Tag Archives: journalism

Blog Essay Class 12 (last one!)

Re: The mediatization of society – This article brought full circle everything we’ve learned about in this course. One of the main points was to illustrate how media affects and permeates everything we do culturally and as a society. The media (and discussions of various aspects of the media) are ubiquitous. That is what Dr. Rodgers’ Tumblr page is trying to show us – that an article from The New York Times, The Guardian or The Atlantic and an article from TMZ, Jezebel and Yahoo! Shine can all discuss the media, and these media outlets run the gamut in terms of their perceived “credibility,” journalistic training, content, et cetera. On the first day of class, Dr. Rodgers said his goal for us as students was to learn to become “aware” of the media. Much of this awareness is contingent upon our knowledge of and ability to see just how connected the media is to everything we do, consume, see, hear, listen to, purchase — the list goes on and on. It is through this awareness that we can then apply a critical lens with which to subsequently critique and analyze the media.

The article goes on to discuss how mediatization influences political processes, which I found interesting. Politicians are keenly aware of how powerful the media can be and thus use it to their advantage when running a political campaign. Perhaps one of the most effective use of media (social media sites) in a political campaign is Barack Obama in the 2008 election. According to Politico, Obama is “master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House.” It is through these “manipulations” that a political figure it constructed and his image is iterated to the public.

I was particularly interested in the article’s discussion of consumerism. “Jansson (2002) takes his starting point in the general mediatization of contemporary culture, which he describes as “the process through which mediated cultural products have gained importance as cultural referents and hence contribute to the development and maintenance of cultural communities” (p. 108). In what ways do you think that mediatization has influenced your consumerism/purchases? For me, I think advertising has framed certain brand names and products as salient and desirable and it definitely has an influence on me. I know as someone studying the field of media, I should be impervious to catchy advertisements, but I fully admit that I am far from that. The truth is that certain products have been presented as necessary or “cool” (which reminds me of the Merchants of Cool article we read earlier in the semester). Trends influence our purchasing power and the impetus of it all is mass media – which dictates what is “in” and what is “out.” One of the advertising professors here told me that “aspirational images” are what sells products – so for example, in order to most effectively market a new type of fitness shoe, it would be best to show a couple exercising together to get fit.

Re: Ch 20 – This chapter discussed the future of the news industry. I found it the discussion about the decline of news media and how people confuse that with journalism (p. 366). It, again, goes back to something we learned early on in the semester – that journalism and media are not the same thing, or as the books say, “not synonymous.” (Dr. Rodgers says there are no synonyms anyway). Regardless, I agree. Just because print media is declining, it doesn’t mean journalism is too. Journalism is “an activity” (p. 366). It’s akin to saying that writing/reading is going downhill because people aren’t purchasing hard copies of books anymore. The advent of reading devices like Kindles, Nooks and iPads doesn’t make reading any less of a hobby for people. What do you think is the future of media? Where do we go from here? I think that the future is full of possibility. We shouldn’t view the field of communications in a state of decline because as we learned early on in this class, communications is like the “water”, and thus cannot be divorced as it is one of the most mundane and commonplace of human interactions. It is the basis for society in many ways. We will just have to be adaptable to accept the new platforms by which media will be disseminated.

DQ:

-What do you think is the future of media? Where do we go from here?

Blog Essay Class 9

Re: the Journalists Resource articles – Research from the Pew Center revealed interesting facts about the way in which Arabs express themselves online, particularly in a political manner. I wonder if Americans express themselves politically in the same manner and with the same frequency—I personally don’t think so. I think there are two extremes on the right and left and a middle that is largely apathetic (for my generation, at least). The article about Twitter, politics and the public discusses how microblogging can influence hot-button political issues. How often do you participate in political discourse on SMS/microblogging sites such as Twitter? I don’t find myself participating very frequently, especially not during peak times such as elections where it seems that political discourse is ubiquitous. I think there often is a backlash when it comes to how active people are on social media when expressing their political views—for example, people’s politically-related overparticipation on social media inspires me to do the opposite.

