Encouraging Writing News

"We are thinking . . so we are rhizoming !"
I hear pictures add interest

I’ve persuaded Edinburgh Napier University to admit me to their MA Journalism programme.

This is a very encouraging step on my journey to a career in writing, as rambled on about at the beginning of the year. It may even morph into a career in radio or television — who knows? Looks like it’s going to be a wild ride in any event.

I’ve also taken to writing in a little A5 notebook. I’m finding it much easier to actually create something when I don’t have the time-wasting lure of felis LOLcatus and other assorted Internet fauna. Just me, the pen, and the paper. There is something very organic in writing that way. It is as if the writing is imbued with unique qualities. Each letter is subtly different. The loops and curves of my handwritten glyphs. The change in the tempo of the text as I become more engrossed in what I transcribe from mind to hand to pen to ink to paper. The words drift to illegibility as my pace of writing increases — but I can still read it even though no-one else probably can.

I don’t get that with typing into a computer. When this goes live on the Internet, you can only see the errors I missed. You can’t tell what I scratched out, or what I added with a ^. You can’t see the squashed words that had to contort themselves between the already-written lines.

With this approach I’m producing many more first drafts than I previously did. When I have enough, I’ll start publishing them. When I start publishing them, I’ll let you know about it on Waffle Group.

Floods and the Question of Whose Human Suffering is More Newsworthy

You might have heard a lot about some flooding going on in Australia at the moment.

You might not have heard as much about similar flooding going on in Sri Lanka and Brazil. I know I haven’t. I wonder why that might be?

Floods in Australia, Brazil, and Sri Lanka
A comparison of floods in Australia, Brazil, and Sri Lanka using Google News (queried at approximately 9:29pm GMT on 12/01/2011)

I made simple chart, using the Google Hits metric de facto standard, to assess interest in the various stories. Number of hits in the last day is on the primary Y-axis, while reported deaths from the different floods is plotted against the secondary Y-axis.

There are a greater number of reported deaths in Brazil as a result of flooding, but disproportionately little interest when compared to the flooding in Australia. I’d like to think this is just a symptom of the lack of English-speaking journalists present in Brazil at the moment, and my inability to repeat this little experiment in Portuguese. Sri Lanka is an English-speaking country though, so that excuse doesn’t pan out so conveniently.

Hoping for other explanations for the focus on Australia, I tried searching for “area affected” and “economic damage,” but I didn’t get much joy out of that. No info on areas impacted, and estimates on the economic damage for only the Australian flooding.

With no real reporting on those aspects that would make the Australian story bigger, I’m left scratching my head. Surely it can’t be that the pain and suffering of Caucasian people is of greater concern, their stories more interesting, and their lives more valuable? Surely it isn’t that?

Nope. Probably just more Australian bloggers than Brazilian ones, or something totally banal like that.

Sources for death toll figures:

Australia: Reuters
Sri Lanka: Washington Post