News, trust, and “truthiness”!

I was surprised to find that many of my peers believed satirical news reports to be a form of culture jamming; I did not find any blogs that agreed with my opposing view. Many of my peers focused on the content of satirical news reports when deciding if they were a form of culture jamming, but I think it is important to not only look at the content of media we consume but to also look at where it comes from, as media sources are a very important tool in assessing the reliability of the media.

There were many different opinions on the reliability of the satirical news reports, Emma Goegan commented in her blog that satirical news reports “keep the youth interested and informed about politics and world events through satirical humor and honest presentation of the news.” The fact that she sees the reports as honest would suggest that she finds them reliable; this could in turn show how the youth trusts satirical news reports more than their traditional counterparts. The lack of trust exhibited by younger generations could be due to the vast amounts of media we have been exposed to for our whole life; we have learnt to be cynical when watching media such as traditional news reports as there have been so many scandals.

Taylor Umer talked about the reliability of satirical news reports in his blog; he believed that “fake news shows aren’t completely reliable”. Taylor believed that these shows were not reliable because the presenters are not journalists or politicians, just comedians. This raises an important point, they have not been trained in the fields that they are discussing so it could be argued that they are not portraying accurate or educational media that could be useful to the viewer, thereby reducing the reliability of their reports.

These first two blogs led me to believe that the satirical news reports could actually be detrimental to our public sphere because the information that they provide could be false due to the improper training of the presenters and furthermore the audience is more likely to trust these reports leading to a trusted but unreliable source of news.

However, Nick Hamilton’s blog changed my mind. Nick discussed how he believed that the satirical news is beneficial to the public sphere even though it may not be entirely accurate because “its function is not to inform viewers but to promote critique which means the accuracy of the information becomes almost unimportant”. I agree with this point because it shows that when satirical news is watched as well as more traditional news forms then it promotes individual thinking from the consumer as they make their own decisions about what views to believe and support. This creates an overall better society as we form our own opinions instead of consuming and regurgitating others.

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Is the fake news the real news?

I watch the British satirical news report “Have I Got News for You” because I find it hilarious and feel as if it provides me with some of the more obscure news stories of the week. When watching these reports I take the information with a pinch of salt as I know that it is highly opinionated and not always the entire truth. It is still important to supplement my worldwide knowledge from more trustworthy newspapers or internet news sites such as the BBC, so that I can form my own opinions about world issues.

Culture Jamming is defined as “A form of media activism that subverts and reworks the intended meaning of existing media texts, or parodies major corporations, public figures, and their media images.” (Michael O’Shaughnessy and Jane Stadler, Media and Society, pg 213) This definition would seem to support the idea that satirical news reports are a form of mainstream culture jamming, as they twist actual news stories in order to make fun of them or prove a point, they do the same with the public image of corporations, and public figures.

However, in the text it explains how “culture jamming is a form of communication that can come only from outside commercial culture, not from inside the media industry.” (Michael O’Shaughnessy and Jane Stadler, Media and Society, pg 214) This quote shows how satirical news reports like “Have I Got News for You” cannot be culture jamming as they are produced by the media industry. If individuals were to produce non-profit satirical news reports on a platform such as YouTube, it could be viewed as culture jamming since they are not part of a media organisation. The important issue behind this difference is profit. Whereas the individual on YouTube wishes to spread awareness of political or social issues that they have found, the big satirical news reports are made in order to attract viewers and make a profit from advertisement.

I would not agree with the point that the fake news is the real news because it is focused more on humour than the transmission of important facts about the world. However, I still believe that satirical news reporting is a useful addition to the public sphere because it appeals to the younger generation. Satirical news reports are light hearted and engaging, these are traits seldom seen in more traditional news reports or newspapers, and so it is often the only news that individuals my age pay attention to in the media. It is important for younger generations to keep in touch with news and so although satirical news reporting is not perfect, it is better than nothing.

Demonstrable Demographics

Many of my female peer’s chose to analyse advertisements for cosmetic products, this was unsurprising for me due to the fact that most of the advertisements aimed at girls my age are beauty based. Advertisers realise how susceptible we are to self-esteem issues and use this to their advantage by offering solutions that they tell us we need. When looking through several of my classmate’s blogs I found three beauty advertisements that used different methods in order to sell their products.

Kara Balsdon’s blog discussed a Proactiv advert that was highly shocking. The advertisement works by lowering girls esteem and offering them a solution, it suggests that my demographic are not attractive enough to get a boyfriend unless they have perfect skin, and in order to get perfect skin they must use Proactiv. This method of sale is highly negative and downgrading for the target audience, I have to agree with Kara that “it sends out the wrong message to young people” which is especially bad since teen girls are notorious for self-esteem issues. Unfortunately this advert is highly successful at attracting attention, it works extremely well as an advert but I would argue that it is highly immoral and should not be allowed.

