A Picture Might Say A Thousand Words, But…

Week 3: Looking At Others: mediated suffering and ‘poverty porn’

A single photograph has the ability to evoke the deepest emotions, generate conversation and change, transform a story into something that is newsworthy and eye -catching. On the other hand, it also has the potential to cause harm and unwanted distress. We are bombarded with emerging news stories every single day. Although it may be the job of journalists and media editors to break away from all the competition in order to grab our attention, but is it necessary to expose the public to images of suffering? I would like to say no, but unfortunately it seems we only seem to notice or even care if there is photographic evidence of an issue or crisis.

As discussed in the lecture, suffering may be visible, but not seen. So, who suffers more when faced with an image of suffering? Is it the victim presented in the photograph, or is it the viewer? Of course it should be the victim, but is that how we react when we are confronted with these images? When we do see an image of suffering, we immediately feel empathy for those in the photograph. Whilst we sit there thinking about how bad we feel about what we’ve seen, we tend to forget that the victim is actually suffering and for the most part, they need our help. Personally, I think the reason we react in such a way is because we are desensitised to what is happening overseas. We aren’t used to seeing images of people suffering. We’re so used to amusing memes popping up on our Facebook page that when we something more serious, we don’t know how to appropriately act and respond.

So, what is the morally acceptable response of seeing suffering presented throughout the media? Is it okay to feel sorry for those in these images who are suffering? Boltanksi (1999) argues that spectators can actively involve themselves and others by talking about what they have seen and how they were affected by it. When these controversial and devastating images are presented to us, there is no denying what is said throughout the media is true and actually happening. These images encourage us to not only sympathise with the victim depicted in the photograph, but ultimately the issue at hand.

A prime example of this was the use of a controversial image of a young Syrian refugee who was found washed up along a Turkish shore. Not only did the photograph generate conversation about the devastating refugee crisis, it also brought the use controversial images throughout the media to light. Whether you saw the raw photograph or the censored version, the image itself was a powerful representation of the refugee crisis (Franklin 2015). It made us think about how serious the crisis was, and still is, and the lengths individuals were going to get away from harm and danger.

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The controversy that also surrounded this image involved it being shared all over new and traditional media. Some users and viewers found the image too graphic and confronting to be on their television screen, the front page of their newspaper or their news feed. Although this image represented the reality of the refugee crisis, the real question we should be asking ourselves is whether those that published the uncensored image used it for the right reasons. Did certain media outlets use this image of suffering as a tool to draw more attention to the refugee crisis or as a click bait strategy to gain more views or to sell more copies of their newspaper?

 

References

Boltanski, L 1999, Distant suffering: morality, media and politics, University Press, Cambridge.

Franklin, TE 2015, ‘How a single photograph may be changing the way the world thinks’, Vice News, 5 September, viewed 3 April 2016, <https://news.vice.com/article/how-a-single-photograph-may-be-changing-the-way-the-world-thinks>

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The ‘Selfie’

Week 2: Looking At Ourselves: social media and the quantified self

Our identity defines who we are as a person. We may like to think we are all individuals who shape our own identity, but unfortunately that is not that case. As discussed during the lecture, our identity arises from our interactions with others. To expand on this, the people we spend time with, our experiences, and the world around us define who we are and how we see ourselves. But, has this changed over the past decade?

The ‘selfie’, what is it exactly?

“A fast self-portrait, made with a smartphone’s camera and immediately distributed and inscribed into a network, is an instant visual communication of where we are, what we’re doing, who we think we are, and who we think is watching”
Jerry Saltz (2014)

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Believe it or not, we are currently living in the age of the ‘selfie’. Actually that shouldn’t shock you whatsoever. Instead of taking a photo to help us remember a particular event or occasion, we are taking photos of ourselves and immediately posting and sharing them online. This culture of taking a photo of one’s self and sharing it online for all to see is becoming an everyday practice. Regardless of whether it is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or SnapChat, I can guarantee if you were to open one of those applications right now you will see a selfie. It’s not news that technological advances have changed the way we interact with other individuals, but is the selfie phenomenon and social media influencing the way we look at ourselves and how others perceive us?

According to Saltz (2014), the selfie is changing aspects of our social interaction, self-awareness, privacy and public behaviour. With a shift towards using online media to determine one’s status and importance, the rise of the ‘attention economy’ and a shift in celebrity culture, those who constantly take and post ‘selfies’ on social media are gradually being seen as more narcissistic than those who do not. To some extent, the selfie is being used as both a social validation and gratification in that we post photographs of ourselves online as a way of boosting our self-esteem and seeking appraisal and positive reactions from our peers. The amount of likes or comments a selfie receives provides an individual with an indication of their social worth, but of course this is not the case for everyone. The number of friends on Facebook, followers on Instagram or the amount of likes, comments and shares a photo receives are directly related to how worthy we see ourselves (Bevacqua 2014).

