Dear thesis

Dear thesis,

It’s time for us to say goodbye. Not forever, just for now. It’s time for you to go out into the world, strike a path of your own, leave the nest and learn to fly. *Sniff*

You’ve grown up so much over the course of a year. You started as a vague little idea, a direct product of my musings and research. You grew into something polished and considered. Something grown-up, in my opinion anyway. And now it’s time for you to go out into the big wide world. I’ve done everything I can to prepare you for the big, mean world and the scary examination panel that dwells within it. But your paragraphs are clear, your literature review is comprehensive, and your references are immaculate. You’re ready. I’m not sure I am though.

We’ve had our rough periods, especially during those rough teenage months. I didn’t know what you’d become, you thought I was old-fashioned and stuck in my old ideals. It got so bad I couldn’t look at you, and you crashed. A result of a binge, an overdose: too many tabs open, too many pending actions. But we got through it with a little help from some friends. They say it takes a village to raise a child. It definitely takes at least a suburb to make an honours thesis.

Now it’s time, armed with your lodgement forms and statements of originality, you’ll travel back to Australia to learn your fate. Our fate.

I won’t be congratulating myself or celebrating just yet though. You’re the academic equivalent of getting a puppy to see if you’re ready to have a baby. The practice run. But we made it and that sure as hell counts for something.

So good luck, little thesis puppy! May your arguments be strong and your word count be overlooked.



July is going to be busy.

Yikes. So marks are out for uni. Somewhat surprisingly, moving overseas at the start of exams didn’t impact my marks as badly as I thought it would. Little bit disappointed but probably shouldn’t be, all things considered.

Now that marking is finishing and I’m “settled”, my supervisor and I finally had a chat over Skype about how things are shaping up. He was happy but had a few pointers. And by pointers I mean massive overhauls to the entire focus of my thesis. There was much talk of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY.


What started as a little radio project has snowballed to something much bigger, but still (hopefully) focussed and within scope. Writing about how to improve democracy is great for the old ego. *Climbs on to soapbox.* But it presents the challenge of a near-complete re-write of my two-thirds complete thesis. While trying to write a novella. While writing pitches for articles to earn money. *Gets off soapbox and hides under table.* Hmm. July is going to be busy.

Turning into a pessimist

So I’ve been  doing my Masters this year. Loving it so far, though it turns out not only do you not get the floppy hat on graduation, but people don’t call you “Master” just because you have a masters degree.


Anywho, it’s been really fantastic to be able to sit in a room with a whole bunch of creative people and bounce ideas around. It’s such a stimulating environment: everyone is so motivated and smart and driven!

It wreaks havoc with the old self-esteem apparently.

It’s coming to the end of the semester and I did a quick review of some of the stuff I submitted.

Here’s a sample:

“To be blunt, the future of my practice, in Australia and the Western world at least, isn’t looking too crash hot.

My practice is journalism which is, in my opinion, an endangered species.

Having read several earlier posts, there seems to be an emerging trend of optimism in other creative industries, particularly regarding the promise the digital age seems to hold. Conversely, I feel the digital era could well be the undoing of journalism as we know it.

Newspaper readership is haemorrhaging as people log online and read for free. Television and radio news are being gradually whittled and eroded down to only the slickest, sexiest soundbytes; current events reduced to shock jock slander and celebrity rehab. Pursuit of the All Mighty Dollar is slowly destroying journalism. Budget cuts have led to a perpetually shrinking number of employed journalists while the workload grows exponentially, largely thanks to digital platforms and the 24-hour news cycle. These pressures force journalists to regurgitate press releases, turning news into easy-to-swallow infortainment and advertorials.

While this may seem an overly pessimistic outlook, it is supported by research. A recent survey from the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, in conjunction with online newspaper, Crikey, found that, over a five day week, across 10 hard-copy papers, a staggering 55% of stories driven by public relations. More than half. Good news for the PR industry at least.

