JRNL102 – Reflection Of Spliced Audio

The place I decided to focus on for this task was that of an apartment where one of my friends, Michael Coles, lives with another four people. As a result of the living arrangement, the place is often quite manic, with many different things going on at once. I decided to portray this through sound as I felt it would give a unique view of living while at university while also examining the living arrangement itself and how that results in a wide soundscape.

Recording this was a bit of a challenge, as people would be coming in and out of the room in question to do a number of tasks, such as prepare dinner. However, this resulted in a more natural and realistic soundscape than I intended, as the recorded audio had those background sounds and discussions. Editing was also a challenge, due to the sound of the cooking stopping halfway through the sound files. This meant that I shortened the clips in order to lay over a cough to muffle the fact that the sound had abruptly stopped.

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Tell Me Will, – Watching TV and Multimedia Combination

https://storify.com/CalBehrendt/convergence-of-tv-watching

When I sat down on Sunday to watch the latest episode of NBC’s Hannibal, I could not help myself from cracking open Twitter and seeing posts not unlike this one:

ss+(2015-08-15+at+02.17.41)The combination of multimedia allows us to not only send forward our thoughts about the latest episode of Hannibal but also let us get in discussions with the journalists who impart their own thoughts about the topic in question. Social Media is one of these fundamental institutions that allows both contemporary journalists and the general public to post anything from the latest gifs to the “dankest” memes the internet has to offer. Multimedia combination is something that the public needs to adapt to, not least the journalists who produces and deliver the public the latest news and information.

Multimedia combination is something that the public needs to adapt to, not least the journalists who produces and deliver the public the latest news and information. For some media producers like Jon Jafari, better known to online users as JonTron, multimedia combination allows for the unique blend of media types and commentary on social issues, such as the state of drugs in America all while maintaining a review style tone that blends in sketch commentary.

But not all journalists or media producers allow for the updating trends in multimedia combination.

ss+(2015-08-15+at+02.19.23)Sites like TV By The Numbers still struggle to adapt to changing times, with the Twitter more of a essential platform in the current age of media and journalistic production. With the site also looking dated, there is a clear push for bringing information in rather than combine multimedia effectively to tell interesting stories.

So how does this relate back to TV watching? With multimedia combination, we get closer not only to the shows, but also to other fans than ever before. When we see things like this:

It is clear than fans are more attached to the show than ever before, and fan art like above are more and more prevalent and this is nothing but a good thing, as it allows more contemporary journalists to uncover more stories relating to shows like Hannibal, and it’s also why movements like the #SaveHannibal campaign are so well known, as modern journalists use these hashtags to bring their stories to the fore, while both allowing multimedia to be combined and enhance the journalistic practice.

JRNL101 Final Essay – Serial And Storytelling

Photo by Casey Fiesler, Sourced from thejusticegap.com

Photo by Casey Fiesler, Sourced from thejusticegap.com

This is my JRNL101 Essay that made up 30% of our overall mark in the 2015 Autumn Session. We were asked to complete a 2000 word essay on what is effective storytelling drawing on a contemporary journalism context. This Essay received a mark of 92/100 (High Distinction).

Introduction

As I sit down on my bed in my cramped apartment, the room is completely dark with the one exception of the faint glow emanating from my TV. Hannibal is on, and for the next hour, my world has fallen out from below me, with my eyes and ears being transported to the story painted across the screen. About halfway through, I hear a faint buzz from my phone. I assume someone has sent me something that needs attention, but for now I ignore it. I’m too drawn in to the story to desert it now.

Storytelling influences the information we receive, process and retain in numerous ways. Walter Fisher (1983) believes that “humans are essentially storytellers” and that narratives allow us to understand the actions of others due to our own lives being narratives of their own. Naturally this notion is followed through into the profession of journalism. Some Academics ponder that all forms of journalism is mere storytelling (Bird 1990, p. 380) while others feel that it should take a more narrow approach where it should only be reserved for a specific mode of communication (Ekström 2000, p. 472).

In this essay I will be examining the balance between Storytelling and Journalism and how leaning too far in one direction may cause a shift away from the intended nature of the piece. This will be examined through the case study of the podcast Serial, which became a “global phenomenon” (Gamerman 2014) in late 2014 for its blend of storytelling and investigate journalism.

