ABC, Peace of mind but at what cost?


‘In broad daylight, Ivanhoe Railway Station appears a quiet and secure place to wait to board one of Melbourne’s trains.’ It can be assumed that this is a statement of fact upon the journalist’s research and background work, without actually going there we rely on ABC’s interpretation. Correct.

‘deep in the affluent north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Ivanhoe’ It is generally accepted that Ivanhoe is an affluent area. Correct.

Staffed from first to last train. Consistently strong levels of patronage. This statement is confirmed in the hyperlink, (though it didn’t actually open and I had to find the article through a google search). Correct

‘for many, when the night settles in, the yellow glow of the station lights flicker on and the evening peak comes to an end, an uneasy sense of foreboding permeates their psyche.’ I think this statement is more a generalisation rather than a fact. It would have been better to back it up with some sort of empirical evidence ie. A general survey of train users asking what hours of the day/night they feel uncomfortable or frightened at the station or on the train. If unavailable I think it would have been good to actually go to a train station in the evening and ask patrons whether or not they feel comfortable travelling at that time of night etc.

‘It’s the fear of louts and drug addicts, and their unpredictable predilection for trouble that causes many to think twice before they travel after dark.’ I think this is another generalisation that goes too far in trying to sound clever, particularly ‘their unpredictable predilection for trouble.’ I don’t think its accurate to label all drug addicts and louts as having an ‘unpredictable predilection for trouble.’ I think they have an unpredictable predilection for drugs or money to fuel their addictions, and the way they go about attaining either of the two is through trouble. I think it would have been better to imply that rather than stark generalisations.

‘a friend at the theoretically friendly hour of 9:00 AM in July 2009. Another carefree night of fun and frivolity out on the town beckoned.’ I think this is a slight error, which is meant to read 9pm, other than that correct.

“The station was dead quiet with no one else about,” Mr. Carison recalls, painting an ominous picture of what was to come.” This quote is by Mr. Carison is confirmed in the transcript. Correct.

“It was a horrific experience and again for me proved that stations, and even taking the liberty of walking in your own neighbourhood, can be a dangerous ordeal.” Correct, confirmed in the relevant section of the transcript as are all other quotes made my Mr. Carison.

‘But his situation may have been avoided had it occurred in 2014 and not in 2011.’ The sentence doesn’t make much sense or flow nicely as it is talking about something scheduled for three years’ time, and obviously the event did occur in 2011. The relevant hyperlink confirms that, ‘940 PSOs will be recruited to boost safety at train stations’ but it does not mention the target of 2014, which is mentioned in the piece.

‘The introduction of these officers was floated by then opposition leader Ted Ballieu prior to the state election in November last year.’ Correct, confirmed in hyperlink.

statistics published on the Public Transport Users Association’s (PTUA) website in September 2010Correct confirmed in hyperlink. Though they were analysis of 2009 statistics conducted in 2010, so may be a bit outdated for the topic.

‘But statistics published on the Public Transport Users Association’s (PTUA) website in September 2010 counter Mr. Carison’s point, with 48% of assaults that were reported occurred during daytime hours.’ This is actually not correct and is a manipulation of the data. The analysis reads ‘The figures also showed that 52% of incidents occurred between 6pm and 3:30am, while 48% occurred outside those hours.’ The key phrase here is ‘outside those hours’ which does not necessarily mean during the daytime as ABC writes. It could be that 48% of crime occurred from 3:30- 6am during the late evening/ early morning or at least a portion of it. Given the information it is not accurate to state that all 48% of assaults occurred during daytime hours.

‘They showed that 45% of assaults occurred at just ten stations.’ This is correct and confirmed in the hyperlink. However it is interesting to note that none of the top ten stations for crime ‘Flinders St, Dandenong, Broadmeadows, Footscray, St Albans, Ringwood, Bayswater, Frankston, Southern Cross, and Thomastown; are not mentioned at all in this piece. The station that is focussed on Ivanhoe does is not appear in these statistics, therefore fair to assume it has a relatively low rate of crime compared to other train stations. Since the piece is on crime and train stations it would have been better to include analysis of at least one station that featured in the top 10 list.

‘Bowen also advocated targeting stations known for their high crime rate, instead of spreading the protective service officer resources across the network.’ This is correct and confirmed in the hyperlink to Mr. Bowen’s blog. I think it was a nice touch to use quotes from his blog.


This is clearly a well-researched piece and most of the hyperlinks check out, as do all the quotes used in the relevant section of the transcript. However, in my opinion the piece lacks many fundamental elements of a feature. It reads more like a lengthy news article as opposed to a feature, and would have been better suited as a hard news story. I found the subject matter and topic to be quite dry and a bit boring for a feature. There was little narrative, no character development and no humour, some of the basic elements we were told in class that distinguish features from news. I expressly remember Bill saying he thought the difference between news and features is simple ‘news has sources, features have characters.’ There are no anecdotes or characters development in this piece, which work to build characters. Though, there are action elements and problems and possible solutions, however the piece lacks human-interest appeal.

