Finding A Voice

It is a part of human nature to want to belong, to strive to be a part of a group. just as every country prides itself on it’s culture, each one of these is made up of a number of different sub-cultures. While it is important for an Australian to feel Australian, it is also important for a New South Welshman to feel like they belong in New South Wales. Sub-cultures may get smaller and smaller as you move in and take a closer look, but the desire to belong doesn’t.

This is where the media comes into it. For a long time, there has been publications which tell the stories of a certain group, to a certain group.

If you’re a student of the University of Wollongong, you may read the student magazine published by students of UOW, because you want to hear stories of people who belong to your group. 

If you’re a member of the LGBT community, you may want to hear the stories of and have discussions with other members of that community. This is why we have publications specifically designed for certain groups, because it allows people to tell their own stories to their own people, and fosters that sense of belonging that I’ve been harping on about.

Diasporic media allows stories to be told first hand, instead of being repeated by someone on TV who has no idea what they’re talking about. This is why, when it comes to stories of LGBT people, those people turn to sites like SameSame, instead of mainstream news outlets like News.com.au.

It all comes back to a sense of community and acceptance. People want to hear stories about them, told by people like them, and that is why it’s important for communities and sub-cultures to have their own voices.

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Cross-Cultural Media

Globalisation has had a massive effect on the media industry and the shows we see on television. TV channels these days are full of American shows and other shows from overseas, but the shows that I find most interesting are show that have been adapted from one country to another. Reality shows can be easily adapted to different locations. The X Factor just needs a different host and judges, and the concept still works. Big Brother, the same. But it’s shows like Kath & Kim, which is extremely popular in Australia, that have a hrs time being translated to an American audience. Sue Turnbull credits this loss in translation to “the role and place of irony” (2008, p. 115). So is it just a difference in what Australians and Americans find funny? My mother has herself claimed that she hates American comedies because they are too “in-your-face” and brash. Of course, my mother is no expert in the field of globalised media, but she is an active consumer.

With the globalisation of media, also comes the potential of ownership of global media corporations. Rupert Murdoch owns a number of media organisations all around the world, and this allows him to have a say in what information is published all around the world. Nobody will forget the 2013 Australian Federal Election and the NewsCorp coverage of it. But Murdoch has also had this influence in the past in different countries. David McKnight uses the 1992 United Kingdom election as an example, showing the influence Murdoch and The Sun newpaper had on the election.

The globalisation of Murdoch’s media empire has allowed him to have a voice and an influence around the world. Gone are the days of each country having it’s own media, media is now globalised, narrowing the influence being had on people, even from different countries. 

Turnbull, S 2008, ‘It’s Like They Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught It in Embroidery: Television Comedy in Translation’, Metro Magazine, no. 159, pp. 110-115.

Does Race Matter?

As mentioned in last week’s post for BCM310, stories are now being told more and more by the group of people the story is about. We are now getting first hand accounts of what it is like to be a social minority, and these minorities are finally being represented by themselves. It is the same for racial minorities in the western world.

As the world becomes more and more culturally mixed, it is becoming more prevalent to hear stories about race minorities told by people of that minority. What I mean by this, is that instead of a race minority being just a token character in a TV show, there for the laughs, there are now shows and stories being told about racially diverse main characters.

In the USA, after Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America in 2013, and become the first American of Indian descent to do so. But, what came was a wave of racist comments and remarks about Davuluri on Twitter from many upset Americans that a white woman didn’t win. Daniels claims that this kind of racist fuelled Twitter attack was also prevalent after Barack Obama became the first African-American president. 

However, this differs a lot to the reception of Mindy Kaling’s sitcom ‘The Mindy Project’. An article written by Eliana Dokterman for Time about the season final of season 2, does not mention once the race or ethnicity of Kaling, even though the fact Kaling is Indian is something that is discussed quite a lot in the show itself.

So, does race matter when it comes to people in the media? Some would argue yes, some would argue no. It all comes down to relevance. I would argue that race should be more of a factor in in Kaling’s case rather than Davuluri’s, even though the media attention surrounding both women is the complete opposite. 

No matter what the issue is surrounding race and these women, it is definitely refreshing to see a bit of racial diversity in the primetime spotlight.

Real ‘Girls’

The history of history is a very interesting topic to discuss. History, is historically told by rich, old, white men. This means, that in the past what people learned about the world was told from the perspective of somebody who controlled the world. But, during the late 20th century, history began to be told by social minorities such as races different to caucasian, members of the LGBT community, and by women. Not only did history start to be told from a different perspective, but the voices of these social minorities was being heard for the first time, and stories were able to be told. The world changed.

Today, these social minorities’ voices are being heard more than ever, and people are listening. 

Women have fought for a long time to be sen as equals within society and by governments. While women are mostly equal under the law, there is still a long way to go for women to be viewed equally by many people in society, and this is why the feminist movement is still a relevant now as it was 50 years ago.

One notable feminist is Lena Dunham, the creator of the HBO series ‘Girls’. Her show follows the lives of young women trying to get by in New York City. It gives a fresh view on women that differs to traditional representation of women in the media. One example which ‘Girls’ has been compared to is Sex and the City.

Laura Sullivan (2012) makes the comparison, but also states the difference between the two shows.

“The thing that strikes me about it (Girls) compared to “Sex and the City” is that, you know, even with Carrie Bradshaw, she was kind of wacky in some ways, but she was thin and beautiful, and she dated these incredible men, and she had this fabulous life, and she had all this style and the shoes and the clothes, and you wanted to be her. But your characters are so raw, and they are so real.”

