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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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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Representation, Perception and Ideology

Media texts are all around us, from words to images, videos and even symbols. Every text we see carries meaning, but do we all perceive a text similarly? Do we all have the same ideological beliefs that make us interpret a text the same way? To answer these questions simply, no we don’t. You can almost guarantee that two people looking at an image are going to come up with two completely different answers as to what it is trying to represent. As individuals, we all have different ideals and beliefs that shape who we are. These characteristics cause us to perceive things in a different form to those around us. Because of this, media texts, such as a product endorsement poster, do not just have one way of reading it.

The poster below is a prime demonstration of a complex image. The promotional poster is used as advertisement for perfume. To begin with, we must discuss the signifiers and denotations, which is simply what is represented. Visually, we can see two people, a model and actress Scarlett Johansson. There are words written across the image and the perfume bottle is placed in the bottom righthand corner of the poster with the name and brand of the perfume. By discussing this, it gives the poster meaning.

However, now we have to look at the signifieds and connotations of the image that opens this media text up to interpretation and individual imagination. One may look at this image and say that is it simply a way of promoting a perfume. Another might add that while it is an attempt to publicise a product, it is also trying to persuade the audience to believe that by wearing this particular perfume, your life will change. From the image, it is written that “Just one moment can change everything”. To some of the audience they may believe that with one spray, their life can be transformed romantically and emotionally (according to the look on both of the models).

Furthermore, the use of celebrity actress Scarlett Johansson, is a strong persuasive tool for the audience to believe that because of this perfume, they too can become successful, famous and beautiful. Ultimately, the image captures the art of persuasion and perception.

So yes, this image is a perfect example of how a media text can be read in a variety of ways. An audience will not always have the same perception, because of each individual’s ideological beliefs.

Until next week,

Ruth

 

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Anxieties about the Media

In today’s world, the media is an extremely powerful tool in society. Wherever we go and whatever we are doing, we are influenced by the things around us. Whether it is when we are online, listening to the radio, watching the television or reading a newspaper, these influences have a metaphorical pull that persuades and changes our opinions and decisions. Because of this impact, there is growing anxiety in the community about the negative effects that the media can have on a media audience. This is known as the dystopian view, where a negative mindset is held about the future with the media. Some of the key areas or ‘anxieties’ that are held by the dystopian view are:

  • Cyberbullying &
  • Video game violence.

In our current society, there are a number of social media platforms that enable innocent people to become victims of unnecessary and often quite harmful cyberbullying. In many circumstances, the immediate reaction in response to this issue is to blame the media source. However, as Luke Pollard said in February of 2016 in Philosophy Now: An Argument about Free Will, “while we may be pressured and bullied by our surroundings, it is clear that ultimately the choice is ours – and the responsibility also.” Using this statement, we can see how in context with cyberbullying and other issues that may stand, we cannot put the blame on the media. In fact it is the individuals who choose to use media platforms in the wrong way.

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Similarly, video games have been blamed for causing users to become violent as a result of the material in the actual games. However, Mark Appelbaum, PhD, reported to the American Physiological Association  in August of 2015 that “Scientists have investigated the use of violent video games for more than two decades but to date, there is very limited research addressing whether violent video games cause people to commit acts of criminal violence.” This statement proves that the media is not to blame, in fact, in many violent crimes, it is later reported that personal factors contribute to one’s actions. This includes things like upbringing, poverty, neglect, abuse, and family circumstances.

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To summaries these key points, society must learn that the media is not responsible for the effects that individuals cause. We have to become more open-minded to other reasons why these issues exist and obtain more of a utopian view towards the media.

Until my next blog,

Ruth

 

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An Introduction

Hello,

My name is Ruth Southwell, I am eighteen years old and I’ve just begun my first year at the University of Wollongong. I’m studying a Bachelor of Journalism and so far, really enjoying it.

I was one of those high school students that had a lot of trouble pinpointing exactly what I wanted to do after my Higher School Certificate. I remember thinking of doing Journalism a few years ago, but for some reason I pushed it to the back of my mind and forgot about it But hey! Here I am.

As I’m sitting at my computer writing this, I’m a first year Uni student, barely just two weeks into my course; but it’s pretty amazing to think that in three or four or five (you get my point) years I might actually be a journalist. To be honest, who knows where the future will take me, but I’m feeling exited to journey through the challenges and successes ahead of me. Okay…I’ll admit it, I am starting to ramble on, but I think you get my point as to why I chose to study a Bachelor of Journalism.Thank you for taking your time to read this introduction to who I am and why I am here.

Until next time,

Ruth

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