The ideal of a free, vocal Fourth Estate acting as the watchdog of democracy is bowing to media monopolies, onslaughts of public relations and thinly-veiled spin posing as honest reporting.

An additional vulnerability of journalism is that, as opposed to the more traditional creative practices, journalism’s place in future isn’t fixed. People will always recognise and appreciate the value of art, but they are quick to dismiss, even deride journalism.

Despite all this, overseas markets do hold some allure and promise for journalists. The media industries in burgeoning powerhouse nations like India and China are showing significant growth and opportunities. So, globally speaking, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Back home, the Australian media industry is in desperate need of fresh perspectives, new patterns of thinking and innovative ways to capitalise on our burgeoning digital society. That’s where we creatives come in, I hope.

Journalism is imperative for a functional, democratic society, it remains to be seen whether this will be recognised, or sacrificed in favour of monetary gains.”

Man, I’m a downer!

Likelihood of employment?

Dear esteemed potential employer,

Shut up.

Got your attention, didn’t I?

Now close all your other tabs. Close your Twitter and Facebook. Close YouTube. Stop bidding on that item on Ebay. You’re wasting your time. But more importantly, you’re wasting my time. My valuable time. So cut the crap and pay attention. There are three things to know before we begin, so listen closely:

  1. I hate networking.
  2. I hate resumes.
  3. I hate cover letters.

You may think it’s ironic that I’m sending you this cover letter. Shut up, smart arse. This is not a lesson on the intricate nuances of the English language and this is also not a cover letter. This is me telling you to give me an interview. And you better dress nice. Give me an interview and I’ll show you just how fucking right for the job I am. No, more than that. Just 15 minutes of my time will give you the opportunity to see that I would be such an incredible asset to your organisation that you will create an EXCLUSIVE NEW POSITION PURELY FOR ME.


  • Multi-media (for all intents and purposes) foreign correspondent based in either India or South East Asia.
  • No video. I don’t do video.
  • Overarching organisation must be global, large, powerful and diplomatically immune with an unsurpassable legal department.
  • Opportunities for often and significant advancement.
  • Travel allowances, living expenses and drinking money provided separately to remuneration.
  • Positive, nurturing working environment.


I would like to be handsomely renumerated. None of this Grade 1 journalist, “I’m fresh out of uni and will work for whatever remuneration that can be sucked out of the vending machine by my own chapped and bleeding lips” bullshit. Handsome. Remuneration. Think Bruce Paige’s salary. Six figures. Six even figures, none of which are zero. And they all must be divisible by 4. Apart from those specifications, just however much you think I’m worth.

Working hours

Now South East Asia correspondent appeals to me, so does India correspondent. The thing about these two places is, however, that they are subject to seasonal, inclement weather. I don’t do wet seasons, I don’t do Mumbai in summer. Those times will be taken as paid leave.

If this letter hasn’t convinced you, you must be some sort of intellectually-deficient, Cretaceous-period pond scum. Pass this on to someone with more cells.


(Note the absence of words such as ‘kind’, ‘warm’ and ‘loving’. Be grateful to get even the lowliest ‘regards’.)


Job Huntin’ Season

In my latest attempt to ‘grow up’ and ‘get a real job’, I’ve been trying to fill out a lot of job applications…

The operative work is  ‘trying’, turns out Wife Swap and job applications do not form a constructive relationship.

Anyway, some of the questions on these things make me really wish I had the time and/or inclination to fill out and submit fake ones.

Being paid for doing that would be good too…

Somehow I don’t think this is what they mean when they say ‘career pathways’…

Trainee Journalist Application

Due: Way sooner than you want it to be.

Name: Doctor Bridget PhD

Highest level of study (eg: VCE, Bachelor Journalism)

Super-doctorate of Journalism/Blogging/Media Mogulling

Please attempt every question and keep your answers brief.

This application is designed to get you thinking and help us get a sense of your thinking about journalism and the


Section One: Thinking about journalism 

1)      What qualities do you think a person needs to be a successful journalist?

