Where do I begin?

Source: Oscar Wilde

Source: Oscar Wilde

Over the last 6 weeks of studying the Introduction to Communication and Media Studies subject I have come away with so much more knowledge and understanding. I began this degree with a general idea about the term ‘media’ and its effects on the audience. Fast forward 6 weeks and I am now a walking encyclopedia book filled with media knowledge. But how was I to know the amount of information I was yet to discover. I strongly believe Oscar wilds wise words “You can never be overdressed or overeducated” perfectly describes my outlook on this degree. You can never know everything but you can always know something.

Attending lectures, tutorials and completing assigned readings made me more aware of the roles of the media in society. I would have never considered to question what was wrong with the ‘media effects’ model. In doing so I became more mindful that not entirely what is depicted on Television programs will motivate us to commit those types of behavior.

Before I began on this adventure, I usually would skip the pages of advertisements in magazines. But thanks to semiotics I will never look at an advertisement in the same way again. Now I’m constantly trying to find the signifier, signified and the connotations of the Ad.

It was also brought to my attention that it so important to know who controls the media and why it matters. Honestly, I don’t want one media mogul to control all media platforms. This would result in us only knowing one opinion and will negativity limit the amount of voices in our society.

Reading other students blogs and gathering my own research, I’ve come to realise that so many TV shows have raised various important issues in the mediated public sphere. From the sexualisation of young girls on “Toddlers and Tiaras” to the political protests on “Big Brother”. The mediated public sphere enables us to freely exchange ideas and information.

My interpretations on the topic of surveillance have been taken to a whole new level. I had never gave much thought that every move I made on campus is on surveillance by 450 different cameras. CCTV footage is used in society to influence the individual to believe it will reduce the public’s fear of crime. But with the increase in government installations of CCTV, will it succeed in preventing crimes?

Overall, Communication and Media Studies has largely influenced and altered my perceptions that the media plays a vital role in society. Yesterday was history, and tomorrow BCM110 studies will provide me new ways to unlock new mysteries.

By Bianca Tasevski Posted in BCM110

Im a walking, talking, breathing, living doll!

The concept of the Public Sphere according to Jurgen Haberman is the ‘space’ in which citizens openly debate about common issues, without the State and official economy. The public sphere has enhanced the opinions of society and the illuminates the issues surrounding ‘popular’ media texts. Alan McKee views the ‘public sphere’ as “a metaphor that we use to think about the way that information and ideas circulate in large societies.” The mediated public sphere has enabled domestic, emotional and personal issues existing in the public culture to be brought to life.

Toddlers and Tiaras is a highly controversial American TV series that airs on TLC and is debated in the public sphere for all the wrong reasons. The show explores the crazy competitive world of child beauty pageants and the quest for perfection. But looking for perfection is asking for trouble. The young girls or should I say living Barbie dolls are paraded around wearing excessive amounts of makeup, false eye lashes, fake hair and how can we forget to mention Barbie will not be complete without her Malibu spray tan. This is evident in the below picture.

The young children are judged on their beauty, personality and costume. Even the pushy stage mums and Dad’s get involved to make sure there precious Barbie wins the ultimate supreme title and prize money. The main issue that is debated in the mediated public sphere is allowing the sexualisation of young girls.

The below image caused an uproar when the young pageant girl on the front cover of Peoples Magazine had striking similarities with the actress inside the cover page. The over-the-shoulder glance of the young pageant girl and the actress placed emphasis on the debated issue of sexualisation. Was it just a coincidence the photographs were taken in the same direction or were they encouraging the sexualisation of the young girl?

On other occasions, young pageant girls were sexualised by their provocative costumes and dance routines. Throughout the show, young girls were dressing up in skimpy cloths imitating Julia Roberts as a prostitute in ‘Pretty Woman’. Others went to the extreme by wearing stuffed bras in the aim to imitate Dolly Parton. The sexualisation of children should not be allowed, but “Toddlers and Tiaras” seems to be promoting and exploiting young children all in the name for ratings.

The father of beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey revealed to ABC News his thoughts on today’s controversial pageant “Toddlers and Tiaras” describing it as “very bizarre.” It made me think has the show gone past the level of being just fun and harmless? The issues raised in the mediated public sphere reveal young children are made to believe the prettiest girl will always win. As a result this may lead to a lack of self-esteem and may become an issue in their teenage years. Ultimately, we should just let the child act like a child and not force it to grow up so quickly.

