Archive for April, 2014

I come from a country where equality has an important place in society. Class, sex, gender, age or race; it is important that we are all treated alike in Norway. It has not always been this way, and we must be grateful and pay respect to the ones that have fought for these rights in past times. Despite the fact that it is important, it is sometimes hard to balance such issues in politics. Many would suggest that we are not being just to immigrants or that we are not successful in treating the elderly well, but when it comes to equality for women we have come a long way. Or have we not?

Young women today take an equal pay, or a right to work or vote for granted. If a girl were to be denied employment on the grounds of her gender or if she was sexually harassed at work it would reach the media in no time and the organization would be named and shamed for their actions. In recent years there has been an unfortunate ‘wave’ of rape in some of the big cities and therefore we now have parades to spread awareness of the issue and several campaigns arranged to follow girls safely home at night. It looks like it is going the right way, but an article by Clementine Ford gave me second thoughts.

Ford (2013) brings about the point that perhaps the media and even the public do not care as much about justice for ‘the others’ as we do about justice for ourselves. In Norway, for example, we proudly show our statistics that demonstrates that both women and men occupy leader-positions, that we are free to decide who stays home with the kids and that women are encouraged to take a place in man-dominated work forces, but at the same time we have a huge amount of sex-workers that are beaten and raped daily, and we have affiliations with trafficking where innocent girls are forced into prostitution. Many of these women may not be Norwegian citizens but it takes place in our country.

So why is it that we do not fight for these women’s’ rights? Why is there no parade for them? I cannot help but think that if most of our prostitutes were Norwegian or if women were being trafficked from Norway the whole nation would be joining a parade. I believe Ford (2013) to be right that because these women are different, or not ‘like us’ they do not get the same coverage in the media and are therefore also being marginalized.

Feminism therefore still has an important place in our countries, but perhaps we should try to open up our focus to include all women, and not only the white, middle-class women ‘like us¨.

References:

Ford, C 2013, ‘How did we let Adrian Bayley happen?’, Daily Life, 14 June, viewed 30 April 2014, http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/how-did-we-let-adrian-bayley-happen-20130613-2o67f.html

We have already established that traditional journalism is in a rut, but what can we do about it? I recently saw a clip on YouTube where David Carr from the New York Times and Andy Lack from Bloomberg Media discusses the future of Journalism, but I must admit that as I was listening to them I did not hear anything that I haven’t heard before, nothing revolutionary. They posed questions like ‘how should Journalism be created and distributed in the future?’ and ‘what are the new business-model and how does the changing economic look like?’, they confirmed that the old model of journalism is gone and that the making and distribution of media need to change, that the bag of resources journalists have today is huge compared to before, and also that digital media and traditional journalism is in a state of convergence, but there were no ideas or thoughts that steered us in the direction of what the answer to this might be. On top of this, when Tom Fiedler (Boston University) mentions that ‘Journalism education today is an escalator to no-where’ and that young people’s attention-span might be shorter than before they shake their heads in concert and refuses to see it as a problem. I am more than happy for them to be right, but there needs to be reasoning for it.

On the other hand, Tom Rosenstiel delivers a very interesting TedTalk on the future of Journalism. He explains that news is still on demand, but the audience is demanding when to get them, where to get them and what it should be about compared to adjusting their day according to the 6 o’clock news. He therefore says that news stories today must be presented differently and he points to a very interesting way of thinking; the new model of journalism must study its audience and their devices. People have all sorts of toys today; tablets, mobile-phones and laptops, but we use them at different times and we use them for different things. I found it very useful what Rosenstiel said about people often waking up in the morning and checking their smartphones in bed, then perhaps changing to their tablets at the breakfast table (whatever happened to socializing..), opening their laptops on their way to work and possibly using a stationary computer at work. Understanding this and understanding what content which gadget is good for is helpful in understanding how Journalism can serve the audience best.

Reference:

bu, 2014, NYT’s David Carr on the Future of Journalism, 6 March, YouTube, viewed 16 April 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPlazqH0TdA

TedxTalks 2013, The Future of Journalism: Tom Rosenstiel at TEDxAtlanta, YouTube, 28 May, viewed 16 April 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuBE_dP900Y

Here are some comments that I made to other people that reflected on the same two videos:

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Aesthetic journalism is the when artistic arenas are brought into the world of politics. I have always thought, and I think that I am not alone on this one, that “the media” constitutes newspapers, television, social media, radio and you know, places from which you get the news. Lately though, the media landscape has gone through big changes, especially after the introduction of the Internet. Social media and new technology has allowed the public to enter the production of media, and this interference has forced the traditional media to rethink their old business models. We often call this citizen journalism. So “the media” today present itself in many different forms and aesthetic journalism is when the arts meets politics.