The advertisement Alexandra Espana analysed in her blog was relatively harmless when compared to the Proctiv, it is aimed at the same demographic of teenage girls but instead of decreasing their self-esteem it promotes a product that it claims will improve the appearance of the consumer. In this advertisement my demographic is portrayed to be invisible without the help on beauty products such as make up, it puts forward the argument that it’s products will increase positive attention towards the user. This is still not beneficial to the viewer of the advertisement as “If young girls look at this ad and feel like they need to buy the makeup in order to fit the social guidelines depicted, it soon leads them into believing that who they are is based on external factors”. Again I believe my demographic is falsely represented in this advertisement as it promotes the belief that we need to add products to our body in order to be socially accepted.

The final advertisement was a lot more promising; Victoria Ahle’s blog discussed the Dove advertisement ‘Camera Shy’. It is aimed at all women and works to improve their self-esteem by portraying women in a positive light with a natural look. The advert portrays women as beautiful and needlessly insecure, which is a refreshing standpoint in the world of media and is highly effective at catching women’s attention. Victoria makes an important observation that the advertisement “promotes the Dove brand in a really positive way which would promote their products indirectly” and this is the key to Dove’s success. Out of the three advertisements I believe this one represents my demographic well, it does not distort images of women or degrade self-esteem and instead promotes a healthy acceptance of our natural selves.

What the Hail?

I often feel like I am watching more advertisements then actual shows when I watch TV, this excess of advertisement means that I often switch off and ignore what I see, due to having become desensitised. However, as this has begun to happen with many of the population, advertisers have become increasingly clever when designing adverts. Adverts can still catch my interest if they are interesting, funny or unusual.

This advertisement is aimed at “Kids from the 90’s” and it contains lots of interesting and popular 90’s objects, as well as bright colours. They use phrases that taunt the viewer such as “you might not remember us”, personally I was aghast at the notion of not remembering these items… almost as if forgetting them would be betrayal. The advertisement refers to 90’s kids at “Generation Y” which creates a sense of unity and acceptance into this group of people, it then went on to insinuate that the 90’s generation is better than the 2000’s by almost degrading comparisons such as “you didn’t have to worry about a newsfeed full of farm animals” which creates favour in the audience. Finally the advert ends with the product logo and a new tablet, it states “you grew up, so did we” which gives the viewer a sense of trust and loyalty, to make it seem as if Internet Explorer has been with us as we have grown up and that it is now a good option for us as adults.

The media targets specific groups of people with its advertisements, “The way they address us (their mode of address), constantly interpolates us . . . this is particularly true of television and radio, where there is often a ‘direct address’ by announcers to ‘you’, the listener. ” (Michael O’ Shaughnessy and Jane Adler, Media and Society, pg 186) This can be seen in this TV advertisement, the direct address is to all of the “90’s kids” that are watching this advertisement, and this specific focus makes the viewer feel unique and important to the brand. I found that it did hail me as I connected with the points that were made and it grabbed my attention, it appealed to my social norms and feelings of being a “90’s kid” and so was successful at representing my values and beliefs.

This advertisement went viral, it has:
– 47,870,934 total views
– 622,787 Facebook shares
– 34,160 Twitter shares
This is a relatively new method of advertising, and it works especially well with the target audience of this advert – the “90’s kids”. Viral advertising either does extremely well or very poorly, as it “relies on audiences actively engaging with ads and spreading them through their social networks” (Michael O’ Shaughnessy and Jane Adler, Media and Society, pg 157), once it has gained interest it spreads quickly and reaches a widely spread audience. Once a video has gone viral people begin to actually want to watch it, therefore it is seen as less of an advertisement and is more effective.

Although at times I found the advert slightly condescending, overall I found it incredibly effective. The fact that the advertisement went viral shows that it was successful at not only reaching, but also interesting its target audience, which is reflected in the number of shares and views.

Wanted: the media that we need.

My first thought when reading this week’s topic was what exactly does the media we need comprise of? Some people believe that no media is needed, after all many people survived perfectly well without modern media before it existed. However, I believe that some media enhances our life such as: news, education, and some social media. I think that the media that I want could never be exactly in line with the media that I need as there is always going to be media that I want for entertainment that is not essential.

When reading others blogs I was surprised at the percentage of those that agreed with me that we get the media we want, as I was expecting a 50:50 split in opinions. I also found it interesting to see how many different approaches were taken to the question; many different quotes were taken from the textbook. For example Norma Nazi found a quote from the textbook that the viewer does at least influence the media, this was a strong quote to use as it directly answered the initial topic.

I would say that media does inform me about important social, political, cultural and economic matters. I often use media to directly help me in these areas, socially I can use many different types of media such as Facebook or other social networking sites. Justin Gideon put forward the point that we are “brainwashed” by social media, and to a certain point I would agree with him. Social media can definitely have bad effects on us such as reduced time spent actually interacting with others and “humans can no longer sit still and enjoy what’s around them”. However, it can also facilitate long distance communication which is useful in today’s world where we have connections to people all over the world.