By Bianca Tasevski Posted in BCM110

What a coincidence, you have the same opinion as me!

The concentration of media ownership has been the topic of intense public debate around the world. It is important to understand who controls the media and why it matters. Allowing large media corporations to have infinite power over the mass media will result in majority of the world having the same ideologies, opinions and beliefs. Clearly, we don’t want to have the identical opinion as the person standing next to us. Permitting extreme concentrated patterns of media ownership is bound to suppress innovation and eventually lead to the death of individuality and democracy. Nevertheless, do you know how controlled the media industry has become?

Rupert Murdoch is a media corporation Tycoon, he has superior ownership over various Newspaper and Television Networks worldwide. The below image emphasises the power of Rupert Murdoch’s empire to influence and persuade the audience. In Australia alone he owns 150 titles, which includes The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and The Advertiser. Due to the information coming from a one sided perspective, Murdoch has the ability to limit the diversity of information on offer to the audience. Clearly, the audience is being forced to only know selected information that is offered from a biased one sided perspective. Have we given to much power and control to one individual?

If we take a look at the Australian Media ownership landscape, there are three influential and significant players. Australia’s television network is dominated by Kerry Stokes who has full control over Channel 7 and Bruce Gordon controls regional television network WIN TV. By far, mining billionaire Gina Rinehart is the one to watch, she owns 10% of the Ten Network and owns a large share in Fairfax which she desires to increase her influence into an editorial role. Ricardo Goncalves from SBS states that, “…there are concerns that she may use her influence to sway editorial policy at publications like the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, various online business and radio stations like 2UE and 3AW which the company owns.” Therefore, there is a need to control media ownership because it limits the amount of voices.

We may lead to believe the diversity of media ownership is declining and there is a need for regulation. The Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) is a government agency responsible for the regulation of broadcasting, the internet, radio, and telecommunication. The ACMA attempts to ensure diversity of ownership and control. But to what extent will the government’s power impact on the owners of the large media corporations?

The media plays an important role in society in shaping and influencing our personal choices. Allowing a particular individual to have excessive amount of control over the mass media will eventually lead to a world believing there is no other opinions. However, there are always two sides to a story!

By Bianca Tasevski Posted in BCM110

It’s more than just the plane that is going down!

WWF advertisments are usually well respected within society, they successfully promote conservation of Earth’s natural resources and the importance of preserving the environment. The non-profit organisation recognised by its Panda logo aims “to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, preserving biodiversity so that we all benefit and enjoy our most precious gift,” (WWF, 2013). However, WWF reputation was about to hit rock bottom with its agency revealing its most controversial 9/11 advertisement in 2009.

Semiotics is the science of the signs and its aim is to convey the meaning of the signs. A sign contains a signifier (things that give meaning word/image) and a signified (what is evoked in the mind). In this case, the signifier in the WWF advertisement is the abundance of planes, New York City and the World Trade Centres. The image signified one of the worst tragedies in the history of humanity, the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The denotations of the image clearly are on par with the connotations. The connotation of the capitalised words located in the top right hand corner, “The Tsunami killed 100 times more people than 9/11.” I believe reveals WWF intentions were to accentuate the amount of innocent lives lost on 9/11 and juxtapose it to the 280,000 lives lost from the 2005 Asian Tsunami. We may assume the purpose of the controversial advertisement was to emphasise the power of the planet which we inhabit and WWF goals for a living planet. What is the purpose of living if we continue to intentionally destroy our environment?

The focal point of the animated aerial image of New York City is located in the centre of the advertisement. Due to the positioning of the image, the viewer may feel depicted as a victem looking out from one of the hijacked planes. The use of grey scale colours reveals the dystopian future we may have to endure if we don’t respect our planet. These signs place emphasis on the contentious advertisement.

The controversial advertisement resulted with the entire world being left in a state of shock. Due to society’s ideologies and negative attitudes towards 9/11, people were offended by the insensitivity of the advertisement. Should WWF be ashamed for disrespecting the victems of 9/11 and their families?

By Bianca Tasevski Posted in BCM110

What is wrong with you?

With the expansion of mass media, every day we are more influenced and inspired by what we watch. Majority of individuals believe mass media will commonly have a direct effect upon our behaviour. The ‘media effects’ model takes on the approach that human behaviour, in particular ‘violence’ is entirely influenced on what type of mass media the individual engages with. Reality hit MTV show The Jersey Shore is well known for promoting erratic drunken behaviour and violence. But is it ok to blame the media for our violent behavior because we viewed a fight scene on the Jersey Shore?

