bcm 111, Media

Climate Change? What Climate Change?

As a budding young journalist, I am slowly coming to terms with how many ethical and moral  codes in which I will have to one day abide by – including honesty, independence, balance, fairness and accuracy. These codes are particularly important when covering stories that report on scientific facts, figures and findings where debate surrounding the issue are somewhat controversial. Bud Ward (2009) accurately states that one of the most important codes that a journalist must adhere to is to, “seek truth and report it” (p.13).

Ward relates much of his writings to the ways in which journalists are constrained to their paymasters’ interests and beliefs when it comes to topics such as climate change. Whilst some believe that there is no such thing and that it all simply a made-up, entirely false concept – we are not talking about Santa here, we are discussing a potentially devastating issue that can be prevented. The Sydney Morning Herald recently plastered pictures of the famous Bondi beach in 87 years if we continue with our wasteful, thoughtless ways.

Bondi Beach today;

1a

Bondi in 2100;

1b

The Sydney Morning Herald is similar to that of the UK Telegraph who neither agrees nor denies that climate change is a prominent issue within today’s society. However, media such as Al Jazeera and the New York Times constantly present – and are adamant – that climate change is a scientifically proven issue.

This is another value that Ward (2009) highlights as integral to fair reporting, is the notion of  ‘false balance’ within the media – especially when reporting on climate change as it is a highly debated and discussed issue in popular media today and it challenges many of the “strictest codes” (War 2009, p.13) in which a journalists must abide by.

But what constitutes as false balance? Is it Al Jazeera’s views because they resolutely state that climate change is real?  And is this really a negative thing “or does it not matter, so long as the reporting is judged to be fair and independent?” (Ward 2009, p.14). I agree with Ward when he says, “instead of…providing ‘balance’ in reporting on news involving differing perspectives journalists increasingly, and rightly, take their clues from the leading and acknowledged scientific experts…” (Ward 2009, p.14).

It is unbelievably important that journalists present equal, honest and fair news for their audience whether it is reporting on a controversial issue or a simple, everyday news piece. But does balance really have to be an integral element when it comes to the truth?

I do not think so, especially if it is regarding something that is so easily altered if we know the cold, hard and sometimes unpleasant facts.

 

Sources: Ward, B 2009, Journalism Ethics and Climate Change reporting in a Period of Intense Media Uncertainty, in Ethics of Science Journalism, volume 9, pp. 13-15.

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bcm 111, Media

Ignorant or Simply Not Informed?

Balanced, fair, accurate, current, extensive coverage and reliable – are the values that we expect from our media. So why aren’t these values being placed on global news stories?

Whilst many would argue that global stories do encapsulate these values, when you look a little deeper, or research elsewhere, you will be shocked to find how little the mainstream media covers on global issues and the myriad of information that new media holds.

Traditional media look at the story’s cultural proximity and the rarity of the event or issue as being the major determinants when deciding on what stories to run and the extent of which it will be covered. Peter Lee-Wright accurately says that “globalisation has produced a countervailing ‘domestication’ of stories, where the international has to be filtered through domestic sensibilities and interests” (Lee-Wright 2012, p. 2). He also states that “American audiences are traditionally uninterested in and poorly informed on foreign affairs” (Lee-Wright 2012, p.6) and sadly so is much of the world because of this domestication of global stories.

One of the reasons why it is increasingly harder to find media that covers global stories is because it is hard to find any story that is not tainted by their “paymasters’ interest” (Lee-Wright 2012, p.15). By this I mean that we only ever see a limited side of the event/issue but only if it fits with the editorial team’s ideals. Jeff Chester accurately states about Rupert Murdoch’s press that he and others alike, “shape the content, especially news, that furthers his interests and those of his allies” (Jeff Chester on Rupert Murdoch video). We only ever see the condensed, semi-accurate version of events and this is not fair to those who only consume on form of media.

This is where social media is such a huge platform for audiences who want  fast, current, on the ground content. Whilst there are issues such as no editorial filtering on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, they do, “supply the news [we] want” (Lee-Wright 2012, 15-16) when and where we want it. Whilst it is harder for traditional media to “stay on a story beyond its audience’s attention span” (Lee-Wright 2012, p.1) or keep financing the one story, social media and blogs help to fill this gaping gap and “easily serve this fluidity” (Lee-Wright 2012, p. 15-16) of information.

