An observation of successful statistical reporting

The Height Report by JOHN VAN TIGGELEN

The Age

Saturday March 3, 2007

John Van Tiggelen uses his own experiences as a Dutch (and there fore according to his piece) tall man as a commencement point for the illustration of fascinating studies into changes in human anatomy. He searches for clues to explain how and why his compatriots are vertically gifted in comparison to indigenous populations from other countries. He presents numerous pieces of statistical data seamlessly, in a conversational tone, peppered with humour.


After introducing his observations relating to his own height queries, he makes a joke, before switching into investigative and reporting mode. He poses a question about height, then looks to everyday folk to solve his dilemma, before steering his piece into an examination of scientific examinations regarding height. Ask a… (insert the occupation) works well to see perspectives on growth.


Van Tiggelen’s use of the accessible experts who have experience with height introduces his analytical enquiry from micro, through meso and then macro observations about height. He begins with himself, goes through to Dutch observations with local experience, then looks at the global community’s occurrence of height.


VanTiggelen uses a refreshingly down to earth approach when presenting his statistic heavy piece. It could have been dull and inaccessible, but her breaks down technical or scientific terminology into lay terms and uses humour to lighten the piece. His presentation of research flows well as mades the piece feel like he is on a personal quest because of the way he chronologically points out the discoveries along his journey.


I enjoyed his description of Holland as the land of the giants. He brings lots of issues to light I had never considered an aspect of excessive height, like the discomfort of plane seats, clothing challenges and medical treatments possible to hinder growth.


This piece is a wonderful illustration of how statistical data and reports can be the fodder for humorous, meaningful and personal reporting.






Australian Bureau of Statistics

Link for data


Posted on April 27, 2013


One of the most valuable sources of information: ABS

I use the Australian Bureau of Statistics website in order to access a vast range of statistical data.

This enables me to generate highly informed and well researched pieces of feature reportage.

The ABS provides access to historically and social relevant information as the statistical data is interpreted by leading demographers, statisticians and researchers. This research and information gathering is necessary for a thorough comprehension of issues  surrounding an article’s central theme.

Choice of Young Parenting Program as my feature’s central focus

Why this Centre as Focus?

Posted on April 24, 2013

As a feature writer, I thrive on observing the fabric and rhythm of ordinary life, shining light onto average people to uncover extraordinary stories.

To observe people going about their everyday lives, I visited to a local community centre.  I wanted to explore the happenings and negotiations occurring within a building that houses a gaggle of diverse networks.

I felt sure there would be a little gem of an idea, hiding amongst dusty, dated rooms. I discoverd that this facility was bursting at the seams with individuals who unite to become groups, gather into clubs, come to sessions, provide peer support systems, share hobies as a collective, attend various gatherings, learn at classes, become diverse organisations, form like minded guilds, become committee members and above all this is a place to belong as friends.

My initial story concept was to explore  the more unusual elements or individuals amongst the cacophony which is the Geelong West Diversitat Community Centre. There I discovered  a wealth of inspiration for feature pieces.

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The battles… and joys from triumph over adversity

Why is this so damn tough?

Posted on April 24, 2013

Technology fails at the worst time!images chalk info drawings

Despite the traumatic experience that this assignment has delivered, it has highlighted the value that social media as an essential element of journalism.

Twitter, Facebook, text messaging, smart phones and digital cameras have provided an unprecedented forum for members of the public to become more than mere witnesses.

We are all now citizen journalists, investigators, possible vigilantes, theorists and providers of unedited content as a source for traditional news providers. The newspapers, television and radio news outlets rely on the new media for much of their content. It occurs via an exchange of original ideas from the contents of our electronic devices.

The recent Boston Bombing has shown the world the unstoppable power of social media as it…

  • aided in police and FBI investigations
  • identified suspects as citizen journalists, closed circuit camera along with amateur photographers captured evidence
  • falsely suggested and named some individuals who were believed responsible for the terrorist attack
  • assisted in locating the actual perpetrators to prepare them for the judicial system
  • showed in real time across the globe how the investigative process was proceeding
  • bought multiple perspectives from; victim’s experiences, the attackers’ mother’s reactions, members of the public’s views and international condemnation of terrorism.

As an aspiring journalist, I see the need to comprehend and utilise a greater set of electronic tools than I had at my disposal prior to studying this unit.

