Can the Internet Combat Australia’s Media Monopolies?

The internet is a powerful player in the variety of media sources Australians can attain, but the real question lies in how it can affect the worrying imbalance in Australia’s media ownership. Before launching into this complex arena, we must clarify the nature of such an imbalance.

It is irrefutable that Australian media is monopolised by the likes of News Corp and Fairfax, but what’s more outstanding is Australia’s concentration of media ownership in comparison to other countries. An online article by the AIM network referenced a survey on international media concentration conducted by Professor Eli Noam at Columbia University. As one of the 26 countries involved, Australia proved to be one of the most concentrated. This was illustrated by the fact the survey revealed that News Corp was responsible for 59% of all sales of daily newspapers in Australia, whereas in the United Kingdom it was only 24%. This is one of the many statistics in the survey that reaffirm Australia’s prominent media concentration, especially in print.

On the other hand, the internet has truly established itself as a worldwide powerful communications platform, but whether it is a reflection of or potential weapon against this media monopoly is debatable. One could argue that the power of companies like Newscorp and Fairfax could be resisted in our ability to now look up any independent media source at the click of a few buttons. As former Prime Minister Malcom Fraser wrote in 2012: “Here [on the internet] we can find diversity. It is more and more readily available; it will certainly mitigate the coming lack of competition that will be evident in the Australian print media.” So a choice in media sources is definitely available to the Australian public, but this is based on an ideal. For a resurgence of online media diversity to come to fruition in our society, the public would have to initiate their choice to invest in independent media sources. Whether people would do this is debatable, some may and others may not. Despite the internet’s potential, there is an argument in the fact that the aforementioned companies still hold power and the internet is bound to reflect that. Therefore, consumers may just automatically click on the popularised links when, say, they search “news”. The first link to appear is news.com.au, owned by none other than News Corp. Of course not every Australian would do this, many would actively seek links to a news source that they follow, but the diversity of readerships in Australia’s news is ultimately still reflective of its media monopolisation. The aforementioned AIM article states that the internet has “failed to seriously challenge the influence of global media oligopolies,” but is that really a failure of the internet, or of the people who use it?

So the real argument doesn’t lie in the internet’s potential to support diverse media ownership, but whether this potential will be tapped into. And if media monopolies remain unchallenged by it, then the debate lies in who is really accountable: the media tycoons, the Australian public, the government or perhaps it is a shared responsibility. Have your say by commenting below.

Read the Signs

Lowe China Campaign Image 2014

Lowe China Campaign Image 2014

This highly evocative advertisement is effective in its purpose and speaks with an implicit power. This is clear in the analysis of the denotations and connotations of its components. First of all, the image depicts a motorway landscape, with overpasses designed for a heavy traffic flow. The fact that the roads are essentially empty presents an unusual circumstance, connoting an eerie atmosphere. Furthermore the smog in the sky highlights the stark nature of this location. One would presume it to be in a Chinese city due to the signifiers in the bottom right corner of the image, Chinese characters.

The salient image of this ad. is seen in the woman, tactfully standing slightly left of the centre. The ad. continues to draw attention to her in lining her body up with the parallel vector line of the concrete support for the overpass. Furthermore her blue outfit and bold red and black street sign contrasts with the grey environment she is situated in. All of these visual techniques work together to highlight the meaning of this ad., that being what the woman signifies.

Lowe China Campaign Image 2014, Close up

Lowe China Campaign Image 2014, Close up

The connection can be made instantly: a one-armed woman holding up a 40 speed limit sign, a signifier in its most literal sense. The sign contextualises the cause of her lost arm, as the target audience would presume that she lost in a car accident. The specificity of the sign details this context, confirming the exact nature of her car accident: speeding. However this image is open to some interpretation, whether the woman was going over the limit or a law-abiding victim is a mystery. Her ethnicity in conjunction with the Chinese characters grounds the campaign in a Chinese context.

