JRNL301: Science & Vaccination

Science is about falsification of fact – testing to see if something is wrong. You look at data, you look at the assumptions made and you attempt to refute these. This is a way of testing and establishing knowledge. If this cannot be refuted, these assumptions move into theories, then principles and then laws. This is how we have our view of vaccination today.

There are two sides to vaccination: pre-vax [everyone should be vaccinated to prevent the spread and contraction of disease] and anti-vax [everyone should have freedom of choice].

In the coming weeks I will be producing both audio and video pieces for publication.


JRNL301: Data Research and Investigative Journalism

For JRNL301 (Data Research and Investigative Journalism), I am studying the topic ‘Vaccinations in Australia’, specifically the science behind such vaccinations compared with the increasing tendency of parents refusing such vaccinations for their children.

Some issues/cases I will be focussing upon include:

  • A Northern-NSW baby fought for life in hospital after his parents refused the Vitamin K injection (given to babies to prevent haemorrhaging as they are born with vitally low levels);
  • Anti-vaccination geographically, particularly in Northern-NSW where vaccination levels are as low as just 50% in some areas with vaccination-sceptics prevalent in the area;
  • What is immunisation?
  • What is vaccination?
  • Who benefits from a vaccine?
  • Are vaccinations safe?
  • World Immunisation Week (24th – 30th April)

Stay tuned.

Diagnosis: Undefeated

The mental impact of a cancer diagnosis is often overshadowed by the medical reality. However, the immediate and long-term realisation of one’s own mortality cannot be underestimated. Diagnosed at 56 with bowel cancer, Robyn Conquest faces a lifetime of worry.

After being diagnosed with a twenty centimetre cancerous tumour in her bowel in late 2014, enduring six months of chemotherapy and consequently beating it, there is still a twenty percent chance it will return. The audio slideshow reflects her journey, commencing with what she described as utter frustration; numerous medical personnel telling her she had anxiety, or just needed to slow down. Yet her persistence saved her. Her; my mother.

JRNL102 – What’s Hidden Behind The Eyes?

A genetic condition characterised by excessive and involuntary day-time sleep, is what fourteen year old Courtney has experienced since birth. Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder where the brain is unable to correctly regulate the sleep-wake cycles, rendering sufferers to a state of sleep hidden behind open eyes. It usually presents itself after reaching puberty, however in rare cases it can be pre-pubescent, and this is what occurred with Courtney.

‘Snore Australia’ is the largest organisation analyzing sleep disorders, claiming that narcolepsy affects three million people worldwide. The primary symptoms for narcolepsy sufferers are extreme daytime sleepiness, hallucinations and microsleeps. Micro-sleeps are brief, involuntary episodes of sleep that can last for 2 – 30 seconds at a time, where a patient can look awake, when they are actually asleep. For Courtney, these microsleeps, disguised by a blank stare, occur four times every hour she is awake, and range from 4 – 20 seconds each time. Her sound, sight and touch senses close off, despite her eyes being open, leaving no outward indication of this occurring.

According to her mother, Jennifer, unusual things began to occur shortly after birth, stating, “she wasn’t tracking things with her eyes.” This unusual behaviour left specialists concerned that she may be blind. As the years progressed, Courtney’s pre-school teachers also brought attention to the fact she was not following instructions like the other children were, leaving them to suggest that Courtney may have a hearing impairment. Courtney was continually assessed by various specialists, none of whom could find the hidden reason for the variety of unusual symptoms that presented themselves on a regular basis. Finally after a number of years, and much investigation, Courtney was diagnosed with narcolepsy at the age of eight.

Bubbly, vivacious and quirky are words to describe the now teenage Courtney, yet behind her extroverted personality lies this condition that is increasingly impacting upon her ability to perform at the expected level for her intelligence at school, as she would often miss instructions due to her hidden sleep patterns. Recommended medication to counter this issue, presented a further problem of stunted growth. Consequently, this medication is monitored to maximise Courtney’s mental, as well as physical health.

A key issue faced by Courtney and her family at present, is what will occur when she reaches puberty. It is a hidden quantity as the impact of her symptoms can lessen or increase. Should her symptoms progress, as is being indicated, narcolepsy will affect Courtney’s job prospects in the future, her ability to drive a vehicle and her capability of performing general everyday activities.

Courtney’s life choices will ultimately become limited, but with greater public awareness of this condition, sufferers may not remain hidden behind a vacant stare.


Assignment Two Pitch: “What’s Hidden”

My multimedia story will be focused upon my thirteen-year-old cousin, Courtney. Bubbly, vivacious and quirky are just a few words to describe her, yet behind her extroverted personality lies a condition called narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder, where she falls asleep involuntarily many times throughout the day – either with her eyes open or closed. The biggest concern with Courtney are the ‘micro sleeps’ she falls into, which, to her, occur four times every hour, and range from four to twenty seconds in length – these are with her eyes open. Thus, the focus of this project will be on this exactly – what is actually hidden when these micro sleeps occur, when people aren’t aware of what is happening. These micro sleeps are described as having short wirings that travel from the brain to the subconscious, and it is this ‘spark’ which cancels out all sound and sight.

To produce this project, the series of photos I will be taking will focus on her face/head to illustrate that narcolepsy affects the brain. I will take photos that capture her talkative and bubbly nature, and photos that also represent the other end of the spectrum, for example, having Courtney blurred in a photo but the background in focus. I will be interviewing Courtney herself, her mum, and one of Courtney’s school teachers, focusing on Courtney’s journey throughout the day e.g. travel, school, home etc.

This will (hopefully) be an informative piece, and I hope to portray it as positively as possible 🙂

Ripple Effect

Fresh air combined with the serenity of the ocean is a common scene for my Dad, who has grown up surrounded by the ocean from a young age. Surfing, swimming and surf living saving are interests he regularly takes part in, leaving the water as the perfect place to utilise.

The following sound piece tries to evoke two separate stories within one. The first with the subject’s narration, and the second with ambient sounds evoking the my Dad’s journey to, during, and from the place. Working odd and sometimes long hours, my Dad finds peace with the water and often uses it as an escape from the chaos that can arise from ordinary life. Alongside his certainty that ‘me time’ and work/life balance is well needed, it is becoming a common occurrence in today’s news that looking after one’s health and wellbeing is increasing at a rapid pace.

Reference: Song: Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama