Time to Reflect

Before starting the BCM110 subject I was very naive; just your average consumer. I may have asked questions about the media or the content that I was absorbing but not in the way that I do today. I wouldn’t have been too bothered going out of my way to investigate what other sources had to say about a particular topic. It’s funny really, because I’ve always been a relatively curious individual – it just didn’t extend to the media. Don’t be concerned though, since starting this subject I have grown increasingly curious about the media and communications and I’ve quite enjoyed exploring each week’s topics.

During the second week, my attention was drawn to the ‘media effects’ model which opened my eyes; now I’m not so quick to blame the media for people’s behaviours but instead question them. I concluded that the media may only influence individual behaviour to a certain extent and is subjective to the particular behaviour. This first week in particular changed the way that I view the media in correlation with human behaviour.

Our week four topic related to media control – who controls it and why does it matter? This is an issue that never really crossed my mind before. Now, after exploring the matter, I don’t think it will ever leave my mind when accessing any media source or content. I found it particularly relevant to this week’s topic – surveillance. We know, from week four that the abundance of media sources/content that we access everyday is owned by a small handful of companies and powerful people. That sort of power alone is frightening, let alone throwing surveillance into the discussion…

I’ve been reading my peers blogs in conjunction with academic readings and attending tutorials and lectures to gain an understanding of various perspectives relating to the same issues. Subsequently, I’ve become a more active member of the audience, evidenced in my contribution to the blogosphere and my way of thinking about the media and approaching it, has been transformed significantly.

Thirteen in the Public Sphere

The public sphere is a metaphorical term referring to a space in which citizens may meet to discuss and debate common concerns and public issues. As the world, technology and society have evolved so too have original methods of communicating concerns thus introducing the mediated public sphere. This refers to the media and its role in the public sphere; a channel for communication, providing various platforms and broadcasting opportunities which are inclusive of a larger audience as opposed to previous years.

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Media texts are often the fuel for fiery debates at the centre of the mediated public sphere. When asked to think about a text that might contribute to debate, the provocative film ‘Thirteen’ released in 2003, written by Nikki Reed and directed by Catherine Hardwicke came to mind. This semi-autobiographical film raises issues relating to drug addiction, self harm, sexual identity and behaviour, acts of crime such as stealing, identity and acceptance. Scenes are graphic and confronting but of course it is the lack of subtlety that composes such a raw and compelling film. It sparked conversation between my friends and I as we questioned whether the film had taken it too far in exploring the challenges of adolescence?

The vast majority of comments and articles that I’ve read about the film have been positive and commending. However I have noticed frequent recommendations for younger teens to watch the film only in the company of an adult so that conversation may be encouraged. This being said – the film calls for conversation as a result of its unsettling subject matter. It provokes a battle between our ideologies and reality that may only be resolved through conversation or debate; whether its with friends, family, on the internet or other media sources (mediated public sphere).

For Reference:

Mckee,  A, 2005, ‘Introduction: the public sphere: an introduction’, in  Public Sphere: An Introduction, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pages 1-31, accessed 12/04/2013

Turnbull, S 2013, ‘Media Mythbusting: Big Brother is Watching You’,  lecture slides BCM110 Introduction to Communication and Media Studies, University of Wollongong, accessed 12/04/2013

Fuchs.C, 2003, ‘Thirteen (2003), Feeling Anything’, Pop Matters, accessed 13/04/2013 <http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/thirteen/>

September 2003, ‘Thirteen (2003) Film Review: Synopsis’ , Hollywood Jesus, accessed 13/04/2013, <http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/thirteen.htm>

Last updated by e-burton97, 12 April 2013, ‘Parents Guide for Thirteen (2003)’, imdb, 13/04/2013, <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0328538/parentalguide>

Edelstein.D, August 2003, ‘Girls Gone Wild: Thirteen is a cautionary tale about a good girl who turns bad’, Slate, accessed 13/04/2013, <http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/movies/2003/08/girls_gone_wild.html>

Minow.N, Janurary 2004, ‘Thirteen’, Common Sense Media, accessed 13/04/2013, <http://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/thirteen>

March 2011, ‘All teen and kid reviews for Thirteen’, Common Sense Media, accessed 13/04/2013 <http://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/thirteen/user-reviews/kids>

April 2008, ‘All parent reviews for Thirteen’, Common Sense Media, accessed 13/04/2013 <http://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/thirteen/user-reviews/adult>

Murray.R, unknown, ‘Thirteen Movied Review: Sex, Drugs and Shattered Innocence’, About.com – Movies, accessed 13/04/2013, <http://movies.about.com/cs/thirteen/a/thirteenreview.htm>

The Diversity Dilemma

imageWhy does it matter who controls the media?

The media landscape has changed drastically over the past decades. The diversity of groups who have media control, has diminished so much so that 90% of the media in America is owned or controlled by only six corporations. In Australia, the story is much the same. Take Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and Fairfax media for example, combined they own 11 of the 12 major newspapers in Australia and it doesn’t stop there. Independent Australia described ‘Australian media ownership being amongst the most concentrated in the world.’