The eerie atmosphere mentioned above works in conjunction with the amputee to create mood, as both are recognisable but something is still amiss. The creepy edge to this image is intending to signify a message of warning and fear, a caution for drivers and pedestrians to pay attention to road signs. This point is accentuated by the boldness of the road sign against the still, monotonous landscape; impossible to be ignored by the viewer. Furthermore the vector lines of the distant overpasses are level to that of the sign, drawing the viewer’s eyes back to it and the woman. The overpass in the foreground also causes our gaze to travel across the image.

The seriousness of this message is connoted by the woman’s blank facial expression. Her clothing is quite comfortable, making her seem even more out of place as she looks dressed for a day around the house. This highlights how accidents can happen to any ordinary person, and that no one is invincible. Simultaneously, the vulnerability this evokes returns to the eerie mood of this ad.

This image is simple and effective and when unpacking the semiotics behind it we can gain a fuller appreciation of how this ad is able to communicate its message so clearly. Therefore, it comes as to no surprise that this image was a part of a 2014 campaign by Lowe China for Shanghai General Motors and Buik to raise awareness for road safety, taking out a Gold Lion at Cannes. To view more images from this campaign, click here.

Connection101

Connection can mean a lot of different things, and to a lot of different people. It could represent the bonds between old friends, or those fleeting moments shared between strangers. It can be taken as a list of every person you have met, or how technology allows us to reach people we will never know. At times it appears in the way one looks at an object or plays with an animal. It could be the affinity we feel with certain places. In some circumstances it defines how ideas and practices overlap. In others it becomes an action, where we form associations with things that were once separate. Or it can be a process in which certain life-choices trigger others. We can also find connections within ourselves: to our dreams, our passions, and our very own identity.

Such connections thrive at UOW; this unique learning center hums with the diversity created by its vast student body. By glimpsing at the varying lifestyles of UOW students, this blog scratches the surface of the many ways connections are made through uni life. It only makes sense to explore this phenomenon through the modern journalistic qualities found in a blog. After all, connections are central to journalism, as the practice accelerates in linking people and events from across the globe.

Jamie

Jamie

‘Reading is a huge part of my life,’ Jamie Reynolds shared over an infamously expensive schooner James Squire Cider at the Unibar. She spoke with a sincere passion and confidence of the joy that being immersed in stories gave her; making it no surprise as to what she was studying. ‘Reading is recreational in the sense that is it not relevant to my life at all; it is complete escapism. If I write, it has to be about real things, which is why I want to be a journalist.’ Where does Jamie find this refuge in fiction? None other than the mother of all escapist literature, fantasy.
‘Harry Potter equals life!’ She laughed as she rattled off the names of her favourites of the genre: ‘John Green, Jeffery Archer, George R. Martin, those kind of things…things that are so unbelievable that they seem real.’ After her six-day week where she studies and works part-time at Nowra’s reject shop, there is nothing more comforting then settling down at home with either of these companions.
‘There’s always going to be a bit of hope in me that maybe my letter did get lost, maybe I really am apart of the wizarding world.’
With such hope and desire to step into another realm, Jamie’s life outside of uni is in fact that of countless others.’[Reading] calms me a lot.’ She explained. If I am not reading then, you know, I’m watching movies.’
When asked what her favourite all-time film was, she sat quietly thinking, as the chatter of intoxicated uni-students bubbled over the interview. Even then, one could almost hear her brain flicking over the extensive archive of movies she had ever watched. Finally she answered,
‘The Fox and the Hound. I feel like its got such a huge relevance to racism and to sexism…they’re two little animals and they are so different but they don’t know any different…they’re friends and they don’t know that society says that can’t be… they don’t see themselves differently they just see their friendship… It has a really important message.’ The Schooner was long forgotten as Jamie demonstrated first-hand the impact that stories have on her. But when it comes to the crunch books will always be her “first love”
‘There’s just something more genuine about reading…watching doesn’t really do anything, it melts your brain but when you read something it strengthens it and it sticks.’
There are so many reasons why Jamie is such an avid reader and film-goer, but none stuck out more than the simple fact that it is her choice.
‘There’s no one in the book or movie telling me that I cant be apart of it…it’s just myself. I can stop reading whenever I want to and then I can start again.’ It is that rare sense of empowerment that can only be found in places other than reality. And there, in those sanctums of fantasy and wonder, is where one can find Jamie.

Four Voices

Four Voices

We all know what journalism is, but what it means on a personal level varies amongst the first-years in this course. For Emma Gilly, journalism has held her interest over the last few years, ever since she listened to an inspiring speech given by Win News present Melissa Jaros. ‘All I can remember is that how she was so confident as a journalist’ Emma recalled. ‘Just to have a professional right in front of [me]…inspired me to become like her.’ Though journalism, Emma wants to follow her passion for NRL. ‘I love the game, the atmosphere, the whole community of the sport.’ she said. It runs in her family, although while she is a Storms fan, her father barracks for West Tigers. That passion coupled with her love of public speaking and story telling comprises of where Emma aspires to be in her career as a journalist.
When asking Remy Taylor what journalism meant to her she answered with a laugh ‘Everything, it’s a career I’ve always wanted to pursue.’ She also had connections to Win TV, having done work experience with the company in high school. ‘It was ‘a quiet week’ for their work.’ Remy recalled. ‘However I could tell at times it would be very high pressured when trying to gain the story.’ Yet this doesn’t deter the determined Remy, who has always been compelled to write. ‘It goes hand in hand with my constant curiosity for life.’
Suzie Nisbit takes journalism as it is, simply defining it as the delivery of news. ‘I know nowadays “breaking news” can be celebrity nonsense, but to me, I think that journalism is telling people the truth about what’s going on either locally, nationally or internationally.’ Suzie said. She has a vision of adhering to this definition of journalism in her future career, to bring about ‘media justice’. ‘My sister was a massive influence of mine,’ Suzie reflected, ‘she’s been a human rights activist since I can remember.’ It is for these reasons that Suzie would prefer to have a public service job doing freelance journalism in her spare time for a portfolio than give in to working for the corporations that are taking over independent media publications, and the people’s right to know the truth.
Not every journalist student is so sure about where they are aspiring to go with their future career. Zoe Simmons finds herself constantly changing her mind. ‘I want to be a lot of things’ she said, ‘an author…a rockstar…an editor and a journalist, and a screenwriter!’ she laughed. She thought that with her love for writing, ‘being a smartarse’ and an opportunity to express her humor, journalism could be the right avenue for her. She has dreams of writing for Cosmopolitan, having its appeal with the opportunity to be sarcastic in writing style and explore body image. ‘That’s my dream job, even like giving them their coffee.’ But now Zoe has started Uni, she doesn’t her where her tertiary studies will take her. ‘Uni has just opened this can of worms.’ She concluded. Even across four responses, there are different meanings of journalism obtained, as well as varying stages that students are at in discovering what it is they are aspiring to pursue in their career.
Image taken from: http://careerrocketeer.com/2011/04/where-do-you-see-yourself-in-5-years.html

The Changing Face of Journalism

The Changing Face of Journalism

Journalism and Facebook are more closely entwined than ever before. According to the Pew Research Center’s 2014 State of the Media report, which used a sample of 5173 respondents, 47% of US adult Facebook users receive news via this social networking medium. That is the statistical equivalent of 30% of the US population. Trends in news topic popularity were seen in the survey, as 73% of Facebook news consumers regularly saw entertainment news. Although the news reading occurring on Facebook is deemed ‘common but incidental’ by the survey, there is a clear infiltration of news shifting over to a site originally designed for social networking.
Although entertainment appears to be the most popular form of news consumed on Facebook, local and international news organisations are shifting their activities onto this social platform. In 2011, a community news site based in Washington D.C. called The Rockville Central relocated all its news projects to Facebook. This is one bold example of how Facebook has affected news companies, as well as the work of journalists.
Event reporting in journalism has also undergone dramatic change due to Facebook. This is evident in journalists utilising the social platform to report on the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East. Using Facebook, journalists from Al Jazeera English were able to track upcoming events, like planned protests, and find sources who would talk on air.
Facebook has also held the same amount of influence over the Washington Post (WP). “Facebook has dramatically transformed the way journalists do their jobs,” said Ian Shapira, staff writer at the WP. Working together with his editor, Shapira decided to produce one story as Facebook status updates. He believed the death of Shana Greatman Swers was best told through her personal narrative of status updates, extending beyond the capabilities of a print piece. It is easy to conclude that Facebook has held a prominent influence over an array of facets in news and journalism, and will continue to do so.

Information aggregated from: http://mashable.com/2011/02/27/facebooks-growing-role-in-social-journalism/
http://www.journalism.org/2013/10/24/the-role-of-news-on-facebook/

Image taken from: http://journal.innovationjournalism.org/2011_05_01_archive.html

Crime Reporting in the Honduras

Crime Reporting in the Honduras

On May 11th 2014, the headline ‘Woman Found Dead in a Hotel’ featured in the violence coverage of the San Pedro Sula-based newspaper, El Heraldo. Although the only way to read this Spanish article was via Google Translate, its clumsy-English interpretation was sufficient in revealing a major hole in the story. The woman wasn’t given a name.
According to Ana Arana and Daniela Guazo from Fundacion MEPI, an organization that promotes regional investigative projects in the Americas, the above story is a mild example of sensationalized crime reporting that dominates the Honduran news industry. ‘When reading most Honduran newspapers, readers go away with little understanding of what is occurring in the country.’ They wrote in their article ‘Just Bloody Pictures’, the second installment in their series on crime reporting in the Honduras. As the title suggests, most crime stories in the Honduras forgo a context and are instead coloured with graphic, gory images. ‘(Their reporting style) is related to the lack of training…They use bloody pictures to sell more newspapers. They don’t care.’ an anonymous member of the Honduran Human Rights Commission was noted as stating the above by Arana and Guazo in Just Bloody Pictures.
It is startling how common this report-style is in the Honduran news industry. A content analysis by Fundacion MEPI revealed that 70% of crime stories published in San Pedro Sula as well as Tegucigalpa did not include details of the victims, nor possible reasons behind the crime. Violent youth gangs, drug traffickers and organized crime groups are not threatened by exposure in the media.
Rather, fear of these dangerous groups fuels crime reporting in these Honduran cities. Its no surprise when the country has the highest per capita murder rate in the world: 91 murders per 100 thousand inhabitants. Until the safety of these journalists is ensured, this issue will continue to instill uninformed-fear in Honduran citizens.

Information aggregated from: http://www.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.elheraldo.hn&sandbox=1

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/01/09/just-bloody-pictures-crime-reporting-in-honduras/

Image taken from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gabbo_vm/539873408/

The First Connection

‘Do you remember the first person you met at UOW?’ Long pauses often followed this question; whilst other responses were instantaneous as the memory lit up behind the interviewee’s eyes. A number of lasting friends and lost acquaintances were mentioned, although some interviewees couldn’t even remember who this person was. One individual was so focused on his studies that he was yet to really connect with anyone at uni. But no matter what, each answer captured a glimpse of the person’s life at uni, and the connections that they have made through it.

Hit and Hope

Hit and Hope

In his class breaks, Aden enjoys playing pool at the Unibar, where he is surrounded by friends and good music. ‘Hit and hope, just hit and hope.’ Aden shared his secret to the game in-between his turns. ‘But I definitely get better the more drunk I am,’ he added. Regardless of his sober state, he sunk one ball after the other, dreadlocks flying from the momentum behind his big shots. Aden won’t take excuses for not hitting any balls, never holding back from teasingly threatening other players of having to do a ‘nuddy run’ around the bar if they were to do so.

Ducking Out for a Uni Break

Ducking Out for a Uni Break

The expectation ducks place on UOW students can seem ‘unrealistic’, yet on occasion is met. For Aaron exceeded the hopes of the web-footed bird that he coined the ‘Grandfather Duck’. The two can often be found under a large tree, where Grandfather Duck is hand-fed breadcrumbs by his human companion. As this ritual evolved, Grandfather Duck eventually earned Aaron’s apples, returning the gesture with a sizeable pile of mushed fruit on the ground. Aaron has learnt much about the UOW duck community in his experiences. ‘The brown one over there…[by the pond]’ he pointed out, ‘is a complete d*ck’.