JOUR315 Assessment Task No 1: Story Pitch Sam Hall 3279030
In recent times, alcohol fuelled violence has been a major issue in Illawarra pubs and clubs. A relatively high level of glass attacks, shootings, physical and sexual abuse incidents, particularly in the Wollongong precinct, has left many residents weary of going out.
There are three venues which have become notorious for the incidents after high media publicity and speculation throughout New South Wales.
From left to right: Cooneys Tavern/ The Grand Hotel, the Glasshouse Tavern, The Harp Hotel
As far as media coverage is concerned, Sydney papers have posted several lists of dangerous pubs and clubs throughout the state, with the Glasshouse Tavern and the Harp Hotel always featuring highly. However, the Illawarra Mercury has had the best overall coverage. The paper is constantly bringing in new angles in the Wollongong night scene and highlighting some of the staggering statistics that come out of the Illawarra.
Given that the issue is far from an overnight solution or quick-fix policy, it would be suitable for the media to delve deeper into the issue, speaking to representatives from throughout the Illawarra on what is being done.
My inspiration for this type of convergence pitch comes from Channel Ten Reporter Josh Murphy and his ‘on the street’ insight into what happens when one goes out in Sydney. In particular, he did a great piece to camera amongst the chaos which pictured the aggressive, dangerous nature of going out in the city. I feel that the vibe is much the same, probably stronger, in Wollongong. For this reason, it would make a great convergent piece. Obviously the nature of the piece would be more focused on as a report (a more typical television piece). However, the piece would still be convergent in that I would use elements of convergence (still photos, natural audio etc.)
I think that the best way to shed light on this issue is through the convergence style of story-telling. A combination of video, audio image and text would be the most effective way for the audience to comprehend the situation and become emotionally involved in the story.
All three establishments named above are among many in Wollongong which have been subject to reviews from the state government. This has been the result of lobbying from local politicians, much publicised court matters and the voicing of public opinion. Definitely the most heavily scrutinised venue is the Glasshouse Tavern, where violent attacks and excessive intoxication of patrons reportedly occur on a weekly basis.
Most recently, in December last year, police began enforcing new licensing laws on the Glasshouse Tavern including plastic cups after midnight. This came about after it was named as one of 48 NSW licensed venues singled out by Premier Nathan Rees as the most violent.
The fact that the Premier has singled out a Wollongong venue for its violence provides backbone and urgency to the thrust of the story.
How to go about it: Talent.
I believe that there are a number of criteria that the story needs in order to fulfil the objectives of a convergence script.
· The story needs a personal human interest angle. Given the nature of the attacks, it would be highly appropriate to speak to someone who has experienced a glassing. I have two friends, both who have been attacked in one way or another, who are willing to speak openly about the trauma they went through. Hypothetically speaking, I would place a large emphasis on one of the experiences so that the audience can get a feel of what Wollongong nightlife is capable of.
· Given the political processes and legislation enforced on these venues, it would be highly appropriate to speak to a local member. It would be preferable to get a State member rather than Federal member because it is predominantly a state handled issue. There are several in the Illawarra:
o Noreen Hay – Member for Wollongong.
o David Campbell – Member for Keira, Minister for the Illawarra.
o Lylea McMahon – Member for Shellharbour.
It would also be suitable to speak to someone from the local hospitality industry and gather their thoughts on what could be done. This could include:
o Local proprietors of pubs.
o Liquor councils or bodies.
o Vox pops of revellers on what they think should be done.
o Other representatives from the Illawarra – Arthur Rorris from the South Coast Labour Council; Les Dion from the Illawarra Chamber of Commerce; Jim Eddy – Recreational park owner and tourism figure.
While some of these people may not be directly relevant to the thrust of the story, they are all knowledge people who voice opinion; something which would make this script so much more intriguing.
How to go about it: Cover shots/overlay.
There are a number of techniques that could be used to strengthen the visual appearance of the story.
In terms of overlay, I would obviously use plenty of vision of the establishments during daylight hours. The major problem would be that nearly all pub managers wouldn’t give you access to the inside of the venues. Even if they were to, issues surrounding privacy may arise so to keep things simple I will have to use external vision.
