Tag Archives: society

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 11

Re: Josephi’s article about journalism in the global age – The readings from this week were particularly interesting because I am pretty fascinated by censorship and media ethics, particularly in other countries. In this article, Josephi outlined the 3 elements comprising a shift that is breaking down the accepted norms/theories of journalism. The 3 elements of this shift are “call[ing] an end to romancing democracy,” globalization, and the increasing gap between theory and practice (particularly concerning “objectivism”). According to Merrill, “the rest of the world… is caught to a greater or lesser degree in ‘an information culture, based on much raw data and very little interpretation’.” Do you agree with this statement? I think that western media is dominated by infotainment and lots of interpretation, but superficial interpretation. The ubiquitous presence of “talking heads” and pundits only amplifies this. 

The article goes on to discuss literacy as a markers for later development of media and journalism (p. 582). The newspaper readership trends present in other countries persist even today. Typically, newspapers were thought to be reserved for the elite, urban and highly-educated members of society (especially in Mediterranean countries). 

Re: media ethics beyond borders – This article (by our own Dr. Rodgers, no less!) talked about the implications of a press release from our own university about microwaving a sponge to kill microbes and bacteria. This information ended up having dangerous repercussions because people didn’t wet the sponge before microwaving it, thus starting a fire. Despite the fact that this article discusses media ethics, I don’t think the writers of the UF press release intended to do any harm, they just left out an important piece of the puzzle. However, harm is still harm and it reminds me of the SPJ code of ethics: Minimize harm. Journalism that intentionally or unintentionally harms readers/audience is obviously not good journalism and not the ideal we are going for. The example of the UF/sponge press release fits under a couple of the ethical issues below:

Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics:

1. Seek Truth and Report it

2. Minimize Harm

3. Act Independently

4. Be Accountable

 

Dr. Rodgers makes a good point that bears repeating– that these media guidelines were developed in the “predigital” age. Things have clearly changed a great deal since those guidelines were first developed, and I don’t think anyone could have predicted to what degree the digital age would completely revolutionize our world and mass media at large. 

Re: Ch. 19 – Rhee discussed the fact that some Korean journalists shared political views with some high-ranking government officials and eventually left journalism to join politics. This is a definite ethical concern, but think about how many ties our media organizations and journalists here in the States have to political groups. What about the Koch brothers, which we were just talking about in class last week? How do political agendas and groups influence the content and business decisions of a newspaper/media organization? Warren Buffett also owns a sizable amount of newspapers in Virginia among other places (here’s an article I submitted to the Media is Plural Tumblr). I tried to read this chapter by comparing and contrasting it to media in other countries. I think this practice of politically-involved press/journalists is widespread and common. It has a great deal to do with financial incentives and corporate ownership. Coupled with the fact that in today’s world, print media doesn’t enjoy the widespread circulation/popularity that it used to (by virtue of being replaced by digital media), these newspapers really can’t afford to turn away the big-name sponsorships.

The chapter also says that at one time, Korean journalists were more concerned with being publicists/advocates (p. 351) than providers of factual information. It reminds me of the problem we have here in the U.S., where some “articles” resemble press releases and vice versa and it almost becomes impossible at times to tell the two apart. How could this practice be harmful to the public? With certain topics such as those that are scientifically or health-related, this “press release” style can influence people to change their behaviors and purchases to fit some new information they read, but in reality it may not be completely true–or could be spinned by public relations professionals.

Keeping in mind the earlier reading about news media in 18th century Paris, I remembered that obtaining the latest news in Paris during this time meant going to the Tree of Cracow in the middle of the city. Newspapers were banned by the government, so news was delivered by street singers and poets, also known as “nouvellistes de bouche” (gossipers/newsmongers).

The two societies are similar in the way that both governments exerted power over the media. The power of the press then fell into the hands of the people, like in 18th century Paris when the people made it their responsibility to deliver and disseminate the news orally because of a newspaper ban. In Korea, citizens “relied on Internet media as a main source of information and opinion. Readers and writers on the internet could have access to diverse sources and channels of news” (p. 362). The digital media, particularly the internet, has empowered the Korean people, much in the same manner that the oral news traditions empowered the French.

DQs:

According to Merrill, “the rest of the world… is caught to a greater or lesser degree in ‘an information culture, based on much raw data and very little interpretation’.” Do you agree with this statement?

Nicki Karimipour; nickik1989@ufl.edu

Analyze This 7

You are the head of Google and a country you operate in insists you obey its propaganda ministry and filter out certain terms and topics. What do you do and why?