I have gained a wealth of research tools through my introduction to databases such as Newsbank. Investigating these resources ensure I am not rewriting what has already been written. I am able to revisit past relevant issues from my region, or from across the world to make the issues contemporary and local, adding to my stories news values.

Twitter has been a fabulous way for me to see news as it happens globally.  I have selected contributors who I see as intelligent, versatile, specialists in their fields, passionate about reporting, gifted wordsmiths, who I can emulate in my own writing. Capturing events or ideas in 140 characters is an art that I had never entertained prior to my ALJ 216 studies.

I have provided content for commercial blogs in the past, but have never been responsible for the establishment or updating of a blog. This assignment has been like a baptism of fire, while wearing a petrol covered coat and carrying lit matches. There are few things I can think of which have cause the same amount of infuriation, belittlement and blind rage. At some points during this learning phase, I would have rather filled out a mortgage application in a foreign language for my soul, than be forced to go through this time consuming torture.

I faced the same challenges that the cohort of exasperated students faced with this assignment. These battles included a lack of instructions to make the blog, faulty RRS attachments, an inability to link online resources, difficulty with editing audio files, challenges with sticking photos onto the blog, the blog platforms I selected not supporting any of the features essential to showcase my new electronic intelligences, obnoxious formatting making any word over six letters split over multiple lines, an inability to navigate the controls of the blog set up/editing so I accidentally released dreadful premature versions of my blog and sent it to all of the professionals I had following me on twitter (making me look like a complete twit, who lost said followers!).

The icing on my cake of faeces, was when my dearly beloved 8 year old MacBook died, taking with it my entirely un-backed up electronic research, my search history, the raw audio interview tracks, all the selected and photographed images I hoped to use and my draft blog pages on word doccuments.

This loss forced me to use public libraries and the university computer labs at ridiculous hours and call in a huge number of favours as friends provided child care for my daughters. It has been tuesday evening that finally, I have paid a technician to perform an autopsy on my old computer and Frankenstein it into a stupidly expensive, non budgeted for, new purchase.

But… I will not give up on illustrating my own potential writing and research abilities. I hate quitting before a challenge is beaten.

And so, here it is ~ done and complete!



Help is at hand

Posted on April 24, 2013

Young parents are amongst society’s most vulnerable individuals. They need assistance to enable them to reach their full potential.

Becoming a young parent certainly creates enormous challenges to completing education.- the key to improving lives.

Learning gives empowerment. It improves the choices available to generate a brighter future.  Life enriching experiences and positive role models enable adolescents to identify lifestyle options outside a dependence on social security. To enable a young parent to identify and accomplish goals, support mechanisms need to be in place.

Many organisations assist parents to create stability and security, but additional sensitivity and resourcing for young parents is more rare.

Past publications observing pregnancy support, youth and education

What has been written so far?

Posted on April 25, 2013

Pin board (Photo Credit Google Images)

The list below is a selection of the relevant, recently published articles on my subject areas which I have read in preparation for writing a feature on teen pregnancy and education for young parents.

Parenting as a teenager is attributed only to the ‘the raising children network’, and appeared on the online parenting forum, The raising children network; the Australian parenting website, on March 12, 2012.

This multimedia piece provides a text based profile of one teen parent, has statistics illustrating historical changes in teenage birth rates, observes challenges faced by young parents and concludes with a list of helpful resource suggestions for teen parents. The piece also contains a short video, which examines the parenting experiences of teenagers. It shows several families where a mother is raising a child alone, families led by parents within committed relationships, blended families with five children, multi generations living together to support young parents and the extended family members reflections on parenthood. The entire piece contains the message that networking, asking for help and accepting assistance is vital.

The positives of teen pregnancy, by Danielle McKay, was published in the Tasmanian Mercury on May 14, 2009.

This article reports the findings of paper, by Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Melbourne, Professor Julie Quinilivan. The paper was presented at an un-named conference in Tasmania in 2009, and claims that becoming pregnant was an advantage to disadvantaged teens. The paper premise behind that rather startling suggestion is that pregnancy forces disadvantaged teens to engage with support services and develop a plan for the future for themselves and their children’s benefit.