Re: The Economist article – I found this article to be very interesting, focusing on the benefit and validity of citizen journalism: “…photographs, videos and tweets from ordinary people are improving and expanding news coverage” and this can be seen in crime-related situations such as the Boston bombings. When the media can’t or doesn’t have the materials necessary to create a segment, sometimes-ordinary citizens do. In cases like that, the media have little choice but to use the content produced by average people in their broadcasts. I’ve thought about programs like iReport and its equivalents, but I’m not sure how I feel about them. I can see pros and cons to each side. An obvious pro is that it allows the flow of information to be free and unrestricted. A con is that it may harm or even damage the credibility of vetted, professional people and affiliated organizations.

Re: Jaschik’s article about science – Most newspapers don’t have fulltime writers focused on science and health. CNN got ride of an entire team of reporters who covered science and tech beats. After taking the Science Communications class here at the college, I learned that the average citizen does not know basic scientific facts at all. According to a NYT article, one out of five American adults thinks that the sun revolves around the earth. (Yes, seriously, check it out – http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/30/science/30profile.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0). When we do away with such writers, we do away with such stories. When we do away with such stories, we harm the public knowledge and propagate a lack of awareness of basic issues. Our society becomes less educated as a result. What kinds of harmful effects does eliminating these types of stories have on our society? Particularly on youth? I think youth are the most important group because they ultimately shape the future. If they don’t possess basic knowledge, it can damage their worldview and globally, it can damage the way other countries view Americans.

DQ:

– How often do you participate in political discourse on SMS/microblogging sites such as Twitter?

Nicki Karimipour

nickik1989@ufl.edu

Blog Essay Class 2

The film Rashomon taught us that truth isn’t always the same thing for every person. People may see and subsequently process events differently. This reminded me of a real-life classic example of this – the murder of Kitty Genovese in NYC in 1964. Witnesses to the event had differing accounts, or were simply participants in what is known as the Bystander Effect.

In the article by Adam et al., the authors make sure to separate the two ideas and intertwine them with discussions of democracy, ethics and morality, authorship and craft. If I could think of one question to summarize this reading, it would be: Are the media and journalism the same thing? The answer, however, is not as simple as the question.

As a former undergraduate English literature major, I especially enjoyed the quote by Lillian Ross of The New Yorker: “Every now and then,” she said, “journalism has been found to be timeless; and its writers have been considered to be on a par with the best in literature” (Adams et al., p. 239). We forget that we have a moral obligation – and the desire to “entertain” (p. 248) trumps our need to deliver information that is factual, but also “concerned with…governance and social understanding” (p. 248).

A major focus of the article was democracy. “Journalists as authors have duties as citizens to other citizens—to speak to them in their own language, to make wise news judgments, and to be empirical, forthright, honest, independent, eloquent, thoughtful, and reliable” (p. 250).

After reading this article, I am left to think: How did we get so far away from these pure and morally correct premises? If one is to survey the state of the mainstream news media today, how many of those tenets are actually being adhered to? Close to none. Democracy is a fine concept, but is it too idealistic for journalism done in a world of competing corporate interests? Professors in this college remind us that mainstream media is, at the end of the day, a business. Thus, are we expecting too much?

The discussion of facts was vital, as summed up by Hersey’s quote about the “one sacred rule of journalism… the writer must not invent” (p. 252). In the Preface section, the authors address “journalism students” directly. I think that this should be a required piece of reading for undergrads—many of who don’t fully understand the seriousness of truth and avoidance of any falsification. They just don’t understand the severity of punishment it can bring—cases of inaccuracies or just plain falsifications, like NYT’s Jayson Blair and Judith Miller. When I teach, I tell my students that the course policy is to deduct 50 points for fact errors. They moan and complain whenever they make a mistake. But I am quick to remind them that it’s better to lose 50 points on an assignment now than to lose your job and blow your whole career later. I think the concept of ethics is a foreign concept to people of my generation. Exacerbated by the fast-paced landscape of the digital world and social media, ethics just doesn’t register high on the priority list. We’re used to posting something and deleting it if we made a mistake or things don’t go as planned. That is why Adams and his colleagues said, “to write well and truly is to be clear and faithful to the truth of the facts, of the news, of a situation, or of life itself. The pathways to such truth and clarity are not easily followed.”

