Two Walls

Just off Keira Street in downtown Wollongong, a kaleidoscopic mess of urban art murals sprawls across the back wall of the local Youth Centre. It’s a Friday afternoon and Anthony Jones is standing in the open with his back to the wall and a mask across his face. His right hand grips a full can as he chats to a bunch of local kids. “The Fact that I was able to turn this into an operable business that supports me full time, that’s my biggest achievement,” he proudly remarks as his young students listen intently. Painting walls is finally paying the bills for the artist formally known as Peske.

 

It wasn’t long ago that a young Anthony found himself staring at the walls of a prison cell, wondering where it all went wrong. “I had a fairly long stint. I was in there for fifteen months.” One year and three months. A long stretch with plenty of time to stare at the cold, blank walls and reminisce about the many mistakes made during a misspent youth.

 

It all started pretty early on. “I was from a young age a fairly troublesome kid, I caused my parents a fair bit of grief.” Hanging around with the wrong crowd in Wollongong got Anthony’s parents worried. They thought a fresh start might change his attitude so he was shipped off down to Melbourne to live with his Aunty.

 

He arrived in outer-suburban Melbourne at age fourteen and started hanging out at the skate park in Croydon with a kid called SED.

 

“That was when I started rubbing shoulders with graffiti artists.”

 

SED was the same age and seemed happy to show him the ropes. “He took me around Melbourne and showed me all of the hotspots; the laws, subculture.” Anthony was instantly hooked. “It was very graffiti orientated…, tags, throw ups, pieces, we literally did it wherever we could”. He felt at home in the graffiti subculture and quickly made a name for himself under the pseudonym Peske.

 

“It wasn’t law abiding but that’s where it all starts.”

 

Defacing property became a daily routine for Peske and SED. Their misfit band of counter-culture-graffiti-artists would roam the streets, touching up walls with a can of spray paint in one hand and a can of beer in the other.“ I can see how people could see that its defacing property and I can see that on the same token its total artistic freedom, there’s canvases everywhere,” says Anthony.  Despite this, it wasn’t all fun and games. Anthony’s parents were shocked when his new love of grog and graffiti followed him back to Wollongong.

 

Anthony was out left on the streets of Sydney.

 

“I moved back up and my parents couldn’t cope… I was in refuges around Sydney. I was probably in around fifteen different refuges, I was in there for a max of two months at a time and for a huge chunk of that time I was just on the streets. I was just couch surfing… I was still painting and doing my thing in amongst all that.”

 

Anthony recalls ringing his dad at two o’clock one morning from a payphone in Sydney, begging for cash. “The way you’re going, you’re going to end up in gaol,” his father warned.

 

A cocktail of drugs and alcohol mixed with an aggressive temperament was a recipe for disaster. His father could see Anthony spiralling out of control. “The spin-offs of things they were doing ultimately landed me in big trouble.” Soon after the strong warning from his father Anthony realised that his graffiti habit wasn’t getting him anywhere. “I was thinking about it one day and it was after I had gone out painting and I saw my stuff around and for the first time I realised that it wasn’t really doing anything for me anymore, it wasn’t aligned with what I wanted to be or what I wanted to do anymore…you’re sitting there painting fences and it seems a little bit childish.”

 

It was a long time coming—vandalism, drugs, alcohol and now a serious assault conviction. For Anthony, the slamming of the cell door came as a rude shock—the kind of shock that snaps you into gear.

 

“I looked around and I thought, are you a gangster Anthony? Are you a gangster? I want to know, are you a gangster? Because if you are then this is the place for you, and this is the rest of your life, right here: you’re looking at it. These concrete walls and the barbed wire and all the fences, this is you man, sign up,” he said. “If it’s not you, then something needs to change, it needs to change right now and it needs to change in here. Because if you can start making a change towards a better future inside then you can mould who you are mentally and also physically to be able to come with what’s going to be put before you when you get out.”

 

The now fit and rakish Anthony Jones spent the remainder of his sentence steeling himself for a second chance at life. “Fitness played a big part when I was in gaol… I went in and I was all skinny and malnourished and now I had all this access to food and a large amount of time and I was drug free- so I was training.” Anthony was sporting both a healthy body and mind when he finally got to experience the pure, unadulterated joy of redemption.

 

“It was the most amazing experience of my life.”

 

Those first couple of months out of prison were the most important. “I needed to formulate some sort of game plan, on how this was going to be lasting change.” The first step was severing ties with all his old friends and joining the local gym. The transformation was clear for all to see: gaunt drug addict to bushy-tailed gym goer.

 

His positive new outlook and fresh love of fitness landed Anthony a job as a store manager for a supplement company in Albion Park. One day his boss approached him, “I know that you used to do graffiti,” he said. Anthony was initially shocked but his boss’ revelation was quickly followed by a request. “Would you mind doing a mural piece in Woonona, in our new store?”

He hadn’t picked up a can for five years but the request made Anthony curious. He was keen to give it a shot.

 

“I went out and painted the mural.  I was there for a couple of hours and the boss said, here’s the money for the materials and here’s a little bit extra for your time. I jumped in my car and I put the money on my passenger seat and I was driving home and it was literally the craziest moment—I just got paid for doing something that I love, for the first time”.

 

It all of a sudden seemed like a no-brainer. The same creative outlet that once led him astray could provide a source of income and a platform for Anthony to express himself creatively.

 

He ran with the inspiration and formed his business, Urban Art Australia.

 

“Fundamentally what we do, we paint murals, that’s what we do,” he said.

 

After just two short years Anthony’s business is supporting him full time and his murals can be seen vibrantly sprayed on homes and shopfronts all across the Illawarra region. Business is booming and Urban Art Australia has gone a long way to shaping Anthony’s second chance at life.

 

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Local Wollongong Youth Worker Claudia Boiano knew Anthony when he was young and has witnessed his transformation first-hand. “Anthony was able to turn his life around from being a troubled young person to a fully functioning adult that wants to give back to his community through his skill in art,” she said. Claudia and Anthony have recently facilitated an aerosol art workshop at the local Youth Centre and Claudia gladly remarks on the impact Anthony is having on the lives of young blokes in the area.

 

“He was able to articulate to the young people positive and encouraging lessons that also provided a safe environment that allowed the young people to express themselves in a creative way.”

 

The kid who grew up on the wrong side of the law is now showing a new generation of young people the right way to operate.

 

As he winds up his latest workshop out the back of the youth centre, Anthony explains his process to the students who are now hanging off his every word. “I try to get up and think what did I do yesterday that I can do differently today, to get more out of life, to get more out of myself, and to give more to the people that are around me”. The artist formally known as Peske, who got dirty with a spray can from age fourteen, has finally cleaned himself up.

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Raw Interview with Anthony Jones

I recently met Anthony Jones when he and I facilitated a graffiti workshop at Wollongong Youth Centre. During our initial conversation, Anthony gave a brief explanation of his journey from troubled teenager to successful local business owner. He spoke very candidly about various life experiences including being kicked out of home at a young age, spending time in jail and overcoming adversity to forge a successful business, Urban Art Australia. I found Anthony’s life story to be quite remarkable so I asked if he would allow me to profile him for my University project. Anthony happily obliged and we agreed to meet the following week to conduct an interview.

I utilised the information Anthony shared in our initial encounter to formulate a series of questions to ask in the interview. I perceive this as a strength of the interview process because curiosity and active listening provided sound research for use in the later interview. This technique is depicted in the book ‘interviewing, a core skill’ (2006) page 186 where the author states that “The better the research before an interview, the better the journalists position to bargain for more information.” Examples include 23:37- talking about his business and 14:50- asking Anthony about getting into trouble with the law.