Remembering coffee orders and holding your liquor. 

2)      What media do you consume and how often?

Consume? Like eat? Gross. Oh, the other consume. Right. Well, we always have newspapers at home but they’re pretty old. I watch TV. Today Tonight and A Current Affair are my faves, usually skip the news, bit dry. Masterchef’s going to take up a lot of my time now though.. Oh and my Facebook news feed and my Twitter one, that’s news. 

3)      What role does video have in modern newspapers?

Unless modern newspapers can be folded into a VCR player and plugged into a TV and a power point, there’s not much point buying a video for it. 

4)      What type of stories interest you – eg: crime, sport, celebrity, politics, local stories? Explain why.

I like stories with lots of pictures, like those photo galleries online… Oh. Awkies, you’re a newspaper…

5)      If you were given a traineeship, where would you see yourself in three years? And where in six years?


7)      Why did you want to be a journalist?

Man, good question. I guess that’s why you’re the journalist. And this is like an interview, right?

8)      Which person, alive or dead, would you most like to interview and why? What would be the one question you would want to ask them?

Ke$ha. I want to ask her about the dollar sign in her name. Is it, like, on her birth certificate or did she just change it when she made heaps of money? I give the people what they want to know.

9)      Name two skills that you possess that are important in the workplace but might not be journalist specific. (eg: punctuality, handle stress well, get on with people.)

Pretty sure, I answered this already. Let’s keep this focussed, ok?

10)   What are your options if you are unsuccessful at obtaining a traineeship?

Please refer to Question 5.

 Section Two – Journalists’ writing 

Rewrite the following statements. 

1)      When the dog was discovered trapped in a drain, there were approximately 20 people who had spent the night looking for it throughout Northend.

Not much to do in Northend, huh?

3)      “He’s going to be a beauty this young bloke,’’ Fred Nevis, the Lomond coach reckons. “Oh yeah, he breathes football through both nostrils.’’

By football he means coke right?

4)      The real estate agent confessed that the true facts of the transaction showed that the property had been purchased well-below the asking price and the vendors were consulting their lawyers about the possibility of extracting financial compensation.


Section Three –
Journalists’ issues. You be the journalist.


1)      What would you say to an interview subject who refused to have her picture taken and told you to instead use the image on her Facebook page?

Find the drunken photos of her on her ex-boyfriend’s page. LOLZ at no privacy settings!

2)      You read a notorious criminal’s Tweet where he calls the Chief Commissioner of Police a “corrupt and lying fool’’. What do you do?


3)      What is the risk in publishing details of a robbery at a service station before the perpetrators have been caught and charged?

Those bastards would come after me next. 

Section Four – The Newsroom

1)      It’s your first day at a rural newspaper. You don’t live in the area and don’t know the paper. How do you start to make contacts and develop story ideas in the first two weeks?

Go drinking. I hear people in small towns live in the pub, right?

2)      What does a chief of staff do?

The boss.

3)      What are “rounds’’?

When one member of staff buys a beer for every other member of staff present at the drinking session, this is known as a ‘round’. Common
courtesy dictates that each drinker present buys a ‘round’ usually resulting in multiple ‘rounds’.

4)      Whatever position you hold in the newsroom, what is your first task?

Bend over.


Playing politics with religion

Banning the burqa. It seems everyone, everywhere has a strong, and often loud opinion about it.

Outraged politicians and irate feminists around the world are mounting their soap boxes to decry the horrendous oppression of women behind these black veils of woe.

All without looking at the facts.

People who support a ban on the burqa are either ignorant, racist or pushing their own hidden agenda.

Speaking of which, let’s start with politicians.

Earlier this year, France’s lower house of Parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill to ban the wearing of a burqa or niqab, both full-body veils, in public places. The ban proposes a 150 euro fine for the woman herself and a 30 000 euro fine and one year jail sentence if a man is found to be forcing the veil to be worn. President Nikolas Sarkozy has strongly supported the bill from the beginning claiming it’s a matter of French identity. Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie told the BBC it was a victory for democracy and for French values.

