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.

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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.

“Seek Truth and Report It”

According to the US-based Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), “Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information”. ‘False Balance’ is considered to be a superficial balance that tells both sides of the story. It also can be a form of informational bias as journalists present a particular issue as being more balanced between opposing viewpoints than the evidence actually supports. Although balanced reporting provides audiences with information on all sides of an issue, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all sides of the story deserve equal weight. With that said, balanced coverage doesn’t always mean that the information being presented to audiences is accurate.

Journalists have profound ethical responsibilities when covering stories and issues both expansive and critical, much like climate change. These journalists are not only reporting these concerns during a time where their own line of work is changing, but also during a time of profound global economic and financial uncertainty (Ward 2009). This type of uncertainty is compounded by the ongoing threats of divisive wars and terrorist activities, which in hand confounds journalist’s approach to these expansive and critical issues (Ward 2009).

What has been considered as a major challenge to the free flow of information, the commercialisation of media has resulted in news becoming a commercial product. As the concentration of media ownership is increasing, the level of freedom and independence of news and differing views is reducing. In some nations, powerful corporations are becoming major influences on mainstream media. This in particular has caused a reduction in diversity and depth in content that is being presented to mass audiences.

Who Counts in Global Media? News Values.

New values are considered to be general guidelines or criteria utilised by media outlets (newspapers or broadcast media) in order to determine how much attention to give to a particular story. They are in fact fundamental to understanding new production and the choices that editors and other journalists face when determining what is deemed to be newsworthy and what is not. News values act like the edges of a prism as they focus and direct information into the appropriate categories. The seven news values mentioned in the lecture include:

  • Composition
  • Continuity
  • Cultural Proximity
  • Elite References
  • Negativity
  • Personalisation
  • Rarity
  • Relevance

News values are in fact changing as media outlets thrive upon entertaining their audiences. It’s because of this that entertainment and celebrity news is now at the forefront of the media. Much of the criticism of news values today focuses on the inadequate coverage of real (‘hard’) news, as it is being replaced by entertaining celebrity-based news.

Whether you like it or not, celebrity news has become a fundamental aspect of the media. What has been described as a major shift in contemporary journalism, celebrity news has transformed from an array of print and television outlets, into a category of content found across various media channels. The demand for celebrity news and gossip is constantly increasing; therefore media outlets will do whatever it takes to acquire the latest and most sensational story.

Transnational Film Industries.

As our understanding of the world is constantly growing and expanding, so is the nature of film industries in terms of production and distribution. The shift in global film cultures has resulted in the emergence of transnational film industries, which break down the traditional geographical barriers. Both transnational and global film industries are hybrids of numerous cultures, nations and creative minds, therefore producing a melting pot of interpretations and representations.

As there are an increasing number of films attracting international markets, the films being produced can no longer be identified with a specific nation. Films are now being shot in a number of different countries, and are therefore mixing both global and local elements in order to appeal to audience tastes and trends (Schaefer & Kara 2010).  On top of this, film industries are also becoming more reliant on multinational cast and crew, and other resources available to them.

A clear example of a transnational film is the Academy Award winning ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Set and filmed in India, the film follows the story of a teenage boy who appears on the Indian adaptation of a Western game show ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’. Throughout the film, aspects of Western culture were referenced as a way of targeting Western audiences. Along with the Indian adaptation of the game show, the film’s tourist scene was set at the Taj Mahal, slumdogwhich is considered to be one of the most recognisable landmarks in India for Westerners. The cast and crew of the film also add transnationality as they were a mixture of both Indian and Western.

According to David Schaefer & Kavita Kara (2010), “Asian film industries, particularly those of India and China, will wrestle control of global film flows from Western dominance”. In order to achieve this, it is believed that Asian production centers will utilise mediums, such as the internet, satellite networks, cable television and DVD distribution, to exploit cinematic contraflows as a way of meeting the demands for glocalised content.

‘Media Capitals’

According to Michael Curtin (2003), media capitals are considered to be “sites of mediation, locations where complex forces and flows interact”. Curtin (2003) places emphasis on understanding media capitals as meeting places where local specificity arises out of migration, interaction and exchange. With that said, media capitals are places where things come together and, consequently, where the generation and circulation of new mass culture forms become possible. The study of media capitals directs our attention to complex interactions among of range of flows; including economic, demographic, technological, cultural and ideological, which therefore operate at local, national, regional and global levels.

As for the global context, Curtin (2003) highlights that Hollywood television embraced an international rather than a transnational logic. It is a well-known fact that Hollywood has dominated the film and entertainment industry since the early 19th century. Although the industry itself is always changing and evolving, Hollywood’s status as a global media capital remains, but the conditions of its dominance has been altered dramatically. As the culture logic of American television has remained the same, producers are still focusing on national audiences, therefore somewhat disregarding local and global audiences.

Hong Kong’s emergence as a ‘media capital’ is a result of the influences exerted by migrations of cultural institutions and creative talent. Instead of disregarding their ability to express local concerns, the influx of refugees enhanced and strengthened the creative resources of the Hong Kong film industry. Overall, Hong Kong’s rapid embrace of television was a result of its mediated relations between the East and West, between traditional and modernity, and between immigrant and indigenous populations. It’s because of this that Hong Kong has become one of the emerging media capitals competing against the dominating Hollywood industry.

Where The Local Meets The Global – Hip Hop

Hip-hop is defined as a culture and form of ground breaking music and self-expression. Along with the 4 original main elements of hip-hop (MCing, DJing, Graffiti and Breaking), hip-hop includes many genres and distinctions such as commercial, gangsta, conscious, grime and booty. For some hip-hop is much more than the art and entertainment, “Hip-hop is the constantly evolving spirit and consciousness of urban youth that keeps recreating itself in a never-ending cycle”.

What once originated in African and African-American culture, hip-hop has evolved into a global phenomenon as it has spread across national, cultural, ethnic and linguistic boundaries.  The globalisation of hip-hop not only highlights how quickly things can spread, but also how technological advances have created new circulation channels for music production.

According to April Henderson’s ‘Dancing Between Islands: Hip Hop and the Samoan Diaspora’, the Samoan involvement in street dance and music in California significantly impacted Samoan cultural production in other places where Samoans had settled such as New Zealand. For many hip-hop artists in New Zealand, the connections with America, particularly California, brought popping, locking, breaking and the music back home to them. These forms of California street dance were travelling quickly, as Samoans were popping and locking on the streets of California, their cousins back home began to mimic their moves and therefore learn the art.

Nowadays, rappers and hip-hop artists are portraying stereotypical and self-degrading images of themselves due to their song lyrics and music videos which highlight violence, sex, wealth, power and egos. It appears hip-hop has taken a step back from social, cultural and political messages which once helped voice opinions for those who felt they didn’t have a say.

The following video explores what the current hip-hop music scene has taught YouTube personality/comedian Jenna Marbles: