Archive for May, 2009

Final Blog – Identity

May 29, 2009

Herring, Susan. “Questioning the Generational Divide: Technological Exoticism and Adult Constructions of Online Youth Identity.” pgs. 288-308

 In the last blog of the course, we perhaps arrive at what constitutes one of the most fundamental aspects of modern day media studies: identity. What perhaps primarily propel ‘media studies 2.0’ (Gauntlett, 2007) are us, Generation Y. Although this might seem overly simplistic and maybe even borderline narcissistic, there has never been such a radical shift in our understanding of the media for so long. However, this is the approach that many academic scholars not of Generation Y would say. They provide the definitions of today’s youth.

 A concept that Herring explores is the adult classification and interpretation of today’s youth as the “Internet Generation”. She argues that it was not technology that primarily influences the “Internet generation”, but rather our ideas which are expressed for the first time threw this medium. We can go further to argue that the Baby Boomers and Generation X were not so different to Generation Y. In the wake of the horrors of the Vietnam War, amidst the political and moral blurring of the lies between good and evil, the Baby Boomer (BB) Generation rose against their conservative parents, embracing ‘uplifting’ narcotics and freedom of speech. Their identity was broadcast through television spectacles of mass BB protests voicing their condemnation of conservatives. Yet despite this, many continue to insist that Gen Y is far more rebellious than their parents. Strangely enough, these opinions come from BB themselves.

Herring also goes on to define the identity of today’s youth. Today’s so called “Net Generation” is in fact not the first purely digital generation. Recollecting my own youth, I still remember my childhood devotion to children’s TV programs and endless Disney VHS’s. I also remember the confusing Title Menus of the then brand new DVDs. I remember when we got our first computer, shortly followed by dial up internet connection and how I spend hours fascinated by Microsoft word and internet flash gaming sites. I embraced these new changes.

 Yet, I remember the days of traditional board game and television entertainment, the days of analogue technology. It is not until 2050, as estimated by Herring, that a first ‘true’ Internet Generation will be clearly established and identified, where reliable accounts of the pre-internet life would be found in archives and historical accounts. By this definition, the identity of Gen Y cannot specifically be defined as the “Net Generation” but rather as the analogue-to-digital transitional generation. Herring concludes by suggesting that the adult construction of the “digital youth” as a generational identity signals the call for new approaches and rethinking of youth identity and new media research.

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Week 10: Discourse

May 22, 2009

Macken-Horarik, M. “The Children Overboard Affair” Australian Review of Applied Linguistics 26.2 (2003), 1-16

 Today, everyone ‘knows’ that media journalists lie to us. Everyone ‘knows’ that politicians lie to us. Yet the two social bodies are highly trusted and hence greatly affect our social values, beliefs and morals. But sometimes, that trust is manipulated to turn our society for political reasons. Alan Jones did this with his inflammatory remarks about the homogenised demographic of Muslim men. The Cronulla Riots shortly followed.

Using Kress & van Leeuwen’s works as a basis for her analysis of media discourse, Macken-Horarik (MK) aims to address the “analytical challenges of multimodal texts as they contribute to production of racial anxiety about asylum seekers.” Specifically, she is analysing the media actions surrounding the 2001 Children Overboard Affair.  

She primarily highlights the use of the concept, multimodal metalanguage, by politicians and journalists during the media blowout of the scandal. Multimodal grammar enables writes to “create meaning through interacting communicative resources such as the visual…and layout.”

Specifically, she refers to the use of visual-text articles in the media, where the visual image would be the foundation of the text. Using a Daily Telegraph front page extract as the highlighted example of this relationship, MK highlights the issues of its multimodal usage in the Children’s Overboard Affair. The by-line of the article indicates to the visual image as “proof” or visual ‘evidence’ of children being thrown overboard by asylum seekers.