All this talk of French values in this context is slightly confusing. The French are a proud people, to say the least, and national identity is a hot topic in Europe at the moment, but what has that got to do with Muslim veils?

Joan Wallach Scott of The Guardian says the ban has little to do with the emancipation of women.

“Outlawing what the French call “le voile intégral” is part of a campaign to purify and protect national identity, purging so-called foreign elements… from membership in the nation,” she writes.

Sarkozy is using nationalism and paranoia about rising numbers of immigrants to fuel his own agenda. But it’s not just the burqa bill that proves this. France’s recent purging of the Roma gypsies, a propose law that takes away the citizenship of foreign-born citizens if they are convicted of crime, as well as the new portfolio of the Minister for Immigration and National Identity. In addition, the burqa ban passed on the eve of Fête Nationale, the anniversary of France becoming a democratic republic.

The most alarming part of this blatant political xenophobia is that the world is watching. In Belgium, Spain, Italy, Britain and even here in Australia, the debate has been gaining intensity and momentum.  Banning the burqa is an easy political distraction. Most of Western Europe is grappling with the huge, real issues of coping with immigration, globalisation, diminishing concepts of national identity, and not to mention financial troubles and instability. Banning the burqa is an easy way to manipulate the paranoia surrounding Islam and disguise the fact that real issues are not being addressed.

Isolating a minority to win popularity seems like a cretaceous and low act so why is it working in this day and age? The answer is fear. Fear of an unknown and misunderstood culture. Fear that has arisen from the bigoted idea that the only thing under a burqa is plastic explosives. Taking away a Muslim woman’s right to wear a burqa is the most overt and corrosive way to sanitise their culture for Western values. It is estimated that of the five million odd Muslims living in France, a mere 2000 wear the burqa. It is a tiny number of people to warrant such a bill. But despite these numbers, the burqa remains one of the most recognisable aspects of this culture and banning it isolates the entire Muslim population. It shows intolerance, misunderstanding and prejudice.

Feminists, and some self-serving politicians, argue that it is a garment of female repression. Certainly there are women who are forced to wear the burqa by male relatives but they are far outnumbered by those who have chosen to of their own free will. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.  A ban may seem like a convenient, popular way to exploit people’s ignorance and paranoia but it causes far more harm than good.

And to all those angry feminists, surely this is what we’ve been fighting for? The right to choose?

Any talk of banning the burqa is simply thinly-veiled racism.


Haussegger, V. (2010, May 21) The burqa is a war on women. The Age. Accessed September 2, 2010 from

Silvestri, S. (2010, July 13) Fracne votes on the burqa. The Guardian. Accessed September 2, 2010 from

Wallch Scott, J. (2010, August 26) France ban Islamic veil. The Guardian. Accessed September 2, 2010 from

BBC News Europe. (2010, July 13) French MPs vote to ban full Islamic veil in public. BBC Online. Accessed September 8, 2010 from

The importance of crap music


It’s everywhere. There is no way to escape it. It blares from our radios and televisions and slyly whispers through telephone hold music and elevators. It takes many forms and strikes when you least expect it. Our lives are indeed plagued by the spine-chilling strains of crap music. For something that makes up an unfortunately large percentage of our musical intake, not much is known about bad music. We know what we don’t like, but why? What is it about these aural assaults that make them so unpleasant? This article aims to prove that the reasons behind all this bad music are simply a question of authenticity.