– If I found myself in this position, I would absolutely not allow certain terms and topics to be filtered out. Let me preface this by saying that I believe every country participated in *some* form of censorship, but some obviously more than others. I would not allow certain terms and topics to be filtered out because people have a right to know. They also have a right to individual freedom (hello, capitalism!). What they choose to do with the information or spend their time watching, reading, or listening to shouldn’t be my concern.

I think from the outset, it is easy to claim we would be unwavering in our morals and ethics and wholeheartedly support the freedom of speech and information. But is that what we would *really* do given the circumstances behind closed doors and amid building pressure from higher-ups at Google? I hope we would all remain steadfast and vote against censorship. But there could be some pros to hiding information. If the information is deemed harmful or inappropriate for a mass audience, maybe that’s a reason to filter it out (I’m thinking particularly about psychologically harmful material such as some types of pornography, violent material, material that is graphically depicting death or some other related topic)…. but at the same time, other people have a right to see this stuff, even if we ourselves would never opt to consume such material. Thus, freedom of speech and information is not just for us, but for others too (even if we are offended or otherwise disturbed by the media-related materials or information to which they choose to expose themselves).

* nota bene: I understand that this issue is not nearly as “black and white” as I’ve just made it out to be, but that’s my personal opinion. Practically, I don’t know how feasible it is, though. Given the situation (that I am a CEO of a huge, lucrative company) ultimately I would probably have to resign to remove myself from the situation and still uphold the reputation of the company and for myself. I would also have to consider other external factors such as finances, propaganda, politics, corporate pressure, etc.

Blog Essay Class 10

Re: “Black PR” in China refers to the underground Internet agency, which help client companies virtually erase any bad publicity. I was really fascinated by this, as I had never heard of such a thing. I wondered if there was an American equivalent to this company. I have heard of sites deleting posts/comments, but not outright erasing bad publicity. The only thing I could think of that is similar here in the U.S. is Reputation.com, where you can manage your online reputation and they will monitor web content about you (if you’re their client). They can’t and don’t promise to remove everything, according to CEO Michael Fertik. Do you think an American counterpart to China’s black PR companies be popular here in the U.S.? I think it could be, but it wouldn’t be for companies, it would be for celebrities or people in the limelight. Think about how many unflattering photos, rumors/gossip/lies, scandals happen in print, broadcast and online involving celebrities or well-known figures—much like in China as discussed in the article. I think this type of service could be popular in theory but like Yage, it would first have to be unknown to the public and perhaps done through methods like hacking. But due to the fact that the First Amendment exists, I don’t think it could be possible.

I used to be active on review sites like Yelp and similar counterparts, and I have heard rumors—albeit from users—about Yelp deleting negative posts (or perhaps the business establishment demands or pays them to). So these are two similar forms of content management though not nearly as extreme as China’s black PR.

But this topic just brings to the forefront the idea of a whole industry that now exists—reputation management. This article in Forbes discusses the “dark side” to this industry here in the U.S. She refers to “mugshot extortionists” who can expunge your unflattering and embarrassing mugshot and posting from the Internet. But this comes at a price– $400 to be exact. But as nice as it may be to have your mugshot removed, it can start a spiral of similar situations in which businesses/groups repost the photo to an identical site and then ask you to pay again to remove it, creating a snowball effect of sorts.

This sort of thing also created another issue that resulted in a class action lawsuit: “Hundreds of people who have been exonerated of all charges and had their records sealed are suing the websites for not only keeping their mugshots up and using them in banner ads, but refusing to take them down and “scrub” them off the Internet unless the victims pay a hefty fee. It just goes to show to what lengths people will go to have their personal information removed (when most of us are so eager to post/publicize ourselves on personal social media sites, which is ironic).

Re: Ch. 13 – Zhao’s piece was extremely dense, just as Dr. Rodgers warned us about. I found it largely grounded in historical and theoretical foundations that I honestly was not familiar with – for example, discussion of the Mao regime and the structural makeup of Chinese society (especially class relations). Despite that, I tried my best to make sense of the reading. I approached this with a dominant/hegemonic reading in mind because I had no other contexts to compare or contrast it with. I had more questions than I have had this semester with the readings thus far. She talked about the “online activism by Chinese citizens” (p. 254) but I was left wondering about what we have discussed in class about there being a total lack of options for the same social networking sites as we have here in the states, like Facebook and Twitter– instead there are Chinese equivalents (but they aren’t really equivalent). How can Chinese citizens exhibit this “online activism” when there are not any venues for them to do so, i.e. social media, and their government engages in widespread censorship? I don’t know the answer to such a question but it came to mind anyway.

