Looking at others; suffering.

It is hard to ignore that in today’s society, suffering, death, sickness and tradgety are in the forefront of all media and in our faces every single day. We are asked to donate to charities, suggested to sponsor a child and even to simply share or like a Facebook page/image/link, in order to create awareness and spread the issue throughout the social media world. Is this all done however for the good of the subjects, or for promotional and business perspectives?

Almost 15% of Australia’s population is living in poverty. That’s a confronting 2.5 million people, many of which are children. This is not okay and something that must change. Is enough being done to create awareness on a national level? Should more be done?

The SBS documentary, Struggle Street, claims it was attempting to do just that – create awareness of what poverty in Australia looks like and depict, though images and real footage, how some people have to live. However, there was much dispute and outrage after the relies of the first episode last year, with many saying it was disrespectful and that the ‘documentary’ was essentially making fun of these people who live ‘on the dole.’ The guardian published an article about the backlash of the series and how it was seen to have exploited the lives of the subjects shown. The article raises the question, ‘is any coverage, good coverage?’

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Struggle Street documentary. 

While many people did not sympathise at all with any of the individuals on the show, and many finding it a disturbing joke with most of the episodes containing swearing, drug use, fighting and eating fast food; it is also extremely hard to look away. This raises many questions… Is it poverty porn? Is it making fun of these poor people? Is it making little of such a big issue, which is an even bigger problem in other countries? Or is it sending an important message about poverty in Australia?

Struggle Street was highly talked about due to its images and way of portraying many individual was truly shocking. But did it send the right message? It definitely brought it to the attention of many – that people in Australia are suffering, and will do almost anything for money. Whether the subjects can truly help it is the real question…

What is poverty porn exactly? Steven Threadbold says it’s ‘Like mainstream sexual porn that produces sexualised images from the male gaze for male gratification, poverty porn produces abjectifying images of the poor through a privileged gaze for privileged gratification.’ Basically, people make these types of videos, for other people to make fun of the subjects and to have a laugh about their life.

Poverty porn, also known as development porn or famine porn, has been defined as “any type of media, be it written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing charitable donations or support for a given cause”

Poverty porn is also evident in images where the subject is depicted in a beautiful or inspiring way, but are truly deprived, sick, mistreated and unfortunate. The set of images below create artistic pieces out of those who are suffering… is this ethical? Is this okay if we are using these images to send a particular message about poverty and famine? Or is exploiting the individuals in the images? Is better or worse if these images are staged?

Sebastiao Salgado,
from his book Sahel the End of the Road 2004 (about the drought in Sahel region of Africa)Unknown
A vulture watches a starving child in southern Sudan, March 1 1993 (Kevin Carter)kevin-carter-vulture

 

I believe it is much worse if you are using real people in desperate conditions, and staging them for photographs; no matter what the intentions are. Suffering should not serve as entertainment purposes, for art, for commercial reasons or for fame; but unfortunately in today’s society, and with social media being an easily accessed, information sharing medium, it’s very easy and common to do.

To read more on a similar topic visit Amelia Murphy’s blog post.  I believe she pointed out some very important issues and topics on the subject, and shows some great examples.

 

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Does Texting Lead to Miscommunication in Relationships?

While texting has positively affected communication channels, safety and accessibility to one another; has it also become a reliable form of relationship building? Is this a good or a bad thing? Has this media taken the intimacy out of relationships?

For my BCM240 final project, I conducted an ethnographical study that aimed to uncover the truth about texting in relationships, and whether texting led to miscommunication. I chose to make a short interview style video, featuring people of different relationship stages and ages to get a true grasp on how they felt about texting, and whether or not this was the preferred form of communication.

I chose to include my talents speaking and to show their faces to further convey the argument; that emotions and facial expressions truly send the message. I aimed to layer both positive and negative opinions of text messaging in relationships in the video.

Finding talents proved to be slightly difficult, as not many were willing to open up about their personal relationships and communication approaches; hence why two participants were family members. This was an advantage to me, as trust was already gained and established, therefore there was no need for conversation or ‘scene-setting’ before hand. With my other talent however, I needed her to know exactly what was going on and how the video would be depicted; thus, we spoke about the topic prior to recording and I shared my thoughts and opinions with her as well, allowing for an ethical and collaborative ethnography.