Christopher Allbritton managed to bridge the gap between traditional and new when in 2003, his blog readers raised $15,000 to fund his trip to Iraq in 2003. When he felt as if there was unfair balance in what the public watch, read, heard and consumed, he set off to Iraq to find the stories that the “bigger guys can’t” (Amsden 2004). It is people like Christopher and sites such as Global Voices that are enabling a different voice, opinion and view to be heard and understood, away from the “paymasters’ interest” (Lee-Wright 2012, p.15).

We keep a naïve mind about the world simply because we are only informed to a certain point. But it is important to consume media that is not mainstream such as Al Jazeera, the blog Global Voices, CNN International so we can gain a diverse, different view on the world and its issues and events. We are lazy to a point but should it really be that hard to find balanced, accurate, current, extensive media regarding global issues?

Sources:

Lee-Wright, P (2012) ‘News Values: An Assessment of News Priorities Through a Comparative Analysis of Arab Spring Anniversary Coverage’ JOMEC Journal: Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies

Amsden, D (2004) ‘Into the Fire’, New York Magazine, http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/people/columns/intelligencer/9194/

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JOUR 101, Media

Australian breakthrough brings hope to young cancer sufferers

Normal human breast cancer cell. Triple-negative cancer is more aggressive and common in young women

A normal breast cancer cell. Triple-negative cancer is significantly more aggressive and equates for 15% of all breast cancer cases

Australian researchers are confident they have found a potentially life-saving treatment, that will help many young women who suffer from the aggressive triple-negative breast cancer disease.

Professor Robert Baxter and his team at Sydney’s Kolling Institute of Medical Research after years of research, discovered a protein that causes the cancer to become resistant to treatment.  They combined two drugs that have been “extremely effective” in laboratory testing on mice and preclinical human trials will soon begin.

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a disease where the patient does not have the three typical receptors commonly found in breast cancer cells. This makes it a particularly aggressive and difficult cancer to treat as they are not fuelled by hormones and therefore do not respond to traditional cancer drugs.

Ashleigh McAdam, 27, was diagnosed with TNBC just 1 year ago. Her diagnosis was “heart-breaking” saying that she “had never heard of TNBC and cancer was always something that happened to other people”.Whilst remaining optimistic throughout her chemotherapy, Ashleigh said that the news of a potential treatment is, “better than all the Christmases put together even if it does not work for me, at least there is hope for others”.

Triple-negative breast cancer has horrific statistics with the five-year survival rate lower than 89% and the chances of the cancer reoccurring with the first few years are 30% after treatment with chemotherapy. However with optimal treatment and potentially Professor Baxter and his team’s discovery, the chances of a 20-year survival rate will be the same as hormone positive breast cancers.

October 28 is the Cancer Council’s fundraising day and proceeds will go towards Professor Baxter’s work and other research.

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JOUR 101, Media

Illawarra’s young soccer star learning to balance it all

South Coast Wolves defender, James Baldacchino, has already had phenomenal success on the international soccer stage. Returning home from Spain last month, James is now working towards the 2015 Under-20 World Cup and, his HSC.

James Baldacchino, 17

James Baldacchino, 17, hopes to one day be a professional A-League soccer player

The Western Sydney Wanderers youth-squad centre-back, was selected to play in the overseas tournament as part of trials for the 2015 U20 World Cup in Spain which was a “great experience”. This tournament is regarded as being the first real push that players have for their selection in the World Cup.

The humble 17-year-old student who hopes his family “are pretty happy with what I’ve done so far” had his international début at just 16 years old. He captained the U16 Joeys in their AFC Championship tour and has represented Australia in 7 countries. James however states that his HSC is going to be the “real test”.

James only spent 4 months at home last year and the Year 12 Lake Illawarra student acknowledges the efforts that the staff at his school so he is able to strike the balance of soccer success and study, “Lake has been good to me with all the work. I would have had to drop it [school] otherwise”.

As well as study, James trains every afternoon, plays once a week and attends several strengthening and conditioning sessions a week whilst “hanging with mates, family and my girlfriend”. He however admits that he must, “make a lot of sacrifices” but then states that “it is what you have to do to be a professional”.

The future is something James is adamantly confident about, “definitely want to be a professional one day”. Despite all the sacrifices, hard work and immense pressure James Baldacchino accurately sums it up, “When you put your boots on and walk out you realise it’s all worth it”

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bcm 111

Lost: comedy. Last seen: somewhere in translation.

Comedy is said to be the international language – sorry to burst your bubble, but it is not.

