Media ownership within Australia

Who really owns our media and why does it matter?

This is an important question that we must ask ourselves because if we don’t, the diversity in our current media will decline immensely. Our Australian mass media is one of the most concentrated in the world and is owned by a very small number of media companies. For example, 11 out of 12 of our Australian newspapers are owned by either News Corp (8 out of the 11) or Fairfax Holdings (3 out of 11). When one company owns such a large proportion of the Australian media industry, we can see how present and clear the danger of obstruction in our democracy is. As it stands, liberal democracy advocates private media ownership with light regulation, where this regulation is a balance between ensuring media outlets are free to express opinion and overruling certain information for the public good.

Rules and regulations are extremely important in our media culture today. They prevent common ownership of media outlets and encourage diversity of commercial media, including the daily press and free-to-air TV and radio. We have a media system in this country where ownership and regulation have been constantly changing and evolving over time, and there is a continuous debate over which system is best for our country. At present, our media is currently regulated by the ACMA, which is a statutory authority within the federal government that is responsible for regulating online content, including internet and mobile phone content, and enforcing Australia’s anti-spam law.

I feel diverse ownership of the media is important to ensure the expression of points of view are varied, which will enhance the publics access to different viewpoints, sources of news, information and commentary. However, this then leads to the question of does content diversity actually result in diverse exposure? I feel the answer is no, especially if our media is owned by the same company. We will end up watching the same content, just on a different channel or through a different medium, which gives no diversity and no expression of opinion. This is why I feel it does matter who owns our media, and it should be a range of media companies.

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Freedom or control. The idea of media convergence in today’s world

We are living in a world that thrives on technology, and with new media platforms emerging constantly, we need to be aware of how convergence will affect these new technologies and platforms. In ‘The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence’, Henry Jenkins states that ‘Media convergence is more than simply a technological shift. Convergence alters the relationship between existing technologies, industries, markets, genres and audience’. An example of media convergence is the iPhone. It is not only just a phone, it also allows us to listen to music, call and text, store photos, browse the internet, play games and navigate to destinations. We can see how this phone is pushing the industry to a new level of competition in ways that connect us to each other and to the Web (Zittrain, 2008, pg.1).

apple-ios-vs-google-android

Technological convergence alters the ways in which we consume media. In today’s media culture, we can see a rise in ‘open’ and ‘closed’ media platforms, affecting users and industries in different ways. On one hand, we have ‘open’ platforms such as Android. This allows users to freely access and modify the code, where there is no control over the platform, the content, or the user. You can run the code from anywhere and it can ultimately be written by anyone. On the other hand, we have ‘closed’ platforms such as Apple, where the creators have complete control over the platform, the users, and the content. This means the device remains tethered within the creator’s domain, which they think offers a more consistent and focused user experience. There are, however, also platforms available for use that could be classified as either, such as YouTube. YouTube can be accessed by anyone and users can, in theory, upload whatever videos they like with an account and they have complete access to all other user videos. The YouTube creators do, however, have a level of control on the content of videos that are uploaded, and can remove and block users if their content is explicit or inappropriate.

This poses the question, does media convergence affect technologies and media platforms in a positive or negative way? I feel this question can be answered either way. I think having open cultures allows for media diversity and users can freely express ideas. With the majority of control left up to the users, the platform can grow and expand in ways the creators may possibly have never envisaged. With closed cultures, however, the creators are generating a more focused and reliable user experience at the expense of innovation and flexibility. As Jenkins says, ‘we are entering an era where media will be everywhere and we will use all kinds of media in relation to each other’. Either way, we can see how these two types of cultures will divide the nation, I guess it just depends on what users prefer, freedom or control.

Zittrain, J. (2008) “Introduction”. In J. Zittrain The Future of The Internet And How To Stop It (p. 1-5) New Haven: Yale University Press.

Am I really seeing this?

Burger King Ad

A picture paints a thousand words. Although with the picture in this ad, I think the creators are only trying to do one thing, shock viewers and get their immediate attention by suggesting the obvious. Burger King created this ad back in 2009, which was considered very controversial with the sexual connotation of a woman eating a ‘super seven incher’ sandwich.

In regards to the semiotics of the text, we are looking at the words and images that are on the page. There is a young, blonde woman wearing red lipstick and dark eye makeup, looking like she is about to eat a sandwich. Her eyes are wide, suggesting the size of the sandwich surprises her, and with the text below reading, ‘It’ll blow your mind away’. For a company that sells food to all ages around the world, this ad signifies a very inappropriate idea, that eating a sandwich will give you the same ‘experience’ as the suggested adult behaviour.

In my opinion, I feel the ad is very unappealing and distasteful. Originally, the ad was only released in Singapore, which funnily enough is an area known for strict laws and regulations on sexuality in public. Of course, in this day and age, the print ad was going to spread worldwide through our ‘clever’ use of the internet, where critics have blatantly shamed the ad as one of the worst of all time. An advertising copywriter at a New York City firm named Mark Duffy stated to Fox News:

“I’ve seen a lot of sexual innuendo ads and this is about the worst, especially for something as mainstream as Burger King. I was a little repulsed by it. It’s really misogynistic to women and it’s also unappetising”

From this ad, we can see that connotations attached to this photo are not appealing at all, and represent a distasteful image, which in my opinion is extremely degrading to women and very unappetising! This is not a good ad Burger King, not good at all!

Copyright or copywrong…

A common word we hear everyday, but what does it actually mean and what is its role today? The copyright law began back in 1710, under ‘An Act for the Encouragement of Learning’, however before that, there was no such thing as copyright; anyone could freely copy, modify, or sell content created by others. If the idea of copyright was thought of back then, it would have been considered ridiculous. However, when you think about it, if everything that was produced could be sold and distributed by someone else with no penalty, why would anyone bother to create work if they would get no recognition?