*Wide shots, medium shots, close-ups of the signs out the front as well as front doors etc. Plenty of pan and tilt shots, still shots of patrons drinking near windows or wherever visible from the outside.
* Night time vision from outside the venues. Because many people perform pub crawls during these nights, they often spill out onto the street in a loud and intoxicated manner. This vision would be the ‘money shot,’ so to speak. If I can capture just some of the antics that go on outside the venues, it will make the story a whole lot more interesting. The biggest risk factor will be personal safety. However being a public place, I have every right to gather vision.
* A graphic is often a great way of displaying a lot of numerical information in a simple, understandable form. In light of this, I would try to make up some graphics of figures and numbers which showcase the ferocity of some of these venues and use this as overlay.
* I would use still photos in conjunction with other material to make sure the piece still works as convergent journalism. The major photos I would use are photos of the injuries sustained by glassing victims on the night of the attack. I would do this so the audience gets a feel of how brutal and aggressive the attacks can be.
Overall, convergent will be a perfect medium for this type of story. By using the above tools, I hope to capture than audience and, through the different tools of convergence, give people an insight into the ‘real life’ violence that occurs.
In reference to The Daily Miracle, an Introduction to Journalism (Conley and Lamble, 2006), I believe this pitch meets the following criteria in terms of newsworthiness.
Impact: Alcohol-fuelled violence has always created interest and debate in the public sphere; Wollongong incidents are no exception. In November 2007, 20 year-old reveller Krystle Kelley was blinded in her right eye after a glass was smashed in her face. The incident caused public outroar throughout the country and, in combination to a number of other glassings, led to many premises introducing plastic cups. The media coverage was widespread and her follow-ups were made throughout the media. The nature of the coverage and its relevance to my pitch would suggest a lot of audience curiosity and interest.
Conflict: The nature of the scenario immediately points a finger to Police, Government, licensing agencies and proprietors throughout the Illawarra. The public demand answers for these sort of issues; straightaway the story introduces conflict.
Timeliness: Given Australia’s predicament surrounding binge drinking as well as Nathan Rees’ lashing of the Glasshouse, this story has huge timeliness.
Most recently, Family First Senator Steve Fairling’s decision to knock back new taxes introduced on alcopops will become more notable in light of this story.
The timing of the story is also appropriate given Krystle Kelley is facing her alleged attacker in court for the incident which left her blind in one eye.
There is always an ongoing angle that would suitable for this story, meaning it would never be ‘old news.’
Proximity: For Illawarra audiences, this story is literally under their noses. Wollongong is constantly a source of alcohol-related violence with revellers travelling from throughout the region to go out in popular hotspots (primarily Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday). The story would have relevance indeed throughout the state because there are another 40 odd establishments named in Nathan Rees’ list that aren’t located in the Illawarra.
Currency: Issues involving binge drinking and alcohol-related violence hold immense currency to all Australians. Things such as the ongoing ‘alcopops’ debate hold significant interest among the public – this story is a definitive angle of a common trouble. The governments ‘war on alcopops’ has become a living entity for anyone in Australia, so any story that is relevant will create interest.
Human interest: Using glass attack victim Luke Vandenbergh would be ideal for the thrust of the story in terms of human interest. The fact that Luke is willing to speak personally about the incident, which would include an in depth discussion on the physicality’s of the attack, would arouse community concern in itself.
Prominence: By introducing politicians and police into the raging nightlife debate, a story immediately becomes prominent. This story would be no different. Ideally, David Campbell would be the perfect politician for this story and after building a minor relationship with David due to external work, I am confident I could use him as talent. David is of course the Member for Keira and the Minister of the Illawarra, so his presence in this story would be huge.
The unusual: Is this violence in pubs an unusual kind of script? No. For anyone that goes out regularly, they know exactly what can happen when alcohol related violence takes place. For many people who aren’t in this age bracket, this kind of story would be alarmingly unusual. For example, older men might find the fact that people glass one another horrifying; back when they got into scuffles at the pub, it was all fist fights. Given that what happens in Wollongong doesn’t defy current trends, this biggest weakness in this pitch, in terms of news value, would have to be ‘the unusual.’