Posts Tagged ‘Journalism’

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

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.

The public sphere used to be defined as a place (often a coffee-shop) for men to sit down and rationally discuss the daily issues of concern; a place where each man would be heard and taken into account. This is a picture of democracy as it once was. But as time has passed our view of the world and our interpretation of what is common sense has changed too. Back then, men where the only thinkable characters to participate in politics, a woman with an opinion were considered ‘unladylike’ and unheard-off.

Today we find ourselves in an era where politics is everywhere and everyone is politics. We have passed the days when men where the only participants and we are now about to pass the days when the traditional press are the only ones with a legitimate right to voice and decide ‘what was the news today’. Propaganda (politicians) and selective news (traditional journalists) are being accompanied with an abundance of information coming from many different public spheres and it changes the ecosystem of the media. The 4th estate is not our one public sphere. There is a public sphere in reality shows, the school-yard, in the hospital’s waiting-room, online and everywhere our day-to-day concerns take place. These concerns are the politics of the public.

While journalists report their views of events, popular culture and now also the public produce content based on their interpretation of these events, and as Berkowitz says, all these ‘opinion’ mix and together they influence the audiences mind and play a role in shaping how the world works (2009).

Many would suggest that this enhances democracy as the public’s opinion becomes more evident, but when public opinion is infused by both traditional journalism and popular culture, we struggle to separate them. Teneboim-Weinblatt (2009) says that the countless different media-texts that we are exposed to are being utilized in various ways to “construct political meaning and identities” and this builds a new challenge in our media-ecosystem.

References:

Berkowitz, D 2009, ‘Journalism in the broader mediascape’, Journalism, vol. 10, no. 290, pp.290-292.

Teneboim-Weinblatt, K 2009, ‘”Where Is Jack Bauer When You Need Him?” The Uses of Television Drama in Mediated Political Discourse’, Political Communication, vol. 26, no. 4, pp.367-387.