Reflection

11 Nov

This will mark the last blog post for BCM111 for this semester. At the beginning of the semester, I was surprised when I find out that blogging is part of the assessment for this subject. I find blogging as a relatively new concept, academic-wise. However, as explained by Ms. Rohayu, we are media students. We need to familiarize ourselves with and embrace the new technologies and new media, and new new media tools. As blogs are one of the new media tools and blogging is a key component of the subject syllabus, I realized the need to sharpen my blogging skills and familiarize myself with the blogosphere.

The blogging assessment also helps to refined my writing skills which is crucial for any media/communication students. Personally, I find blogging to be helpful in shaping my critical thinking besides being an exceptional platform for composing my thoughts and opinions after the weekly lecture. It is encouraging for me to be able to share my views and outlooks on the weekly topics.

Unfortunately, I did put blogging on hold for a couple of weeks due to the heavy load of tasks for one of my class projects and other to-due assignments. However, I am glad that I managed to complete all blogging tasks for all 12 weeks and compiled my best 3 blogposts for submission.

On a personal note, I hope that I could continue blogging, not necessarily for academic purposes, but to share my opinions on international media and communication-related topics.

Till then!

Is Peace Journalism Possible?

11 Nov

 

Is peace journalism possible at times of war and conflict of interests?

Is peace journalism possible at times of war and conflict of interests?

 

In today’s world, power, politics and profit plays a crucial role in determining the media’s traditional approach towards conflict. In recent decades, the debate on ‘peace journalism’ as an approach to conflict has gained momentum. While peace journalism was been linked with conflict resolution and advocacy, there is now greater acceptance of it as an attitude that frames a news story. At the same time, advocates and practitioners of peace journalism face several challenges as there is no universal standard to deal with conflicts.

We may have heard or are rather familiar with the term ‘war journalism’ which often focuses on violence as its own cause and is less open to examining the deep structural origins of the conflict (Robie, 2011). el-Nawawy and Powers (2010) suggests that today’s media standards which thrives on drama, sensationalism and emotions are more compatible with war than with peace because war provides compelling visuals that is bound to garner audiences attention and interest in the news stories.

Peace journalism, on the other hand, relies on traditions of fact-based journalism, with close scrutiny of word and images. In the context of peace journalism, journalists avoid emotive and imprecise expressions, dichotomies of good versus bad, a focus on the victimhood and grievances or the abuses and mis-demeanours of one side only, and the use of racial and cultural identities when they are not necessary.

Furthermore, ethically responsible journalism is a sine qua non of peace journalism. The individual journalist operates in the context of institutional, national, and international regimes. In a globalized world, media ethics must be negotiated institutionally, nationally, and internationally. Such ethics must be based on international agreements that have already established the right to communicate as a human right. To obtain a pluralism of content to reflect the diversity and complexity of the world, pluralism of media structures at the local, national, and global levels as well as peace journalism will have to be promoted through greater freedom, balance, and diversity in media representations (Hackett, 2006).

As explained by Hackett (2006), peace journalism is crucial in today’s media landscape. It is crucial that journalists use the insights of conflict analysis and transformation to update the concepts of balance, fairness and accuracy in reporting. Robie (2011) stressed that peace journalism can inject context, an appreciation for root causes, and a new capacity to seek and analyse possible solutions,to the otherwise daily repeating of violent incidents as news. For peace journalism to be sustainable, those who have been trained in the field need to band together and engage in mutually helpful exchanges, building solidarity as they jointly work towards implementing peace journalism in the mainstream media.

By referring to the videos of the killing of Reuters journalists, Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen during an U.S. airstrike in Baghdad in 2007, the incident has raised an issue of concern and provoked the dire need to instill peace journalism, particularly in the context of war zones. The context of such killings of journalists have prompt debate among media educators on how to advance peace journalism as a discipline when practitioners are faced with opposition, not just from individuals and groups but from the entire media system itself (Robie, 2011). Killings of journalists inevitably encourage many other media people to embrace peace journalism,or to become ‘activists’. A critically important role of a journalist is to shape public opinion and therefore the ability to analyse is equally important with writing skills. Ideally,peace journalists move beyond presenting just the facts, because of their awareness of how easily these facts can be manipulated by narrow interests and unchallenged mythologies, especially from traditional elites.

