Ice Ice Maybe: Media Reporting and Climate Change

If there was ever a global issue that were to impact upon every single person on the planet, it would be one that impacts upon exactly that which we all share – the planet. Climate change has been a topic for global debate for years, in all its facets: its impacts, causes, consequences and indeed its very existence. When reporting on such a widely debated topic journalists are in both a powerful and delicate position. Traditional rules of reporting like “seek the truth and report it” (Ward 2009, p.13) and “give voice to the voiceless” (Ward 2009, p.13) seem contradictory in that ‘truth’ necessitates scientific evidence providing to the future of the planet, while presenting fair coverage of opinion requires the reporting of climate change sceptics, undermining the ‘truth’ aspect altogether.

An episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” offers a satirical demonstration of exactly how debates concerning the reality of climate change should take place in order to adhere to both the rules of ‘truth-seeking’ reporting as well as those which enforce a fair coverage of opinion. This demonstration is in the video below:

If global media were to collectively report that climate change does in fact exist, then ideally, global media could collectively then report on how to deal with it. However the question remains of where to take the coverage of an issue with such a widespread potential for focus. In Australia, the media could be criticised for a focus on the political and taxation standpoints of climate change, however this could in fact be a step in the right direction. These kinds of reports move past climate change scepticism and focus on practicalities, even if they are perhaps not the most prominent. In his article, Bud Ward concludes that “it may be months or years before the public decides which media format best meets its needs” (Ward 2009, p.15) in terms of climate change, however I would argue that the public may in fact never know exactly what it needs and which is precisely why the media is of such importance in this global crisis. It is in a position of power to direct public opinion and consequently action on and issue which Obama claims will “define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate” (Kenny & Cox 2014).

Perhaps the media is currently exploring a narrow-focus in terms of climate change, however any report which accepts the reality of the situation and moves beyond it to explore practicalities, in any form, is a step forward in the reporting of climate change.

References

Cox, L & Kenny, M 2014, “’Bigger threat than terrorism’: Barack Obama signals Australia, India and China must improve on climate change’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 September, viewed 11 October.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 2014, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Climate Change Debate (HBO), online video, 11 May, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, viewed 11 October 2014
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjuGCJJUGsg>.

Ward, B 2009, ‘Journalism ethics and Climate Change reporting in a period of intense media uncertainty’, Ethics in Science and Environment Politics, vol. 9, pp. 13-15.

Count Me In

Deciding who counts in global news in a conscious decision. Media outlets decide who and what constitute news. While events cannot be entirely fabricated the media holds incredible power in determining what audiences experience as news. From the lecture this week it can be acknowledge that news ‘happens’ in particular ways. For instance pseudo-events: stories made into news in lieu of significant ‘news-worthy’ events, for example the birth of a new animal at a zoo. Narrativisation of news: stories which take a narrative form to peak audiences’ interest, for instance stories which follow an individual’s experience through an event such as education or the workplace, making them count. News can incorporate visual imperatives or audio to engage audiences in a story to make them better believe that the story ‘counts’ as news. Aspects of a story may be emphasized to convey relevance to audiences of an otherwise unrelated background, to make the news ‘count’. Techniques such as continuity, composition and personalization are all engaged by media outlets to convince audiences that the ‘news’ reported, is in fact news. The media can decide who is important according to the values and viewpoints of the media corporation. It is less about who counts in global news, and more about how they count and why.

References

Lee-Wright, P 2012, ‘News Values: An assessment of News Priorities Through a Comparitive Analysis of Arab Spring Anniversay Coverage’, JOMEC Journal: Journalism, meia and Cultural Studies, viewed 5 October <https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/260151/mod_resource/content/1/Week%208_Lee-Wright.pdf>

Baker Street, New York

Sherlock Holmes: Robert Downy Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, Johnny Lee Miller. The works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have been adapted, recycled and constantly adored over the years, however the new US hit show Elementary takes a huge step in the direction of the modern, bringing with it many new aspects to the classic Sherlock character. While still marvellously intelligent, Sherlock lives in the US as a recovering addict under the care of Dr. Watson, female, and a live in support worker for recovering addicts. Similarly, the modernized British interpretation of the novels, Sherlock, has Sherlock and Watson as consulting detectives to Metropolitan Police Service in modern day London. Both adaptations are based on key features of the original text however they have been altered in their detail to accommodate for their specific audiences.

The US version has a strong drug theme; Miller’s character lives largely off a trust fund; the NYPD is well-respected and does not carry the same foolish stigma that the police in the original text maintain. These are a reflection of the target audience and cultural context. The show adopts specific themes which may vary from the original not only to achieve a unique interpretation, but also in order to connect target audiences. In contrast, the British version maintains strong ties to the novels, in respect to audiences who appreciate the continuity of a much loved national character.