The Macquarie Dictionary (1981) defines authenticity as the quality of being authentic; genuineness; the quality of being genuine or not corrupted from the original. What does this mean in terms of music? Peter Kivy (1997) describes two types of musical authenticity: historical and personal. Historical authenticity mainly refers to performers interpreting the work of composers. Kivy mentions several points such as “faithfulness to the composer’s performance intentions, faithfulness to the performance practice of the composer’s time and faithfulness to the sound of a performance during the composer’s lifetime.” Authenticity is a very important aspect to consider when interpreting a composer’s work however this article will mainly be focussing on personal authenticity. Kivy describes personal authenticity as “faithfulness to the performer’s own self, not derivative or an aping of someone else.” How exactly does authenticity fit in with bad music? A lack of authenticity is the downfall of many a tune. Authenticity affects every aspect of a song, from its conception to its performance. This article will examine the role of authenticity in music, or more specifically, crap music.

Sometimes it is very easy to tell what constitutes crap music.

Other times however, the path is not so clear cut. What some people consider to be aurally offensive could someone else’s all-time favourite track. Bad music is often a question of taste based on each individual’s social and psychological conditions. As such, the aim of this article is not to assemble a hit lists of crap songs or albums but to investigate the common causes behind crap music. Naturally, the first point of call for this article is to determine what exactly bad music is.

Simon Frith (2004) states that bad music seems to fall into two broad categories: incompetent music and self-indulgent music.

Incompetent music is dependent on the musician’s levels of technical skill with their chosen instrument.  This incompetence can be broken into two very different areas: untutored and unprofessional. Untutored musicians play bad music because they can’t play any other way; either because they were never taught or are simply not musically able. Unprofessional musicians, on the other hand, play badly because they choose to. This sounds strange initially but entire musical genres can be based on having less than virtuosic musical ability. Punk, for example, with its homemade, DIY roots started out as a rebellion against the cashed-up, overproduced ‘mainstream’ artists. Instead its authenticity is determined by the rawness and reality of the lyrics as well as the passion with which the instruments are played, rather than any particular musical gifts. Passion and authenticity are often the defining characteristics of good music, even more so than technical ability. Frith (2004) states that “even in classical criticism, reviewers tend to favour a passionate performance, wrong notes and all, over something that is technically flawless but cold.”

Peter Kivy talks about failures in performance versus failures in sincerity. A performance can be technically perfect and still lack feeling and sincerity. On the other hand, as the boys above so aptly demonstrate, a performance can have all the sincerity and earnest emotion it wants but if it can’t back it up with at least some technical proficiency, crap music is usually the end result.

The second category that crap music falls into is that of self-indulgent music.

“Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think I could take it, `cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again, oh no!”

Bad musicians play or compose in a completely incomprehensible, introverted way. Isolating listeners with un-relatable or hollow lyrics that reflect self-obsession rather than any urge to communicate musically. Y. Taylor and H. Barker state that “Increasingly the fundamental purpose of rock music came to be self-expression. Less talented musicians have used this goal to justify self-indulgence and obscurantism, producing songs that are meaningless to anyone but themselves.” Self-indulgent musicians can also be criticised for egocentricity, forgetting or ignoring that music is a collaborative, communicative practice. Fifteen minute drum solos are a dead giveaway for this type of musician. They use a performance or a song as a vessel of their own self-promotion. To show off how well or loud or long they can play, ignoring their colleagues, resulting in music that is unbalanced. Self-indulgent music also includes empty, cold music. Frith (2004) describes this type of self-indulgence as “music that indulges in form at the expense of content … that has nothing to say but says it elaborately anyway.”

Both of the aforementioned aspects of bad music reflect the importance of authenticity in music. Both portray a breakdown in musical communication, whether between musicians and other musicians, musicians and their audiences or composers and performers. What about authenticity of physically performance?  We can all agree that seeing a truly awesome live band is a fantastic, sometimes moving experience. Conversely, having to endure a crap performance is only slightly preferable to having teeth pulled sans anaesthetic. Authenticity is such an important trait to bring to a live performance; it is simply not enough to amuse an audience. Indeed, theatricality is a trait more fitting of inauthentic music than anything else. H. Barker and Y. Taylor (2002) wrote:

“In Lennon’s distaste for McCartney’s pop entertainments, in Supergrass’s and Nirvana’s embarrassment at their mainstream success, and in a thousand other rock voice, we can hear in retrospect that it is inauthentic or inadequate to merely entertain and that simple amusement or listening pleasure is not enough.”