Rather I believe that the pivotal part to comedy is how it is constructed around “national identity” (Turnbull 2008, 112) – this is particularly so in Australian comedy. Comedy’s nuances only really make sense in its original context as it is a “cultural and social practice” (Turnbull 2008, 112)

Time after time, television series sell their rights to international networks in the hopes of expanding their comedic genius to other nations. But there is always something missing. It is that classic Australian humour that pokes fun at ourselves and our inabilities. International audiences may not find this funny at all and plain rude or they just do not get it. However, place in front of Aussies and the room will be in raptures within seconds. For example, Kath and Kim. When this was reworked into an American version, the Aussie humour was lost. They “dropped the key concept” (Turnbull 2008, 112) and this made it a huge international flop because there was that one, tiny element missing and as Robert Bianco says, “that’s what happens with copies, something great gets lost.” (Turnbull 2008, 113).

Whilst I still believe that there are some areas of comedy which are timeless and transnational – such as slapstick or crude jokes – there are some that are reserved for the nation’s audience. For Australia, a 2004 show called Russell Coight’s All Aussie Adventures is a prime example of how comedy can be transnational yet targeted for Australians. Coight – if you do not know what that word means then search it on Urban Dictionary goes on adventures around Australia and acts a bushman who loves the outback. But there is one thing – he is absolutely hopeless and hilarious. Whilst the mixture of comedy can be transnational, the subtle contextual humour in the show appeals to Australians.

For example, he uses the wrong tow ropes to pull a 4WD out of the mud. It is this humour that incorporates stupidity and lines that make you think, “Whaaaat?” that appeals to the Aussie sense of humour as we like poking fun at people. My favourite is, “some animals are nocturnal whilst others only come out at night”. It is these sort of things that would be lost in translation – not because they do not understand, but because their context does not allow for the full extent of the joke. He is the quintessential bushy who is such a dag.

 

Comedic genius may be lost in translation but as long as there is comedy – I’m happy.

         

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bcm 111

Cinema is like a box of chocolate – you never know what you will get

Or similarly,  the world’s media is like Neapolitan ice-cream. Weird analogy – yes. But consider it for a second. For the people who prefer to only have one flavour – which is such a waste – you cannot help but get that tiny skerrick of another flavour hanging on for dear life. Film is much the same – what you perceive as a predominantly American film can  actually be an aggregation of other nation’s elements. Without this diverse mixture, film would be very bland, basic and repetitive.

Transnationalism has no one global definition; however the best definition would be that it “encompasses a range of theories relating to the effects of globalization upon the cultural and economic aspects of film” (Wikipedia, 2013). I believe that it is through such cultural and economic advancements – such as technology, accessibility and the immense number of migrants as well as itinerant filmmakers – that have allowed for transnational film to make cinema a more porous entity. This means that filmmakers can utilise the strengths that each country possess in order to make a cost-effective film – for example, they may decide that Australia is the best place to shoot as it has a phenomenally diverse and astounding landscape as it is cost-effective rather than building sets, with British actors and actresses.

A recent example of this was the film The Matrix which “was filmed at a studio in Australia with a producer from Hollywood, directors from Chicago, a stunt coordinator from Hong Kong and a digital special effects team from the San Francisco Bay area” (Curtin 2003, 212). The idea of transnational film is to unmask the unique and individual skills that each nation beholds. This in turn allows for a more refined film as each nation – or city – may specialise in a particular area of film making.

Another benefit of  transnational cinema is that it is driving the film industry away from “Hollywood’s current hegemony” (Curtin 2007, 289) and encouraging more media capitals to take its place – such as India and China who both have booming markets. In 2009, China made 475 films whilst India produced 1, 288 films compared to the United States who only made 734.

However, like most things, there are some negatives to transnational media as many believe that it is co-optation rather than hybridity. Co-optation implies that a one culture takes another to enhance, transform or redfine their culture without acknoiwledging their source. However, hybridity suggests that two different cultures share, mix and influence another culture. An iconic example of hybridity would be Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Some believe that this is co-optation rather, because of the African masks that were included in his painting were a ‘stolen’ idea and that he never announced his influences instead launched what came to be known as cubism.

comparisons

Transnational cinema and media are like a big box of chocolates. You never know what you will get unless you take a big bite – because, well, you may just enjoy it.

Sources:

Curtin, M (2003), ‘Media Capital: Towards the Study of Spatial Flows’ International Journal of Cultural Studies Vol 6: 2, pp. 202 – 228.

Karan, K and Schaefer, DJ (2010) ‘Problematizing Chindia: and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’ Global Media and Communication Vol 6: 3, pp. 309-317

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