You might think taking a photo of yourself is completely innocent and harmless, but the reality is that it may be doing more harm than good. Everyday we are bombarded and exposed to hundreds of images and messages about the ‘perfect body’ and other unrealistic ideals of perfection. As we become more aware of celebrities and these images, we start to compare ourselves to them. Not only can this be harmful in terms of our self-esteem, it has the potential to damage our self-image. This is due to our constant need to depend on other individual’s perceptions, judgements and ultimately their approval, regardless if they are our closest friends or individuals that we have never met in person before. kim-__2729336a.jpg

References

Bevacqua, F 2014, How selfies actually lower self-esteem, Frank Bevacqua Ph.D., viewed 1st April 2016, < http://frankbevacquaphd.com/how-selfies-actually-lower-self-esteem>

Saltz, J 2014, Art at arm’s length: A history of the selfie, Vulture, viewed 23rd March 2016, <http://www.vulture.com/2014/01/history-of-the-selfie.html>

The Australian Film Industry

After the success of various highly acclaimed feature films, it seems that the Australian film industry remains in a crisis. You would think after the success of popular Australian films such as The Great Gatsby, Crocodile Dundee, Australia and Wolf Creek, our film industry would build some sort of momentum and continue to produce successful films. Unfortunately this is not that case; instead the Australian film industry continues to struggle to connect with its audiences. But whose fault is this? Should the failure of Australian films be blamed on a lack of funding, or is it the lazy audiences and our unwillingness to engage with our own culture that is destroying our film industry’s success and reputation?

Due to its cultural diversity, Australia continues to question its identity as a nation. This therefore is reflected in its films, which further highlights Australia’s struggle to connect with its audiences. Although directors and writers are trying to capture the essence of Australian culture and its associating values, it seems that the films that are produced revolve around an over-generalised culture and over-stereotyped characters, which makes the film itself cringe-worthy and potentially a failure.

Why are we shocked when an Australian film flops when it’s not accessible, not available, and most cinema goers don’t actually have the choice to watch it?” – Ms Carroll-Harris

Along with a creative script and an admirable cast, a great film must be delivered to the right audience in order for it to be a success. Although Australia continues to produces talented directors, writers and actors, they seem to all travel abroad to prove their talents due to the lack of opportunities Australia seems to provide. Advertising and poor distribution are considered to be the cause of Australian films being unsuccessful in the domestic box office. But while local films perform poorly at the cinema, they do however seem to be more successful on other platforms.

Attending the cinema is still a popular activity for Australians, with a 68% attending in 2012 and an average of seven visits. According to The Conversation (2014), around 25 new Australian feature films are released into the market each year. Research conducted by Screen Australia (2013) confirmed that television and DVD were the dominant platforms that Australians utilised to watch local films. With easy access to continuous programming on free-to-air television, pay TV services, and DVD and Blu-Ray, access to Australian films in these secondary platforms is broader and more flexible than the cinema.

The future of the Australian film industry relies heavily on extensive qualitative research, which should focus on exploring the opinions of Australian and international audiences. In order to completely understand how the Australian film industry can capture the attention of its audiences and improve its success, insight into the current views towards Australia’s film industry should be the industry’s initial step into its rejuvenation.

By conducting both primary and secondary research, Australian filmmakers should be able to distinguish what audiences want and what needs to be changed in order to cater to their needs. The film industry should also focus on selecting a diverse range of audiences from various demographics such as backgrounds, age groups, locations and gender, to review various Australian films and provide feedback. This therefore will expose what Australian audiences are interested in, and it will also uncover what genres and story lines they find appealing. This would therefore reveal what Australian audiences are willing to pay to see at a cinema.

When It Comes To Illegally Downloading Content, Australia Wins!

Copyright Protection is free and automatic in Australia, thus protects the original expression of ideas, not the idea themselves. The moment an idea or creative concept is documented – printed or electronically – it is automatically protected by copyright. The Copyright Act (1968) gives individuals exclusive rights to license others in regard to copying your work, performing it in public, broadcasting it, publishing it and making an adaptation of the work.

As we are currently living the digital age, we can access and purchase content online with a click of a button. While computers and the internet have provided us with various positive changes, such as easily accessibility and efficiency, they have also given rise to new risks and possibilities for copyright theft. When you create, download or stream unauthorised copies of someone’s creative work, you are taking something of value from the owner without their permission. Digital technology has made it extremely easy for individuals to make copies perfectly and quickly, and also has enhanced our ability to distribute them instantaneously to mass audiences.