Anthony was a ‘good talent’ (McHugh, 2016) to interview and his willingness to speak candidly about his experiences was a strength of the interview. This is evidenced at various stages throughout the interview including at 15:01 when Anthony opens up about his previous drug use and 17:40 when Anthony recalls his father warning him that “the way you’re going; you’re going to end up in gaol”

I began the interview by employing the ‘gentle approach’ strategy as depicted in the book ‘interviewing, a core skill’ (2006). I Asked a closed question at 0:19 to establish where Anthony grew up and then and asked an open ended question about family life to set the tone for the interview. This enabled Anthony and I to slowly set the rhythmic pace of the interview.

At 5:40 in the interview I asked Anthony to share his thoughts on the graffiti sub culture. I hadn’t planned to ask this question but after closely listening to him talk about his experiences in graffiti scene at 2:40 I thought it would be interesting to find out some information. I believe that employing Siobhan McHugh’s (2007) concept of Aerobic listening was evident here and this was consequently a strength of the interview.

Siobhan McHugh (2007) also states “Empathy obviates the need to like or dislike someone. You can clinically record a distasteful action by your informant, without abhorring him – judgment is withheld.” I perceive this as a strength of the interview because I was careful to withhold judgment as I asked Anthony to share his experience in prison at 15:00-17:20. I believe this helped build rapport between myself and Anthony, which inevitably enticed him to share more intimate information throughout the interview at 18:35 and 32:50.

As stated in page 196 of ‘interviewing, a core skill’, “The best interviewers are empathetic listeners. They understand and empathise with all sorts of people”. I displayed empathic listening at 23:25 in the interview when acknowledged that Anthony has “come a long way” and that he has overcome adversity to achieve success.

I noticed whilst listening to the recorded interview that I fumbled my words at various stages such as 11:47 where I can clearly be heard saying “um”. This occurred at multiple stages throughout the interview. Another weakness of the interview is evident at 18:00. During my questioning at this stage of the interview my tone of voice appears uninterested and dull. I could have spoken with more clarity to ensure that Anthony felt like I was interested in what he was saying and engaged in the interview.

Overall I believe my interview with Anthony was successful. I believe this was primarily due to the frank and honest nature of the talent and the articulate and candid retelling of his experiences. In future I will be careful to ensure that I ask questions in a more enthusiastic manner as my questioning was weak at 18:00 and 9:25.

References

Conley, D & Lambie S 2006, ‘Interviewing, a core skill’ in D Conley & S Lambie (ed.), The Daily Miracle: An Introduction to Journalism, Oxford University press, Indiana University, pp. 182-207.

McHugh, SA 2007, ‘The Aerobic Art of Interviewing’, Asia Pacific Media Educator, vol. 18, pp. 147-154.

McHugh, SA 2016, ‘The (aerobic) Art of Interviewing’, Lecture, Media Reporting and Storytelling 2, University of Wollongong, viewed 30 March 2016, <https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/mod/folder/view.php?id=458527&gt;

Week 13: Exploring Multimedia combinations

Part 1: Reviewing the work of others.

This week i am reviewing a multimedia Storify report by Jordan Osborne that details the reconfiguration of online video journalism

Jordan provides an in depth analysis about the emergence of the online video as a form of digital journalism. His work encompasses impressive use of embedded twitter posts to show statistical analysis which details the emergence of the Youtube platform. The report contains information from reputable convergent journalism scholars such as Henry Jenkins. This shows that Jordan has sourced his information correctly which adds academic rigor to this report.

Jordan then goes on to describe how both traditional and media outlets are coping with the emergence of the online video. He uses Vice magazine as an example of a media company who have successfully implemented the online video into their story telling.

There are basic grammar errors present in this report but overall it is an insightful look at the emergence of online videos.

Part 2: What i learned from the second assignment.

In what situations would a journalist choose video over still photography, and vice versa?

As 4K technology continues and evolve and becomes more affordable journalists will be able to constantly record in video mode and take stills from the videos when required.

Stills photography would be used when you want to capture a specific moment in time and video is ideal when you want your audience to hear and see an event.

What are the advantages of each?

Still photography is ideal when a journalist wants to capture a specific moment in time. It can also be useful to convey a moment that isn’t easily be described properly in words.