70% of the people surveyed for this project said they text their partner ‘all day every day.’ Many of those who took part in this small-scale research project were Gen-Y’s; so having grown up with texting, it naturally became a reliable source of communication for them. While many participants were young (under 25) and not married, thus not seeing their partner everyday, this resulted in many more texts sent throughout the day to keep in contact.

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My survey revealed that 95% of people have had a fight through text, and when asked individually as to why this was the case, many responded by saying that it was often the case of miscommunication.

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This research project was based off research already conducted about the use of texting and mobile phones in romantic relationships. One article written on the topic is ‘Using Technology to Connect in Romantic Relationships: Effects on Attachment, Relationship Satisfaction, and Stability in Emerging Adults’ by Lori Cluff Schade , Jonathan Sandberg , Roy Bean , Dean Busby and Sarah Coyne. One aspect that stood out to me and that led to form the basis of my research was, ‘the use of texting with cell phones can increase intimacy by making partners more available and expanding their repertoire of connection (Henline, 2006).’ Does texting your partner truly allow the relationship to become more intimate? Or do we solely rely on using our thumbs to communicate, and think that is enough? Many respondents believe that face-to-face communication is still the preferred form, and will never take over texting. However a large portion of participants agreed that a mix between the two is what keeps a relationship together in our contemporary society.

In an article written by Christine Murray and Emily Campbell, they undergo research into the way technology is used by couples and how it affects the relationship. “Couples have the opportunity to stay connected in a way they never have had before.” I aimed to explore this issue more and ask the why and how question and even challenge this idea through exploring whether texting actually leads to miscommunication.

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Has the digital world and accessibility to social media and instant messaging taken the place of real life communication and relationships? My aim was to find out. Generally, younger relationships that have grown up with mobile phones and social media at their fingertips form and base their relationships (at least the communication aspect) on the convenience of text messaging. It is easy to hide behind a computer screen or mobile phone to get a message across, but when it comes to real face-to-face communication, often sharing thoughts and feelings is much harder. These spaces therefore change and are adapted depending on the person to whom we are communicating to.

For relationships, such as marriages, which were formed without text messaging, mobile phones and social media even existing; face-to-face communication is much easier, faster, convenient and preferred. Access to media and the many technological advances are only advantages, and seen as another way to communicate when they are not with their partner. However, due to this and individuals knowing how their partner communicates in person, can lead to a miscommunication through text messaging. Abbreviations and the use of emojis as silly as it may sound, if used the wrong way or if auto-correct steps in, assumptions and accusations can be made, leading to potential arguments. ‘Mobile messaging is the modern way to communicate. It’s instant, location independent, and personal. That’s why the new mobile phone generation has started to favour messaging, making it one of the fastest-growing segments of the mobile communications industry’ (Nokia, 2002).

Text messaging therefore seems to provide an opportunity for intimate personal contact whilst at the same time offering the detachment necessary to manage self-presentation and involvement. (Donna and Fraser Reid, 2004)

Overall, this experience taught me that text messaging has both negative and positive effects on an intimate relationship. While communication can be more constant and accessible thanks to text messaging, it can also prove to cause miscommunication and even superficiality within these relationships.

Interview and Focus Group Trial!

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The last blog for the semester is here and its all about, yep you guessed it, research! In preparation for our next assignment, a research paper on an aspect of the media. Todays blog will be a discussion on a trial interview, shall we say, for the real deal. My last blog was a basic literature review that will help myself and my group gain an understanding of the research question we will be asking. Our research question thus far is based around media bias, and how different news corporations report differently on the same event. The interview questions trialed today were a good indication of how we need to tweak and re work the question for the real focus group. It was however great practice for what we will be actually doing within the focus groups.

Where do you source your news? TV was the most popular, followed closely with the Internet. However the girls in my group said they don’t particularly plan to sought news from the Internet, it is almost an unconscious experience. Now that social media is such a prominent feature of news telling, stories are so quick to be reported. The type of news most mentioned were that published on Facebook pages or Twitter feeds.

Between abc, channel 7, and triple J radio, what news medium to you believe is the most accurate? Abc was a popular choice due to the fact that participants found it more accurate, believable and free of commercialisation. Abc in most opinions was the most objective, solely concerned with telling the news rather than telling a good story.