Quoting van Leeuwen on the visual-text collaborative media usage, “words provide the facts…that ‘need to be said in so many words,” images provide interpretations…and do so…by suggestion…by appealing to barely conscious, half-forgotten knowledge.”

 In assessing the use of multimodal grammar in the manipulation of images, facts, events and text, the impact of such misuse is profound; the consequences of the actions of Governmental figures and the media coverage that followed had a significant negative impact on our society’s beliefs and values, with societal resentment against “illegal” immigrants still echoes to this today, as highlighted by the recent examples of the intense media focus on the more recent asylum seekers.

Week 9 : Meaning in War Reporting

May 15, 2009

Lukin, A. “Reporting War: Grammar as Covert Operation” Dissent (2003), pg.14-20

“Truth is the first casualty of war.”

During the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, a predominate memory which stands out in my head is the 24 hours coverage of the conflicts. Images of warplanes, tanks and coalition troops were broadcast over all major forms of media. What we see in the media has had a mass impact on public opinion relating to the Iraq War.

The author of the reading, Annabelle Lukin, aims to “explore the ways in which grammar can conceal and distort real meaning”. Specifically, she focuses on how the use of grammar in media reporting during the Iraq war and influence or sway public opinion. “Grammar is our most important resource for creating meaning…Grammar is a theory of reality.”

Lukin puts forward several concepts and ideas about the use of Grammar in war reporting. The use of language and words themselves are used to shape used and distort certain facts to take a certain angle or approach to reporting a story. As Lukin says, the ‘facts can’t speak for themselves. The ‘facts’ only emerge by being ‘out into words’”. In other words, it is through the carefully constructed sentences of media release statements and journalists that certain aspects of ‘facts’ are highlighted and emphasised.

Another concept is the use of active and passive effective clauses to highlight her aim. She uses two headlines as examples for analysis: “Coalition forces dropped bombs on Baghdad” and “Bombs fell on Baghdad”. The active voice of the first headline hold Coalition forces as specifically responsible for bombing Baghdad. The passive voice enables the choice laying responsibility on Coalition troops, but the latter headline chooses to competently omit the human agent of ‘Coalition forces’. Using this clause, it was as if the bombs somehow made their way to Baghdad, as if it just happened, revoking responsiblity from the coalition soldeirs. Using the words of former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld says, “Stuff happens.”

In assessing Lukin’s point, she raises interesting aspects and ideas about the use of meaning within the reading highlights the persuasive and distorted use of grammar and words  in war reporting. From my personal experiences, the grammer of war reporting and the impacting meaning they have upon the audience, greatly sways public opinion, both towards and against the war. This form of war reporting is bound to continue in furthur conflicts.

Week 8: The Diffused Audience

May 8, 2009

Couldry, Nick. “The Extended Audience: Scanning the Horizon.” In Gillespie, Marie. Ed. Media Audiences Berkshire: Open University Press, 2005, pp.184-196 & 210-220.

Over the past decade, the rapid integration of digital technology into everyday life and culture has developed a new kind of media and a new kind of receptive audience.  It is due to vast technological change that has led to a need to revaluate the ways in which media audiences are studied in modern society. The primary purpose or aim of Couldry’s text is to “consider the methodological issues involved in the research of the contemporary media audience.

The primary concepts and ideas raised by Couldry revolve around these changing media audiences. Primarily, the role of digital technology has had a profound impact on contemporary audiences. Over time, media audiences have become spatially dispersed. Couldry identifies three phases in the development of the media audience, but focuses on the most encapsulating term to describe today’s contemporary audience is the ‘diffused audience’. It is the ‘diffused audience’ that is the subject of talk in this reading.

With the total immersion of our lives and the permanent intertwinement of media and everyday life, we are presented with realisations. Reinforced by Abercrombie and Longhurt’s argument where,”the media and everyday life have become so closely interwoven that they are almost inseparable.”