I found out in reading Carey’s piece that communication transmission originated in religion (p. 15), which makes sense considering its “ritualistic” nature (p. 18). It reminds me of the inherent sense of bureaucratic privilege that is associated with religion – there is one preacher, priest, or spiritual leader that is in charge of delivering a divine word, and everyone else is just a listener. This view is refuted by Carey, who says the ritualistic view of communication “downplays the role of the sermon… in order to highlight the role of the prayer” (p. 18). So essentially, it isn’t the medium that matters most, but the message.

Carey buttresses his arguments with discussion of a ruling class and class interactions. It reminds me of knowledge gap theory, which claims people of lower socioeconomic status (SES) have less access and use for mass media. For poor populations particularly, “the mass media are not viewed as providers of useful information” (Chatman & Pendleton, 2010, p. 135).

When David Gauntlett wrote “Ten things wrong with the media effects model,” he was clearly impatient with the lack of clarity when it comes to audiences and media effects. His piece basically turns social science research by people like Bandura on its head. When it comes to youth consumption of violent media, the commonly prescribed solution was to eliminate that type of media because it was thought to be harmful and a powerful impetus to promoting violent behavior. Gauntlett says we shouldn’t be eliminating this type of media because there is no effect. What is a viable solution, then? Though I don’t necessarily agree with everything stated in his piece, he raises many good points that got me thinking – particularly in his section about conservative ideologies (section 3): “A broader conservative project to position the more contemporary and challenging aspects of the mass media, rather than other social factors, as the major threat to social stability today.” It’s true – we really love pegging one thing as the end-all-be-all of a certain behavior. In my current thesis research on media portrayals of NFL athlete suicides, I’m finding out that the media love that “magic solution.” They want to say that depression, or divorce, or substance abuse or concussions was the factor that caused the athlete to end his life. But we must remember that, as Gauntlet said, there are multiple factors to each problem and/or issue.

DQ: How can we motivate people to consume media outside of their own personal tastes? i.e., how can we get people to move past the consistency theory and consuming media that “gratifies” a certain need? 

*Nota bene: On an unrelated note, I am finding it to be very thrilling to be able to express my true personal opinion when reading these scholarly works. Many times we feel afraid to criticize or bring in our personal experiences and opinions because it’s seen as less credible than simply restating facts from the literature at hand. As journalists, we are taught to uphold the principles of objectivity and un-biasedness, when it’s not even clear what those concepts really mean. I am glad I get the opportunity in this class to provide my take on current media and journalism-related issues and concepts. 🙂

But for concerns about truth and accuracy, this is a good place to start.

Nicki Karimipour; nickik1989@ufl.edu

Media interests

A few media issues that interest me – 

1. How do corporate agendas and interests influence stories about health? How do we know what the funding source of a certain drug is, or that the conglomerate hospital is an ad buyer of the newspaper when it is not explicitly stated in the news article, for example? It could be hidden for agenda-setting purposes. How does this subsequently affect or even damage our trust of the media?

2. In regards to literary journalism in health stories, do these kinds of stories do more harm or good to audiences and readers? Are the types of stories that are most popular and exciting to readers always the most representative? Stories about breast cancer usually feature young women in their 30s, when the statistical likelihood of getting breast cancer at that age is very minimal. But it makes for the best story because the feature is “sexy” and has a happy ending. 

3. Why is the media not interested in stories about prevention? Typically the most impactful stories are about people who conquered a disease and overcame it, or using sensationalism or fear-based tactics to inspire health behavior change. How can we inspire more journalists to focus on prevention?