Source: Mediaite

Source: Mediaite

Not entirely what is depicted on Television programs will motivate us to commit those types of behavior. Therefore, we may presume there is something wrong with the ‘media effects’ model. In ‘Ten things wrong with the effects model’ by David Gauntlett, he states that “The effects model tackles social problems backwards.” Instead of connecting all acts of violence to mass media, we should question what is wrong with the individual for carrying out his or her actions. It is important to look at the individual’s identity and background factors before we blame the mass media.

The ‘media effects’ model is wrong in various ways, it is highly based on unreliable findings, artificial studies and misapplied methodologies. Clearly, Alfred Bandura’s famous Bobo doll experiment is invalid. However, it was taken as proof that watching violence promotes violence. As seen in the below video, children witnessing an adult role model behaving in an overly aggressive manner were highly likely to replicate similar behaviour themselves, even if the adult was not present. Causality played an important role in the experiment, because monkey see monkey do. Evidently, it reveals the ‘Media effects’ model will accept dishonest ‘findings’.

The ‘media effects’ model is incorrect again! The model views only acts of violence shown on TV shows and films as having an effect on the behaviour of the viewer. Acts of violence which appears on news reports and factual programs are seen as exempt (David Gauntlett, 1998). It strongly indicates the ‘media effects’ model fails to accept all mass media.

George Gerbner undertook a content analysis to emphasise violent television programs ‘cultivate’ violence in society. I believe his cultivation theory appeared more to be aimed at incriminating the media for promoting violence.

Ultimately, will the ‘media effects’ model give a honest reflection on the relationship between the mass media and the audience or will it continue to give false assumptions?

By Bianca Tasevski Posted in BCM110

Do you want your voice to be heard?

Due to the rate of convergence moving rapidly, there are new opportunities for audiences to engage with content and participate with media platforms. It has resulted in a new type of audience appearing, the traditional passive consumer is evolving into an active consumer, producing and distributing its own content. Gone are the days of just listening to the radio, watching TV and reading the newspaper wishing your opinion could be heard. We are witnessing something dramatic; it’s the transition from monologic media to dialogic media.

Who wants to be told you can only listen? We all have opinions and we openly want to be able to share them. The internet allows for individual voices to be heard. Everyone can participate online and contribute to content without any costs. The internet provides an environment where there is no gatekeepers and is extremely difficult for governments to implement their power. This has led to the rise of the participatory culture.

Source: The Princess and the Pump

Source: The Princess and the Pump

We are no longer just the audience; we are “citizen journalists” according to Gordon (2007). Since the introduction of the smartphone, users are able to make calls, send messages, capture photos and film videos. We have the ability not only to produce our own content but now distribute and share it with the public sphere. Mobile phone usage is contributing to the public sphere, witnesses of the London bombings in 2005, shared mobile phone images to the mainstream media. However, the images were still subjected to gatekeeping. So called “citizen journalists” also posted their images in the public domain via personal blogs (Gordon, 2007). Therefore, the public domain has allowed active consumers to distribute their own content.

The rise of the participatory culture has been heavily encouraged by social networking sites; it has allowed active consumers to aggregate knowledge. The Egyptian revolution in 2011, generated a Facebook group “We are all Khaled said” which permitted the audience to have an active role in openly criticising the regime of its time. Similarly, in this same event the Twitter hashtag effectively was used by active consumers to coordinate mass demonstrations. Also YouTube was used in a way to disseminate video footage of police brutality in Egypt, to encourage further protests. It was essential for active consumers to play an important role in contributing to social networking sites. As a result the rise of the participatory culture was successful in overthrowing the Government.

Source: First Covers

Source: First Covers

Audiences believe if they don’t get given the information, they will go ahead and produce it themselves. This was the exact case when gatekeepers in the Chinese media gave no explanation why Bo Xilai was sacked in 2012. The active consumers took it among themselves to post outrageous rumors and photos of military tanks invading the main streets of the capital on Weibo. However, the downside to participatory culture is whether the information is fact or fiction. Due to the internet having no gatekeepers, there is no quality control. We have to question the credibility of the source because participatory culture encourages the dissemination of content.

Ultimately, I believe the internet is largely responsible for allowing us to voice our opinions. Social media platforms and mobile phones have enabled us to consume, produce and distribute content. An active consumer has more power than ever to aggregate ideas and broadcast any message to the World Wide Web. As long as the internet is around, our voices will be heard.

Gordon, Janey (2007), The Mobile and the Public Sphere: Mobile Phone Usage in Three Critical Situations, Convergence 13/3 Pages: 307- 319.

Unknown, 2012, Facebook is my friend, YouTube is my profile Facebook covers, image, First Covers, viewed 5 April 2013 http://www.firstcovers.com/userquotes/97361/facebook+is+my.html

Unknown, 2012, My response to ignorance: one voice, image, The Princess and the pump, viewed 5 April 2013 http://www.theprincessandthepump.com/2011/02/my-response-to-ignorance-one-voice.html

By Bianca Tasevski Posted in BCM112

Round 1: Control vs. Freedom

The battle days are not over yet, Apple and Android go head to head in the fight to win over consumers. The ongoing tension between the locked appliance and the generative platform is fuelled by the dynamics of technological convergence. Now, more than ever mobile web trends are increasing around the globe. We have the internet to thank, for allowing us to be connected with everything, anywhere and at any time. In 2010, 6.8 billion people inhabited the world and 5 billion of them were mobile phone users. The shocking statistics show we live in a society addicted to mobile phones. Hence, Apple and Android will go to any extremes to empower their users. Are we better off in a permission culture or open culture?

Source: All Things D.

Source: All Things D.

Apple is a locked appliance that thrives on owner empowerment. However, Zittrain (2008) explains this was not the case with Steve Jobs first invention Apple II, with its functionality being drastically different from the iPhone. The Apple II was a generative platform that invited innovation by others. On the other hand, the iPhone device is preprogrammed and is linked to a network of control. Accordingly to Zittrain (2008) “The iPhone is a product of both fashion and fear” and I believe to a certain extent this is true. Although the iPhone device is a revolutionary mobile phone, that has an astonishing high quality touch screen and superior internet access. The locked appliance has many restrictions that may overwhelm the benefits. Does Apple have good intentions for its consumers, or are they only locking our options to have ultimate control?

Due to technological convergence moving at a fast rate, it has resulted in an outburst of increased concentration of media ownership. Apple is a power house company that has complete control over its App store, iOS and developers. Even though Apple may provide their consumers everything that they need under the same roof, the user is limited to customising there device and having freedom of choice. With Apple having full control over its users, consumers are becoming more curious and want to experience the unknown. However, are you ready to take responsibility for your own choices?

Source: Best Free Web Resources

Source: Best Free Web Resources

Incomes the first Android phone in 2008, it represents everything that Apple isn’t. Due to Android being an open platform, it allows for the independence of the application market. Convergence provided an opportunity for Google’s Android to expand its market and to reach across other platforms. Accordingly to Steve Jobs he states that, “Android hurts them more than it helps them.” (2008). Clearly, Android is taking risks that may lead to the destruction and division of their market. However, Androids popularity hit an all-time high in 2010, which resulted in an increase growth in the Android market. This resulted in consumers being empowered by the variety of options available to personalise their smartphone devices. The Android platform allows consumers to play a much more active role in their device compared to Apple. In doing so, consumers are embracing the freedom of choice provided by Android.

Jenkins sums up media convergence by stating that, “Some see a world without gatekeepers; others a world where gatekeepers have unprecedented power.” (2004 p. 34). Evidently, Androids success is due to it allowing the control to be in the consumer’s hand. At the same time, Apple is still continuing to dominate its users. I believe Android has the upper hand at empowering users, but yet again Apple is full of surprises. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Jenkins, Henry (2004), The cultural logic of media convergence, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Volume 7(1):33-43.

Zittrain, J. (2008) “Introduction”. In J. Zittrain The Future of The Internet And How To Stop It (pp 1-5) New Haven: Yale University Press. http://yupnet.org/zittrain/archives/6

BBL, 2012, Wallpaper 25, image, Best Free Web Resources, viewed 27 March 2013, http://www.bestfreewebresources.com/2012/01/30-most-beautiful-android-wallpapers.html

Eric Johnson, 2012, Android vs iOS, image, All things D viewed 27 March 2013, http://allthingsd.com/20120820/boxing-game-brings-html5-to-the-center-ring-and-punch-out-to-campaign-2012/

By Bianca Tasevski Posted in BCM112