iReflect

Throughout the last six weeks of learning about media studies, I have become more aware and more knowledgeable about many aspects in our technological driven world. I had never blogged before, so this was a very new thing to me. Once I began, however, I really started to enjoy and appreciate the world of blogging, through my own creative writing and also being able to read many other blogs and see what others have to say.

In week 2, we studied David Gauntlett’s article, ‘Ten things wrong with effects model’, where he believes we are taking a backward approach towards the cause of media effects, but also that there may never be a clear and defined answer on media effects. I found this topic really interesting, as I too, do not believe there is any one reason for why people behave the way they do, with or without any relation to the media. The fact that this topic was called ‘Television is making you fat’ also made it even more clear to me, and that the amount of time that we spend being inactive in front of the television definitely needs to be considered before we believe such myths. We also need to consider society as a whole when looking at the reasons why people react the way they do to media, which inevitably adds to the media effects.

Another topic that has helped shaped my thinking about the role of media, was the week 4 topic on media ownership. With Australia’s media being one of the most concentrated in the world, the fact that our media is owned by a very small number of media companies makes information less diverse. I found a point that was made in the lecture really interesting, that the diversity of our media ownership is declining, however at same time, there is an increasing number of media users and producers. As our technological world expands and grows each day, more and more media platforms are being created and explored, which gives way to more media owners. I feel this is a good thing as the more variety of companies we have, the more diverse the information and bigger selection of sources of news.

I have really enjoyed being able to read other students blogs. I feel that even though we are all studying the same topics each week, everyone can input such a diverse range of information that I genuinely find interesting and enjoy reading. The role of the media in our society today plays a very important role, through providing masses of information, connecting people through online platforms, giving people the freedom to express their own opinions and allowing everyone to become prosumers of content. These are just some of the things I have learnt about the media, which has inevitably influenced my thinking about the role of the media since week one.

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A Modern Family in a modern world

According to German philosopher Jurgen Habermas, the public sphere is ‘a domain of our social life in which such a thing as public opinion can be formed. Access to the public sphere is open in principle to all citizens’ (Habermas, 1989, pg. 1). He imagined the public sphere to be much like a 17th century coffee house, a place for affluent white men to share news and debate about ideas. The ‘new mediated public sphere’, however, is an updated version and extension to Habermas’ idea, which has transformed to fit in with the today’s society. With more and more media technologies and platforms evolving everyday, people from all around the world can discuss and debate current issues that revolve around everyday life. This new mediated public sphere is a virtual online space, which allows for freedom of expression and everyone’s voice to be heard.

An example of a popular media text that contributes to a big debate in the mediated public sphere I think is Modern Family. Modern Family is a hilarious television show about a large, blended family living in the modern world. It involves three different families that are all related in some way, and raises issues around the themes of same sex partners, parenting teenagers, race, generational gaps, adoption and of course the central idea of blended family.

 

Despite the show being extremely funny and popular, it brings about many relevant and current debates that fit into this idea of a mediated public sphere. For Phil and Claire, the struggle of raising three teenage children becomes apparent as they try to stay as ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ as they can. This ordinary, average family would be extremely relevant to a lot of other families around the world, and therefore can introduce many interesting topics for discussion. Mitchell and Cameron are a gay couple who have adopted a little Vietnamese girl to become a part of their family. The idea of same sex partners is apparent, which raises many issues around homosexuality, providing a balanced upbringing, normality and acceptance.  Jay and Gloria, both in their second marriages, are dealing with the issues of cultural difference and a large generational gap. They are both trying to raise Gloria’s son Manny, and more recently, their own newborn child together.

From a popular television show like modern Family, we can see how they have tried to incorporate a number of important issues in our society today. The director makes it apparent that they carefully, and successfully attempt to treat each character with equality, which in my opinion is what makes the show so popular. There have been, however, many major criticisms of the mediated public sphere, including that it’s become too trivialised, commercialised and apathetic. I feel that because this new public sphere allows for everyone’s own ideas and debates to take place, it will consequently be changing and molding over time, due to our technological and growing society.

Here is another clip from the show, I hope you find it as hilarious as I do! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diU5bm9wvjI

Habermas, J & Seidman, S, 1989, Jurgen Habermas on Society and Ethics: A Reader, Beacon Press, Boston, Massachusetts

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.

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!

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!

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!