As I examined in last week’s blog post, like comedy, drama in translation requires similar attention to detail in its execution.

References

Aldrich, R 2014, ‘A tale of two Sherlocks: Comparing Sherlock and Elementary’, Drunk Monkeys, 17 April, viewed 17 September
< http://www.drunkmonkeys.onimpression.com/a-tale-of-two-sherlocks-comparing-sherlock-and-elementary/>.

Asher-Perrin, E 2014, ‘Battling Super Sleuths: The Awkward Case of Elementary, Sherlock and Building the Better Adaption’, Tor.com, viewed 17 September.

Tomato, Tomahto: Comedy in Translation

Professor Sue Turnbull identifies that “comedy plays an absolutely pivotal role in the construction of national identity” (Turnbull 2008). If this is the case it is interesting then to imagine nationally appreciated comedy out of context. It would be fair to assume that comedy is not so restricted as to be solely appreciated by audiences of its origin – stand-up comedians are one example of comedy successfully taken out of a national context – however Australian TV shows such as Kath and Kim or Summer Heights High have had less than successful responses overseas. Despite being hugely popular in Australia, the US adaption of Kath and Kim fell flat. Similarly, the controversial yet widely viewed series Summer Heights High either lost its meaning with foreign audiences or was too offensive.

Both these examples indicate a connection between comedy and national identity, particularly in Australia, however this is not always the case. The Office is an example of a comedy TV show which, when re-adapted by the US, rivalled the success of the original UK version, suggesting that comedy in translation is not always doomed to fail. Films have also shown success in this regard, the French film Le Diner de Cons (The Dinner Game) was adapted by Hollywood in 2010, titled Dinner for Schmucks. In this case, while the story remained relatively intact in the adaption, the nature of the humour was altered. While the original contained jokes about “casual infidelity, vinegary wine, outrageous Belgian accents and… doctors who make house calls” (Alter 2010), the US interpretation referenced “gonorrhoea, the clitoris, pompous modern artists and public humiliation” (Alter 2010).

Perhaps this is the key: conceptual comedy. In this case, while the concept of the two films were the same, it was the intricacies of the humour which were altered in the adaption. Turnbull suggests that comedy reflects national identity as it “invites us to belong… especially if we turn our attention to what the joke implies in terms of sharing and belonging” (Turnbull 2008). Comedy in translation can involve internationally appreciated concepts, but it is the detail of the comedy which appeals to national audiences and ultimately generates success in the translation.

References

Alter, E 2010, ‘Film Review: Dinner for Schmucks’, Film Journal International, 29 July, viewed 12 September
<http://www.filmjournal.com/filmjournal/content_display/reviews/major-releases/e3i87635330f49d1b31ffdec5beea990998>.

Turnbull, S 2008, ‘It’s like they Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught it in Embroidery: Television Comedy in Translation’, Metro Magazine, Issue 159 December, pp. 111-115.

A Social Capital

(Sexy Social Media, 2014)

(Sexy Social Media, 2014)

What an exciting time this is that we can now turn on the news and hear stories from and about education in rural India, top hits on YouTube include Cantopop, and events in Hong Kong circulate through China and progress worldwide. New media capitals are emerging and media forms in India, Hong Kong and China are gaining a much wider influence. However arguably the most exciting new media capital would be social media. A form of media unclassified, ultimately unrestricted and so broad that no stone in the shape of a news story, is left unturned.

Michael Curtin defines media capitals as “places where things come together and, consequently, where the generation and circulation of new mass culture forms become possible” (Curtin, 2003). We can use the Arab Spring as an example of this, where generation and circulation of new mass culture resulted in a cross-border uprising. Cases of protest and uprising spread and resonated with not only people across the Arab world, but indeed people worldwide. These cases were reported upon and spread, through the use of social media – proving its capacity as a new media capital.

A “new mass media form” (Curtin 2003) became possible as a result of social media which has given the world a way to share enormous amounts of uncensored opinions, information, live footage and expositions of immorality or corruption. Social media users can connect across oceans. This phenomenon is a force to be reckoned with and should be classified as a new media capital in its own right.

References:

Abouzeid, R 2011, ‘Bouazizi: The Man Who Set Himself and Tunisia on Fire’, Time Online, 21 January, viewed 3 September.

Curtin, M 2003, ‘Media capital: Towards the study of Spatial Flows’, International Journal of Cultural Studies, vol.6, no.2, pp.202-228.

When Two Worlds Collide

In the reading, “Crossover Cinema: A Genealogical and Conceptual Overview”, Sukhami Khorana defines crossover cinema as a phenomenon that crosses cultural borders “at the stage of conceptualization and production and hence manifests a hybrid cinematic grammar at a contextual level, as well as crossing over in terms of its distribution and reception.”