It’s refreshing to know that women are being represented in the media now, by women who are just showing themselves as raw and real. The characters in ‘Girls’ are real and that’s why so many women can relate. They’re no longer watching the life of someone so foreign to them like in ‘Sex and the City’, they’re watching a representation which can be seen as “raw” and “real”.

Sullivan, L 2012, ‘Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls”: Still Sex, Still The City, Different Show’, Weekend All Things Considered, 8 April, viewed 28 April 2014, <http://ezproxy.uow.edu.au/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/991922209?accountid=15112>

A Changing Industry

The world is changing, people are changing, society is changing. Things have always evolved, and things will always evolve. In more recent times, a lot of things that change have the internet to thank for that.

One industry that can thank the internet for it’s change is the journalism industry.

The news used to be about people in a room somewhere, finding things out, filtering it, and telling us what they think. That was the news. But it is no longer the news.
Consumers are now more active with their viewing than ever before. Consumers are no longer passive and are more involved in the news than ever before.
With the aid of the internet, websites like Reddit, Twitter and Buzzfeed are becoming sources for the public to hear the news, as well as contribute to it.
Even the term ‘journalist’ has changed, with websites like the Huffington Post gathering a whole bunch of information on a topic for users to access (x).
News organisations are now using websites like Twitter as sources, because that is where the news is breaking first. This is where the concept of a citizen journalist comes in. A citizen journalist is simply a member of the public who contributes to the discussion surrounding a topic that people are reading about. They’re not getting paid, they are simply spreading information with other people and sharing their opinion on it. Yes, some citizen journalists opinions can be biased and not correct, but that’s where the aggregation of websites like Twitter and Reddit come into it. Instead of one journalist reporting on something with a number of sources, people can now read about something in the news from many citizen journalists and many more sources and opinions.

I believe this is a healthy direction for the news to move toward. The more people sharing opinions, and the more discussion surrounding topics can only be a good thing for a society in general, and more importantly a more democratic and free world.

Stories for Change

Matthew Shepard was a young boy from Wyoming who was viciously bashed and left for dead in October of 1998. Shepard was beaten because of his sexuality and as a result of his head injuries, died in hospital on October 12, 1998.

The Shepard murder case was extraordinary because it garnered a lot of national & international attention, and it triggered a lot of support in the USA for hate crime legislation. 

The case also showed the number of ways a person’s legacy can be carried on through different and new media. Candlelight vigils were held all around the world in remembrance of Shepard, plays were written, foundations were created in his name, movies were made. These are all examples of new ways a message can be spread and a story can be told.

The Matthew Shepard case was one of the earliest examples of personal LGBT story telling to a massive worldwide audience. This has lead the way, with the help of the internet and social media to gain a wider audience, in the story telling of LGBT issues and it has shown other people wanting to tell their story that people will listen, as opposed to in the past.

One example of an LGBT issue using a different than usual form of media to tell a story and provoke change is the story of Shane Bitney Crone and Tom Bridegroom. Bitney Crone and Bridegroom were both young men from small towns in the USA who met and fell in love after moving to Los Angeles. After Bridegroom was accidentally killed, his parents chose to fully erase Bitney Crone from his legacy by not inviting him to the funeral, and practically erasing him from Bridegroom’s life like he was never a part of it. Bitney Crone was not allowed to be with Bridegroom for his last moments in hospital because he was not family, even though the couple lived together, had a business and a dog together and were practically a married couple.

This case is a prime example of using non-traditional media to tell a story. This story has now been made into a documentary entitled ‘Bridegroom’, which was funded by the public after a grassroots campaign.

Both the Shepard and the Bridegroom stories show that stories can be told in new and different ways, and have led the way in the LGBT world to get messages out into a wider public.

Evolving an Industry

The internet and the way it is used has changed so many things about this world. One major thing changed by the continuing evolution of the internet is journalism and how we consume news.

As the internet has evolved, so too has the entire field of journalism, just like it did with the invention of the radio and the television. The journalism industry’s evolving is dependant on the evolving and creation of the technology it uses.

Have you noticed that all of your favourite news sources now have a Twitter and a Facebook account? There are a number of reasons for this. One of these reasons is simply for advertising. Channel 9 News’ Twitter feed is almost purely for letting you know what they’ll be reporting on that night. And the Facebook page Channel 10’s The Project is for sharing stories about what’s on the show that night and links to their daily poll. While social media is great for the advertising of News shows, the thing that it is most useful for is breaking news.

Steve Buttry claims that “covering breaking news today without using Twitter is journalistic malpractice”. He continues to say that the challenge of reporters has always been finding credible sources to interview when some major event occurs. Traditionally, journalists wouldn’t be on the scene of a major event until a significant amount of time had passed, and most of the witnesses would have left the scene by that time. With Twitter, a first hand record can be posted online to millions of users in seconds. So now, instead of a reporter waiting to arrive at the scene before interviewing witnesses of an event, while they are on their way they can be searching on Twitter and already have a first hand account. It is also possible to tweet back and ask for more information. All of this before even arriving at the scene!

All of this goes to show how industries, like the news and journalism industries, have adopted a trans-media approach when it comes to sharing their content. With so many opportunities and different ways to share information, thanks to the evolution of the internet, a business or brand would be silly not to use them all – Facebook, Twitter, iPhone and iPad apps, etc.
Most people have the ability to now consume in a number of different ways, and the journalism and news industries are utilising this.

The question here now is though, did Twitter change journalism, or did journalism change Twitter? Twitter has long made changes based on innovations by it’s users. The hashtag, the adding of photos etc., but have users, this time, changed Twitter, or been changed by it?