What source of news do you believe reaches audiences the fastest? Again social media was definitely the most discussed forum. We discussed the Kenya University shooting that was all over the news a few weeks ago and how each person found out about it first. Social media was definitely the top answer and others said online articles in general.

When asked if they needed to visit another news source in order to clarify the information, most said no as they followed credible sources on Facebook, or had a credible website as their computer home page.

Do you think this has an impact on accuracy or bias? Again, the girls in my group based their sourcing of news on what they believe to be credible sources. However they were both aware about that fact that many sources are bias, and that it can affect the truthfulness of the story.

Do you believe there is a relationship between age and the source most preferred by these users? Personally, I think definitely. Both of these girls are under 21, so social media played a major part in how they source their news. This can be seen as a reflection on age and the generation to which they grew up in. social media, and the online world in general is so significant, and plays a crucial part in everyday life. Thus it is expected that this form of news is where younger Australians find out about news stories first.

In the real focus group I think we need to specify the questions a little better, and narrow down the possible answers. For example we need to be clear about which news channels we are comparing, and then further compare with a news event.

Media bias? No, never!

Bias amongst media outlets is a very fore coming concern in today’s Journalism practices. It is evident that amongst different broadcasting avenues i.e, (channel 7 compared with abc) bias within these newsroom effect the way the news is presented and the credibility of a particular story. For the major group research paper we will be digging deeper into this issue and relating aspects of bias to a particular news story, and then comparing how to news forums have reported the issue.

Todays I will be conducted a short literature review/analysis of research paper on media bias by Utilise, a credible blogged aimed at providing articles for university students in particular. The article is simply called ‘Research paper on media bias.’

Media-Bias

The purpose/context of the article is clear in the title; To analyse media bias in the reporting of the ‘difficult battle in planning the budget in relation to taxation and spending cuts’, as well as the appointment of jack lew as treasury secretary. The paper focuses on the differences in which the same issue is presented between the NBC news corp, CNN and Fox News a fairly left-wing bias compared with a right-wing preference and then an accurate or unbiased version. Essentially bias can influence the extremity of the situation and can even distort the message in such lengths that the real message is not even clear.

The article itself has no political motivation or other motivation for that matter for it to be bias, so it is a very objective research paper aimed for the utilization of University students. Thus the author and topic position is credible and objective. The piece is written by an unknown free-lance journalist as a part of a Utlist, a ‘trusted provider of academic content.’

Key values and assumptions: the main conclusions given were that bias has a very crucial impact on the way in which news is presented to us. In this article it was proven that the NBC news and Fox news were both very bias, with apposing views, when delivering the same story. CNN however was much more objective, accurate and justified and allowed for the audience to make up their own, well-informed opinion. It is thus important to look at who is telling the story, what background bias the media has, what sources are used to form the story and who is being quoted.

Proof/evidence: The evidence used to back up the information presented was well credited and referenced at the conclusion of the article. He quoted aspects of news coverage from all three organization when evaluating how biased was used (or not used) to portray the message. For example when making the point that the CNN was more unbiased in contrast to fox news and NBC, the author used an example from the coverage ‘The facts of the story are clearly stated such as in the follow passage: “The president will depart the White House at 10:50 AM, and his remarks in Norfolk will come a little after 1 PM,” (CNN).’ The full reference list was included at the end.

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Audience: the audience is clearly aimed at students and/or anyone studying media bias or researching the media in journalism. It is a fair a justified article that clearly shares the facts about bias in media and references this with a specific news stor(ies)y.

Organisation: the layout of this particular article was very clear, with standout headings that categorise each topic/subject the author wanted to discuss. In saying that, although the heading allowed you to navigate the material that was relevant to the reader, information under each category was in one big block paragraph. This made it a little confronting and hard to read, and the main points within the subheading were not highlighted.

To conclude, a quote from the article sums up the main points mentioned extremely well. ‘NBC news will provide a very left of centre outlook on all of the nation’s political stories that it posts, Fox News will provide a very right of centre outlook on basically the same stories, and CNN will provide a very factual account that is a very neutral version of the actual event or issue.  It is extremely important for a reader to remember this when they are encountering a new event that is breaking in the political news world.’

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