Control, Control, Control!

Does the media really control us? Who controls the media? But the big questions are does it really matter who owns it and can we trust the media?

Now from my very limited pre-existing knowledge on who owns what media companies I was shocked to find out that Australia has a very small media landscape. The two major media owners are Fairfax and News corp. I was astonished to discover how much Fairfax actually owned being the largest diversified media company. They own so much of what we consume which include newspapers, radio and magazines . This being said, If just one single company can own so many media outlets, how much control do they have? You do the math.

This form of mass media control was very much prevalent through propaganda in the WWII era. How did the Nazi’s gain people’s trust, only to eventually cause extreme chaos? Through multiple media portals such as radio and video. Hitlers radio announcements made it very personal and intimate to the viewer which led to people gaining his trust. This propaganda video of the Terezin concentration camp shows what the Nazi’s wanted the Jews to think the camp would be like, but I actually went there when I travelled Europe and it is not what they want you to think. Watch this video from a Jewish persons perspective and understand the amount of influence/control it would have on them.

These examples show how easily just one person controlling multiple media outlets can control the viewers ideological state. Control, control, control.

Furthermore, think to yourselves, whats the difference between owning and controlling a Newspaper, TV news channel, Magazine or owning and controlling a media platform such as Facebook? There are very stark differences. Firstly, a newspaper or television is solely for consumption. This means that the creator can control what the users watch, read etc. It allows no personal opinion and is not open to the public for input. Whereas, the media platforms such as Facebook allow the public to freely express their opinion. They are essentially prosumers (consuming and producing). Owning either of these outlets have a type of control but I personally believe that owning a mass media outlet has more control because of the sheer influence it can have on people by purely just consuming.

To conclude, I personally think we can’t truly trust the media. They constantly cross the line which involves negative propaganda and poor ethics (which is shown in the phone hacking scandal). I do believe though however saying this, that the media does shape everyone to an extent, and that it does matter who controls the media. If the control is used negatively like we have seen many times in the past, who knows where the world of media is going to end up? As I stated before it’s all about control, control, control!

To have or not to have power? That is the question.

Are we as consumers too lazy to take power into our own hands? Do we rely too much on others to take the lead? Can this lead us to success or to failure? This isn’t just a question that relates to everyday life, but also relates to the media world. I am a self-confessed lazy boy. If the phone’s ringing, I wait until someone else gets it, I wait for instructions before I do something. I tend to be afraid to put in my own contribution. This trait seems to follow me quite noticeably into my media practices. I follow the trends of social media such as creating a Facebook, and also bought an Iphone and Macbook pro purely because every young person in the whole of bloody Australia has one. What I’m trying to say is that I would rather the company of the product I have, control how I use their product (locked appliance). That’s just because I don’t have any desire (can’t be bothered) to change the codes, operating system etc. Sure, there is many limitations but some locked appliances recognise this and try to compromise. For example the stock navigation app on the Iphone is horrendous with no alternate options when it was just released, so they released google maps as an app on the app store. Some users however enjoy having the responsibility to make free choices (open appliance). Jonathan L. Zittrain in the reading this week “The future of the internet and how to stop it” clearly reminds us that with the freedom of choice, can come with “viruses, scams, identity theft and crashes.” This may not be seen as entirely negative because there is yet again users that enjoy the challenge to solve these issues. An open platform also allows for collective intelligence which is little bits of knowledge from multiple users coming together. An example of this (and a very sad one I’m ashamed to know of) is the Survivor TV show spoiler sites such as Survivor Sucks. Lots of users put their little knowledge of speculation and leaked information to figure out the next person voted out or the winner (now can I put a bag on my head?).

Some people have a clear preference as explained in the BCM112 lecture this week with the topic being locked appliances vs open appliances. I prefer my Apple Iphone and Macbook simply because I do not have to get used to multiple operating systems. There is little threat of getting unwanted viruses just due to the restrictions of downloading foreign programs. Apple products have essentially a “promise of security”. This can be contrasted against audiences that prefer open appliances such as Soundcloud. This program allows users to upload any of their musical artistry with little restrictions. Operators do however advise about the dangers of breaching other artists copyright, but there is no program that stops users from uploading pirated music. There are a few changes in this relatively new company that indicate that it could be transforming to a closed appliances such as the taking down mixtapes.