Storytelling Versus Journalism

Miguel Macias (2015) feels that “there is a fundamental incompatibility between storytelling and journalism” and that this causes every piece of media trying to balance the line will be flawed in one way or another.  However, Storytelling has been noted as helping traditional forms of journalism become more interesting and help to retain the audience (Emde, Klimmt and Schluetz 2015) and it could be argued that Storytelling and Journalism may be incompatible, but a necessary pairing nonetheless. But where exactly does the balance lie? At what point does storytelling take precedence over the journalistic principles?

A great case study that examines this idea is the recent HBO Miniseries The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. In the six part miniseries, Andrew Jarecki examined the case of Robert Durst in relation to three suspected murders over a period of 25 years. In the final moments of the final episode, Durst was recorded muttering a crucial statement; “What did I do? I killed them all, of course,” (Episode Six 2015) which seemed to be a confession to the murders.  The Jinx ending could be termed as a ‘Cliffhanger’ which itself is not a new term, dating back to the early 1900’s but its implementation into journalism is a rather new concept (Powell 2015). However what Powell fails to mention is how sometimes the cliffhanger is left unresolved, becoming a dangling thread that is picked up later in the piece after other questions are resolved. That being said the ending, while entertaining for the fans and giving some closure to the series, drew criticism from academics for its method of storytelling.

Jane Kirtley believes that the main issue is how “it isn’t clear how much the storyteller knows” and that “you wouldn’t play ‘hide the ball’ from the reader” in more traditional forms of investigative journalism (Dockterman 2015). Kirtley raises an interesting point. Does hiding information from the audience build tension and entice them to continue on? Or does it do the opposite and make the journalist seem less credible due to their hiding of crucial information?

Serial And Storytelling

Serial has become a pop culture icon since its debut in late 2014. A spinoff of This American Life, Serial takes a more in depth look at one story, rather than the one off stories that is told by This American Life. From the very start of the podcast, the producers aimed at “giv[ing] you the same experience you get from a great HBO or Netflix series, where you get caught up with the characters and the thing unfolds week after week, but with a true story” (Lurie 2014) and this form of storytelling was mostly untested on Radio, with the notable exception of This American Life, which focused on short, self-contained stories.

Upon its release Serial was hailed by Josh Logue (2014) for showing “That longform journalism doesn’t necessarily demand concise narratives with neat, satisfying resolutions, even if those stories are important and in need of telling.” It is the manner in which Serial tells its story that is interesting and shows how a unique take on traditional investigative journalism can be effective.

Serial’s first season was split into twelve episodes of differing lengths, in which each episode was a different part of the case surrounding the murder of Hae Lee Min, a Baltimore student in 1999 and the trial of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed. Sarah Koenig, the main voice behind the program believes that the format “allows us to be so flexible and so responsive to new information as we’re getting it” and this naturally allows the story to be mapped out in a number of ways, with each path changing how the story is told (Kiernan 2014).

This allowed Serial to experiment with the traditional storytelling format in a number of ways. As noted by Joe Berkowitz (2014), a key feature of how Serial told the story was by mentioning a small detail in passing during an earlier episode, before bringing it back much later on to wrap up loose threads in the story.  This helps to wrap up any cliffhangers that were left open at the time and forms a fuller picture. However, as noted by others, some threads are never resolved, leaving Serial to be “full of these kinds of reportorial rabbit holes” noting it as more “show-your-work journalism” which can frustrate some members of the audience for its difficulty to follow (Levin 2014).

Serial also took advantage of the media platform it was available through in order to craft a story that stuck with listeners. It set up the major characters through both descriptive language that lets the listeners form a mental image of each character (Thieke 2014), and through audio recordings of the individuals themselves, which may back up or change this image which we have created.  This helped make the characters relatable and more memorable, more akin to Chuck McGill than Chuck Cunningham. Whereas written words or film would have approached things differently, radio podcasting allowed Serial to blend different forms to make a unique image. We did not know what Adnan Syed looked like, but we had an image ingrained into our minds from the first episode.

However where Serial flourished the most in terms of storytelling was to keep the audience engaged through the entire season by constantly keeping them guessing. Hanna Rosin (2014) felt that Koenig was doing “a truly radical kind of crime reporting” if she had not figured out her opinion on Syed’s guilt before exposing herself to the audience. But as noted by Berkowitz (2014), Serial had no direct answer to the question. The program was more of a road map that laid out the main points and it was for the viewer to decide on their own.

With an open ending, Serial left many unanswered questions hanging, and this has led to the audience looking for answers on their own (Vargas-Cooper 2014), having processed the information put forward by Koenig and having been entertained by the storytelling process along the way.

Storytelling Versus Journalism – How Does Serial Apply?

