sounds really did make the whole piece come together.

In reflection this was a highly rewarding assignment where I was taught how to choose topics, interview and edit for emotional impact.

A link to my Soundcloud story. 

(Audio sound effects can be found at freesounds.org for the clock, bell and background music)

JOUR101: Blog



In my second semester of university I was required to create a journalism blog on my topic of choice.

I chose to create a blog on the “community” image given by supermarkets in Australia.


This is explained further in my blog’s about section:

Supermarkets in Australia often create an image that they are for the community and supportive to Australian farmers. This blog will explore this upheld image, compared to the ‘truths’.

To do this I will be speaking to people from the Australian community, who operate business’s outside the supermarkets power, and seek there opinion on supermarkets behaviour.

Along the way I will be hearing from customers who have taken their business away from major Australian supermarkets and there reasons in doing so. Plus I will be finding that there are other options out there when it comes to your weekly shop.