Video often does a better job putting the audience at the scene and providing them a more immersive sense of what happened and what occurred.

How does preparation for a video interview differ from preparation for an interview for radio or print?

When shooting video, you must be aware of visual aspects of the story, which is not the case in radio or print journalism. When preparing to employ the video medium a journalist must ensure that there is correct lighting and an appropriate background to be film an interview in front of. The journalist must also ensure the subject gives consent to being filmed.

How can a story’s visuals enhance how a story is heard?

Visuals highlight, summarize, show patterns and trends in, and facilitate the understanding of a complex process or situation

How can its audio enhance what is seen?

 Audio can give a quick impression of a speaker, their voice, age, personality, gender etc.

Generally speaking, audio can enhance a visual or text based story by providing elements that aren’t able to be conveyed through visual or text. Triple J Hack does a good job of this.

Where do we draw the line between journalism and art?

 Journalism is fact, art is fiction.

 How can written elements of a report be incorporated to create a complete multimedia package?

 Text gives depth to a story. It is good for contextualizing a multimedia narrative. Text is also valuable for giving background and analysis to a story.

Week 11: Social Media Workshops- My favourite Tweeting Journalists

For this weeks web module i have chosen to follow three of my favourite journalists on Twitter and analyse how each of these professionals utilise the Twitter platform.

Tom Tilley

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Tom Tilley is the presenter of a current affairs program called Hack which airs daily on National youth radio broadcaster, Triple J. Tilley has 24,500 Twitter followers and he has posted over 3,000 Tweets.

Tilley primarily uses his Twitter profile to create discussions surrounding his work on the Hack program. Tilley also regularly Retweet news and current affairs information from sources including ABC Australia, Rugby Union Australia and The Australian Newspaper.

Nick Bowen

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Nick Bowen is an AFL reporter for the website AFL.COM.AU Mr Bown utilises his Twitter profile in a professional capacity, publishing tweets mainly related to AFL news. Mr Bowen publishes content on a regular basis and often choses Twitter as her preferred destination to publish breaking news from within the AFL industry.

Bernard Keene

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Australian political Journalist Bernard Keene regularly utilises the Twitter platform to publish links to his journalism work. Keen is also an avid Retweeter, sharing the work of others on a daily basis. Mr Keene often posts light hearted and witty Tweets about his views on the Australian political landscape as well as occasional insights into his personal life.

ASSIGNMENT PITCH- “WHAT’S HIDDEN”

My multimedia story “what’s hidden” will focus on a vision impaired member of the community named Ralph.

Ralph has suffered from severe vision impairment for a number of years and this story aims to explore how he sees the world around him. The whats hidden aspect of the project relates to how Ralph’s ability to see clearly is hidden and also how things that he does see and experience can be misunderstood.

The images in this will primarily aim to visually represent the way Ralph explains what he sees. For example- Ralph enjoys watching (and listening to) television. One of the images will aim to, as accurately as possible, portray Ralph’s description of what he sees when he watches television. There will also be a photograph of Ralph in his home environment and images which depict how Ralph manages being visually impared

Week 5 Module: Review- Creatures of the Night

‘Creatures of the night’ by Jack Osborne is a beautifully composed piece of audio. This one-minute clip describes the feeling of working the night shift at McDonalds. Osborne uses a combination of the ambient sounds of meat cooking on a grill to indicate where the subject is working. This is coupled with the sounds of a harmonica which creates a sense of loneliness for the listener. The way Osborne choses to limit the ambient noises to just the sound the grill helps give the viewer an understanding that there is nothing else happening at 3am other than the task at hand. There is no sound of co workers, customers or a busy restaurant. There is only the sound of the grill which creates an empty feeling within the listener.

The harmonica is also instrumental in provoking the feeling of loneliness. It is a single harmonica which makes the listener feel as if he or she has just walked into a deserted town during the ‘wild, wild west days’ in America.

The interview is clear, concise and the way that Osborne leaves the listener wondering where the interviewee is working until the very end of the story adds an element of suspense to the work.