 

References:

el-Nawawy, M and Powers, S 2010 ‘Al-Jazeera English: A conciliatory medium in a conflict-driven environment’, Global Media and Communication, vol.6, no.1, pp 61-84, SAGE Publications.

Hackett, RA 2006, ‘Is Peace Journalism Possible? Three Frameworks for Assessing Structure and Agency in News Media’, Conflict & Communication Online, vol.5, no.2, accessed 11/11/2013, http://www.cco.regener-online.de/2006_2/pdf/hackett.pdf

Robie, D 2011, ‘Conflict reporting in the South Pacific – Why peace journalism has a chance’, Journal of Pacific Studies, vol.31, no.2, pp221-240, accessed 11/11/2013, http://www.academia.edu/1374720/Conflict_reporting_in_the_South_Pacific_Why_peace_journalism_has_a_chance

 

 

Protest Cultures: 13th Malaysian General Election

11 Nov

Week 11 Lecture is an interesting one as it touches a topic close to home; 13th Malaysian General Election (GE13). In class we looked at videos and images of the Bersih Rally after the GE13.

In class, Ms. Rohayu showed us the 2 contrasting video of news reporting of the Bersih rally. One was from the local television station and another was from an independent website. The two videos shown was contrasting in a sense that the videos portrays and protects the interests of their own parties, concealing a certain a amount of truth.

The mixed reviews of the GE13 comes from both the television reporting and the reporting online. The contrasting reports have stirred a political turmoil in the country and have provoked a series of protests to make their voices heard.

The Bersih 2.0 and 3.0 Rally took place as a part of people’s efforts to lobby for a clean and fair election. When the results was announced that the ruling coalition, Barison National, has won the GE13, there were mixed reviews and the aftermath was disastrous to the country’s reputation.

Tear gas released by police forces to dismiss protestors.

Tear gas released by police forces to dismiss protestors.

United- Protestors in Bersih uniform

United- Protestors in Bersih uniform

CNN reported the aftermath as some allegations made by Pakatan Rakyat’s camp and election observers alleging the government exchanged cash for votes and brought in foreigners to cast their ballots in favor of Barisan Nasional. In addition, the potential for voter fraud was being alleged after reports that indelible ink used to mark the fingers of advance voters was washing off with water. Barison National denied all allegations stating the election was fair and clean (CNN, 2013). Furthermore, there was a petition made to the U.S. White House regarding the fraud voting in GE13 through the We the People portal.

An important model of news reporting of the GE13 to take note of is the crucial role of new media. Similar to the Arab Spring, the Bersih rally was able to mobilize and assemble protestors and garner support through the use of Internet, particularly the social media. Bersih’s official website [http://www.bersih.org/] and its official Facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/BERSIH2.0OFFICIAL] was effective in reaching out to the like-minded individuals to communicate and deliver their messages. The new form of news reporting is seen to provide a low-cost means of publishing news and alternative perspectives (Gibson, 2009).

Besides social media, independent media sites have also emerged as a result of the lack of freedom in press in the country. Such sites include Malaysia Today and The Malaysian Insider. Malaysia Today is a controversial site whose editor is Raja Petra Kamarudin, a former political detainee, allegedly found to be guilty of threatening the harmony of the country by publishing race-sensitive posts. Malaysia Today is not regulated by the government and publishes post that is deemed the truth, giving Malaysians another perspective to ponder upon. By having these independent sites and the regulated media stations, we have the privilege to be informed of both sides of the story, leaving no room for bias reporting. However, interpretation and analysis of which side to take is upon personal preferences.