One of the first films that sprang to mind when considering crossover cinema was a much loved one of mine, Bride and Prejudice. On a contextual level, the film has been described as marrying “a characteristically English saga [Austen’s Pride and Prejudice] with classic Bollywood format… transforming corsets to saris… the Bennetts to the Bakshis and… pianos to bhangra beats” (Marthur 2007). The director has made a complex hybrid that sits somewhere between Hollywood and Bollywood and critics have found it difficult to classify as it “refuses to fit into a neat East versus West cross-cultural model” (Marthur 2007). In terms of the films distribution and reception, the film was released simultaneously in the UK, US and India in both Hindi and English, however the complexity of its conceptualization even had audiences confused. As it is not targeted specifically to Western high culture nor Indian popular culture, Bride and Prejudice was found to be “forcing its audience to grapple with this “new” language on its own terms” (Marthur 2007).

Bride and Prejudice challenged audiences of both Bollywood and Hollywood in the nature of its crossover, however it was a huge success. With global film industries expanding I for one look forward to seeing an increasing amount of crossover films.

References

Khorana, S 2014, ‘Crossover Cinema: A Genealogical and Conceptual Overview’, Crossover Cinema: Cross cultural film from Production to reception, New York: Routledge, pp. 3-13.

Marthur, S 2007, ‘From British “Pride” to Indian “Bride”: Mapping the Contours of a Globalised (Post?)Colonialism’, M/C Journal, vol. 10, no. 2.

Holly, Bolly, and Nolly wood

It should come as no surprise that in a world where McDonald’s restaurants on street corners in rural India sell vegetarian McAlooTikki burgers and 60% of the world’s population have a mobile phone, that the global film industry is also showing the signs of globalisation. I grew up with Hollywood and it wasn’t long until came across Bollywood, but I am ashamed to say that I had never even heard of the world’s “third largest producer of feature films”, Nollywood (This is Nollywood, 2014).

Nollywood is the name given to the Nigerian film industry which began to thrive early this century. In the 1980s and 90s, crime and insecurity in Nigeria meant cinemas were shut down and people were too scared to leave their home after dark. Entertainment from the west and Bollywood were not peaking interest and suddenly there was a niche for entertainment in Nigeria.

With Nollywood proving to be a growing market, it would not be unreasonable to presume that Hollywood might soon take notice, as per its record. Hollywood has a history of co-opting aspects of global film industries. Schaefer and Karan identify that “Avatar, borrowed from the Indian Mythology”, and also point out that much of the marketing for Slumdog Millionaire implied a relation to Bollywood which did not in fact exist (Schaefer & Koran 2010, p.312). It appears that while Hollywood acknowledges the booming success of Bollywood enough to hybridise, it is either yet to notice or yet to appreciate the popularity of Nollywood enough to show any signs of similarity.

This could be a result of the development Nollywood is still undergoing. In fact Pierre Barrot attests the success of the spread of Nollywood to the domestic market “becoming too small” and that this impedes it from impacting on “national unity” as other film industries do (Okome, 2007). Despite this, Nollywood is growing. Its story will be different to that of both Holly and Bolly wood, and that in itself is a reason to keep watching. Nollywood could prove to be a different to the kind of industry we’ve all known.

References

‘About Nollywood’, This is Nollywood, viewed 24 August 2014 .

Karan, K & Schaefer, DJ 2010, ‘Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 309-316.

Okome, O 2007, ‘Nollywood: spectatorship, audience and the site of consumption’, Post Colonial Text, vol. 3, no. 2.

Inter Australia: Relating International Students and Australians

Anyone who has spent time abroad is likely to tell you that being Australian can feel like being in the ‘cool group’. We have a reputation for being the fun, party-going, adventure-seekers, however in this week’s reading by Simon Marginson he adds a darker colour to this bright Australian exterior, claiming that Australians are in fact parochial, “trapped within an Australian-centred view of a diverse and complex world” (Marginson 2012, p. 2). Marginson examines this in relation to international students and criticises Australians for current practices, saying they “must change” (Marginson 2012, p.1)

I found Marginson’s notion interesting. While objectively this claim is valid, it must be questioned whether or not this is unique to Australia and is therefore subject to criticism. Surely a ‘diverse and complex world’ is likely to be viewed from a nation-centred orientation no matter what the nation. Individuals are enculturated within a nation and establish a particular worldview as a result. I would argue that the issues associated with international students in Australia stem from a relatively unchallenged ‘Australian-centred’ view.

