Contact book reflection

This contact book is designed for a journalist working for the Moreland Leader community newspaper. Moreland is a municipality in the inner north of Melbourne. Its population was 163,488 residents in 2014, making it one of the most populated municipalities in Melbourne. The 33.8 percent of residents living in the area who are born overseas create Moreland’s multicultural community. Moreland has a higher rate of residents who speak a language other than English at home, with 39.4 per cent compared to 29.1 per cent for Greater Melbourne. The top 10 languages spoken at home in Moreland (other than English) are Italian, Arabic, Greek, Turkish, Mandarin, Urdu. Nepali, Vietnamese, Punjabi and Hindi. In an interview with SBS news entitled ‘Moreland City Mayor’s Nepal connection,’ Meghan Hopper says that Moreland is known for its large “Greek and Italian population, which over a 10 to 20 year period has really diversified”. The Nepalese population in Moreland is the largest of its kind in the whole of Victoria, which is why the contact of the Nepalese Association of Victoria has been added to my contact book. I have also included the number of the Continental Grocery, a Mediterranean supermarket with a large traffic of migrant customers. Yiannis Pantheon Cakes is also included as it is famously host to many Greek elderly persons.

A range of religions are also represented within Moreland including Catholicism (32.5 percent), Islam (9.3 percent), Orthodox (7.0 percent), Anglican (5.4 percent), Hinduism(2.4 percent), and Buddhism (2 percent). The contacts of the following religious centers have been included in my contact book: the Moreland Christian Church, the Coburg Islamic centre, the Anglican Parish of Christ Church (Brunswick), the Greek Orthodox Church of St Vasilios and the Quang Duc Buddhist Monastery and Welfare Association. This assures a true representation of all religions within Moreland. Interestingly, there is no atheist society within the municipality.

The health care and social assistance job sector makes up the highest percentage of employed persons in Moreland, at 0.3 percent higher than Greater Melbourne. In accordance with this, I have added the contact of the Moreland City Council Environmental Health Services. To source information from a younger sector I have also included the contacts of the Young Muslims of Australia (Coburg Branch) and Moreland Youth Services. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistic’s 2011 Census, “9,106 people or 6.2 percent of the population in the City of Moreland in 2011, reported needing help in their day-to-day lives due to disability”. I have the contact of the Moreland City Council Aged and Disability Services to represent this statistic.

Majority of residents in Moreland commute using public transport, with 4.9 percent riding bicycles compared to the 1.3 percent in Greater Melbourne. I have included the contact of the Brunswick Cycling Club to support this, and the Morris Car Club of Victoria to contrast.

For true newsworthy sources the contact numbers of both the Coburg and Pascoe Vale RSL have been added, with the Lebanese Ex-Serviceman’s Association providing an opposing side. The Penny Black, the former Brunswick GPO turned pub, is a hot spot for young Moreland residents, while the Coburg branch of the TAB serves an older audience.

Sources

A journalist’s sources are integral to the life of their career. Before a journalist can publish a story, accurate information must be collected. As Erik Jensen, the editor of The Saturday Paper, said: “never rely on say-so”. This newsworthy information is obtained through sources. ‘News’ is anything that had just happened, is happening or is about to happen. News is created from events, where people are at the very centre of it. These people usually hold valuable information, facts or opinions related to the news item and it is a journalist’s job to seek out this information.

Having a well formed, ever-growing list of contacts is a priority as journalist. A successful journalist is able to phone a source and immediately create a piece of news. Having a comprehensive list of sources allows a journalist to be the first to break a news story, and have exclusive access to new information.

It is important to have a balanced list of contacts to maintain a balanced article. Even if a particular source wishes not to comment, it is important to seek out the source to maintain the integrity that an article has been well researched and honestly presented. Balance and diversity of quotes in an article maintains these same concepts on the public sphere. Having balanced and diverse representations in a democratic society supports the Enlightenment theory. Under journalism’s public responsibility is the right to facilitate and protect the public sphere by ensuring equality of representation and diversity of opinion. The theory proposed that the inclusion of all opinions, both right and wrong, will eventually emerge the truth. Balance must be preserved to ensure the integrity of the journalism profession.

Anonymous sources become an ethical issue for journalists. Journalists, both under their own moral conscience and the rules of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, must always strive for honesty and transparency. An audience has the right to know the source of a piece of information. If a source insists on remaining anonymous, it is the journalist’s decision whether to use their information or not. It creates friction between their job (delivering news to their audience), their moral code of ethics and the relationship with their source. John Christie, editor in chief of the Maine Centre for Public Interest Reporting, at a lecture at the University of New Hampshire on April 1, 2014 said “anonymous sources. Sounds oh, so exciting, film noirish, to have a ‘Deep Throat’ slipping you the good stuff”. The truth is that many journalists have been convicted for failing to reveal an anonymous source in a court of law.

Journalists must maintain a ‘working relationship’ with their sources. A journalist must not become friends with their sources as it creates a conflict of interest that jeopardises their integrity within the profession. A fine line must be drawn between the role of the journalist and their alliance with a source. This can become difficult as a trust in a journalist stems from the same values that create a friendship. It is a journalist’s job to ensure they maintain a source’s trust without becoming so close as to arrange to have a chat over coffee about the latest gossip, not the enlightening piece of news that would make for a groundbreaking story.

Information should be obtained just as freely and openly as it is presented to its audience. ‘Chequebook’ journalism occurs when a source is paid for their story. This opposes the entire code of ethics as it often involves a one-sided version of events where “interviewees may be tempted to enhance versions of events, or even fantasise,” according to Stephen Lamble in News as it Happens. It also commodifies information as only large media corporations can afford to pay these sources, making less information available in the public sphere. While ‘chequebook’ journalism is unlawful in Australia, ‘cash for comment’ is not. This involves being paid to present one particular side to a story over another. Not punishable, it still breaches the code of ethics journalists live by.

As journalists must ensure they keep a source at an arm’s length, the same source must also be within an arm’s reach. They must be easily contactable to ensure information is gathered quickly and efficiently. The speed at which news items are produced has rapidly increased, so journalists must gather the required information and often construct the news piece instantly. Without this efficiency, news is no longer ‘new.’

Regardless of the shift in media in journalism, a phone call to a reliable source will never fail to produce a newsworthy piece.

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