The utilization of new media in the political scene can be attributed to the rapid growth and adoption of the user-generated content (UGC) and user-driven applications. These user-generated content have gradually gained much trust and support. We should however remain skeptical of the credibility of user-generated contents.

References:

CNN 2013, ‘Ruling coalition wins again in Malaysia’, accessed 11/11/2013, http://edition.cnn.com/2013/05/02/world/asia/malaysia-election-preview/

Gibson, RK 2009, ‘New Media and the Revitalisation of Politics’, Representation, vol.45, no.3, accessed 11/11/2013, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00344890903129566.

Journalism ethics and Climate Change reporting

11 Nov

In Week 9 lecture, we studied journalism code of ethics and climate change reporting. The topic aims to enlighten us on the biased reporting on global climate change. As global climate change is a crucial issue for the global community, we deserve to know what is actually happening to and with the Earth we call home. Reading reports and news on our television channels, we assumed that we are informed of the genuine facts and statistics on global climate change because as we all assumed, journalists and the media conglomerates are bound to report the “truth”. However, bias reporting of climate change have indicated an alarming concern for the global community.

How do we come about the bias reporting? Thanks to the revolutionary social media and the Internet, people from around the world of various professions are setting up their own blogs and websites to reveal the concealed truth.

Crikey, is an Australian independent blog which aims to bring its readers the inside word on what’s really going on in politics, government, media, business, the arts, sport and other aspects of public life in Australia. Crikey reveals how the powerful media conglomerate operate behind the scenes, and it tackles the stories insiders are talking about but other media can’t or won’t cover.

In one of their articles in December 2012, Crikey reported the misleading reporting of climate change by News Corporation. The report, Is News Corp. Failing Science, written by the Union of Concerned Scientists, looked into representations of climate change at Fox News and The Wall Street Journal over a period of six and 12 months respectively.

In their study, stories were investigated and rated “accurate” or “misleading”. Misleading pieces were defined as those that:

  •   Had a broad dismissal of the scientific evidence that climate change is occurring and is largely due to human activities
  •   Disparaged climate scientists generally or specifically
  •   Disparaged or mocked climate science as a body of knowledge
  •   Cherry-picked individual facts or findings to question overall climate science conclusions
  •   Engaged in debates or conversations in which misleading claims drowned out accurate ones.

This finding brings into stark reality the challenge climate scientists and activists have when it comes to the issue being reported in the media. What it shows is that at least when it comes to News Corp, climate change is not even framed as a 50-50 debate, but is shaped by denying the existence of the problem.

In another report by The Guardian, a new study conducted by Media Matters for America shows that in stories about the 2013 IPCC report, rather than accurately reflect this expert consensus, certain media outlets have created a false perception of discord amongst climate scientists.


Disproportionate climate contrarian coverage on Fox News as compared to the 97 percent expert consensus on human-caused global warming
 
Disproportionate climate contrarian coverage on Fox News as compared to the 97 percent expert consensus on human-caused global warming, courtesy of Media Matters.

 

The Media Matters study focused on American news outlets, but similar patterns have been observed in other international media markets. The study found that the politically conservative Times, Daily Mail, and Telegraph gave climate contrarian views disproportionate coverage, unlike The Guardian, Observer, and Independent. Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian also heavily featured climate contrarians in its climate stories leading up to the 2013 IPCC report.

This practice is known as false balance where the 3 percent of climate contrarians are given a disproportionate amount of media coverage, creating the perception that there is a significant divide amongst climate experts. In their purported efforts to be “fair and balanced” and represent “both sides,” these media outlets are actually creating an unbalanced perception of reality. The reality is that 97 percent of climate experts and evidence support human-caused global warming.

The false balance was also taught in class whereby Ms. Rohayu gave us definitions of the following terms in climate change reporting.

false balance: reporting 50% of both sides of the story, creating bias.

superficial balance: complete reporting both sides of the story.

From these reports, we can assume that media conglomerates found to be bias are politically conservative, that is they are preserving the interests of the political parties they favored.

