Archive for the ‘Emerging Issues in Media & Communication’ Category

Someone once made me aware that Bosnian refugees that came to Australia (1992-1995) were received with open arms and true compassion. This is not the case for refugees coming today from e.g. Afghanistan, Burma, Iraq or Bhutan and I cannot help but speculate in the reason for this. The only thought I can come up with is “cultural differences”, or even better “expected cultural differences”. I am not going to elaborate on that, but perhaps there are some countries that appears more similar to us than others and that we find it less threatening to invite them to our own countries. I write “expected cultural differences” because most of the time refugees come from countries far away and we do not know much about them. The little we know often stem from the media and therefore it can be said that we are dependent on the media for information about refugees.

ABC’s “Media Watch” revealed in an episode how Seven’s “Today Tonight” depicted a very uninformative, untrue, wrong and deceitful portrayal of refugees in Australia. Although everyone is not watching Today Tonight it shows that mainstream media has the power to influence our perception of refugees with lies, and this strengthens the argument that we need a more diasporic media. Alongside the mainstream media there need to be a more ‘sustainable media capital that allows for the possibility for self-representation’ (Salazar 2012).

Diasporic media can help ‘socialize migrant communities into their new environments’ and teach the host country about their cultures, background and stories in a less intimidating way (Khorana 2014) – and without the lies. It gives immigrants and refugees a chance to create their own self-image and to represent their identities without signs and codes imposed by others (Rodrigues 2001 in Salazar 2012).

Reference:

Khorana, S 2014, ‘Diasporic Media’, Lecture, BCM310, University of Wollongong, 19 May.

Rodrigues, C 2001 ‘Fissures in the Mediascape: An International Study of Citizens’ in Salazar, JF 2012, ‘Digital stories and emerging citizens’ media practices by migrant youth in Western Sydney’, Journal of Community, Citizen’s & Third Sector Media & Communication, no. 7, pp.65-84, http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/ehost/detail?sid=29db6760-d6fc-4a72-9d83-4476b8796ecb%40sessionmgr114&vid=1&hid=113&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=ufh&AN=79551905

Salazar, J.F 2012, ‘Digital stories and emerging citizens’ media practices by migrant youth in Western Sydney’, Journal of Community, Citizen’s & Third Sector Media & Communication, no. 7, pp.65-84, http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/ehost/detail?sid=29db6760-d6fc-4a72-9d83-4476b8796ecb%40sessionmgr114&vid=1&hid=113&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=ufh&AN=79551905

“Globalization is the process of interaction and integration among the people, companies and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology” (Globalization 101, 2014).

Globalization is all of that, and such a definition makes it sound very good but many would argue that there are downsides to globalization too.  Is this process an ongoing blending of cultures (hybridization) or is it advocating ‘sameness’ (homogenization)? Is every person, company and government included in this process; given its share of the deal, or are we witnessing modern-day imperialism?

Katrin Voltmer argues in ‘Comparing media systems in new democracies: East meets South meets West‘ that because different parts/nations of the world come from different cultures and different types of long lasting governing methods their transition into democracy and their handling of democratization is a product of their past experiences. She divides them into three different backgrounds; transition from communist oligarchy in Eastern Europe, military dictatorship in Latin-America and one-party dictatorships in East-Asia and Africa (she clearly separates these two) and explains how these previous cultural and power-asserting histories shape their take on democracy today.

This reading made me think how much people (like me) from liberal democracies expect the rest of the world to understand and govern democracy (or their countries) the same way as we do. When we speak of Asian countries we rarely show knowledge of their values that root in Confucian tradition and emphasizes social harmony, deference to authorities and discipline; we simply expect them to just ‘be like us’. And we seem to think that privatization leads to liberalization, but never do we stop to think that ownership can lead to monopoly, like in many Latin American countries where the media organizations have been dominated by wealthy politicians. This creates a class differentiation in these countries and leaves globalization just for the ‘elite’ and the ones that can afford to participate. Not to mention how we speak of a ‘global village’. We say that everyone is connected even though we know that there is a shortage of resources in many areas of e.g. Africa. I was actually just informed that in Burma only one if 5000 people has internet access, and that it means 15 years in jail to own a modem without permission (Khorana, 2014).

Such examples, I think, demonstrates how we think of globalization as well. It is thought of as a product of ‘the west’. We love for our culture to spread around the world, but are slightly reluctant to welcome another culture over our own borders. Homogenization might therefore be a threatening part of the process of globalization.

References:

Khorana, S 2014, ‘Globalisation and the Media’, Lecture, BCM310, University of Wollongong, 12th May

2014, What is globalization/Globalization 101, The State University of New York – The Levin Institute, viewed 13 May 2014, http://www.globalization101.org/what-is-globalization/

 

Stereotyping has existed for a long time, and a lot of the generalizing that occurs today has its origin in historical events like wars or colonialism. Such events often spark insulting and trivializing images of the other and a use of propaganda which promote feelings of hate (Khorana, 2014), and these images, or stereotypes are very hard to get rid of. In old Western movies it was the Mexicans and/or the Native Americans that were depicted as villains and savages and in modern Hollywood we are introduced to Arab and Muslim terrorists (Khorana, 2014). As the media contributes to these stereotypes they communicate a negative and false representation of other cultures.

Interestingly though, after the war on terror, propaganda has become less effective and the acts of warfare has become more transparent in the media and therefore it has become increasingly important to communicate ‘positive’ representations of our enemies so that we appear as ‘good-doers’ in the midst of our wars (Alsultany, 2013).

Evelyn Alsultany (2013) therefore talks about a new type of race representation in the US after 9/11 which blends negative and positive traits of an ethnic group; she calls it “simplified complex representations“. It challenges traditional stereotypes but also justifies discrimination by contributing to a multicultural ‘illusion’. For example; TV-shows and films have incorporated patriotic Arab or Muslim Americans into their plots who assist the Government in fighting terrorism to counteract stereotyping, in TV-dramas they are often victimized to create empathy, sometimes we are led to believe that they are the leading terrorists but later it is revealed that it was someone else (‘flipping the enemy’), and in news media we are often first given a disclaimer (“these are not Islamic practices”) before we are told about the brutality of Islam.

Alsultany (2013) argues that such representation “do the ideological work of justifying discriminatory policies” because simultaneously as the Arab or Muslim American is e.g. victimized, the storyline often also express that it is unavoidable due to the national security crisis, and in the news media diversity and complexity is loosely mentioned but the majority of evidence supports the negative outlooks of the ethnic group.

References:

Khorana, S 2014, ‘Race and Representation’, lecture, , BCM310, University of Wollongong, 05 May.

Alsultany, E 2013, ‘Arabs and Muslims in the Media after 9/11: Representational Strategies for a “Postrace” Era’, Project Muse, vol. 65, no. 1

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.