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.

Connotations of Controversial Images in the Media

Disclaimer: If you are not ok with images depicting violence or gruesome injuries, take care with reading this post.

This image depicts a black background with the bust of a woman to the right of the frame and writing to the left saying ‘Victim of Beauty’. The woman is wearing heavy but well done makeup and a lacy red top is visible. However, the woman is also sporting a black eye. Controversial images appear in our media for a number of purposes. This is often to grab the attention of audiences though this can have positive or negative effects. This image is the first of a fashion spread in Belgium magazine 12. The images continue to show beautiful women with violent injuries ranging from ripped piercing to a slashed throat. At first look, the images appear to be part of a campaign for violence against women.

Published in June 2012, the images soon gained international attention for glamourizing violence. A few months after the spread, 12 posted this video of the special effects makeup artist Daniela Avramova making up the models for the shoot and talking about her work in special effects and prosthetics. This appears to be an attempt to show the world that the images do not glamourize violence but show the talents and creativity of the artist. I see this as dangerous as it is leaning far too closely to the idea of blaming the victim for violence that is unwilling forced upon them. Even the words ‘Victim of Beauty’ implies that the women have been victimised for the way they look. This is further enforced by the women being attractive, and seductively dressed.

The controversial nature of the photos gained international recognition on blogs such as Perez Hilton and Jezebel. The magazine has its own ideas about creativity and depicting the power of women, and was obviously successful in gaining plenty of media attention; however, this cannot be seen as a positive thing due to the negative connotations of the images. The danger of these connotations is that they encourage the ideology of victim blaming and so I believe that the magazine was wrong in presenting such a demeaning view of women.

Media or Society?

Why do people still assume that the effects model is an accurate and effective way to understand media and its potential influence? I will attempt to answer this by looking at two of Gauntlett’s Ten things wrong with the ‘effects model’.

Firstly, within the effects model, violence depicted in news, current affairs and ‘serious’ factual programs are not counted among those that will have an adverse influence on the general public. It is not explained why this is though it seems very untoward given that in fiction there are almost always consequences for violent behaviour whereas this is not the case in real life events. Real life events have serious consequences for victims though less often do the perpetrators face consequences. So would it not make more sense to assume that witnessing real life violent acts on news and current affairs would be more likely to induce antisocial behaviour? This is not taken into consideration in the effects model.

Secondly, the effects model takes a stance of superiority, never considering that the media that they believe will dangerously influence others will ever affect themselves (Gauntlett, 1998). Children, youth, the ‘uneducated’ and women are all believed to be at risk, while psychologists who are conducting tests and are ‘exposed’ to the supposedly corrupting material are convinced they will not be affected.

The effects model is not an accurate or effective way to understand the media and its potential influences on the general public. While studies are focusing on the effects of media on the public, they are not considering that the public influences each other. Society can fail an individual, for example, in the case of Jamie Bulger’s murder, a number of societal factors (such as poverty, alcoholism, and bullying) all combined to result in two young children committing violence on another child. Media displays what society wants, and if that is to watch violence then perhaps the media is saying something about society rather than the other way around.