Alternatively, there are people who prefer to ‘sit on the fence’ with this power issue. There is always going to be arguments involving the people who sit strongly on one side. Eg. Apple vs Android. But this purely just comes down to the vastly different ideological views of what a media platform should be. Henry Jenkins shows support for both sides in the reading “International Journal of Cultural Studies” by stating “they all get partial credit, given the contradictory and transitional nature of our current media system.”

If the world was perfect Id have the security of a locked device with some options including safe alternate operating systems.

Oh thats a nice car. Wait, hold on why is there boobs in my face?!

What is this that you see? do you see an attractive woman, or do you see the car? Are you now more interested in the car? The answer for most of us men out there is *drumroll* yes for everything! No, not because we are sex-crazy cavemen but because of what is represented before us, which is part of the art of semiotics. Oh Semiotics, you sly sucker, you. Semiotics is now a major part of advertising media these days, if not all of it. Advertisers and marketers are figuring out the psychology of people and what attracts them to buy their product. Representation is key for a successful advert because it’s what creates the meaning for the consumer.

The advertisement presented cleverly uses colour, words and images to catch attention for their product using other attraction mechanisms. This controversial ‘sex sells’ approach to this advertisement of the car is quite witty. The Denotation of this image is obviously the sports car with a half-naked woman leaning quite seductively on the bonnet, with the words “Fuel Efficiency never looked so good” across the front. Now, their main product is obviously the, so whats the point of having all these extra distractions? The answer is because these distractions are connotations to create meaning. The target audience is obviously males as generally more men are interested in sports cars, therefore the woman bending over, exposed and in a very provocative and sexual manner will engage the viewer to the product. The colour of the writing which is white matches the womans skin colour, therefore linking/implying the message towards the woman. The striking red colour of the car strictly contrasts it against the other fairly pale colours to make the main product really stand out. Now the words “Fuel Efficiency never looked so good” possibly connotes that good-looking women are attracted to people who drive this car. But what meaning does these distractions create to the consumer? Do we think that buying this car will cause incredibly sexy women to chase after us? Realistically not to most us sadly, but that’s the ideology and myths that advertisers want to implant in us. Their representation of this product is aiming to create a meaning inside the consumers mind that is not necessarily realistic, this is semiotics. I’m not generalizing that all men have this ideology about women and cars, but im just trying to explain how controversial adverts like this can create unrealistic ideals.  Kate Bowles quote “Representation exists in a relationship to something else we call ‘reality'” from the reading ‘Representation and Textual Analysis’ effectively communicates the notion that Representations aren’t the real thing.

Happy Birthd….Stop, in the name of Copyright!

Now this is just silly, we can’t even record singing happy birthday? Is copyrighting ruining the ever-expanding world of social media? How far do you think some industries will take their control over consumers? Is it fair to say these blockbuster companies are just being frivolous?

It’s hard for Gen-Y people to think of a time when there was no copyright, since basically everything we watch, listen to and play is out of our control. Just think, even the songs we buy off Itunes (even though I download mine illegally shhh) we do not own. In fact just a week ago my poor, little brothers Ipod erased all his music that he bought off Itunes, only because he did not register an Itunes account. Why is it that he still paid for it from his hard-earned money but then gets ripped off when it comes to how much of the product he purchased, he can control? It’s because these Industries have control over whatever they please within their company.

This video is just an example of what we are not allowed to produce on YouTube in terms of copyright.

With the ever accessible world of hardware and technology us as consumers can now produce and consume, otherwise known as ‘Prosumerism’. As Steve Collins explains in his article “Recovering Fair Use”, are these media-giant companies causing copyright legislation to spin out of control? Collins states “Its shifted from being an engine of expression towards a legal regime for intellectual property and the courts basically seek out and punish virtually any use of Intellectual property by others.” Even though most copyright laws include ‘fair use’ exceptions, they are still quite strict. For instance, you can use quotes, videos, articles etc in an assignment, but if you affect the original in any way, shape or form you can be sued. Soundcloud, my chosen media platform for instance is a perfect example of ‘prosumerism’. It’s an online audio distribution platform that allows users to collaborate, promote and distribute their music or audio recordings. There is however copyright rules and regulations that users must follow to ensure they cannot be penalised. Soundcloud simply states “The best way to avoid copyright infringement is to ensure that you don’t use anything created by anyone else. Simple as that.” If the artist does want to for instance create a remix that uses another artists work they can ask for a license, but will cost money.