This brings us back to the points raised by Kirtley earlier. Serial has been criticized in the media for not asking the difficult questions in order to make the story work better (Duffy 2014).  Duffy feels that Serial “is great storytelling. [But] I just think it’s shoddy reporting” and this fits Kirtley’s argument that it makes the journalist seem less credible as seemingly crucial information was either withheld or not followed up on.

Another criticism of Serial is that Koenig was “withholding information she already knows from the audience to build suspense and hook us in various ways. She is playing the innocent in order to elicit a certain response from her audience” (Rosin 2014) and this fits back into Kirtley’s statement about how ‘hide the ball’ is being played with the audience. Koenig seemingly knows more than she is willing to let on, but by playing the innocent, she reduces her own credibility for the benefit of more audience excitement.

That is not to say hiding information from the audience is necessary a bad thing. By following the episodic format, Serial attempts to move journalism into something akin to episodic television, where a story is crafted from the start with a clear ending in sight (Malla 2014). But the issue Serial faced was its non-fiction source material. Itzhak Roeh (1989) believes that “journalists’ stories of the real are constructions of meanings, and they seek, as all narratives do, to establish meaningful closure of moral significance”

Due to the subject matter, it was unlikely that there would be a neat conclusion, and Serial suffered for it, with the case in point being the season finale. Koenig herself could find no correct answer (What We Know 2014), and the lack of fulfillment annoyed some sections of the audience as it could be felt that the previous 12 weeks were for naught. However this all brings us back to the question; Did Serial go too much towards storytelling to be effective journalism, or vice versa?

Miguel Macias (2015) believes that Serial strayed a little too far on the side of storytelling to be considered great journalism where as others like Josh Levin (2014) believe Serial was a “Master Class in Investigative Journalism.” Much like Serial itself, there is no correct answer to the question, much rather evidence laid out that allows the audience to form their own view.

Conclusion

Storytelling and journalism may not be compatible with each other, but there is no denying that they are intertwined. However one must look at how individual pieces balance the two in order to find how they are both effective in their own way. One only needs to look at something like The Jinx to see that storytelling is a major part of journalism, and that storytelling will often dictate when to disclose vital information to the audience. This can cause more problems than it solves though, as failure to disclose early enough can cause the credibility of the journalism to be reduced as it gives off the impression that the one telling the story does not know where the story itself is heading.

This was also an issue in the podcast Serial, where Sarah Koenig withheld information until it suited her in the story in order to entice the audience to stick with the serialized nature of the story. However, this was one of the details that made it a great story over a great journalism piece. By telling an effective story, Koenig was able to lead the audience along to an unresolved ending, with more questions than answers arriving in the final instalment. Serial took full advantage of storytelling techniques such as cliffhangers and crafting unique characters to help entertain the audience and tell the story it had planned out.

Serial gained recognition for its combination of storytelling and journalistic prowess, but to many people, it strayed a little too far from its journalism roots to be considered great journalism. However, it did fulfill Fisher’s (1983) theory of ‘Homo Narrans’ as it told a story that was understood by the audience due to its very nature. While there is no clear answer to whether Serial strayed too far towards great storytelling to be good journalism or vice versa, one cannot doubt its effectiveness in getting the information they wanted to be released to the audience in a manner which was well received and retained.

References

Berkowitz, J 2014, 4 Storytelling Tips From the Co-Creator of Blockbuster Mystery Podcast “Serial”, FastCoCreate, Weblog Post, November 13, Viewed 5 June 2015, < http://www.fastcocreate.com/3038343/4-storytelling-tips-from-the-co-creator-of-blockbuster-mystery-podcast-serial>

Bird, S.E 1990, ‘Storytelling On The Far Side: Journalism And The Weekly Tabloid’, Critical Studies in Mass Communication, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 377-389

Chapter Six: “What The Hell Did I Do?”, The Jinx: The Life And Deaths Of Robert Durst 2015, Television Program, Home Box Office, United States, March 15 2015

Dockterman, E 2015, ‘How The Jinx and Serial Strain the Blurry Ethical Lines of Crime Reporting’, Time Magazine, March 20, Viewed June 5 2015, < http://time.com/3746792/jinx-serial-ethics/>

Duffy, J 2014, What Serial Gets Wrong, Gawker, Weblog Post, November 20, Viewed 5 June 2015, < http://gawker.com/what-serial-gets-wrong-1660778617>

Emde, K, Klimmt, C & Schluetz, D.M 2015, ‘Does Storytelling Help Adolescents To Process The News?’, Journalism Studies, pp. 1-20

Ekström, M 2000, ‘Information, Storytelling And Attractions: TV Journalism in Three Modes of Communication’, Media, Culture and Society, Vol. 22, pp. 465-492

Fisher, W.R 1983, ‘Public Moral Argument: The Nuclear Controversy’, Conference Proceedings — National Communication Association/American Forensic Association (Alta Conference On Argumentation), pp. 441-462, Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost, Viewed 5 June 2015.