Critical Analysis:

DEF: ‘Behind the veil of the media enquiry’

The headline is quite good and effective, particularly the imagery of ‘lifting up the veil’ so to speak. A somewhat minor criticism is that every word in the title begins with a capital letter. I have been taught is that this is an outdated method of journalism and that now only the first letter of the first word in a title should be in capitals, this is also what I have observed working in the industry during placement.

The picture is good but would be better placed in the actual text as placing it directly at the beginning with no words around it, is not how a feature in a newspaper would look and distracting to both the reader and flow.

The lead is solid, however the quotes from Prue Innes (a very reputable interview source, well done to the journalist in getting that interview) could have been used more effectively.

They read as follows,

“I think the Greens are more motivated by a sense of grievance about unfair and distorted reporting of their policies…and probably see the current climate as their best shot of doing something about it,” she says confidently.

The problem I have with this is the ‘…and’ indicating that part of the quote has been cut off or joined with another quote. As a reader I don’t particularly like to see this. I think separating the quotes into separate paragraphs as follows would be best; giving good quotes the emphasis they rightly deserve.


“I think the Greens are more motivated by a sense of grievance about unfair and distorted reporting of their policies.” “Over the years there have been things like rather false versions of their views on drugs, for example, and probably see the current climate as their best shot of doing something about it,’ she said.

In the piece DEF cuts outs the ‘Over the years there have been things like rather false versions of their views on drugs, for example,’ I think this is an important part of the quote which goes to the Greens motives and should have been left in.

The piece does not follow the stylistic convention of a feature that were laid out to us in class, there are sources not ‘characters’. Prue Innes is referred to as ‘Innes’ as would be the case in a news story, however this is supposed to be a feature and we should be learning more about Prue the character, not Innes the source.

The use of language around Innes quotes rather than just said or says in the piece adds some much needed colour eg. ‘Commented Innes, she says coyly, she says confidently.’ They are all quite effective and help paint a picture for the reader.

The piece switches from present to past tense quite often. I think DEF should’ve made all quotes in the present tense, as I think this is the correct style for a feature, (though I could be wrong) or at least picked one tense and been consistent with it.

Eg. ‘She says coyly,’ then a few paragraphs down, ‘commented Innes.’ Followed by ‘said Law with passion,’ ‘said Innes’ further down ‘Meanwhile, Prue Innes believes’

The comparison the other media, Singapore and Malaysia is interesting and reads nicely. However I don’t think incorporating them into the story on the basis of ‘in comparison to Australia’s neighbours’ is a valid argument. Yes they are neighbours, but I don’t think it’s very surprising their media system is different given the fact that given that we are vastly different nations both culturally and politically. If comparisons are to be made our media should have been compared to that of Britain and the phone hacking standard given that we are similar in many regards. Just to re-iterate I like how the comparison is used in the piece but I don’t think the basis for it is valid.

Overall the piece written fairly well but to me this is a lengthy news story, not a feature. There is no narrative, character developments, humour, anecdotes etc much the same criticisms I had of ABC’s piece and the elements I felt it lacked are also applicable to this piece.

GHI: The Planning Minister and Miley

The title is great particularly because of the humour and alliteration. Very positive start to the piece.

The lead is snappy and to the point, but lacks the human interest element from the outset.

Once again however this piece has sources not characters. I’m finding this to be a common theme of all of the ‘features,’ I have read so far. From the outset key source Matthew Mcllelan is referred to as ‘Mr. Mcllelan’ instead of Matthew, making little room for this character to be developed or expanded upon.

All the facts are clearly laid out for the reader, the piece lacks human appeal as the following exert demonstrates.

‘To voice his outrage at the Planning Minister’s intervention, Mr. Mcllelan emailed his local MP, sent a letter to The Age and emailed the Premier’s office.

But Mr. Mcllelan however, was not alone in voicing his displeasure, the Maintain Our Boundaries Group had set up a Facebook page encouraging the public to voice their opposition to the decision.

As those voices gathered momentum, even the Federal MP for Flinders, Greg Hunt, lobbied the Planning Minister about reversing the decision.’

Tweets from Miley Cyrus add at least some human add some human interest element, but it would have been better if interesting quotes like that were backed up by actual interview sources.

I found the following exert to be confusing and it could have been easily avoided.

‘Less than a day later the Planning Minister rang the Bass Coast Mayor Veronica Dowman, to inform her that he had changed his mind.

For Mr. Mcllelan, Mr Guy’s change of heart was, “a welcome return to sensible planning decisions.”’

It should read ‘Planning Minister Matthew Guy rang…’ Initially Referring to Mr Guy as only the Planning Minister prompts confusion when then reading Mr. Guy. Many readers may well read that and wonder well who is Mr Guy? (As I initially before going back.)

It’s a bit unclear what the political topic actually is as it begins with the Phillip Island decision and then moves to questioning the Mr. Guys competence as a planning minister. As a reader the fact that this is not clear is disconcerting and I suspect some wouldn’t read on.

Ventor is incorrectly spelt in photo caption, reads ‘Vendnor.’

The piece hints at corruption but in my opinion in a manner that is far too timid and not all that interesting.

‘The request that Mr. Guy received to rezone the land at Ventnor came from Brown Consulting, a company whose national director Gary Spence is also the vice-President of the Queensland division of the Liberal Party of Australia.

From 2005-2009, Brown Consulting contributed more than $100,000 to the Liberal Party in Queensland. There is no evidence that they contributed any money to the Victorian Liberal Party.’

However similar ties were also revealed earlier in the year between Liberal party donors and the proposed rezoning of Bromton Lodge, an egg farm in Cranbourne South.’

I think if you are going to put corruption out there and be vague about it and not be prepared to go hard with it then it doesn’t add much to the story.

If the angle is supposed to be about questioning Mr. Guy’s competence a much deeper exploration of his character is needed. Why is he interfering in somewhat menial decisions? What could be driving him? What is he like according to previous work colleagues or friends? Etc. More background information how old is he? How long has he been in the Liberal party? Is his background working class or privileged? Exploring at least some of these questions would have made this piece more feature like and if I did this issue these are some of the things I would question and focus on.

Overall the piece is well written and the sources are good quality. However, there are some major problems with flow; neither the political issue nor the angle is clear to the reader. Once again in my opinion this is a lengthy news story opposed to a feature. It seems to me that either a lot of my colleagues have missed the fundamental human elements of a feature (anecdotes, humour, narrative, character development etc) and have instead wrote in depth analysis articles which are a form of features, but to my understanding not the type of feature we were required to produce for this assessment. Or, that I am completely off the ball in terms of how I structured my own feature because it is very different to what I have read thus far.

JKL:, Solar Tariff changes destabilise industry

The title would have been good if this was a basic hard news story, not a feature. I think it’s pretty dry and boring. As I reader if I saw this story in the feature section of a newspaper with this title I highly doubt I would be compelled to read on.

Again minor criticism that more than once word in this title begins with a capital letter.

The lead is pretty solid, once again though for a news story not a feature. It lists all the facts perfectly but the human appeal aspect is lacking a bit and could be improved. It is slightly touched upon,

‘Richard Potter’s glum expression as he surveys his employees at work shows that looks can indeed be receptive, and that this recent glut of demand can be attributed almost entirely to something of a calm before the storm.’

But I think this angle should’ve been expanded i.e. Talk to an employee ask them how they think changes will affect them, and the most emotive or powerful quotes should have been put in the lead to grab the reader’s attention.

I found the piece to be rather technical at times. I think JKL assumes people reading would have a basic understanding of the issue and context and therefore does not take the time to explain technical terms or the context of cost per hour thoroughly. As someone with no knowledge of solar power or the issue I felt a bit out of my depth reading the piece and I think it could have been explained better. I think one of the keys of a feature is that they should be accessible to pretty much anyone whether they have a lot of knowledge on the topic or very little should be irrelevant because primarily the human-interest aspect is what should strike a chord with readers and gain their attention.

The quotes are far too long and should’ve been separated into paragraphs for added emphasis.

The following is just one example of numerous.

“We could immediately see a massive rise in orders, over the last couple of weeks. It’s forced us to install jobs earlier and work harder to get it all done before the end of September. Following the end of that, there’s a vacuum into the future. It’s going to be much quieter in October, and I’m talking a tenth of the amount of jobs we’ve had this month, if that,” he said.

I would change this to,

“We could immediately see a massive rise in orders, over the last couple of weeks. It’s forced us to install jobs earlier and work harder to get it all done before the end of September.”

“Following the end of that, there’s a vacuum into the future. It’s going to be much quieter in October, and I’m talking a tenth of the amount of jobs we’ve had this month, if that,” he said.

I think this just reads better instead of long and lengthy quotes, which initially seem boring purely because they are long; but are actually are quite interesting and relevant.

I think the topic would have been better suited for hard news. The human element is somewhat there by bringing in people who are now undecided about whether they will ‘go solar, but it isn’t very compelling because really this isn’t going to make a huge difference in people’s lives; (except maybe for the people at Solar Charge if they end up going out of business as a result of the changes.) Whereas other political issues that were signposted for us in class, gambling, asylum seekers, same sex marriage etc are not only political issues but have a genuine impact on everyday people’s lives hence the human interest factor, and can be brought to life in a piece of writing for the reader.

The picture is good and the placement within the text works well, complementing one another.

Little background of how and why this is a political issue? Upon completion of the piece I’m still a bit unsure of why it is. Also given the fact that this is an issue which has received little media attention it needed to be made really clear why this is a political issue, for example opposed to an issue like asylum seekers which is in the news all the time further explanation would not be necessary.

In my critical opinion this piece is lacking all the elements of a feature that I have repeatedly pointed out in analysis of the other features, I won’t repeat them again because I think I’ve made them pretty clear. Other than that I think it could have been explained more fully why this is a national political issue. There was certainly room for that to be done, my word count of the piece was just over 1000 words, well under the 1400 word requirement so at the very least an extra paragraph or so highlighting the national significance of the issue could have been included. However, I do think that the piece is generally well written.

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