Now, lets ask ourselves, if copyright plays such a vital part in protecting an organisations intellectual property, inventions and products, how did such succesful organisations and individuals such as Shakespeare and Charles Dickens survive when their work was essentially in the public domain? My personal opinion is because their ideas and creations were so original and ground-breakingly good, they were highly respected so people did not dare to plagiarise their work. Plus the technology we have today used to plagiarise others work such as file sharing programs were obviously not accessible in that day and age.

Finally, the key questions regarding copyright and industry control from these findings are:

1) Is the growing strictness of copyright legislation forcing a more creative and original media world?

2) Can old ideas, inventions and innovations be expanded upon and improved if copyright legislation is loosened?

3) Will prosumeristic acts such as file sharing stricken these laws?

So no more singing ‘Happy birthday’, how about ‘Cheerful Birthday’?

The Medium is the Message. Say what?

So the second lecture ‘Trajectories of Convergence, the medium is the message’ was basically spent watching the squirrels eat their chestnuts out the window plus already planning my second ‘Gap year’ starting semester 2! The whole concept of the medium being the message just didn’t go through to me. However after breaking down the reading ‘What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message’ by Mark Federman, the meaning of the notion hit me like a piano falling from a tree! (well not that intense).

Marshall McLuhan’s notion that the ‘medium is the message’ is complex but ingeniously explained. He thinks we presume the conventional meaning for “medium” that refers to the mass-media eg. Radio, TV etc. Plus we also apply our conventional understanding of the notion of the “message”, which is the content being put forth in front of us. His presumption was 100 percent correct as this is exactly what I initially gathered as the concept. McLuhan wants us to understand that we create the message, not the innovations that we create.

McLuhan states that the “message” is, “the change of scale or pace or pattern” that a new invention or innovation “introduces into human affairs”. He then places this against concern through observation, that “we tend to focus on the obvious. In doing so, we largely miss the structural changes in our affairs that are introduced subtly or over long periods of time”, these are also known as “unintended consequences”. McLuhan tells us also that a medium is “any extension of ourselves.” For example “the medium of language extends our thoughts from within our mind out to others”, in other words speech is an outering/medium of our senses. Federman also examines how “McLuhan always thought of a medium in the sense of a growing medium.” “In other words, a medium- this extension of our body or senses or mind – is anything from which a change emerges.” A Cassette tape for example which was a media platform used by the dinosaurs only allowed sequential access to the message. Then when the new platform of ‘the CD’ was created this allowed random access to its contents which can result in multiple interpretations and understandings. The medium message therefore changed.

Now, to all my readers this may look like your reading the ‘Da Vinci code’ and trust me I thought I was too, so I’ll try explain a Gen-Y example of the medium being the message. So when a friend text messages you a very long, emotional message that’s either very interesting or you would rather poke your eyes out with a fork then respond. So how do you respond? If you send quite an elaborate extended response giving them deep, emotional advice its sending them your medium and message saying you want to talk about it. Otherwise, you can send a one word response such as “Oh” which implies that you really don’t give a hoot and sends the message directly to them that you don’t want to continue on with the conversation. What im trying to explain is that the message (do or don’t care) is embedded within the medium (length of text).

The understanding of the “medium is the message” is very useful as Federman states ” It tells us that noticing change in our societal or cultural ground conditions indicates the presence of a new message, that is, the effects of a new medium.” It can also mean that if we see that the new medium has a negative impact on society it gives opportunity to change the development of the innovation. This is all very true but with the rapidly expanding nature of social media and technology, are we going to a place of no return where we cannot influence the medium any longer?

Its not me, Its the Media!

Why does the media always get the blame? Why do we seem to make excuses for certain situations in our society by simply putting the media at fault? Time for some Media Mythbusting!