 

In order to enforce rules and regulations regarding online piracy, the federal government and Australian courts are planning to crack down on internet piracy by ordering Internet providers to block access to websites that allow users to illegally download material. According to Graham Burke, internet piracy in Australia has grown to unprecedented levels and with download speeds increasing, Australia is on the urge of losing valuable taxpaying industries and community businesses. The real question is whether blocking these popular websites will actually prevent online piracy. The reality is, when access to websites are blocked, others will emerge and take their place.

When it comes to illegally downloading television shows and movies, Australians are among the worst in the world. So, why are Australians illegally downloading material online? Is it because we’re cheap and don’t want to purchase content when we can get it for free, or is it because of Australia’s isolation and inability to access matieral that has aired overseas. According to Choice, in order to seriously address piracy, the Australian government needs to address that Australians often find it hard to gain access to content and when they do, they pay more compared to consumers in other countries.

Public Space

Public space is referred to as all areas that are open and accessible to all members of the public. It also can be considered as non-domestic physical sites that are distinguished by their relative accessibility, including parks, restaurants, cafes and Universities. Along with playing an important role in urban environment, public space also serves as an important site for social interaction. Public spaces allow individuals to come together and socialize away from home and work, therefore encouraging public interaction.

Private spaces on the other hand are the complete opposite – the more private the space, the more rules are made by the owners. Therefore, private space is one in which the owner can control what goes on by implementing certain rules and regulations. As the owner has bought the rights to the space, they essentially can do whatever they want without any interruptions from the outside world.

Nowadays, public space often functions as a space between the virtual and the real, and between work and home. In an urban public space, we are often sent into a virtual world due to technology and our mobile devices. Wireless technology and the media are breaking down the boundaries of the public space due to the constant connectivity. Communication technology and the emerging popularity of mobile devices have allowed individuals to overcome the barriers of time and space. I always see myself listening to music or checking my phone when I’m in a public space by myself. For some this may be considered as an anti-social act, but I merely see it as passing time. Individuals are also using their mobile social networks to transform the ways in which they come together and interact in public spaces. The rise of electronic technology and the ability to access to all forms of media has begun changing the nature of the public space in that we are now performing private acts in a more public setting.

Remember That One Time When Television Was Black And White?

…Cause I certainly don’t!

The television has evolved into one of the most important and reliable forms of communication due to its ability to reach mass audiences worldwide. Along with this the television is able to inform individuals about global events and news, educate people on various topics, and of course provide entertainment. It therefore has revolutionised the way in which individuals receive information and the way individuals understand the world around them. Nowadays, it is becoming more common for households to acquire more than one television, which adds to the importance of television in the family home.

My mother’s childhood memories of television were very different from my own. Although I was born in the Philippines, I was raised in Australia and have been here since 1995. She, on the other hand, grew up in the Philippines with her parents, her 12 other siblings – yes, you read that correctly, 12 OTHER SIBLINGS – and of course the extended family. Therefore, living in a developing country with a large family meant that everyone was situated in front of the one TV.

According to my mother, her family rarely fought over what television show to watch as they were taught from a young age to respect their elders and to behave. This meant that her parents and older siblings got to choose what the whole family watched. According to her, this wasn’t a bad thing as they had similar tastes – plus they weren’t that many choices. Although she cannot recall how old she was when her family got their first TV, she does however remember what it looked like, and what decorations surrounded it. She has a clear memory of the television unit, and the TV being surrounded by photos, flowers, toys and ceramic decorations.

Nowadays, my mother spends her time on our family computer watching television shows that are being aired in the Philippines. Whilst she does sit and watch television programs that air on Australian TV, she prefers to watch Filipino programs and news, just so she can keep up to date with what’s happening over there.

First Things First..

Helllooooo! For those who don’t know me already, I’m Sierra. I’m currently a 2nd year Communications and Media Studies student, majoring in Advertising and Marketing. BUT! I’m looking to switch to a double degree in BCM and Commerce because why not.

Although it’s been close to a year since I’ve last written on this blog, I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things and post something worth reading each week. You would think as a BCM student I would have this whole blogging thing “down pat”, but of course that’s not the case.

10596062_10203459361977797_1088193820_nLike every other member of Gen Y I spend quite of lot of time online, whether it be on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or other social media platforms. I see myself having a love/hate relationship with Facebook due to my constant “need” to refresh or scroll through my news feed, waiting for something interesting or amusing to pop up. But when I’m not doing that, I’m keeping in touch with friends and/or family living overseas. I also prefer using Facebook and other social media platforms to keep up to date on world events and the latest news stories.

 

 

Al-Jazeera, War Journalism & Peace Journalism.

