Reporting Refugees Monday, Nov 28 2011 

In my Advanced Broadcast Journalism 2 unit this semester, we did a very interesting project – telling the stories of refugees and refugee support groups in Canberra. This was part of an attempt to focus on the actual refugees and their lives, rather than the political footballing around the issue, which often lead to dehumanising refugees and asylum seekers. The ‘Reporting Refugees’ program went to air on ABC 666 radio yesterday at 10am.

Leach and Mansouri highlight the effect that labels like ‘illegal immigrants’ and ‘queue jumpers’  have on the public’s view of refugees and asylum seekers, saying, “this language has been effective in depicting asylum seekers as a deviant group unworthy of protection” (2003).

Unfortunately, it is not just politicians who are guilty of this. Take, for example, the report from Today Tonight in October this year. The story claims that ‘boat people’ are living in ‘four star luxury’ and are paid more in welfare benefits than Australian pensioners. This was later proved by Media Watch to be untrue.

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Is it possible to keep going with this? Sunday, Oct 2 2011 

So, after all these blog posts nattering on about tea and tea news, is this (very) niche topic actually sustainable?

My honest answer is a resounding YES (but with some minor changes).

I’ve discovered that market of ‘tea culture’ reporting is not exactly saturated – in fact, I have often wondered why I chose one of the nichest of niche topics, but anyway. Of course, I discovered there were sites devoted to different teas available, celebrities who drink tea, the economic world of tea, but all of that stuff in the one place? Nope. That’s what I’m offering! All the tea news in the one place!

However, I’m picturing something with a little more than just tea talk. I’m thinking of more of a focus on tea, but within the cafe and food culture as a whole. For example, your general cafe review can have an underlying tea twist – what’s in it for the tea drinker? Recipes involving tea (tea-infused jam, anyone?), health benefits of tea, interviews with tea house owners, finding out how to run a successful tea shop. you would have various categories: tea in health, business, economics, relationships, lifestyle, travel. And hell, even celebrity gossip (just read my last post…). Some evergreen stories would also be good – tea has surrounded some major political changes in the past – the Boston Tea Party, for example. Perhaps some articles revisiting some pivotal points in political history, and how tea played a role in these would be interesting to readers.

Anyway, that sort of thing sounds like something I would read, so perhaps others might read it too.

Blog Post 7: Tea news timeline Friday, Sep 23 2011 

How to make tea go viral? Just have Lady Gaga promote it!

This story is actually from a while ago, but in terms of my tea topic, this is one of the most widely published (tea) stories in the last couple of years.  Let’s take a look…

April 2009: Lady Gaga appears on the Jonathan Ross Show, sipping tea from a cup and saucer.

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Blog Post 6: Where is my audience? Sunday, Sep 18 2011 

Given that my area of interest IS rather niche, I found it difficult to find some stats and figures on the tea enthusiast population. But I have found some interesting analyses about online news and niche sites in general. Last week, The New York Times stated that online users are shifting to niche sites to get their fill of news, mainly because they are getting exactly what they are looking for.

    “as news surges on the Web, giant ocean liners like AOL and Yahoo are being outmaneuvered by the speedboats zipping around them, relatively small sites that have passionate audiences and sharply focused information.”

Nevertheless, it’s hard to ignore  the popularity of Facebook. How many of these niche sites employ the marketing effectiveness of Facebook and Twitter, I’m not sure. But the 2009-10 Communications Report from the Australian Communications and Media Authority shows that the use of Facebook is not slowing down.

“In terms of the individual sites identified, Facebook continues to dominate the social networking/UCG market in Australia and also overseas, in markets such as the UK and the US. Collectively, 121.3 million persons accessed Facebook in the US, UK and Australia during June 2010 (6.8 million in Australia).”

 

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Blog post 5: Most common form of content Sunday, Sep 18 2011 

I’ve recently discovered most of the online content available to tea enthusiasts is mainly the blogs I have mentioned in previous posts (A Girl With Tea and Tea and Sympathy). For someone searching for information on tea, many of these kinds of blog posts (especially in the case of A Girl With Tea), are more of an ‘evergreen’ content – meaning it is more along the lines of a feature article that doesn’t rely on timeliness. Aside from the online element, teas and tea houses are often mentioned in food and lifestyle magazines, so think Delicious, Frankie and even Vogue, as more of a review (which is generally a little more reliant on timeliness). Hence, most of these publications are text-based, and are actually not online (this is the part where I say, “Hey! An opening for a niche area of interest! Hurray!”)

Tea? Or wine? Or both!

The reason I think this may be case is that these publications have built up a reputation of having the latest information on cafes, restaurants, nice foods and wines. (as a side note, do you think tea has become a ‘trendy’ beverage lately? Long gone is the question :”Do you have your tea black or white?” Now, it’s all “Would you like a black tea? White tea? Green tea? Flavoured black? Rooibos? Herbal tea? And may I suggest you try this tea without milk? It tends to mask the lovely flavours etc…” Yep, tea is the new wine. I digress…)

Yet there are very few publications that keep tabs on what is happening in the tea world, but do cafe enthusiasts want it? Find out in my next post! 🙂

Who To Follow Sunday, Sep 4 2011 

When keeping up to date in the world of tea, perhaps try following these sites/people:

Topix news – Tea

This is a handy little site which basically compiles news and information about tea from various media publications (if you enter in what sort of information and news you’re looking for). This is particularly handy, as it can be difficult to find a tea-only publication that solely and independently produces news on tea, whereas this publication just compiles everythingwritten about tea recently and puts it all in the one spot.