The emergence of digital technology has led to a more interactive, mobile and responsive audience to which media producers must not attempt to capture.  Media today has shifted away from the temporal broadcast system that once appealed to the ‘mass audience’. In this attempt, audiences are now bombarded and surrounde­­d constantly by media. This is again reinforced by Abercrombie and Longhurt’s argument where, ‘being a member of an audience is no longer an exceptional event…rather it is constitutive of everyday life.”

But is this really a negative aspect of the ‘diffused audiences’? Although there is the age old argument of the media being a monolithic entity whose sole purpose is to manipulate and brainwash its audiences.  The ‘diffused audience’ has dispelled this notion, with media becoming more spatially orientated, resulting the reduced power of traditional media organisations.

Today, members of the media audience have the power to become media performers as Couldry suggests. With the redistribution of media audience viewership being split between multimillion dollar media organisations and everyday people armed with a $20 webcam. This break in authority may become the defining feature of the ‘diffused audience’.  Media researchers say that the media audience is ‘central to the way we understand and organise how the media operates.’ Perhaps this is true in many different ways.

Week 7: Networks

May 1, 2009

Rizzo, Teresa. “Programming Your Own Channel: An Archaeology of the Playlist”. In Kenyon, Andrew, Ed. TV Futures: Digital Television Policy in Australia. Carlton, VIC: Melbourne University Press, 2007, pg. 108-134

With the increasing significance and the perceived dominance of the new age of spatial viewing, traditional broadcast and temporal viewing are seen as dying. How this is so is highlighted in this reading, as outline in this reading, which aims to address issues related to the notion of the playlist and the personalisation of media.

The two main concepts and ideas raised by Rizzo were the creation of the personalized playlist and the notion of ‘flow’.

In the reading, Rizzo makes a connection with the personalized playlist to democracy, quoting Rob Cover who says “a desire for democratisation of the media process, by which I mean the desire or demand of audiences for co-participation in scheduling….and engaging with media and entertainment.” This ‘democratisation’ is the result of spatial viewing, which has given us the ability to create our own personal ‘playlist’. Here, we can see and view whatever we desire. As highlighted in Tivo’s (a Personal Digital Recorder) advertising slogan, “TV your way”. This choice that audiences possess can be seen as a ‘right’, in a context to that of democratic politics.

An interesting portrayal of this ‘democratisation of the media process’ is seen with the case of Youtube: Broadcast Yourself, where several countries around the globe (all non-democratic) have been known to block Youtube or at least certain videos related to sensitive national issues in those countries. It is perhaps this fear of Youtube, with its slogan “Broadcast Yourself” that non-democratic governments fear and attempt to quell, often with force. It has given power and information to almost anyone with a computer, and internet connection (sometimes even without a computer, as a mobile phone would be suffice). The singular power authority of Broadcast Media is being undermined by spatial media networks.

The broadcast propaganda of these regimes so very little difference in its content. It encourages unity amongst a nation’s populace; perhaps in a manner similar to William’s Flow, which ‘enables unity, (but) inhibits difference”. William’s flow characterised the dominant nature of temporal viewing. Although he intended this to be related to broadcast viewing, it can be applied to other networks as well, such as entire populaces as in the exampe above. Broadcast media have a certain agenda or attitude that it wants audiences to adopt. As suggested in Tim O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 theory, it is about where you can create information and content, and not just passively view and absorb it. It is as Rizzo says, “what users do with the flow rather than how flow is created.”

The argument of Deleuze & Guattari’s reinterpretation of William’s network ‘flow’ characterizes today’s new spatial rea­lm of television and media entertainment. Of course the theory is not perfect, as not everyone possesses a PDR or even access to digital television. Also, temporal & broadcast viewing still enjoys large popular in today’s networks and societies. Spatial media has not taken over temporal media, at least not just yet. Broadcast Media still enjoys a substantial amount of power. However, with the increasing popularity of personalised media, what would result in this new networked world of spatial viewing (and sharing) will perhaps permanently shape the course of human history.