I was also intrigued by confused by the discussion of “knowledge capitalists” (p. 257). What are some of the characteristics of a knowledge capitalist? Does this mean private ownership of knowledge, which to me sounds like another form of censorship? I wasn’t sure. Connected to this concept was that of class struggles and division (or as she referred to it, economic “cleavages”). I found Zhao’s discussion of class differences in China to be the easiest concept to understand. Basically, the differences dictate consumption. What kind of media do you think members of each class described by Zhao most heavily consume? i.e. the rural and urban populations? Later in the chapter she goes on to say that the ‘middle class’ is more concerned with consumerism and acquisition of material wealth. This is similar to the middle class of the U.S. who want upward mobility and social fluidity. Has the Western influence permeated Chinese class society and changed the type of media they consume? I know that Western brands and foods have permeated Chinese culture, but what about our attitudes about media consumption? I think our reliance and obsession with social media has influenced China. Even though they can’t have the same SNS as we do, they create counterparts that aren’t banned in their country. It just illustrates the fact that the desire for human expression cannot easily be silenced.

DQs:

– Has the Western influence permeated Chinese class society and changed the type of media they consume? I know that Western brands and foods have permeated Chinese culture, but what about our attitudes about media consumption?

Nicki Karimipour; nickik1989@ufl.edu

Blog Essay Class 6

Re: Shoemaker & Reese’s piece about hierarchy of influences says that “Routines in which starting times and deadlines are followed also tend to create gaps in what news is covered, according to research. It would be interesting to see how 24-7 online news has affected this.” How do you think the constant interconnectivity and need to stay apprised on the latest happenings coupled with our American desire for instant gratification fuels 24/7 news sources? It’s a common journalism anecdote—the one the author described about being in a meeting and copying/adhering to (or at the very least, following) the NYT agenda. This happens a lot. But I worry that the pitfall with this is that news just becomes recycled and monotonous, and there’s nothing beyond the tiny scope of our locale, region, city, state, town, community, state, and nation. That is why “global” news sources are important—like Al Jazeera and BBC. No news source is perfect, but we should definitely be aware of what goes on beyond the limits and confines of our own immediate community. How can we get people to be more interested in “global” news outlets like BBC and Al Jazeera? What do you think are the pros and cons associated with “global” news sources like those?

Re: Keith’s “Shifting Circles” article – It says, “among online news media outlets, for example, there is no standard staffing or process for preparing news for the Web. Even within individual newsrooms, routines have changed so often that dozens of routines for producing, editing, posting, and overseeing Web content may have been used and abandoned since the mid-1990s. That very tumult around online content production, however, suggests that a topic that has received some scrutiny deserves more.” What difference do you think it would make if online media outlets developed a standardized way of creating, editing, disseminating and updating their sites? Do you think this is desirable, feasible, etc.? If so, how do you imagine it would work? It might be a good idea because it would give us some sense of security as readers that our news sources follow some sort of protocol at least.

The anecdote about “Mr. Gates” to illustrate gatekeeping theory is still so true today. Editors have their own inherent experiences, opinions, views and biases – and even though they try to conceal or put aside those things, that doesn’t always work. After all, we saw that fact exemplified by something we read last class which said that despite NYT editor Jill Abramson being a female, men are still quoted a vast majority of the time in articles, especially about “female” issues like reproductive rights, pregnancy, contraception, abortion, etc. So she obviously has some biases and corporate influence that prevents her from publishing some things, and encourages her to publish some other things. Which leads me to my next question…. What is another way around the editor bias? Or is there even a solution to this? Wanting to know more about her as an editor (admittedly I didn’t know much), I began researching. Edward Bernays doesn’t begin any project without researching and so do I! J I found this pretty recent piece on her which I enjoyed reading – http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/new-york-times-turbulence-90544_Page3.html. The article indicates that Abramson is uncaring and cold. On other days, Abramson seems disengaged from the newsroom. “When Jill is engaged, no one was better. She’s an incredible journalist,” one former staffer said. “But as often as not, she can be totally absent. There are days when she acts like she just doesn’t care.” I wonder how her attitude and lack of support and morale for her employees influences the content of the articles? I wonder what it would be like to work in such an environment. I am no stranger to having both good and bad editors, and it definitely makes a world of difference in terms of content, speed, accuracy, ethics, turnaround rate, and overall happiness or dissatisfaction level in the newsroom. It can influence your growth and training as a writer, too—especially if you’re relatively inexperienced. For many writers, journalism isn’t formalized in its protocol and process—it’s an exercise in heuristics. Learning habits from a good or bad editor can set up your outlook and opinions for many years to come, that’s why it’s so important to have a quality editor in your newsroom organization. What qualities do you think make up a “good” editor?