Aesthetic journalism has been around for a long time, but during the time of enlightenment creativity became acknowledged as a source of reliable knowledge (Cramerotti 2011). Johann Moritz Rugendas, for example, painted some 5000 paintings depicting nature, settlers, slaves and more that were used as factual reporting (Cramerotti 2011).

Theatre, film, festivals, art projects and fashion are all contributors to the political arena; their ideas are just generated in slightly different ways from the traditional media. Art projects might typically “curate pieces of art together to create a story” (O’Donnell 2014) aiming to promote certain feelings or associations in the public. Fashion shows are often staging their shows as a narrative, producing a statement in regards to hot topics in politics. Theatre groups take real-life stories and communicate their interpretation of it, using journalistic tools like diversity of opinion and interviews to get their stories straight. Actually, journalism is very much like the theatre in that sense.

That the media is everywhere and that news travels via many different channels is in my opinion a very good thing. People are different. We communicate in different ways, and to have many “spaces” in which to do so is a positive. Many small public spheres are different spaces where different interests can unfold and be debated. When we these different places, like theatres, art galleries and fashion shows embrace politics as part of what they do, political debate can reach a lot of people.

Creative Cities is another example of how different opinions, values, taste and communication is being enhanced. This international organization says that “culture is the oxygen of cities” in which they mean that by embracing variety and understanding what people think about their community we can build and maintain our cities in more effective ways. Here we can see politics being brought into the hands of the public to circulate ideas that will guide leaders in a democratic direction.

I do find traditional journalism to still be very necessary and perhaps ‘clearer’ in its language, but to see politics in other media as well is a refreshing and important development.

References:

Cramerotti, A 2011, “What is Aesthetic Journalism” in Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform Without Informing, Intellect, London.

O’Donnell, M 2014, ‘Media Spaces’, lecture, BCM310, University of Wollongong, delivered 07 April.

Is there a future for journalism? Are the declining advertising revenues and the declining readership (in particular for print) a glance at the slow death of our once dedicated 4th estate?

Part of the problem for present journalism is in the sentence above; “our once dedicated 4th estate”. Where did the dedication and persistency go? What happened to investigative journalism?  Our somewhat trustworthy public sphere? I feel that all the points here mentioned have been washed away in a digital mix of instancy, citizen-journalism, and personal opinions.

After smartphones and social media flourished it seems like journalists and the creative newsrooms found it too hard to follow and just gave up on their leading role as news reporters. Instead of coming up with a new innovative strategy of how to shape their business-model into one that suits the digital age, they sat back watching everyone else take over. If this attitude continues, there is no doubt that they will end up where book-shops, video-shops and photo-shops are today.

I am all for digital technology and the public’s right to take part in the news, but I still believe that some part of traditional journalism is needed for at least two reasons; ethics and quality control.

Tailoring of news on the basis of advertisement is annoying, but is it better with Google’s algorithms? Digital media is sorting the news to us in accordance with what we have previously shown an interest in, not according to what we ought to know and hear about. News should not only be about interests, but also about what is important for us to know.

Citizen journalism may be instant, but in regards to quality, how can we trust that what some citizen wrote from somewhere in the world is true? How can we know what is fictional, actual or manipulated? Journalists must follow certain codes of conduct which at least strengthen the trustworthiness of their news. Actually, their codes of conduct also enforce them to think ethical, a point that Pavlik (2013) suggests to be one principle necessary to include when considering innovative and sustainable journalism. How are witnesses protected by citizen journalists? “I promise not to provide a picture of you..Cross my heart”. News content comes in all shapes; comment-threads, geographically tagged photos, opinion pieces, videos and more, we need a code of conduct to ensure “strong and transparent privacy policies” (Pavlik 2013). Only traditional journalism can provide this (so far).

The problem is that we need journalism to pick up its backpack and take on the journey into the future of journalism. Be innovative, think outside the box and take the lead as reporters once again. Technology, the Internet and social media has so much to offer and for journalism there is much to be discovered.