Gamerman, E 2014, ‘’Serial’ Podcast Catches Fire’, The Wall Street Journal, November 13, Viewed June 5 2015, < http://www.wsj.com/articles/serial-podcast-catches-fire-1415921853>

Kiernan, L 2014, “Serial” Podcast Producers Talk Storytelling, Structure And If They Know Whodunnit, NiemanStoryboard, Weblog Post, October 30, Viewed 5 June 2015, < http://niemanstoryboard.org/stories/serial-podcast-producers-talk-storytelling-structure-and-if-they-know-whodunnit/>

Koenig, S 2014, Serial: What We Know, Podcast, 18 December, Serial, Viewed 5 June 2015, < http://serialpodcast.org/season-one/12/what-we-know>

Levin, J 2014, Serial Wasn’t a Satisfying Story. It Was a Master Class in Investigative Journalism., Slate, Weblog Post, December 18, Viewed 5 June 2015, <http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/12/18/serial_as_investigative_journalism_the_hit_podcast_was_a_master_class_in.html>

Logue, J 2014, Why Journalists Should Find Hope In ‘Serial’, American Journalism Review, Weblog Post, November 18, Viewed 5 June 2015, < http://ajr.org/2014/11/18/journalists-find-hope-serial/>

Lurie, J 2014, “This American Life” Channels “True Detective” in a New Podcast, MotherJones, Weblog Post, September 19, Viewed June 5 2015, < http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/09/ira-glass-sarah-koenig-julie-snyder-serial-podcast-this-american-life>

Macias, M 2015, ‘Storytelling Vs Journalism: From The Jinx to This American Life’, Huffington Post, March 31, Viewed June 5 2015, < http://www.huffingtonpost.com/miguel-macias/storytelling-vs-journalis_b_6973704.html>

Malla, P 2014, A World in Which Nothing Is Solved, Slate, Weblog Post, February 27, Viewed 5 June 2015,<http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/television/2014/02/true_detective_is_about_storytelling_not_just_a_murder.html>

Powell, S 2014, Three Episodic Storytelling Truths From The Serial Podcast [Caution: Mild Spoilers], FlipTheMedia, Weblog Post, December 19, Viewed June 5 2015, <http://flipthemedia.com/2014/12/three-episodic-storytelling-truths-serial-podcast-caution-mild-spoilers/>

Roeh, I 1989, ‘Journalism As Storytelling, Coverage As Narrative’, American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 162-168

Rosin, H 2014, The Real Secret of Serial: Has Sarah Koenig Made Up Her Mind Yet?, Slate, Weblog Post, October 23, Viewed 5 June 2015, <http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2014/10/serial_podcast_and_storytelling_does_sarah_koenig_think_adnan_syed_is_innocent.html>

Thieke, D 2014, Brand Storytelling Lessons From the Serial Podcast, Biznology, Weblog Post, December 15, Viewed 5 June 2015, < http://biznology.com/2014/12/brand-storytelling-lessons-serial-podcast/>

Vargas-Cooper, N 2014, Exclusive: Jay, Key Witness From ‘Serial’ Tells His Story For First Time, Part 1, The Intercept, Weblog Post, December 30, Viewed 5 June 2015, <https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/12/29/exclusive-interview-jay-wilds-star-witness-adnan-syed-serial-case-pt-1/>

I Call Dingo! – Satirical Journalism And Students

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Last Week Tonight with John Oliver got me into Satirical Journalism as a prospective path. But did it help anyone else define their own future path?

Satirical Journalism is not a new concept. For years establishments like The Onion and The Daily Show have provided both laughs and a journalistic approach not seen often in the comedic world. With programs like Last Week Tonight, Mad As Hell, The Weekly and many more exploding onto our screens in the past few years, we are in something of a renaissance with Satirical Journalism. For many students looking to enter Journalism, satirical journalism may be our only former port of entry to the wider scope of journalism. But what about it appeals to them?

