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;

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Bondi in 2100;

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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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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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bcm 111, Media

The Age of Amalgamation

Hollywood has been internationally regarded as the media producing capital that trumps all others for nearly a century. But it seems that Hollywood’s days are numbered as other media capitals such as Bombay, Cairo and Hong Kong are set to dominate in this new era.

Whilst Hollywood remains a predominantly bounded, constrained and Western only centre for media, the new media capitals in places such as Indonesia, Asia, Nigeria and Egypt are redefining what it means to be a media capital as they focus on the complex patterns of flow between nations and their diverse new cultures.

Media capitals are not bounded entities – like Hollywood – rather, they are “sites of mediation, locations where complex forces and flows interact” (Curtin, 2003). Media capitals encapsulate and emphasise the complex exchanges of cultural and economical similarities between nations which in turn creates a diverse world where one capital does not necessarily dominate.

But the rise of new media capitals has not been without debate as Huntington’s theory of ‘Clash of Civilizations’ said that “the dominating source of conflict will be cultural” (1993) between nations rather than traditional political or economical means. However, this is not true as Huntington’s theory is obsessed with cultural essentialism which reifies orientalism between East and West culture. Whereas media capitals are places where things come together and consequently where the generation and circulation of new mass culture forms become possible” (Curtin 2003).

This new mass culture has been due to the infiltration of migrant’s and their cultural characteristics which creates a more diverse and accessible product. One media capital example that has encapsulated these characteristic is Hong Kong, “it is very Chinese and remarkably Western, and yet it’s not really either” (Curtin, 2003). The city’s “fortune as a media capital rests not only on its centrality, but also on its marginality” (Curtin 2003).

I believe that Hollywood will become a smaller entity in the years to come as more media capitals arise because they have the ability to connect with audiences on a local, regional, national and global level whilst maintaining their own unique product.

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

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bcm 111, Media

Hip Hop or Hips and Bops

Hip Hop educates, expresses and unites many cultures. It is a “transfer of cultural nationalism and pride” it promotes the  “sharing [of] local languages, local history and local regimes” (Henderson, 2006).

This is my new view of hip hop. Previously, I had a narrow view of what hip hop stood for and encapsulated. I believed it was just sexually explicit and demeaning videos of women being subservient to men and those men parading around with their “hoes”.

Oh how wrong I was! There is much more to the story of hip hop and that includes the immense connection that their music has to heritage.

The most prominent figure of hip hop dancing – Suga Pop – is of islander heritage and has globe trotted for many years blending West and East Coast U.S., Hawai’i and New Zealand dancing styles – such as ‘breaking’ – with traditional Samoan movements. Henderson states Suga Pop as having the “prominent role” of being the creator of “bicoastal cross-fertilization of popular dance”. And this is why hip hop dancing has so many origins because individuals such as Suga Pop learn, incorporate and then disseminate their way of dancing. These particular influences acted as “diasporic currency” for other young American Samoans as it “signified a connectedness with the …communities ‘over there.'”

But the true shock for me was the difference in hip hop music. The multicultural connections that artists make about home, family, religion and love are potent and sometime poignant. Many have connections to black suppression, colonisation and imperialism over the decades whilst others incorporate their traditional language – such as Maori and Samoan. MC Xzibit’s song ‘Always Represent’ contains thought-provoking lines such as “Casualties of imperialism…submerge indigenous thoughts into oblivion”. Whilst I always assumed that African-Americans produced more music about family and injustice, Macklemore or Ben Haggerty has created some phenomenal music that relates back to these elements. Whilst his songs do not necessarily explore historic injustices, he writes about the current injustices within the 21st Century – such as his amazing and beautiful song ‘Same Love’ which looks at inequality. In saying that, he also produced a song ‘Irish Celebration’ which explores Irish-British relationship and the abuse that the Irish endured.

 

 

So the genre of hip hop is not as shallow as hips and people bopping, it has so many depths. It is about celebrating whilst remembering, educating whilst still entertaining but most importantly, it is about connecting.

 

 

Sources: Henderson, A (2006) ‘Dancing Between Islands: Hip Hop and the Samoan Diaspora’ The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture Basu, Dipannita and Sidney J. Lemelle, eds. London: Pluto Press, pp. 180 – 200

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