We can find endless webpages and reports by independent media reporting the bias approach by media conglomerates. However, we should also question the credibility of these sources.

Are they not bias in a way?

Whose interests are they safeguarding?

Why and how much should we believe in their claims?

 

I guess the conclusion is and always will be open for debate.

 

References:

Crikey 2012, ‘The Murdoch paradox: bias in climate reporting’, accessed 11/11/2013, http://www.crikey.com.au/2012/09/24/the-murdoch-paradox-bias-in-climate-reporting/

 
The Guardian 2013, ‘Conservative media outlets found guilty of biased global warming coverage’, accessed 11/11/2013, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/oct/11/climate-change-political-media-ipcc-coverage

The Other Side of the Story

9 Nov

Who counts in global media?

What news is deemed newsworthy?

Who gets to decide what is “news” and what is not?

 

Has any of the above questions popped up in your mind? When we go to the nearest store to get our morning papers and come home to sit down and read, it is inevitable that we think about the news covered in the papers. How did the editor select what stories to cover and what stories not to cover? What criteria or scheme is he basing on? Who decides “newsworthiness”?

Then we would go online and find stories which I would personally term it “the other side of the story”. It is a known fact that newspapers are owned by media conglomerates which are highly regulated by the government. There are stories which can and cannot be published to protect the interests of certain parties, usually political. The ruling political party would decide what we ought to know, limiting news and information that are deemed disadvantageous to their interests. This approach is similar to those of propaganda which manipulates our minds into believing in what was told to us. Personally, I think the government may not necessarily communicate false information but could be concealing the ultimate truth.

The concept of “newsworthiness” simply does not apply in today’s context. We are media consumers who actively seeks out information and no one should determine what is newsworthy and what not, to protect one’s own interests. We should be informed of every piece of information out there to ensure we get the big picture.

Therefore, as media consumers and citizens of the world, we should bear in mind that what we see and hear may not be the ultimate truth and what we do not see or hear does not imply that they are non-existent.

Lost in Translation

9 Nov

In Week 8 lecture, we studied the translation of television comedy from a local to global context. By referring to the weekly readings by Turnbull (2008) on the adaption of the popular Australian comedy Kath and Kim, it is evident that locally produced television series or comedy may not necessarily be well-accepted in the global context. This is due to a number of factors:

1. Cultural references

2. Cultural-specific character types

3. Recognisable actors

4. Audience preferences

Locally produced television comedy takes into account the local culture to which its intended audiences belong. Every aspects of the production which includes the scripts, the dialogues, the attire, the setting, the background of the story, the characters, and the actor themselves all play a crucial role in communicating and delivering the intended message, most often understood solely by the local community.

A great example that discusses the television comedy that was termed ‘lost in translation’ was the U.S. adaptation of the Australian comedy series, Kath and Kim. The U.S. adaptation of Kath and KIm received much criticism from the Australian audiences. Turnbull (2008) compared the first episodes of both versions and concluded that the U.S adaptation has simply been lost in translation. This can be explained through the inaccurate portrayal of the characters and the misinterpretation of the obscure meaning of the comedy series.

The Australian Kath and Kim centers on the daily lives of a mother-daughter duo; the mother is deranged and simply wants to live her life to the fullest while the daughter is fat, grumpy all the time and have had a few setbacks in her romance.

The American Kath and Kim on the other side centers on the same mother-daughter duo but certain aspects have been altered to meet the preferences of the American audiences. Turnbull (2008) pointed out that while the Australian Kim was fat, the American Kim was somewhat small and beautiful, which does not seem to complement the comedic aspect of the original series. A smaller Kim was being adapted most likely due to the cultural preferences of the U.S. audiences who are very particular when it comes to the size of one’s body and who typically favor smaller-size characters.

Image

A contrast comparison between the American and Australian Kath and Kim.

Since the American Kim is not fat and ugly, the jokes the character made in the comedy is no longer context-relevant. In one way or another, the Australian audiences does not empathise with the American Kim who they deemed as self-indulgent and abnoxious as compared to the Australian Kim who is deemed amusing and ridiculously pathetic.