A great example of an exception to this law I have found is Girl Talk. Girl Talk, a.k.a Greg Gillis, is an America DJ who has made his living by creating music solely composed from a mash-up from samples of other artists work. For example, his latest album ‘All Day’, clocks in at 71 minutes of 372 samples of other artists music. How can this artist create this music and be so successful at it without breaching the law of copyright, you may ask. Well, according to their record company Illegal Art, they have successfully been ‘pushing the limits of sample-based music since 1998’. According to a Forbes article released last year, Gillis has a very stable and contemporary view on the notion of copyright, where he says:

“I basically believe in that idea [of Fair Use], that if you create something out of pre-existing media, that’s transformative, that’s not negatively impacting the potential sales of the artist you’re sampling, if it’s not hurting them in some way, then you should be allowed to make your art and put it out there. I think, even in the years of doing this, the conversation has shifted a good bit”.

There are major concerns for mash-up artists, including Gillis, where it is unknown if these artists fall under the copyright laws ‘fair use’ principle. So why has no one taken Gillis or any other artist to court? According to an article by techdirt, Peter Friedman stated that Gillis has a fairly strong argument that his work is not breaching any laws of copyright, and (if he were a lawyer) would advise any client of his not to sue Girl Talk. Friedman says:

“Gillis’s argument that he has transformed the copyrighted materials sufficiently that his work constitutes non-infringing fair use is just too good. I’d go after someone I am more likely to beat”.

So there we have it, an exception to copyright, where it is safe to say no artist will go up against Gillis in a court of law. That means  we can all still enjoy his very clever, and catchy tunes, and hopefully not get sued for listening! Here’s a clip showing off his best ‘mash-up moments’ form his latest album ‘All Day’, all compiled into one track, enjoy!

Television is making you fat!

Yes, you heard correct… and yes, I agree that it is an absolutely ridiculous statement. How can any inanimate object be the reason for a person to put on weight? Watching television is a lifestyle choice, which people need to be aware of, as it can increase their weight due to laziness and inactivity, not due to the media shown on the television. So how is this scenario any different to assuming that the effects of media are to blame for a person’s social behaviour?

According to the article titled ‘Ten things wrong with effects model’, David Gauntlett believes that not only are we taking a ‘backward’ approach towards media effects, but also that there may never be a clear and defined explanation relating to media effects. He says ‘direct effects of media upon behaviour have not been clearly identified’, and that ‘media effects research has quite consistently taken the wrong approach to the mass media, its audiences, and society in general’.

This ‘backward’ approach that Gauntlett has outlined in his article is something I have found very interesting. When researching media effects, we need to be looking not only at individuals, but also the society and cultures that are shaping our lives. I believe that in this technology driven world, media does play a huge role in how we grow up. The Internet is very accessible to many people around the world, whether it’s on a computer, tablet or phone. We are always being exposed to media, however we need not assume that media is the reason people act the way they do. For example, we cannot assume that playing violent video games will create violence among children, we need to look further into the family circumstances, society and their environment.

So… what does this mean for the ‘effects model’? I feel that no one will ever be able to clearly identify specifically the effects that media has on society, however the impact of mass media on society will hopefully continue to be studied and explored further. As for television making you fat, I think we should look more closely at the other contributing factors. For example, what people eat and the amount of time that is spent being inactive in front of the television needs to be considered, before we believe such myths and choose to avoid the television altogether!

The medium is the message?

 

Marshall McLuhan has introduced this notion of ‘the medium is the message’. After first reading this statement I wondered what that actually meant, much like the students from this clip above. From analysing Mark Federman’s interpretation of this idea, I began to somewhat comprehend what this statement could mean. For most people, when we think of a medium, we think of it as being a platform of mass media communication, and when we think of a message, we think of any type of information. However, for McLuhan, his ideas were not conventional, where a medium to him is ‘any extension of ourselves’ and a message is ‘the change of scale or pace or pattern of behaviour’.

I have interpreted my own understanding of this concept by knowing everything in the world is being mediated to us in some way through a medium, whether it’s on the radio, on the television or on the Internet. The medium is the most important part of the message as it influences and changes the way we express ourselves. For example, when we hear a voice on the radio, we will most likely get a very different opinion of that person when we actually watch them speak on the television. This is because of the different mediums that the messages are being portrayed through to its audiences.

This idea is depicted again with the papyrus scroll, which only allows for sequential access, as opposed to the book or the web, which allows for random and hyper access. These new media platforms are allowing the world to create new types of writing, which in turn creates a whole new way of reading. As McLuhan points out, any new medium can bring with it effects that may be harmful to our culture or society, and therefore we need to use the opportunity to change or influence this new medium before the effects become prevalent.

So a little more about me…

I am currently starting my third year of study outside of high school. After finishing school in 2010, I really struggled deciding what I wanted to do with my life. I have always been interested and loved all things fashion, so I wondered if I could create a career within that industry. I have now completed a Diploma in Fashion Business at FBI Fashion College, where I interned at Shop Til You Drop magazine for a year. I then did one semester at the University of New South Wales, studying a Bachelor of Media (PR and Advertising), which I really enjoyed and found interesting. The commute to and from Sydney became too stressful and full on, so I transferred to the University of Wollongong doing a much similar course, just a lot closer to where I live.

People always ask me where I would like to end up, and where I see myself in 5 years. At the moment I feel confident to say hopefully something within the fashion industry, either working in the advertising department of a magazine, at a PR company or maybe something in fashion marketing. I do also want to travel the world, and possibly live overseas for a period of time. That now brings me here, where I am writing this blog and as I have never blogged before, this is definitely a first for me! For now this blog will be dedicated to my two media subjects, however could turn into something more in the future. Enjoy!