Monday, February 28, 2011

Amateur hour

I've been a bit depressed lately, so when my brain suddenly kicked into gear last night with a burst of creativity, I had to let it run its course. The result was some sections of rhyme that I would personally hesitate to call poetry on account of the fact that I would feel very silly if I did.

Here they are.
1. The Italian (a limerick)
The story of old Berlusconi
Regards a man who screwed young women only
With his lad in his hand
Barely able to stand
And supported each side by a croney

2. The Cockroach (to the tune of Twinkle Tinkle Little Star)

Little creature scurrying
How I find you annoying
Down around the skirting boards
With your offspring, endless hoards
Little creature scurrying
Hope you find the bait tempting

3. The Hipster
You think it's 'cause I hate you
That I'm cynical and snide
You think I don't respect you
When your interests I deride
Psychologically I'm different
More intellectually fit
This band I've found
Is underground
I doubt you've heard of it.

4. Headlights
Near Derry far
Away a car
With prisoner inside
Swerves to miss
The sheep with which
It'd otherwise collide
The blurring scree
And suddenly
Mere seconds left to think
A cold dark night
Don't fear the light
See car in river sink.

Friday, February 18, 2011

We're all friends here, right?

Newsreaders on TV are encouraged to appear all friendly-like. They engage in a bit of witty banter here and there just to keep the flow of the show running smoothly, especially if it's a morning edition. But it's a fine line between being happy colleagues and, well, deeply inappropriate.

Ouch! I actually went looking for the 'Full Frontal' sketch show's National Nightly Network News clips on YouTube to try and find something to compare with the level of sledgehammer to the face nastiness of that and was left wanting.

C'est la vie. I found this instead.

In other news it only took pages of search results on YouTube for "slip of the tongue, news" to turn up a 9/11 conspiracy video. I am disappoint, world.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Access programming (temporary) fail

In relation to a previous post on the Australian flood and cyclone coverage in Queensland, the ABC's MediaWatch programme also noticed how amazing those Auslan signers were. However, they and their viewers also noticed something else.

Here is the link to the MW video. It's a couple of minutes long.

Basically, in order to get a more dramatic close-up shot of Premier Anna Bligh speaking at the pressers, the cameras of no less than three networks zoomed in on her face and excluded the signer altogether from the picture seen on tellies across the nation. This head and shoulders image of Bligh was then used on a graphic next to exciting but already seen images of flooding set on a loop as she was speaking.

It was a case of the Magic Disappearing Signer. Thankfully, they got wise to this shitty move soon after and started thinking about the needs of their audience over their own desire for a shiny-loooking end product. Access-friendly coverage resumed.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The voice recognition software we use was created by IBM, which in this case stands for “It Broke Me.” Or at least, that’s what it feels like after 40 minutes of comprehensively training in age/edge/urge, ages/edges/urges, aged/edged/urged, aging/edging/urging, and urgently. I think I have been successful, but we shall have to wait and see.

The Muslim Brotherhood is in the news quite a lot recently. They’re a “band opposition group” (worst Guitar Hero spin-off ever), according to some captions I have seen. I’m having trouble with their name as well – it keeps coming out as “Muslim brother what,” or “was the lover would.” These go straight into my house style. A small and irrational part of my brain maintains that making a macro would be like giving up.

The computer is cynical when it comes to Egyptian politics. This is partly my fault for respeaking verbatim with misrecognisable words. “He has given 60 years of his life to the country he laughs” is either a misrecognition or possibly requires a comma after “country.” An orderly transition needs to “risibly take place.” Is that supposed to be “visibly,” or are you having a laugh, Mr Foreign Minister? Oh well. Into the house style with you.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Disaster strikes!

The big news out of Australia is Tropical Cyclone Yasi, a nasty piece of work weighing in at category 5 - the highest level of measurement for a tropical cyclone. This made landfall a few days ago in northern Queensland, the same Australian state to be recently hit with the biggest floods in the country's history. With Australians still reeling from that catastrophic event, it seemed like this was going to be a double whammy of extremely dramatic proportions. But remarkably, despite the widespread structural damage and the secondary problems associated with that, the initial toll has been minimal. As of tonight, there is one person confirmed dead - from carbon monoxide poisoning due to using a petrol generator in an unventilated room. But although that total may rise as rescue workers and emergency crews cut into isolated communities, and although the damage and the trauma that was incurred will stay with the communities involved for many years to come, this was not the Hurricane Katrina-esque event we had all been dreading. Yay!

But the almost-apocalypse doesn't just happen every day and the cameras were rolling. Journalists documented dramatic rescues, emotional breakdowns and provided essential advice to those of their viewers that still had power - for example, Do not go outside and walk around your neighbourhood like the nice man on TV is doing because it isn't safe. Not all the messages were mixed, though, and that's where we came in.

Thankfully the rolling coverage of Tropical Cyclone Yasi didn't seem to have any glaring errors that could have led to distress, danger or confusion - unless people were going to be upset that their "crocs" had been destroyed. "Atherton tablelands" did come out once or twice as "Atherton table LANs," but I think people got the message all in all.

But while there were journos trying to be both informative and helpful, there were some that seemed to be a bit out of their depth. Maybe it was because they were dealing with rural northern Queenslanders, but listening to a clean-shaven, expensively attired young man in a studio dig deep into the barrel of true blue Aussie mateship blokey bloke-bloke-bloke cobber, me ole mate familiarity was a bit... uncomfortable at times. They did try their best, though. This was one of my favourite exchanges:
Q: It must be heart-wrenching for everyone this morning. 
A: Yes. It is unbelievable. 
Q: How many homes do you think have been affected? 
A: I would say 40% of the homes. 
Q: Out of how many? 
A: 40% of the number of what is here.
It's hard to get that magic number for your headlines when you are dealing with an extremely honest person. 

That was in Australia. Elsewhere in the world, there was this:

Oh, CNN. I am disappoint. (courtesy of @jasonbelcher.)

In every disaster coverage, there is the emotional/inspirational montage. It's a clever balancing act between destruction and hope and it has to capture the 'true spirit' of the people the disaster has affected. Themes of resilience, camaraderie and strength in adversity mixed with grief, shock and individual fragility accompanied by emotive strings or a gentle piano melody. Sadly, one network decided to go with Standard Epic Battle Theme Music Track 47. That was... unfortunate.

For me, the highlight of the cyclone coverage was the inclusion by the QLD disasters emergency committee of an AUSLAN signer at every press conference. Is this woman not awesome?

She and her colleagues were also included in the QLD flood pressers.