Kiss is a perfect example of this. Yes, we were all mildly bemused by the theatricality of the make-up and the stage personas but it is certainly a stretch to consider this a piece of soulful, authentic music. They certainly sing about heartfelt topics like love and God giving rock and roll to us, yet we don’t consider them authentic musicians. The fact that Kiss are so outright in asserting who they are, or at least who they pretend to be, is a contributing factor to this. Y. Taylor and H. Barker (2002) outline two kinds of honesty: earnestness and self-revelation.

“It’s the difference between an answer and a question: earnestness is saying, “This is who I am, and I really want you to believe me,” while self-revelation is saying, “I wonder who I am- could you help me find out?” For obvious reasons, the latter is a far more inviting position.”

In stark contrast to the garish, over-the-top glam rock of Kiss, Nirvana’s iconic Unplugged performance is one of the most enduring examples of authentic music. Despite the fact that they are performing a cover of someone else’s song, the musical journey undertaken through this song is unquestionably one of self-revelation. The audience are invited and enticed to help the band, or perhaps just Kurt Cobain, find out who they really are. The raw emotion and pain in this performance brings more authenticity than any amount of make-up or sequins ever could.

Who else is to blame for the vast quantities of crap music plaguing our lives? The bands cop a lot of flack but there is, of course, a higher power at work. This may seem glaringly obvious; of course it is those soulless, money-grabbing record companies, who else could so shamelessly disseminate this rubbish? It is always easy to blame the business side of the industry but, in reality, it is not that simple. Essentially, the music we hate is a direct, albeit unfortunate, result of the music we love. It is our love of music, and subsequent readiness to financially invest in it, that results in such vast quantities of poor music. Naturally, record companies want to maximise profits by creating music that will appeal to the largest possible audience and therein lies the problem. When music is created solely for the purpose of pleasing everyone and making money, it loses all of its authentic qualities and becomes, quite simply, crap music. Simon Frith (1978) states that:

“The Leavisite literary criticism is also scathing of mass culture, stating that it is a ‘corruption of such art.’ The key critical concept is ‘authenticity’; the argument is that a culture created for commercial profit must lack ‘a certain authenticity’ even if it ‘dramatises authentic feelings’.”

D. Hughes (1978) agrees stating that mass music is worthless because there is ‘nothing essential in the music itself which belongs to either real emotion or to an unmistakeable vitality’. However it does revert back to the age-old theory of supply and demand. If no-one bought crap music then there would be no benefit in making it. Are the record companies simply giving the people what they want? Has our musical taste been eroded to empty, meaningless tracks written purely to make money? It is certainly not the most positive outlook and is probably slightly exaggerated. Throughout the ages, as long as people have been making music, some people have been making crap music. It just makes us appreciate the good, authentic stuff even more. The fact that every Singstar and Guitar Hero can now publish themselves and their music on MySpace or YouTube certainly has done wonders for the amount of crap music available online. Hopefully, this means we will be appreciating the truly emotive, authentic songs a hell of a lot more.

In conclusion, authenticity is by far the most important quality in a song if it is to be respected and liked. Bad music can be divided into two, occasionally overlapping, categories: incompetent and self-indulgent music. Both of these stem from questionable authenticity whether it be physical, musical proficiency or using music as a vessel for egocentric self-satisfaction.  Authenticity also plays an intrinsic role in the reception of live bands. Overly-theatrical shows are seen to be fake and lacking in genuineness while truly emotive performances take audiences on a journey of self-revelation. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that authenticity is what makes or breaks a good artist or band. Changing technology, the advent of MySpace and YouTube, are providing a blank canvas for bad musicians as well as good ones. It is up to the faithful and, hopefully, discerning listeners to hold authenticity of composition and performance as essential qualities, forcing higher standards in music. We definitely don’t want another Achy Breaky Heart.


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