Re: Ch. 9 from the book – I found the crux of Schudson’s discussion about “who makes the news?” to be very interesting. Dr. Rodgers loves a good metaphor, and I thought the author’s metaphor about Michelangelo, David and marble to be a great analogy for expressing the power and influence journalists have—and differentiating between *real* and *perceived* influence. “It is common for social scientists who study news to speak of how journalists ‘construct the news’, ‘make news’ or ‘socially construct reality’ (p. 165). This point was a good counter to the claims made in the previous articles, especially the one by Shoemaker & Reese. Yes, there is a gatekeeper, but he (or she) is not as powerful and omniscient as we think. Referring to journalism as a tangible thing was a new concept for me, and I am sure it was for some of my classmates too. We are almost indoctrinated to view journalism as an abstract result of a particular situation—i.e., there was an earthquake and now this is a video clip/documentary/article/radio piece about that incident. It seems purely episodic to me. Schudson and Tuchman introduced a foreign concept to me in this chapter—that news can be a ‘depletable consumer product that must be made fresh daily’ (p. 165). Viewing it from that perspective made me more sympathetic toward news organizations and media outlets. They are competing like the rest of us—individually and as a group. Individual journalists are trying to get ahead, make a name for him/herself and establish social capital in the workplace. On a larger scale, the organization for which they work is also trying to do the same thing, while also competing with other rivals and corporate interests. It’s a delicate balance, and I honestly don’t think we give enough credit (or any, for that matter) to news organizations. Instead, we are so quick to villanize and blame them. Indeed, it’s also important to note the facts, that “there is no consistent support for the belief that independent news outlets offer more diverse content than those run by corporate conglomerates or that locally owned media are better for diversity than national chains” (p. 166). However, I really believe that piece of information would come as a huge shock to many people. It’s easy to criticize the media, and not so easy to think of ways to reform it. In that way, it is very similar to politics. According to the author, “it is the absence of commercial organizations, or their total domination by the state, that is the worst case scenario” (p. 166). In other words, censorship or total absence of autonomy is worse than corporate control of the media. I would agree with that. Many countries don’t enjoy the same level of “freedom” as we do (I put freedom in quotes because that’s a loaded term that means very different things to different people). But we have the First Amendment in this country—like it or not. It’s better to have a variety of news (level of quality is up for debate), but be awarded the choice to sift through information that is readily available and draw your own conclusions. Dr. Rodgers has a link on his blog to the most censored countries in the world, which is appropriate given the aforementioned topic: http://cpj.org/reports/2012/05/10-most-censored-countries.php. The country where my parents were born, Iran, ranks number four on this list. I already knew this, as I had the opportunity to interview Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi. In her speech, she discussed censorship and the need for democracy in Iran (picture below).

IMG_2893

Re: the YouTube video interview with Dr. Schiller was interesting. His original background is in economics, but he shifted to communications after finding economics to be “too restrictive” in practice, teaching and how it is written. How do you think communications and economics are related? Different? I think that the corporate nature of both fields is important to be aware of. Schiller discusses this about 13 minutes into the video clip, calling it a “media monopoly.” Thus, it can be said that capitalism is not just the basis of our country’s economic system, but also infiltrates other fields such as communications and media. The interconnectivity cannot be overlooked.

DQs:

–       How do you think the constant interconnectivity and need to stay apprised on the latest happenings coupled with our American desire for instant gratification fuels 24/7 news sources?

–       How can we get people to be more interested in “global” news outlets like BBC and Al Jazeera? What do you think are the pros and cons associated with “global” news sources like those?

–       What difference do you think it would make if online media outlets developed a standardized way of creating, editing, disseminating and updating their sites? Do you think this is desirable, feasible, etc.? If so, how do you imagine it would work?

–       What is another way around the editor bias? Or is there even a solution to this?

–       What qualities do you think make up a “good” editor?

–       How do you think communications and economics are related? Different?

Nicki Karimipour; nickik1989@ufl.edu