This week we’re excited to introduce you to Sean, a Melbourne-based lawyer and founder of The Short News.
Sean uses his spare time and (you guessed it) LEGO to recreate the daily news. His inventive photos and captions are published on The Short News website and shared to an ever-growing number of followers on social media.
Could this be the beginning of a whole new world for news delivery? We interviewed Sean to find out!
Fed Square: The Short News is an inventive way of delivering the daily news, how did it come about?
Sean: I am very passionate about the news, but I understand that many don’t have the time or share the same dedication to forego sleep in order to read up on world events. My wife is one such person, as she loves to hear me ramble on about the news (I think?!), but won’t look around for the news herself. I figured that if I can reach people like my wife, I will be able to empower them with information they can then share with their colleagues, friends and family. Knowledge is social currency.
My goal was to repackage the news by keeping things short and sweet – a short description of the story accompanied by an instantly recognisable image. I decided to create my own images to avoid a lawsuit from AAP and Reuters etc for ‘borrowing’ their images. Using LEGO was actually a happy accident that played into the ‘Short’ part of my name and helped make the stories more appealing and accessible, especially to children!
Ultimately, The Short News was born during the World Cup in June 2014 when I wasn’t getting much sleep – and it showed! I’ve removed many of those photos, but left a few as a laugh for anyone willing to look that far back in my feed.
You’re a Tax Lawyer by day, do you think you should have been a journalist?!
I think about this almost every day! I’m a dreamer, so I often wonder what would happen if I grabbed my cameras, Lego and (most importantly) my wife, headed to the yacht I don’t yet own and travelled the world as a roving LEGO news reporter haha. If anyone knows where I can get a full-size yacht (no miniatures or ‘short’ yachts) for next to nothing, let me know! I realise yachts are not the fastest mode of transportation, but you can’t have yacht parties without a yacht, am I right?
You cover everything from the ‘funny’ through to World News, how do you decide on a story to feature each day?
I always ask two questions: 1) SHOULD I do this story? Because I use toys, I avoid sensitive topics (such as acts of terrorism), as I don’t want anyone thinking that I am downplaying such sad events. I like to stick to funny, quirky, light-hearted stories and other interesting tidbits. 2) CAN I do this story? This involves checking whether I have the pieces, or can use a household item as a substitute (for example, using a mandarin as the sun).
Do you have a favourite news story of all time?
I can barely choose what to eat for dinner, so these are my top three:
- Two 5-year-olds in Russia used toy spades to dig their way out of kindergarten, walked 2km to a luxury car dealership and tried to buy a Jaguar!
- A British grandmother trapped in a public restroom for 4 days kept herself busy by knitting a scarf and lifted her spirits by eating mints.
- A man set up a marijuana plantation NEXT DOOR to a police dog-training center in Vienna and was busted when (surprise surprise) one of the dogs caught a whiff of one of his plants!
To celebrate the LEGO Christmas Tree at Fed Square, you created ‘The Day’s Stories’ for our Big Screen. Where did you find inspiration for these?
I wanted to show how people celebrate Christmas around the world. As for the source, I went straight to everyone’s best friend, Google, and read through as many Christmas and Santa facts as I could. As it turns out, Google knows a lot and it took a VERY LONG TIME to make a list. Then I realised it was TOO long. My wife agreed, so I spent twice as long cutting down the list to something more manageable! Too much information can be a dangerous thing!
Do you have a ‘memorable moment’ from Fed Square that you’d like to share?
At the Instameet, we were taken on a tour of Fed Square. I was REALLY impressed with the concrete labyrinth cooling system. It’s funny because just the week before, my wife asked me to watch a documentary on how ants cool their colonies – and the system is pretty much exactly the same! Essentially, the air taken from the Yarra is cooled as it winds around the underground concrete ‘maze’ – amazing stuff! I also met a dog called Butters at the opening night for #xmasatfedsquare. I thought everyone was there to see the tree, but it turns out everyone wanted to see him!
The Short News has a website as well as various social accounts, which platform do you think best lends itself to news delivery?
Given that I aim to deliver information to people in a short and visual manner, Instagram is by far the best platform. Lately I’ve been experimenting with ‘timeline news’, where I create a sequence of shots telling (what I think) happened in a news story. Once I get that right, I may use Flipagram and incorporate sound.
Can you tell us about some of your interactions with the larger LEGO community?
I LOVE this community! In addition to hanging out with my bros in crime @cheepjokes, @llworld and @brett_wilson (and working with them on #xmasatfedsquare when we haven’t been goofing around) I’ve met and learned from so many people in the community. When I was in Tokyo last year, I had a drink with @vince_tokyo, who is a French-born Legographer who now lives in one of the most amazing cities in the world! How cool is this community.
You’ve been seen on ABC News and The Project, has this new found fame impacted your work?
The exposure has linked me with me with many interesting people from around the world, which has resulted in greater and more varied contributions to posts. I also get a lot more story suggestions from followers around the world! As for my day job, there hasn’t been any real impact as I keep a fairly low profile with my work on The Short News. Although, many people have been saying that they have heard my voice at Federation Square!
What does 2016 hold in store for The Short News?
2016 is going to be a HUGE year for The Short News. I don’t want to ruin all the surprises, but I’m looking to incorporate audio into some of my posts and make the account more interactive. I’ll also be travelling through South America, so expect a few Latin American-themed posts! I wonder if Machu Picchu has Wi-Fi?
You can see some of The Short News’ Christmas themed creations on the Big Screen until 27 December as part of Christmas at Fed Square.