Investigating an increase in teenage pregnancies in regional Australia, written by Melissa Sweet and published by Crikey, online on January 24, 2013. The piece examines the pregnancy rate of teens in remote regions and the lack of support services young parents have to access. The article follows research from Demographer from the Australian National University, Dr Ann Larson, who found that despite our national percentage of teens becoming parents was dropping with time, the number of young people becoming pregnant in regional areas is increasing rapidly. I find this interesting as Geelong is seen as a large regional town so wanted to see more research on population breakdowns amongst different rural and remote areas compare to Geelong.

Nearly 20 percent of teen births are repeat births, by the American Centres for Disease Control and was posted to the American Parent Hub website, on April 13, 2013. This story echoes Australian data found during my research into ‘Rapid Repeat Pregnancies’, showing that while pregnancy rates amongst teens is falling, there is a huge number of teen parents who have multiple children during their teen years. American states each vary with their rates of pregnancy to teen mothers, but there seems to be a global trend of rapid repeat pregnancies, especially amongst some ethnic, racial and geographic groups.

Unique needs of children born to teen parents was produced by an American not for profit agency called, the Healthy Teen Network. It was published online some time after 2006 (date not printed, yet 2006 is the most recent of the bibliography items) and provides cautionary statistics about teen pregnancy and the children effected when their parents are teens. It has some useful and interesting claims which seem to be from credible, government sources, but I feel outside the kind of research I am undertaking, it has minimal value. It is supposedly warning against teen pregnancy by providing a long list of negative elements and difficulties, however it is presented in a dry, dull and uninspiring manner, so very few teens would be interested in reading it.

Teen pregnancy on the decline, is an article from the ABC and was posted on March 31, 2012. It presents census data which confirms that the rate of teen pregnancies is dropping. This fact has been backed up by my research into Australian Bureau of Statistics maternal age birth rates and several other stories about teen pregnancy from the UK and USA. If the statistics show a decline in birth rates to young parents, why does it seem society doesn’t agree?

Long Term Contraception to Reduce Teen Pregnancy, by reporter Irene Scott, and aired on September 20, 2010. This story was a part of the ABC national youth radio station’s Hack program The piece examines high repeat pregnancy amongst teenaged mothers. It suggests that a possible solution to ‘Rapid Repeat Pregnancies’ was to provide at risk young women with log term contraceptive devices. The two year old story raises a number of issues I am examining with current context in my article, so was a significant research piece.

This pro-choice, UK blog was published on February 26th, 2013 and has a strong advocacy for abortion. It observes the decreasing rate of births to teen parents, which it claims are the lowest since 1969. The casual writing style seems to be aimed at a teen audience and criticises the mainstream media’s negative focus when reporting stories featuring young parents.

Numerical Proof That We Need To Continue Making Birth Control Available To Teens by Samantha Escobar, published in The gloss, February 11, 2013. The article advocates continuing the right to for teens to have reproductive choices. Escobar reminds that simplified access to contraception for teens is amongst the most effective methods of maintaining the current historically low birth rates, dropping from 6.2% of teens giving birth in 1991 to 3.3% in 2011.

Statistics – Australia observed high teenage pregnancy rate, by Christine Stomes on August 30, 2010, filed in: Health News. This article from 2010 uses a lot of statistical information obtained from a range of reliable sources, along with opinions from leading Australian academics and researchers, to compare Australian state’s teen pregnancy rates and then observes comparative statistics for young mothers from other developed nations.

What’s it like as a teen Mum? by Lisa Mayoh, published in the Sunday Herald Sun on February 5, 2012. This recently published, brief piece profiles the different, yet similar experiences of four Australian mothers who had children during their teen years.

Teen mums reflect social disadvantage says academic, by the ABC local radio newsroom in Far North Queensland, and was aired on April 11, 2013. This news story examines a remote community where rate of teen pregnancy is 22%.

The story emanates from the academic research of James Cook University’s Dr Sarah Larkins, who looked into links between disengagement from education, disadvantage and teen pregnancy. The piece uses census data and expert commentary when promoting a need for greater community resources.


Pregnant Teens and Learning

Children with children

Posted on April 27, 2013

Pregnant teen. Photo Credit: Google photos Student mother with her child at school.

Being a child and having a child is quite a challenge. My feature looks at how pregnant students and young parents in the Geelong region are being assisted to complete their education, guaranteeing them and their family a brighter future.