Media Texts and the Public Sphere

In today’s world, there are many issues that are exposed through the media. These media sources enable discussion to occur about these particular issues. This is known as the public sphere. According to German philosopher and socialogist Jurgen Habermas, a public sphere is a place for individuals to debate about common topics. There are many platforms through which a public sphere can be developed in such a technologically developed society. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are just a few examples.

Considering Instagram has more than seventy-five million users logging into their accounts daily, it creates a space for public discussion. When an issue is published onto the social media site through an image, video or comment, it takes only seconds before controversy is raised. A recent and popular example is Kim Kardashian’s nude selfies. Immediate reactions included people commenting on how inappropriate the posts were. Many argue that it will negatively influence young girls who look up to the celebrity as a role model. Others claim that Kim’s post should not be abused, as they noted that inappropriate photos of male celebrities do not receive the same negative attention. Therefore claiming that people’s comments are purely sexist. The variety of comments that were sparked in regards to Kim’s post, demonstrates how one photo creates a public sphere for individuals to voice their opinions.

Public spheres are increasingly important in this ‘online generation’, as it enables everyone, ignoring gender, origin and personal beliefs, a chance to have their views publicly displayed.

However, originally, public spheres excluded specific individuals in society. Women and minority groups were not a part of public spheres. It was a place for men, the elite and eventually the middle class, displaying how different it is to today’s idea of a diverse public sphere.

Until next time,

Ruth

 

 

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Media Convergence, What is it?

We are a part of a society that is fast changing. Without stereotyping, today’s generation is doing away with the media forms of the past and becoming members of the “online generation”. This is known as media convergence. Essentially, media convergence is the shift from traditional legacy media, to modern media platforms that combine all media sources together.

The most recognisable and useful example of media convergence is the iPhone. Ultimately, modern phones but specifically iPhones, can practically do anything that you would ever need it to do. It replaces most of the traditional media platforms. Below is a list of legacy media types that used to only be found on separate devices:

  • Radio, Television, Camera, DVD, CD, Music, Landline, GPS, Books, etc

However, in today’s world, you can find all of these media forms and much more on the one device, the iPhone. This displays how media convergence is a huge part of our lives. Media convergence not only replaces some legacy media forms, but also makes accessing all of these things so much easier for the user. With an iPhone, everything is literally at the audience’s fingertips.

So, is media convergence a good thing? Well, to begin with, it is a highly efficient way of accessing several media sources in one place. A user can access news, weather, social media, alarms, videos, music and photos (just to name a few) on one small device. Therefore the switch in media convergence has the central aim of benefiting the audience. Another advantage of media convergence that was published on SlideShare by Wilkins, Williams, Padget and Hammond in Media Convergence is that it makes it “easier to connect with audiences”. While this is true, many argue that media convergence leads to the inability to communicate effectively outside of our phones. We become so used to relying on our phones for everything, that we do not realise the importance of face-to-face communication.

Growing up in a generation where media convergence is clearly evident, are all younger people converged? Well, no. Personally, I use both legacy and modern media platforms. While I do use my iPhone for the things previously mentioned, I also still listen to the radio on my way to Uni, I still watch the news and television programs in the evening and I still read books. Media convergence is a powerful force in today’s world, however, legacy media is not forgotten by all.

Until my next blog post,

Ruth

 

 

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Who Controls the Media We Use?

When we wake up in the morning, for many people the first thing we reach for is our phones. We may look at the news, read the weather forecast for the day or most commonly, scroll through our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feeds. When doing this, have you ever stopped to ask yourself who owns the media platform you are using? For many of us, the answer would be no. Because we have our own profiles, we believe we are in control, and to some extent that is true. We post the statuses we write, we upload the photos we take, and we comment and like the things that we are drawn to. But what about the actual media site itself. Who controls it? Who has authority over what you see and what you can do? The answer to these questions might surprise you.

In today’s world, the diversity of media ownership is declining significantly. This is due to the fact that powerful, wealthy individuals are owning large portions of companies. The key issue with this is that the fewer the ‘owners’, the fewer the voices.

Let’s take one of Australia’s most popular radio networks as an example. Rupert Murdoch’s son, Lachlan Murdoch has a one hundred percent stake in Nova FM. This staggering statistic from the Australian Communications and Media Authority, is a demonstration of how restricted media ownership is. Using this same example, we can discuss the effects of such an extreme ownership. Lachlan Murdoch, being the largest contributor to Nova, will therefore have a powerful voice in the business. This is a worrying issue as it means that businesses can censor their media platforms. Audience members will only hear what the company and stakeholders want their listeners to hear. This issue was captured by American singer/songwriter Jim Morrison, “Whoever controls the media controls the mind.” Essentially, this quote highlights the fact that limited voices in the media open up to bias opinions that wouldn’t be so prominent if media ownership existed in large numbers.

But what about the media platforms we use on a daily basis, like Facebook? Well, according to Who OWNS Facebook, its founder Mark Zuckerberg has a 28.2% stake in the company. Apart from Zuckerberg, only six others have weighty stakes below 10% and above 1.6%. This clearly demonstrates that for a global giant, only seven people have significant control.

Ultimately, it reveals that the media platforms we all use daily, are controlled and manipulated by the owners, filtering the information we receive.

Until next time,

Ruth

 

References:

  • “Australian Communications and Media Authority – Media Interests Snapshot”, 24/03/16, http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/media-interests-snapshot
  • “Who Owns Facebook – The Definitive Who’s Who Guide to Facebook Wealth”, May 2011, http://whoownsfacebook.com
  • “Love of Life Quotes – Jim Morrison quote on media control”, 19/10/2013, http://www.loveoflifequotes.com/uncategorized/jim-morrison-quote-media-control/

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