“It kind of plays on an issue in an engaging way, forcing people to think about it later,” says Riley Jones, a first year Journalism student who moonlights as a stand-up comedian. Zoe Robinson, a fellow Journalism student and a big fan of stand up comedy herself, also agrees; “Comedians such as Louis C.K. talk about these complex social issues but they’re almost hidden underneath these hysterical stories.”

However for some others, it is the message that can get through that is the driving appeal to satirical journalism. “Through both entertaining and informing the audience, satirical journalism has the capacity to captivate the audience and help change occur. Look at the movement only recently of John Oliver’s support. A huge portion of American audiences would trust his word more than that of the legacy media,” says Tom McGill, a first year Journalism student with a passion for films.

Naturally, Satirical Journalism isn’t all positives. “You could think you are the funniest person to ever walk the Earth but your readership thinks you are horrible,” says Lauren Mulhall, a journalism student who loves to make people laugh through performance. Comedy is a very subjective topic and this sentiment is also shared by Zoe Robinson: “The biggest issue, for me at least is not really being good enough at it. It is a matter of practice but you have to think, Will I ever be funny enough?” For others, it is the journalism form that is part of the issue. “People will often write it off before truly understanding the message behind it,” says Tom McGill.

Yet despite this, many students are still looking to get into the form as a career path. “Like most self-indulgent art students, I would like to write or star or produce a television series that does satirical news for Australian audiences, as I feel that is an untapped market for Australian youths,” quips Riley Jones. Tom McGill also shares a similar sentiment; “Preferably [something] on the ABC if it was in an Australian context as you are free to have a “voice” on that channel as it’s government funded, unlike the commercial channels that are primarily about appeasing the advertisers and sponsors.” For Lauren Mulhall, her goal is to emulate her idols Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. “I dream of writing television shows like Parks and Recreation or 30 Rock, or even for improvised skits like Saturday Night Live,” says Lauren. But for people like Zoe Robinson, the goal is much more simple. “I just want to be doing something that’s making people laugh… and also if I can become influential enough that I can be on an episode of conversations with Richard Fidlar. That’d be bitchin’.”

Reddit, The Boston Bombers And Citizen Journalism – Is It An Issue?

A Satirical look at Reddit's attempt to find the Boston Bombers. Photo courtesy of Gawker.

A Satirical look at Reddit’s attempt to find the Boston Bombers. Photo courtesy of Gawker.

In 2013, amidst the man hunt for Boston Bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the online media platform of Reddit was focusing on a man hunt of their very own. Using the wide range of resources available to them through citizen journalism, the aggregated news site wrongly identified Sunil Tripathi as one of the men involved and subsequently proceeded to wrongfully accuse and throw hurt onto the Tripathi family, who were completely innocent. This incident was to many a big wake up call as to the dangers of citizen journalism and how its ever growing reach is an issue to journalism as a whole.

Citizen Journalism has been noted as being as positive thing in controlled circumstances, such as in Taiwan, where contributors are required to submit a formal application to put their work on the website peopo.org. This results in a higher quality of journalism and forms a pathway for untrained journalists to work on their craft. However, in the US, Citizen Journalism has often been critiqued for a number of reasons, predominantly the lack of reliability; something which has also been critiqued in Australia by Dr. Vincent O’Donnell. Another major issue is the lack of ethics shown in citizen journalism, which was discussed by the Huffington Post in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

There is no denying that Citizen Journalism is here to stay. As Kate Buckley put it for the Guardian, incidents such as Occupy Wall Street are “changing the landscape of documentary film-making” as well as giving many people access to a wealth of resources all thanks to the idea of citizen journalism. With the relative ease that Citizen Journalism can be created, many media outlets are starting to become more weary of this issue, due to both the benefits and detriments outlined by the Huffington Post which could cause citizen journalism to play a bigger role in modern journalism in the near future.

From Robert Durst To Adnan Syed – Can Journalism Break The Rules To Tell A Story?

Robert Durst, Photo Courtesy of HBO.

Robert Durst of The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, Photo Courtesy of HBO.

In the final minutes of the 2015 HBO miniseries The Jinx, Robert Durst seemingly confesses to two murders after being caught out by Andrew Jarecki and his team in a stunning moment of gotcha journalism. It is the payoff that people had been waiting for over the course of the 6 episode series, but it arose in an awkward manner. As Professor Jane Kirtley discussed with Time Magazine, the issue was that Jarecki confronted Durst with the evidence before telling anyone else about it, at least in the eyes of the viewer. As Kirtley put it; ““In traditional investigative journalism, you wouldn’t play ‘hide the ball’ from the reader.” This leads many to wonder whether Journalism can bend rules when it needs to tell a story in a specific manner.