The image featured to the left illustrates the ‘illusion of choice’. As an audience and consumers, we have so many different avenues to access information and so much content to choose from. With an abundance of information we’re led to believe that there is enough diversity in the media, for us to access several different sources in order to conclude our own opinions and ideas. However, how can we formulate our own opinions when media control is limited to a few large campanies and people? Exemplary of this is Bruce Gordon who controls regional WIN TV and is also the biggest shareholder in Channel 10 TV.

 

Of course each publication is presented differently but don’t be fooled, this is only to attract a specific audience. The media giants still have a set of ideologies that ultimately determines the information in which they choose to publish and how they choose to do so. Due to a lack of diversity in media ownership – the information that we’re fed also lacks the diversity that minorities can offer. Instead the information we receive may be at times misleading and misconstrued, clouding our judgement as they have the power to sway our opinions and perspectives regarding certain situations.

Be conscious of what you’re reading, watching or listening to… chances are some, if not all, are controlled by the same company and/or people.

Signs and Smoking

A sign is anything that conveys meaning. Exemplary of this is the advertising campaign released in 2008 by the Chilean Corporation against Smoking – ‘Smoking isn’t just suicide. Its murder’. This image acts as a sign and a very controversial one at that as it conveys a confronting message.

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The picture (above) illustrates a very dark and almost black background with a     young boy, no more than four years old, fore grounded. He appears distraught as he is captured screaming and crying. Surrounding his head is a thick cloud of smoke positioned in such a way that it seems like a plastic bag is over the child’s head. The text is boxed and in small white writing, at the base of the image as it reads:  ‘Smoking isn’t just suicide. Its murder.’

The signifiers that make up the advertisement, without a doubt, compose an image that is both confronting and frightening. Why is this? The dark colours suggest a sense of doom, sadness and even fear as dark colours are generally associated with negativity. The little boy exploited in the image is characteristic of innocence, dependence and helplessness while he demonstrates extreme distress and sadness. Theses attributions appeal to emotions, at first astonishment before melting into a heartbreaking sadness, evoking sympathy, distress and even guilt. The smoke surrounding the child’s head adopts the role of a plastic bag which alludes to suffocation and subsequently the compelling message that smoking is murder. The text placed in small writing at the base of the image is there to simply reinforce the message that the image alone conveys. In this case: actions speak louder than words.

CONAC’s message is as clear as day but has it crossed a line?
As uncomfortable as the image makes me feel, I believe that it is acceptable. The advertisement is dealing with facts not fiction – in a grisly way, perhaps but also very effective. The image causes the audience to stop, look, think and hopefully do something.

Check out this article for more on the issue and have a look here for this and other campaigns against smoking.

Media Influences

At a glance, most ordinary individuals would say that the media is extremely influential in our modern society. Well of course they’re right. The media has expanded and emerged in many different forms (films, radio, TV, magazines, newspapers, billboards etc) in order to consume a larger audience. As that audience we’re constantly bombarded by mass media and subsequently the hundreds, thousands, even millions of messages that come with it. How could we not be influenced by the media; something that has become integral in our day to day lives?

David Gauntlett examines and outlines ten things wrong with the media effects model.

In simple terms, I understand the ‘media effect’ model to be the interplay of media and societal behaviour. After investigating the theory it is evident that there is only a certain extent to which the media influences an individual. There are many flaws in the model; I particularly take to the notion that correlation doesn’t imply causation. In other words, there may be correlation between the media and an individual’s behaviour (be it ‘prosocial’ or ‘antisocial’); however there may not be any solid evidence to suggest that media is the causation.

For arguments sake, let’s say I began dancing like PSY does in what I think will be his one hit wonder – ‘Gangnam Style’. This would be an example of how the media HAS influenced my behaviour in a debatably ‘prosocial’ way.

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On the other end of the spectrum; if I were to being attacking citizens on the street, stealing cars and participating in other illegal and dangerous activities… Could this be traced back to the media? Would it be fair to blame films, TV programmes and games, such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’?

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When assessing behaviour we must start with the individual and their personal circumstances rather than jumping to conclusions about what media interests they have and how they’ve influenced the individual.

There is a line that may be at times, somewhat hazy, that divides the media and the extent to which it influences an individuals behaviour.

Introduction

A little snippet about myself
Good morning, evening, whatever time of the day – hello. You have stumbled upon the blog of Caitlin Mullins. Originally from the largest inland city in NSW, Wagga Wagga – I have made my way up to Wollongong to pursue tertiary studies at the UOW! I’m a HSC graduate from the class of 2012 and now a current first year student studying a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies. During my first year, I don’t need to choose my major however at this stage my preference is Marketing and Advertising.

Where will I be or hope to be in five years time? 
At the tender age of 18, believe it or not… My dreams and aspirations have not yet been finalised. Although, at the very least, I hope that I have more direction than I do at this present moment. I would like to have completed all tertiary studies, working full time and above all, enjoying myself. If in five years time I’m happy then I consider myself to be successful. Many would argue this notion however I believe it depends on how you measure success.

I’ve created this blog as a requirement for my subjects (BCM110 and BCM112). My posts will be primarily relating to a digital platform of my choosing (which I haven’t yet decided upon) and Communication and Media in general.
If you’re interested, which I think you are, follow me so I can keep you updated.