Tea and Sympathy

Mentioned this in my previous post, but I enjoy some interesting little tidbits from this blog, whether it’s excited about a celebrity who has gushed how much they love tea, or any events that their shop might be holding in New York. Unfortunately, I don’t live in New York, but if you do and you love tea – have a look at this site! They also have a Twitter account.

A Girl With Tea – Blog

This blog is the product of a young woman going through her own ‘tea journey’ – she is exploring the changing culture of tea, and how drinking tea can affect other areas of life, and explaining why tea is back in vogue (because didn’t you hear?Coffee is sooooo…. last season) She also describes her experience with tea and meditation on a day-to-day basis, thereby taking the reader on the journey as well. A fairly easy site to get around, and I’m glad to see she isn’t just preaching hearsay about tea and meditation, and is instead being honest and critical when she needs to be. Like a good online presence, she also has a Twitter.

Critical Tea Media Wednesday, Aug 31 2011 

For this blog post, I’ve been having some trouble – I’ve been trying to find some critical analysis about what I’m going to refer to as the ‘Tea Movement’. The best I can find is market research on tea consumption, for example, this article discusses Sri Lanka’s tea exports and the market dynamics over the last few years. It explains that in 2008, the supply of tea far exceeded the demand for tea, causing tea manufacturers to prepare for an ‘impending doom’ by creating specific niche markets and private label tea.

This is reflected in the article from Lapis Teahouse, which comments on the surge of sales in private label and specialty teas. It comments that there is a change in consumer’s choice of teas, saying ‘Consumers are snubbing their nose to commodity tea; they desire high quality, tempting flavors brewed from the finest ingredients.’  This sort of information tells me that tea stores and stockists such as Canberra’s Adore Tea and New York’s Tea and Sympathy (see comments from previous post!) are certainly jumping on the bandwagon to provide this high quality tea which consumers now see as a bit of a luxury. Now the line is, ‘Tea is no longer a commoner’s drink! No more plain old black tea, try Creme Brulee Tea! Or Buddha’s Tears tea!’

Basically, tea has become a classy refreshment, and that’s the marketing strategy many of these tea stores are running with.

Tea Post No.2 Monday, Aug 29 2011 

After some internet searching, I have discovered that there aren’t actually that many blogs out there that focus on the tea culture. One of them that I did find – The Warmth of Tea – is a fairly simple blog connected to the Warmth of Tea website, and contains plenty of information for tea drinkers – about the culture of tea throughout the years, tea party etiquette, and the differences between the many different kinds of tea available.

I found the site/blog reasonably easy to get around, with the help of the navigation panel on the side, and I found it was reasonably easy to leave comments, which are monitored before they are posted on the site. However, the blog does not engage with its audience very much – any questions for the readers are sorely missed, as it is more of an informative blog, rather than a conversational one.

Another publication I found was a magazine (downloadable in PDF format too!) aptly named ‘Tea A Magazine’. This is quite similar to The Warmth of Tea website, in that it gives information about tea, and its cultural significance. But in terms of appealing to this surge of a younger female audience, I feel it is lacking – even looking at the front cover (a white teapot with  white and purple flowers inside, with a background of doilies) simply reinforces the stereotype of little old ladies getting out their best china, embroidered flowery tablecloths and doilies for a little gathering with their other little old lady friends. As a young female tea drinker enthusiast, it doesn’t exactly appeal to me. A magazine like Frankie would have exactly the kind of audience to encourage the new tea enthusiasts, I feel! But more on that later…

My Area of Interest: The Tea Culture Friday, Aug 19 2011 

As I’m sure many of you have noticed, lately there has been a lot of appreciation for the afternoon tea culture. What first began in the mid 19th Century as a basic cup-of-tea-and-a-bite-to-eat between lunch and dinner, soon after became an elegant social occasion, thanks to Anna Maria, wife of the seventh Duke of Bedford. And while this quaint social custom has died out a little with the rise of the digital age, longer work hours, and the popularity of coffee, it has seen a resurrection amongst gaggles of females aged between 25 and 45. And did you know that tea production in India began around the same time (1839), while still under British rule? Coinkidink? I’m not sure, but it certainly kept the gentry’s taste for tea happy.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), elaborate hats needn't be worn at today's outdoor tea gatherings

Over the next 14 weeks or so, I will be researching more about this topic of the tea culture, and whether such a publication is viable or needed. I will be looking at what is already around for tea enthusiasts to look at, what I could offer in a publication, some facts and figures on the current media market for this niche topic, and asking the question – “Is this topic TOO niche?” So stay tuned to hear what I’ve learned!

In the meantime….

My time in the Twittersphere Monday, May 16 2011 

obtained via flickr.com

I’ll be honest – when I first set up a Twitter account nearly a year ago now, I didn’t like it. It just didn’t grab me. I only knew a small number of people who had a Twitter account, and following a selection of politicians, comedians and celebrities was not as exciting as I’d hoped it to be.

It wasn’t until earlier this year, in my Advanced Broadcast Journalism unit, that I discovered the major drawcards of the social media site.

The main idea I needed to get out of my head was that TWITTER IS NOT FACEBOOK. I needed to realise that Facebook is for sharing and connecting with the people I already know personally, whilst Twitter is for sharing and connecting with the people outside of my peer group, such as journalists, politicians, academics and even some celebrities (who, by the way, are not as interesting in tweet form as one might think). (more…)

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