It was and never will be an easy task translating a local production to meet the preferences of the global audiences as it is largely influenced by language barriers and cultural differences.

 

Reference:

Turnbull, S 2008, ‘It’s Like They Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught it in Embroidery: Television Comedy in Translation’, Metro Magazine, vol.159.

Embracing transnationalism

12 Sep

In this week’s lecture, we looked at transnational film industries. As noted by Bergfelder (2005), Hollywood have always been the global market leader in the film industries until recently the economic growth of the Eastern countries (China, India and South Korea) propelled these nation states to global media players.

China have noticeably became a new media capital after the success of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Hollywood are beginning to acknowledge the preferences of glocalized content, that is global films for the local audiences. In 2005, Rob Marshall directed Memoirs of a Geisha, whereby the film tells the story of a Japanese geisha played by Chinese actress, Zhang ZiYi. The transnational culture is prominent here as Hollywood incorporates a Hollywood director and production team with casts from China and Malaysia to tell the story of a Japanese geisha.

National films are becoming more irrelevant and Hollywood knows that better than anyone else. Hollywood producers are incorporating more and more foreign actors in their movies to appeal to the global audiences. This phenomenon is evident in the cast of South-Korean Lee Byung-hun in RED 2, starring alongside Hollywood’s finest; Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren (IMDb, 2013).

Speaking of South Korea, the nation state have emerged as one of the key players in the film industries in a decade’s time. The new media capital have also been known to be the point of production of transnational culture as evident in the “Korean Wave” that have spread across Asia, Europe and America (Joo, 2008). South Korea media powerhouses have largely produced music, television drama series and films. Looking at the fiIm industry, Kim Ki-duk won the best director award at the Berlin and the Venice Film Festivals for his critically-acclaimed movies, Samaritan Girl and 3-Iron, in 2004. Besides that, Park Chan-wook’s Old Boy won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. This proved that Eastern production are equally competent as Hollywood productions.

Evident in South Korea’s transnational collaboration in their film industry is Bong Joon-ho’s The Host in 2006. Its transnational production have lead to the film being critically-acclaimed. The production saw digital effects expertise from Australia and the United States while Australian firm John Cox’s Creature Workshop built the life-sized models of the monster. The film and its director was well-received in the nationally and internationally. The film was distributed in markets around the world including the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Thailand and made an estimation of 87 million in the box office (Goldsmith et al., 2011).

I personally believe that Hollywood may no longer be the dominant media capital. No nation state should be. Transnationalism is the way to go! In the context of film industry, transnationalism have proved to be beneficial to all parties involved. Transnationalism encourages exchange and sharing of ideas which will contribute to a more quality production for the global audiences.

As our world are becoming more globalized than ever and interdependent on one another, we should embrace cultural hybridity among nation states and shun cultural imperialism. As noted by Schaefer and Karan (2010), global film flows shoud be structured upon hybridity in the production of glocalized content to appeal to the preferences of the global media audience and place.

Eunice.

 

References:

Bergfelder, T 2005, ‘National, transnational or supranational cinema? Rethinking European film studies’, Media Culture Society, vol. 27, no.3, pp.315–331, accessed 12/9/2013, SAGE Publications http://mcs.sagepub.com/content/27/3/315.

Goldsmith, B, Shim, AG and Yecies, B 2011, ‘Digital intermediary: Korean transnational cinema’, Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy, p.137, accessed 12/9/2013, Academic OneFile.

IMDb 2013, RED 2, accessed 12/9/2013, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1821694/.

Joo, JS 2008, ‘South Korean popular culture goes transnational’, Post Script, vol.27, no.3, accessed 12/9/2013, Academic OneFile.

Life of Pi 2012, Home, accessed 12/9/2013, http://www.lifeofpimovie.com/.

Schaefer, DJ and Karan, K 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, accessed 12/9/2013, SAGE Publications.

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