Posts Tagged ‘The ways of media’

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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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.

The ongoing battle between Google and Apple is more important to us than I think most of us realize. “Apple is suing Samsung for copyright infringement”; so what? Is it really our problem? I think that if we gave it some thought, we would see that this battle is not just about copyrights and market-share, this is a fight that will determine the future of the mobile-web.

The very architecture of the Internet enables a free flow of information without any central hub, every node is equal, and no one is there to decide what we can and cannot do. It is decentralized, and very democratic in its philosophy. With this in mind, I want to go back to Apple and Android (Google) and look at their different ideologies.

The beautiful design of the IPhone, as well as it being very easy to manage has made it a worldwide sensation. Having an IPhone has almost become some sort of trend; a fashion that everyone has become very fond of. One of the many arguments that are used to complement the IPhone is exactly that of it being easy to handle, but this pleasure comes with a price: Centralized computing. Unlike Androids, Apple let’s no one explore and play with their hardware or software, the applications on an IPhone has been approved by Apple, some call this a “walled garden”, others call it a sterile disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers.

Apples’ vision is to be able to control the user, the content, and the platform being used. Although the company offers to the public a brilliant piece of technology, this product grants the Apple company extreme powers. I think the ideology of Apple is one incongruent with the Internet. Instead of being decentralized it is centralized, instead of allowing, it denies, and instead of keeping every node equal, it constructs a hierarchy.

I am personally very happy with my Android, but sometimes I find that things do not work on my phone because it has only been adapted to the IPhone or the IPad. To me, this is a sign of one company’s control and powerful deals made with other companies sharing its’ ideology. I also find Apple’s patent-raid to be a terrifying example of how one company can kill innovation by limiting creativity.

Google’s Android may invite a few viruses from time to time, and in some cases people find it harder to manage, but I value their philosophy enough to learn. Android vision is participation, collective intelligence, and distributed control to all users. As an open source technology it can be liberally extended to incorporate new cutting edge technologies as they emerge. [It will] evolve as the developer community works together to build innovative mobile applications. The way I see it, Android is maintaining the very architecture of the Internet, encouraging creativity and innovation.

So the future of the mobile-web is important to us. We all enjoy the Internet, we all react when we hear of bills like SOPA, PIPA or CISPA which threatens our online freedom, so maybe we should start reacting a little stronger towards Apple and their IPhones as well.

Today we are in the middle a digital revolution, a technological shift which threatens the survival of many industries. In my latest post I have been discussing the possibilities to how industries can join the new online market and how they might adapt to a technological age. As of today many industries, especially the media industries seem to refuse to let go of their old business models. Personally I find myself thinking a bit like a technological determinist, we have to accept cultural and social changes which comes with new technologies, it makes no sense to resist. We have always invented new things that have changed our way of behavior and communication, very often to the better, so why not this time?

Power and control; probably the key words to why this revolution is met with so much resistance. Politics and news have walked hand-in-hand for a very long time, and both politicians and media owners have become very powerful through such cooperation. The Internet builds a foundation for a true democratic society, good for the consumer, but bad for authorities.

But let us look at the possibilities. I am not going to focus on the possibilities to maintain control, but the possibility to maintain business and revenue. The problem with industrial media is that it has always been centralized. The collection, production and distribution of news were built on a one-to-many model which gave these industries advantages through gatekeeping. They were able to filter and decide what was the news of the day, they had the power to judge what was important and what we were supposed to think. This screams propaganda, doesn’t it?

Today we are citizen journalists. We also decide what is the news of the day, judge what is important and influence what people should think. The Internet decentralized the news-market; it took the control out of the authorities’ hands. For democracy, this is a victory, but I still think that we need these media industries. We need them for quality control and distribution.

Many people can write a very convincing and important blog about a certain issue, but most people do not have the resources to check the accuracy of this information, I am sure many citizen journalists do, but to be honest, most of us do not. Most of us write and publish, without having researched the facts and background of the content.

With platforms like Twitter information can be aggregated into topics. When I post this blog to Twitter, no one will probably notice it, but if I use the hashtag #gatewatchers, it is a very different matter; my blog will end up in a very interesting search, which suddenly enhances the value of my blog-post.

What media-industries could do is to change their way of finding information. Instead of being told by editors: “Today we should be focusing on the U.S election”, journalists could use these aggregation-platforms to search for interesting and important news. Not only will we be a part of what the news is, but originally the news would be written by citizen journalists and the content would be made out of our opinions, not the editors. The role of the media industries would be quality control, to improve an already good piece of journalism as well as to distribute it to make sure it gets attention from the right people.

At least I would find the news much more trustworthy in the way that I know it is not just a piece of propaganda, it is something someone out there really cares about. In this way, I can see a very much improved public sphere.

Introduction

Politics can be defined as the “activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power”.  To unpack; politics mean the discussions of, for example, our health, justice, laws, and economy, debated between parties and leaders which fight for the power-seat.

Politics in the modern world are striving to be democratic, or are said to be, but are they? Perhaps ideologies, norms and expectations set in our society are influencing what we believe to be right and wrong. At least in the mediated political debate I find this to be a problem. In a democratic country the citizens are entitled to, and in need of, information from all possible angles and viewpoints to be able to make an informed and educated opinion about an issue, so that they can later vote and fight for the kind of society they find just.

I have chosen Australia, a western country in which I have lived for only a year, to demonstrate how it in this example, fails to uphold the democratic values.

Government parties

If I was not actively searching out the different parties in Australia, I would only know two, maybe three of them. I believe The Australian Labor Party (Julia Gillard) and the Liberal Party of Australia (Tony Abbott) are the only two parties enforced and represented in the media. No doubts are they the most popular parties, and therefore of interest, but by excluding media coverage of other parties, citizens are not properly informed. In a country like Australia, which strives to preserve the natural heritage of its land, it surprises me that a party like the Australian Greens (Christine Milne) only have 11.8%  of the Australian votes.

Unbalanced media debates

Maybe if Australians knew more about the environmental discussion, people would have showed an interest in a party focusing on this issue. It appears as the only issue being debated in the media (coming to climate) is the carbon tax! Australia is a western country close to where climate change actually happens today, for example in Kiribati, but still a country where citizens seem to not understand the problem.

Conclusion; hidden agendas

In today’s society most people can educate themselves online, but I still believe the mass media has an influence on our perception of the world. Norms and ideologies are often shaped by our society and the mass-media pushes these buttons. By using words and images which either appeal to us or the other way around, the mass-media can try to make us “read” a story in a particular way. There lies great power in this, and it certainly are a benefit to Governments to “be friends” with the media so that their interests might be enhanced. But it also tells the story of a political debate which has become biased and less democratic.