For me, media is needed to inform me about political, cultural and economic matters as I have recently moved away from my home in England to go to university and so find it hard to keep in touch with these matters back in England. Alan Edgington mentioned BBC World News as a useful media as it “links news items to previous reports but also to other media coverage” I agree with him and find it invaluable with keeping connected to my home culture and life.

I think that finding information that we need through media can be very easy, search tools such as Google are invaluable, as Norma Nazi mentions “we have access to information and a wide variety of sites we can search social media for the information we desire”. And so although the media we want may not all be media that we need, a viewer has the ability to search through media sources and find media that is suitable for their needs.

The media we want?

Whether we get the media we want, or whether we want the media we get is a very complex and thought provoking topic. My first thoughts supported the view that we get the media that we want, however I suspect that there will be a fairly even distribution of students arguing both ways as I find that this question verges on the philosophical.

In the textbook it comments on how “the media must satisfy their popular audience” (pg37), I think that this is the important idea behind the fact that we receive the media that we want because it highlights the underlying problem facing producers of media. The media must provide content that is interesting for the audience as people can choose to watch whatever they want. Nowadays there are thousands of media choices that we can make; there are hundreds of channels on our TVs and radios, and hundreds of different magazines and newspapers that we can choose from. This means that media producers have to provide media that is wanted by their target audience in the general public.

The producers of the media need to do all of this; because in order to make money they depend on advertisement. To attract potential advertisers the media producers must have high ratings and large volumes of watchers, buyers, or subscribers for the media that the advertisement would be on. This applies to many different media types such as TV, Radio, magazines, newspaper, and even internet sites.  This shows we get the media that we want because we hold the power in this situation, if the producers of media were to produce things that we don’t want they would simply fail due to lack of funding. To prevent this media producers actually research before making media, to see what is successful and what the viewers want.

However, when looking at a massive media source that I was constantly exposed to while living in England I can see exceptions to this general rule. The reason why the BBC is an exception is that it is funded through annual TV licence fees that all TV owners in the UK have to pay rather than advertising. This allows the BBC to have no advertisements in any of its media sources for the UK, in turn this then means that the BBC does not have to rely as heavily on ratings or viewer numbers as it has a guaranteed money source. This transfers the control over to the media producers; this is interesting as the textbook describes BBC media as having “programs with middle-class and highbrow values” (pg38), these are views you might be inclined to expect from the “white, middle-class male” (pg37) which is what most media producers in the BBC are.

Overall, this shows that we mainly get media we want because in normal free-market situations the media is mostly controlled by the audience and their viewing habits. However in some cases this control flips and we then want the media we get as less choice is available to us and a media source is presented to us that is seen as trustworthy like the BBC, which allows the producers more control.

Citation:

Media and Society , Michael O’Shaughnessy, Jane Stadler, page 37/38.

 

1F25 Blog Response 1: Media Impact on Others

When I read my classmates’ blogs, I noticed that a vast majority believed the media’s impact was highly significant on their worldviews. At first I was surprised at this, but after considering the situation I believe it was to be expected. The vast majority of the class were born in the early-to-mid 1990’s, which means that we don’t remember a life before the heavy mass media influences of Internet and TV.

Allie Towne’s blog was interesting to me as she believed that the media’s impact was not very significant to her worldview. Instead of just accepting everything she heard in the media, she considered and questioned it. Reading her blog made me realise that this also applies to me. When I approached the blog, I thought about big worldviews and had not considered the more specific issues such as; the problem in which media affects the way people feel about their appearance. I’d like to think that the media’s impact is not significant on me in terms of how I perceive myself, as I know that the media can influence big issues such as eating disorders, particularly for teenage girls such as myself.

Brent Barron’s blog caught my eye because his views are very similar to mine. Like him, I also want to be a police officer, and I enjoyed watching shows that portrayed heroes vs. villains when I was younger. Barron’s current views reflect mine as well; “Then as I got older, what I watched changed and what I saw on the television was not news of heroic deeds, but news of tragedy.”  This is very similar to the media that I watched, and in turn, it created my worldview (the world is broken) that I described in my first blog. Barron also discussed the bias towards negative media as I did; I liked his link to politics and how the media can be used by them to change how the country is run.

Allan Edgington’s blog is important to consider as he has “been subjected to such an increasing onslaught [of media] for the last sixty years”. The opinions of Edgington are intriguing because he was not influenced by the internet, (which is arguably the most influential mass media source today) until he was middle aged. What I found particularly interesting about his blog was the fact that he believed he was able to filter the media, and so prevented himself from being overly influenced by it.

Before reading these blogs, I didn’t believe that my opinion would change, however they have influenced my opinion on how significant the impact of mass media is on my worldview. My original view on the wider worldview that I possess is still the same, but when I focus down on more precise issues such as self-image, I now realise that I can exhibit some control over what media influences me and which media sources I believe.