A recent case study in this is the podcast Serial, itself a spinoff of the Journalism based program This American Life. Serial told a story based heavily in investigative journalism over a 12 episode season, with each episode being like a new edition of a television show. However, Serial was heavily berated in the media for being “shoddy reporting” as suggested by Josie Duffy. However, articles from establishments like The Atlantic rejected these claims, asking “What broadcast journalism show is telling these stories better? How many broadcasters are telling them at all?”

The fine line between keeping the audience informed and telling a good story is a major issue in journalism today. For some people, like Miguel Macias, there is a “fundamental incompatibility between storytelling and journalism” and this will cause each piece produced with both in common to be naturally flawed. As the discussion flows to online forums such as Reddit, more journalists are starting to form their own views as to what is acceptable and where the line is drawn when telling a story in regards to basic journalistic principles.

Profile – Michael Coles

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“My right leg sometimes cops a bit of a beating.” Michael Coles is no stranger to pushing himself to his physical limits. An avid parkour enthusiast, Michael loves the more extreme side of sports. However, Michael is always quick to note that Physicality is only one side of the challenge, and the harder monster is deep within.

Discovering the sport through a Facebook group in the midst of his first year at university, Michael has slowly been becoming more involved in the local scene over the past twelve months. “There’s a few guys that have been doing it for a lot longer than I have. I probably would not still be doing it if it wasn’t for those guys mentoring me,” Michael says, taking a break from an early morning parkour session on the deserted university campus.

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“It’s the whole being able to move freely through an urban environment compared with the bush environments I grew up around that appeals to me,” Michael says.  “A lot of my early ideas about parkour were from video games, but I know now they aren’t very realistic. This right here though is like Assassin’s Creed on hard mode.” he says, kicking a generic bland colored spot on the wall. “What makes it so difficult?” I inquire, my untrained eye straining to see where the difficulty arose. Michael quickly explained that like many before him, the wall had been worn down by the soles of many a shoe running up it, leaving it to be nothing more than a smooth patch of concrete.

After successfully running up the three metre wall, Michael slips back down and the soft thud of his weight echoes into the grass. “Normally there would be a group of us doing stuff like this.” he says, limbering up for another attempt at the wall. “We generally practice around the amphitheater, but sometimes it is good to get the strength up with rock climbing too.” For Michael, rock climbing is another passion of his that overlaps with parkour in a few areas. But where many see the two as being in the same pod, Michael sees them in a totally different way.

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“I think there are three barriers to making any maneuver in parkour. There is the physical barrier, which is being able to jump and roll. There is the technical barrier, which is being able to do the jumps and rolls correctly. And then finally there is the mental barrier, which is knowing you can do the jumps and rolls safely. For many people starting out breaking the mental barrier is the hardest thing to do.” Michael says, himself a willing victim to this barrier on several occasions. “This is different to rock climbing as the only barrier is the physical one, as soon as you know the harness will catch you, the mental barrier is gone.”

As the morning rolled into the afternoon, I asked Michael what his next steps were with his passion. “We created a Society at the uni and we are just waiting for affiliation.” being a founding member of the society, Michael will take on the role as Treasurer upon the society becoming official. As his hobby looks set to expand even more, Michael looks to embrace the change and build on it to his personal limit.

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Portrait – Monique Lombardo

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“I often like to lay down and just figure out where I am.”

Monique Lombardo is a first year student tackling a Communications and Media degree with a major in Journalism. A world traveler, Monique loves to talk about all her sights and experiences she has collected travelling. Monique has also needed to collect her thoughts on the daily commute from Sydney each day, something that has provided her with numerous tales of both humor and interest. When not exploring the world, Monique loves to express herself through the manner of dance, and she holds that as one of her dearest passions, although she admits that the pressure of University has caused her to take a small step back in this regard.

You can check out Monique’s work over here or follow her on Twitter.

Portrait – Hannah Laxton-Koonce

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“When I was in Year 6 I told my teacher that I didn’t need to know about Politics because I was going to be a Writer.”

Hannah Laxton-Koonce is a first year student undertaking a straight Journalism degree. Having grown up showing a distinct desire and love for writing, this path was always an easy choice. Hannah is also one to take care and show dedication to her work, not wanting to give up until she got the perfect shot or quote. However, she realizes that it is important to find time for herself and she jokingly stated that sleeping in is one of her favorite activities, but she can not turn down a lie down in the sun just to see the beauty of the world around her.

You can check out Hannah’s work over here or follow her on Twitter.