Firstly, it is quite obvious and prevalent in society that the media definitely influences people’s fears and effects their behaviours. Media has caused anxiety in society for a very long time, since the 19th century even. This is mainly due to the introduction of ‘mass media’, it allows the media to be released to the mass (the audience). The first gateway of mass media dates back to when the very first steam printing press was created. Media anxiety comes from many strands of media such as Literature, film etc. For example the Slasher flick ’Wolf Creek’ created great anxiety for young travellers to hitchhike in remote and isolated areas. It also added to the international concern of travelling in the “already dangerous” Australian Outback. These examples of media effects don’t only cause anxiety for young travellers but also for many societal groups such as children, uneducated people and women. The media(sender) may not intend to send a negative message, but the audience(receiver) may decode the message in a different way and absorb it negatively, thus creating negative media effect. This is where the ‘Cultivation theory’ by George Gerbner comes into discussion. It’s basically “the theory that television can cultivate our perception of reality“.

Furthermore, the question ’What’s wrong with the media effects model’? is explained throughly by David Gauntlett in the reading this week ‘Ten things wrong with the effects model’. Gauntlett strongly puts forward his belief that the effects model is somewhat manufactured, artificial and inadequate. An example of this is the ’bobo doll experiment’ in 1961 by Albert Bandura. Sure the children committed violent acts on a doll after watching a person on the television hitting the doll senselessly, but does this explain why the children copied the act? All Bandura wants to convey is the simple saying ‘Monkey see, monkey do’ in an attempt to get the mass audience to believe that letting children watch violent acts will make them commit the same. The experiment does not explain the child’s upbringing or personality and just brashly concludes that just one viewing of violence can create little psychopaths! This is where Gauntlett shows how artificial the effects model is, and how researchers essentially blame the media before societal factors, plus treat children as an inadequate breed.

But more importantly, ask yourself these questions. Why do we think the media never affects ourselves? Why do we make other people’s decisions on their behalf? Why are they allowed to not watch violent programs but we are? Why do we always start the blame with the media? Why don’t we look into the society where the problem lives and address that primarily?

This definitely needs more salt.

Hey there fellow students and tutors, this first blog entry of my first blog ever is to introduce myself to you all! My full name is Nicholas Mclennan but just refer to me as Nick. I’m 19 years old and currently live in the Sutherland Shire in South Sydney. I’m Brazilian/Australian, birthplace in England and have a passion for travelling, which is quite fitting for the incredible opportunities ive had in my short life.

I have just finished a solo Europe ‘Gap Year’ in 2012 which was the most amazing 7 months of my life. Not just for the fact that I saw incredible places, but pushed myself mentally and physically, such as finding a job in England with no experience and navigating my way all across Europe for 3 and a half months on a shoe-string budget. I could not recommend a Gap year enough, this is coming from an average teenage boy who had no idea what direction I wanted to go in. I grew as a person so incredibly much and surprised myself on how many things I could achieve on my own merit. A definite highlight of my trip (not one my mother was quite happy about) was bungee jumping over a random Bulgarian river for only 30 Euros. It must not have been that dangerous if im here talking on my excellent blog here today! These experiences have definitely inspired me for when I came back to Australia such as learning more languages which resulted in taking up Spanish here at UOW!

I chose to study at UOW not only because my mother, father and older brother have all studied here in recent years, but because I just think UOW offers everything I need, such as world-class facilities, an enticing Media degree, and an incredible exchange program. *cough* High Distinction please *cough*. I chose to study media and communications because not only im avoiding science and maths at all cost but because I believe the world of Media has so much variety and gives its pupils so much to work with. Travel, food, sport and social media have always been more interesting to me then finding Pythagoras’ theorem to name a few. Of course as probably 99% of the people reading my blog today, I have a Facebook. I regularly update and check it which shows that I either have a serious stalking problem or im quite interested in everyday social life, it’s also a good way to keep up with trends and relevant current affairs. I would love to see myself in the future having a self-satisfying media career that will somehow incorporate my passions, whether it will be Restaurant reviewing or Travel blogging. I’m really not sure and that is what I find most beautiful about this degree, it gives people with the same confused teen mindset a chance to try multiple facets of the Media industry. I know this very first blog of mine has as much personality as a sloth doing stand up, and in fact is quite rich of me to name my blog ‘Wheres the Seasoning’ because lets face it, I’ll need to hijack India to get some spice up in here, Boom! But in all honesty I named my blog like so because it not only reflects my current lack of experience in the Media world and am eager to add more substance to my work to make my future endeavours as fulfilling as I make it!

Muchos Gracias my readers, you’ll be hearing from me shortly!