How I became a journalist

I’ve been asked too many times to count about how I initially became a journalist. It’s a long story with many twists and turns.

Rather than tell it verbally, I thought it was fitting for me as a video journalist, to tell the story using my everyday tools.

So, I created this video to answer this common question. I hope you enjoy it.

Implanted devices and broken cameras

I officially finished my last shift at APN Australian Regional Media in mid-August, but, I published my last work with the company yesterday.

My feature as it appeared in Australian Regional Media's Weekend magazine.

My feature as it appeared in Australian Regional Media’s Weekend magazine.

Late last year a friend contacted me and asked me if I was interested in doing a documentary on his friend who was about to get a cochlear implant. I was keen and wasted no time in doing preliminary interviews and lining up permission to shoot the surgery and appointments with the audiologist.

It’s been a fascinating journey and I really appreciate being invited to record it all. The feature and video went live on Saturday.

In other new, my daughter has recently shown a keen interest in photography. I gave her a six-year-old point and shoot camera and let her shoot to her hearts content. But, it didn’t all go according to plan as the video below shows.


My video from Minami Sanriku

Earlier this year I wrote a story to accompany the above video about my quest to reconnect with some tsunami survivors and it gives all the background I wanted to share about this episode.

However, in the article I did not go into much detail about the difficulty of doing such a video. Carrying all my video gear is enough of a task alone, but then cramming in clothes and toiletries further complicates matters. Dragging this gear around the ruins of Minami Sanriku while also trying to track down people, get enough vision to tell the story and also be sensitive to the hardships that the local people had endured was a true challenge.

I was thinking of also using a strap-on camera so I could capture all of the action but I didn’t think it would be appropriate to barge in to shops, homes and businesses asking questions with the cameras rolling. The people were very friendly and helpful and I would have loved to have been able to get vision of them, but I drew a line there.

The ‘Air Guitar Guy’

Yesterday I was walking through Brisbane when something caught my attention from corner of my eye. I saw a man with a sign that read, “I’m NOT HOMELESS I’M Lookin’ for SEXY SEXY GIRL Yusuki (Osaka)” complete with a smiley face and Japanese flag. Anybody that knows me will appreciate how hard it is too walk away from something like this.

Fortunately I was carrying my video camera, so I pulled it out and shot a very hurried interview with him. I uploaded it last night and got a few comments from other people who had witnessed his presence.

Today I saw Yusuki again. So I pulled pen and paper from my pocket and started firing questions at him.

The ‘Air Guitar Guy’ was set up in a different spot but dressed in the same women’s clothes with the same colour lipstick applied clumsily, but generously to his face. I found it hard to believe he is still on his first tube of lipstick.

He’s a 23-year-old political student from Hyogo – not technically Osaka – who came to Melbourne late last year. He left Melbourne for Sydney and soon ran out of money and did what anybody in such a dire situation would do. Yes, he rode a bicycle up to Brisbane. After a brief stint picking cherry tomatoes in Bundaberg, he decided he wasn’t living the way he wanted to. So he came back to Brisbane and three weeks ago picked up his iPad, a portable set of speakers and his air guitar and air microphone stand (broom stick) and headed into the city to start busking.

Yusukii didn’t bother getting a busker’s licence and it has caused some problems for him. Big Issue vendors and other vendors are not his favourite people. The vendors were the ones he said who hassled him about not having a licence and threatened to call the police. He wasn’t concerned. “Police never come.”

Well-wishers drop an assortment of gifts in a large aluminum baking tray that he sets out on the ground. Today I saw two people drop in a couple of cigarettes. There was also some foreign currency and chocolate. Somebody once gave Yusuki a beer. VB. A normal day brings in somewhere between $60 and $100 and takes up four to six hours of his time.

His next two big goals are attending the world air guitar championships and getting his hands on a ‘SEXY SEXY GIRL’. Yusuki said he hasn’t been intimately involved with an Australian woman.


Another year, another year-in-review video

The end of the year signals a time for reflection on the year that has passed. The media loves compiling lists at the end of each year so it was very little wonder that I created a year-in-review video for APN. Oh, 2012 was such an eventful year. We had Julian Assange holed up in the Ecuador’s London embassy, Gangnam Style hit the interwebs, Kony 2012 did the social media rounds and much more. It was quite a difficult task knowing that I’ll be condemned for neglecting certain events. In any case, I had to create something for regional Australian audiences based largely in coastal Queensland and northern New South Wales.


Outlanders – Brief encounter

Outlanders in Osaka, Japan.

Outlanders take a stroll through the streets of Osaka after a recording session. (L-R Phil, Craig, Adam, Kevin and Mike)

About five years ago when I was living in Osaka some of my workmates were in a band and recording a few original songs. I think the deal was that another bloke paid for their studio time in return for recording a couple of songs that he had penned lyrics for. They had a few catchy numbers that I liked. So when I heard that the Outlanders were heading into the studio I was keen to shoot the whole event with the tiny 3CCD Panasonic consumer-grade camcorder I was using at the time. For some reason I never got around to cutting a video together and I almost completely forgot that I had the tapes until the drummer, Craig (second from left), visited me last week. I promised him that I’d edit a video together. So here it is.

And below is the catchy number titled “Kiseichu” – Japanese for parasite – which refers to grown-up children who still live with their parents and leech off them.


Listen closely

I’d been eagerly awaiting the second series of Lowdown – the sitcom based around the misadventures tabloid journalist Alex Burchill – ever since the first series aired a couple of years back. Sure, there’s a journalistic link, but the unique brand of humour also appeals to me.

So when the first episode of the new series aired, I was there fully attentive and ready to laugh away. What I wasn’t ready for, however, was a reference to something I’d been discussing with some work colleagues earlier that day.

We had been talking about some classic journalistic mistakes – in particular one example that had got one of our mastheads in a little hot water. Anyway, this video I made will explain how the sitcom and the mistake came together.

And have a look at the accompanying infographic here.

Japan: Now and then.

When it comes to Japan, the new and the old collide on so many levels.

I did promise to create a spectacular series of animated antique Japanese photographs. And I still plan to complete this project.

But in the meantime, I decided to do a quick edit (in Final Cut Pro) that juxtaposes the new and old of Japan. Watch in full-screen mode to properly savour the HD goodness.

And please be warned, some of the images may distress some viewers.

Recycling recycling

“Never use the same word twice in a headline.”

I received that advice and have tried to stick to it. But I’ll play by my own rules in the DDS*Mediasphere.

I’ve avoided taking my video camera outside in the past week because of the inclement weather. I did, however, take it out for some fresh air last Monday when I visited the recycling plant in Chinderah, Tweed. There were some pretty awesome features like the magnets that repelled aluminium but let plastics pass while throwing soft drink cans into another chute. Very impressive! So, watch the video and read more about it here.