It’s no secret that the development of technology has provided people and institutions with the ability to instantaneously broadcast local events to the world (Nawawy & Powers 2010). This advancement in technology has also enhanced our ability to watch and learn about events worldwide and cultures different from our own. Today, audiences worldwide have access to an increasing supply of 24-hour news broadcasters, each with a different focus and perspective on current events. Al-Jazeera English, which launched in November 2006, stands out from its competitors as it presents a “challenge to the existing paradigms guiding international news broadcasters” (Nawawy & Powers 2010).  Al-Jazeera’s ability to reach out to isolated and ignored audiences throughout the world is due to the fact that geographical or commercial interests don’t dominate it.

According to Nawawy & Powers (2010), the majority of today’s coverage of conflict is dominated by a style of ‘war journalism’. As technology is providing audiences with more intense coverage of war and conflict, the idea that media coverage is integral to shaping the development of war is becoming increasingly clear. The coverage of war is usually focused on the perspective of ‘us versus them’; therefore only one party can win. War journalism is also propaganda oriented as it exposes the enemy’s untruths and maintain their party’s cover-ups a secret.

Until recently power, politics and profit have been the key elements in determining the media’s traditional approach towards conflict and war. Peace journalism is considered as an alternative to ‘war journalism’ as it values non-violent responses to conflict and is oriented to a global public rather than the specific interests of the elite. The main goal is to map the conflict, identify the parties involved, analyse their goals and, and finally supply information according to the specific agenda. Other crucial aspects of peace journalism include exposing untruths on all sides, focusing on the victims and giving voice to the voiceless.

Mass Media, Ownership and Clicktivism.

The mass media thrives upon selling their stories and what they believe to be the truth to as many as possible worldwide. It’s because of this need to be popular that the media focuses on stories that are current, interesting and relevant. Gibson (2009) believes that ‘dumbing down’ of media, particularly news content, has both trivialised and tarnished the practice of politics in the public mind. Instead of covering important issues, current news content reporting on politics concentrates on the competitive, scandalous and personality-led aspects of politics.

Media ownership is becoming increasingly important as it has the potential to limit the freedom of expression. The owner of a media outlet has the power to determine what stories, issues and views are being distributed to mass audiences. In Australia the media ownership is one of the most concentrated in the world. As media outlets worldwide are being sold to media moguls, audiences are being provided with less voices and opinions and more homogenised viewpoints. The mainstream media therefore has the power to influence their consumers as they are presenting homogenised views across multiple outlets. This essentially is a way of shaping their views and assisting to decide where they stand in regards to a particular issue, such as who to vote for in the upcoming election.

The Internet in particular has assisted in the emergence of alternative media, which provide a variety of different perspectives and opinions to consumers worldwide. Alternative news sites, such as blogs, break stories that the mainstream media wouldn’t dare tap into. This sense of convergence has also altered the way we as a generation participate in politics, particularly on social media. Instead of rallying and protesting for something we strongly believe in, Gen Y now utilises the Internet to show support by liking, commenting and sharing online posts. This sense of ‘clicktivism’ revolves around using the power of digital media to bring social change and promote activism.

Time To Reflect..

It feels like it was only yesterday when I was attempting to ‘study’ for my first HSC exam. But no, instead I’ve nearly completed my first year of Uni which is insane!

Up until this point I hadn’t given much thought to what I have learnt during this semester, shock! But in all seriousness I have learnt quite a lot which is surprising as I have been undertaking this subject for a short period of time. Within those short 10 weeks I’ve covered a variety of topics on this blog concerning ‘International Media and Communication’. Some of those topics include globalisation, hip-hop, transnational film industries, media capitals, global media, news values and world news.

I’m not going to lie, having to blog each week’s topic can be a hassle but it has enhanced my understanding of international media and communication on both a local and global scale. Having to create blog posts each week based on a topic and readings has been an interesting experience, which has assisted in comprehending and further understanding each week’s topics, concepts and main issues. The blog posts require us to expand on the issues and concepts given to us each week, therefore allowing us to express our own ideas and opinions.

A particular topic that I found quite interesting and learnt a lot about was global media and news values. As this was also the topic for my group presentation, I was able to further investigate what we as a society deem as ‘newsworthy’. The group presentation also enhanced my understanding of global news as a whole, and also the major shift in contemporary journalism.

Overall, BCM111 has assisted myself in understanding the many marvels of international media and communication. Although I had a slight understanding of some of the concepts and topics prior to starting this subject, I didn’t fully comprehend what they actually meant and how they are affecting our increasingly globalised world. A lot of the media that I consume on an everyday basis originates overseas, whether it be music, films, news or television shows. It’s because of this that BCM111 has been particularly interesting, and it has also encouraged me to appreciate content and media produced and created overseas.