A theme I discovered in Kell and Vogel’s 2007 article, was that limited relationships between Australians and international students were frequently attested to Australians’ cultural ignorance. Interviewees in the report expressed that “they felt that Australian students knew very little about their culture and countries of origin” and another explained that “Australians who had been out of the country were much easier to approach and were ‘a lot more friendly’ than those who had never left the country” (Kell & Vogel 2007, p.5). This aspect of Kell and Vogel’s research implies that Australian’s who had had their ‘Australian-centred’ worldview challenged by travel were more open to interactions and relationships with international students.

However this is not the ‘change’ Marginson calls for in his text. We cannot simply send every Australian overseas on a quest to better appreciate culture and therefore be more accepting and nurturing upon return. In an online article, Professor Julian Meyrick professes that Australia is “a country not without culture but without a sense of culture” (The Conversation, 2013). Australia does not enforce the learning of a second language in schools, it is a country with no immediate neighbours, and yet multiculturalism has come to define society. Meyrick is right – Australia is not without culture, and does not lack the potential for connection with international students, however to achieve this, Australians must be aware of the condition of Marginson’s so called “Australian-centred” (2012, p.1) worldview in order to overcome it.

References

Kell P & Vogel, G 2007, ‘International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, Everyday Multicultural Conference Proceedings, Macquarie University, 28-29 September 2006, viewed 17 August 2014.

Marginson, S 2012, ‘Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience: International education as self-formation’, Lecture delivered at the University of Wollongong, 21 February 2012, viewed 17 August 2014.

Meyrick, J 2013, Does Australia ‘get’ culture? The Conversation, 27 October, viewed 16 August 2014

Sexism Everlasting

As a Media and Communications Studies student with an ambition for a future in journalism, my research for this blog post was alarming.

(Fellner, Eric 2014)

(Fellner, Eric 2014)

In 2009, Amy Wallace, a journalist for Wired Magazine wrote an article on an anti-vaccine movement focussing on a prominent doctor in the field, Dr. Paul Offit. Following the publication of her article, Wallace began to receive emails and comments calling her a prostitute and a c***. There were even photos of her head photoshopped onto the body of another woman wearing a strapless dress to make Wallace look as though she had behaved scandalously while researching the article.

Amy Wallace is not alone. Sex and relationships blogger Alyssa Royse has had her own share of hate, one person going so far as to say “You are clearly retarded, I hope someone shoots then rapes you.”

Female journalist Amanda Hess has received abusive tweets and emails including one from a convicted murderer who said, “I’m looking you up, and when I find you I am going to rape you and remove your head.

Every celebrity gets dished their own share of hate, and one Google search of Justin Bieber will relieve any doubt that online hate is confined to women. However these women are not celebrities. They are reporters. They are people fulfilling a job the same way a man would. However, in the period 2000-2012 of the 3,787 people who reported harassing incidents on the internet, 72.5% were women.

Perhaps it is a perception of women as weak. Or a hatred of women in positions of power. Or perhaps it is a lasting image of female inferiority. Whatever the reasoning, in online participatory culture, sexism is not fading.

Anonymity is merely armour for the weak. But it is what keep the discriminative fire alive. 

(lolsnaps.com 2014)

(lolsnaps.com 2014)

Where Were You When

(Design, 2011)

(Design, 2011)

Like for a prayer… Repost if you’d save this animal… Help them reach 10,000 likes… Share if you agree!

We’ve all seen it. Most of us have done it. I am all for showing support, no harm done, but in the past five years the click of a ‘like’ or ‘share’ button has proved to be far more powerful than finger exercises and a momentary thought from behind a computer screen.

(Sexy Social Media, 2014)

(Sexy Social Media, 2014)

2010 in Tunisia, Mohamed Bouazizi, the breadwinner for his family, had the cart he used to sell fruit and vegetables at the local market confiscated by a policewoman. When he refused to pay the corresponding fine, Bouazizi was allegedly assaulted by the policewoman. When local authorities declined his plea for assistance, Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire outside the local government building.

That was the spark. What came after was an enduring blaze.

Through social media, videos and photos of Bouazizi’s act spread, resonating with citizens across the country. Protests began everywhere, demanding that President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali step down and his regime abolished. The outrage bred solely from the broadcasting of a single event on social media worked. Ten days after Mohamed Bouazizi’s death, the reign was over.

Clicktivism. Online acitivism. News spread of the results in Tunisia and sparked uprisings across the Middle East. This was the Arab Spring.

Social media has given the world a way to share enormous amounts of uncensored information and footage. Ordinary people around the world have the ability to voice opinions, expose immoral or corrupt regimes and those their leaders. They can start protests and even overthrow dictatorships. Online activists can connect across oceans. This phenomenon is a force to be reckoned with.  Maybe peace stood in the hands of the people all along. 

(Ertell, 2013)

(Ertell, 2013)