Meet the new team

The Edge’s new journalism project, CitizenJ, is full steam ahead in 2013. All hands are on deck as Newsroom Coordinator, Ursula, and her team of budding Newsroom Facilitators prepare for the fresh launch of the project’s pioneering news service.

There are many ways to get involved. The CitizenJ community newsroom at The Edge is already up and running so come on in and see what’s happening on the top shelf, er, floor. Currently the team is adding the finishing touches to the publication website which will be ready in the next couple of weeks.

The Walkley Talks kick off in February and offer an evening of intelligent debate and conversation about the issues afoot in news media today. There’s also the opportunity to throw your hat in the ring and pitch for some grants if you have a fresh idea to contribute to the media industry.

So who are the passionate folks behind this ground-breaking, new media journalism project?

Newsroom Coordinator Ursula Skjonnemand has worked in radio and cross media for the last ten years with the majority of the time dedicated to the ABC. She recently completed a Masters with Honours to add photojournalism and interactive storytelling to her repertoire. As part of her studies she developed an interactive biography concept called ‘The Memory Box’. With the aim to enable everyday people to tell their remarkable stories, Ursula is thrilled to be leading the CitizenJ project.

Steven Riggall is another newsroom facilitator and brings his experience as the 4ZZZ newsroom coordinator to CitizenJ. He studied journalism at Griffith University. Although his first love was not radio but the written word, he has found that journalism makes for a great way to express his humanistic ideals and also pursue the issues that interest him.

Newsroom facilitator three is Loris Gordon. She has worked for both Fairfax and APN as a print and online journalist and loves to share the remarkable stories of others. She loves playing around with words and learning other languages however she also likes to spend as much time as she can at the beach near her home on the Sunshine Coast. Loris returned to study in 2012 and now works in social media marketing and strategy.

Carl Elliot Smith is the last of the newsroom facilitators. He narrowly avoided a life in tweed jackets and lab coats by stumbling into journalism. Through his Science and Journalism degrees at university he flitted between the Genetics laboratories and the university’s radio station, JACradio. He ended up running the station and being awarded a Clarion and an Ossie award for student journalism. He was also poached by ABC’s Radio National whilst at University, and works as a co-producer for the program Future Tense. He has produced for local and international radio stations and is currently training at ABC TV’s Lateline and beginning his Honours in Science Communication.

Want to join us? Email us at

Join the conversation in the dedicated Facebook group and keep an eye on the CitizenJ Facebook page.



The Making of Greg’s Vigil

Greg Rolles

Image by Anthea O’Brien

There is a certain buzz in a newsroom when deadline is approaching and it’s something most journalists come to relish.

It’s that same buzz of a looming publication deadline which was in the air when CitizenJ put together its first news package. The story was about Greg Rolles, a Brisbane man who decided to hold a seven-day vigil outside the Pinkenba refugee transit centre. His aim was to raise awareness of refugee rights.

CitizenJ spoke to Greg before his vigil and he agreed to make his own personal video of his thoughts and feelings throughout the protest. A number of photographers and radio journalists also visited Greg throughout the week. At the end of it all we had Greg into the studio to explain his motivation for the protest.

By Monday evening most of the content had been created, but was still sitting in a folder on the editors computer. Now the real work of putting the package together was to begin. A layout was decided upon and, in the style of newspapers, drawn up on the whiteboard. This layout was used by a designer to create a website framework and guide the assembly of the whole package.

At the same time video producers worked to get Greg’s documentary edited and ready to go. Beside them was a web designer working with graphics and interactive elements to create a container  where the video would sit. By Tuesday night the package was starting to take shape. As the final run of photos were submitted from the photographers they were dropped into slideshows and laid out on the webpage.

However, with the publication deadline closing in there was still something missing – we didn’t have any words to go with the media!

On Wednesday morning a print journalist started on a story to fill in the text based section of the package. It was close, but in the afternoon the text was dropped in and the page was fully laid out and ready for the next step. After some final  work writing headlines, breakout quotes, and double checking spelling the package was ready to go live.

And so, as this story was poised to go live, the cycle started again with journalists out collecting content for next week’s publication.

Check out the Greg’s Vigil package created by a team of CitizenJ volunteers here.

Were you at the launch?

CitizenJ launch

The CitizenJ community news program is well underway after a successful launch at The Edge’s auditorium last night. Over one hundred of Brisbane’s finest attended the launch, which also celebrated the first of the Walkley Media Talks series in Brisbane.

State Librarian and CEO, Janette Wright, opened the event, announcing the CitizenJ newsroom open for business and the Experiments competition open for applications. Christopher Warren, MEAA’s Federal Secretary and CEO of The Walkley Foundation, then followed to introduce the first of the monthly Walkley Media Talks, exploring the topic ‘Change is Inevitable’.

Sally Eeles from Network 7 played chair to panellists Stuart Watt from ABC News Online, Sharona Coutts from The Global Mail and Chris Jones from The Courier Mail who proceeded to  engage the crowd with a heated discussion about the future of the journalism industry.

