Blogging for BCM110: A Reflection

Over the past few weeks I have been blogging about what we have been learning in BCM110 and I have to say, it has been a pretty interesting experience. To begin with, my blogging skills were abysmal – my first blog post contained a single hyperlink. By the end, however, I found myself confident in using a combination of hyperlinks, videos and images along with my text.

From my first post I really enjoyed writing about something, researching it and forming an opinion. Ordinarily, I sit on the fence and when it came to taking a side I proclaim that it was ‘too hard’ or that I ‘didn’t care anyway.’ Blogging for BCM110 has largely removed this apathy as I have enjoyed thinking about media theory and forming opinions about what I have been studying each week.

I have learnt about such things as the suitability of the media effects model, semiotics, media ownership, the public sphere and surveillance. I found writing about semiotics and controversial images especially interesting as it opened up questions to me about why the media chooses to use images that can be interpreted so negatively, especially when they can have such a damaging message about women. This led me look further at women in the media where I found this clip of the Hamster Wheel.

I have also been reading the blogs of other students in my tutorial and have been very interested and impressed by the things they have come up with. When it came to commenting on blogs I came across a few technical difficulties but did find a way around the issues.

I think the best and most useful part of this experience has been learning to research a topic and develop and voice and opinion about it. Thanks for listening.

The Public Sphere: Howard and the Shoe Thrower

The public sphere is a point in democracy where citizens come together and debate. The mediated public sphere is a model of the public sphere; a kind of forum where those that make up the democracy are represented and can debate freely (Turnbull, 2013). This is demonstrated in the ABC television show Q and A. This series is a popular media text that sparks much debate among a wide range of citizens.

An example of an episode that brought about controversy and pulled debate beyond its hour long slot into the media was in October 2010 with the infamous John Howard shoe throwing incident.

The producer, Peter McEvoy, was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying he speaks to the audience to ask them to show respect to each other and the panellists as the program is about “civil discussion.” He went on to say that perhaps an individual who has been the Prime Minister of Australia for eleven years in particular deserves respect. While it is fair to ask the members of the audience to demonstrate resect, it is perhaps not fair to say that someone deserves a greater level of respect due to a position they have held. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to ask the audience to show a high level of decorum, rather than respect as this implies one individual is more important than another and this is not how a democracy is supposed to work, particular in the public sphere.

He went on to say that activists are also always welcome and present, as are members of political parties and the aim of the series is to get citizens involved with political debate.

Debate in the public sphere is very beneficial to democracy, though I think that McEvoy is correct in saying that respect should be given to all, though I consider that it should be a more equally shared aspect of life. I would go so far as to say it is vital for the smooth running of debate and a mediated public sphere where citizens can speak freely.

Turnbull, S 2013, Media Mythbusting: Big Brother is Watching You, lecture, BCM110, Introduction to Communication and Media Studies, University of Wollongong, delivered 3rd April

Media Ownership and Constant Vigilance

The concentration of media ownership an issue in Australia as we have a high level of media owned by the same conglomerates.

Evans, N 2013, BCM232, 'The New Players: Global Media Giants and how to Manage Them,' lecture notes, accessed 2/4/2013, Moodle@UOW

Evans, N 2013, BCM232, ‘The New Players: Global Media Giants and how to Manage Them,’ lecture notes, accessed 2/4/2013, Moodle@UOW

This table shows how the level of concentrated media in Australia compared to other nations. We have a significantly smaller population and a significantly higher level of concentration in the ownership and circulation of newspapers. So, does this matter? Does it really matter who owns our media?

I believe the answer to be yes – to an extent. Obviously, discretion is necessary in viewing any media source. If you are to take everything offered at face value then your view of the world will be skewed and ultimately controlled by the likes of Murdoch. But, in some cases, all the media being owned by a select few can pose some issues.
One of these issues is exemplified in this sketch by long running Australian sketch show Fast Forward.

While being a little old, the same ideas apply to current media ownership. This was illustrated in the recent case of media reforms where all media outlets demonised Conroy. The problem with politicians and other prominent people criticising media is that the media does not want to share it.

The main point about Australian media is that it is very public and now with uncensored forums such as Facebook and Twitter, it is fairly easy to voice your own view or at least become aware of multiple views that are not being controlled by a single media giant such as Murdoch.