An array of topics including the future of publishing platforms, multi-tasking journalists and the role of the everyday person (or citizen journalist) in the 21st century news cycle were all thoughtfully considered and then ruthlessly scrutinised by the industry panellists.

A particularly colourful conversation about whether serious journalism still attracted readers divided the panellists with some believing ‘tabloid-esque’ stories covering the nude royals were more likely to produce reader fever than serious issues such as the Syrian civil war. Investigative journalist, Ms Coutts got a laugh when she quipped that “if we really wanted to maximise readership, all our stories would be about puppies, kittens or boobs.”

We can only hope that the remaining discussions in the Walkley Media Talk series are as animated and entertaining as this one was. The next talk on 26 September, exploring the topic ‘But is it journalism?’ is now open for registrations.

The Walkley Media Talks are a monthly event. Each talk will be lived streamed and made available as a vodcast after the event.

You can join the conversation on Twitter using #WalkleyMediaTalks and following @SLQedge, @Walkleys, @CitizenJ_aus and @mediaalliance.

Get experimental with CitizenJ

Think you’ve got what it takes to reinvent or create an entirely new medium for the way news is sourced, produced and consumed in Australia? We want to hear from you!

The Experiments Competition is calling on creatives and entrepreneurs from around Australia to share in $30 000 and help shape the unpredictable future of citizen journalism with some unconventional new ideas.

We want to see projects that have relevance in a regional setting, take advantage of the proposed high-speed broadband network and have the potential to be commercialised or scaled up.

Successful applicants will receive up to $10 000 to craft a project in The Edge’s newly installed professional newsroom that will potentially have application to be delivered across public libraries Australia wide.

Information sessions are being held at The Edge 6-7:30pm 29 August, 19 September and 10 October. You can find all the fine print and submission details online. Applications close 5pm, 12 October 10 2012.

A newsroom like no other

The Edge is creating the future of journalism; a newsroom like no other.

Our new project is set to open up factual storytelling to the masses with a new media outlet run by the community aimed to record history through the eyes of local people.

I have been assigned to help create this new newsroom and it’s an opportunity I feel very honoured to have. As a professional cross media journalist I have worked across many media outlets including the Courier Mail, community newspapers, community radio and broadcast television. I now want to bring what I have learnt back to the community and give everyone the chance to have a voice.

The New Journalism Project at The Edge has been under development for almost two years and it’s designed make citizen journalism a viable way to record Queensland’s modern history through the eyes of the local community.  But this program isn’t just another community forum, The Edge is combining training from some of the peak journalism educators and support organisations in Australia with a number of community outlets to ensure the voice of the community gets heard.

We are also building a new professional community newsroom so our citizen journalists can access to some of the latest technology to create high quality community news. This newsroom will be built right here at The Edge to make sure it is assessable to everyone.

Today marks the second week in the program and with most of the administrate work out of the way we’ll be starting to build the nuts and bolts of a real news outlet. This week will see the newsroom space fill up with tech gear, phones and computers. It will also see the space come alive with meetings and collective collaboration aimed to tackle the massive task of building a new newsroom from scratch.

The newsroom and New Journalism Project will continue develop over the coming weeks so feel free to drop into The Edge, say hello and watch the future of journalism evolve.

See you there,

John Corlett
Newsroom coordinator

Citizen J

The CitizenJ New Journalism Program creates a new way of looking at journalism and news, based upon research developed both overseas and within Australia. The design of the new newsroom tears apart the old news model and rebuilds with a focus on the new generations’ consumption of news.

The CitizenJ newsroom design is modelled upon research from ‘Young Thinking’, a project by Chris Sopher, a US journalism associate for the Knight Foundation, which is an organisation that fosters innovative ways to deliver quality journalism. It also funds the Knight Digital Media Centre.

Mr Sopher’s research found that younger generations are news grazers; they engage with the news at irregular intervals. With the traditional news system focused on incremental daily or even hourly updates, this means that many from this audience miss key issues in an ongoing news story or event.

The Google Living Stories experiment, a 2010 partnership between Google, The Washington Post and New York Times, was an attempt to address this issue. This project grouped stories into topics and assigning each story a set of tags depending on its relationship to the topic. This meant readers could read the latest story and also other stories in the topic to fill in their knowledge gaps on the news issue – such as key people, locations, major issues and background.

The Edge’s CitizenJ new journalism program takes Google’s initiative a step further. With input from a community focus group, CitizenJ brings together the reader focused design and layout of print media with a multimedia focused, topic based storytelling format, incorporating concepts tested in the Google Living Docs experiment.

The new model also features ongoing industry research from award winning journalist and CitizenJ Program Coordinator John Corlett, who has worked in print, television, digital and radio newsrooms across the country.

The program is set to launch on The 22nd of August with the first publication to follow soon after.