“He Who Controls The Media, Controls The Masses”

As a result of economic conditions or circumstances, access to the marketplace of ideas is restricted to a privileged few who own or are a part of conglomerates through being a share holder. These share holders such as Rupert Murdoch, Gina Reinhart, James Packer, Bruce Gordon have stakes in companies such as Ten News, Win Televison, Fair Fax Media, News Limited and many more. The problem with having only a few large stake holders in charge of many newspapers and news television stations is that news stories can become riddled with bias and the publics informed opinion of societal issues can therefore become limited to the opinion of those in charge of media coverage. Malcolm Fraser wrote, “In present circumstances the print media espouses the most conservative economic policies” (Malcolm Fraser 2012).

 

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For example in the 2013 elections terrible bias was shown in the media between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott. Specifically News-Corp owned, The Australian and The Daily telegraph which had headlines such as “Kick this mob out” and “Rudd a Nazi”. It was clear through these headlines, just whose alliance Rupert Murdoch was with. But is it fair to have two of Australia’s biggest newspapers slamming one election party with opinionated piece after opinionated piece? No! Shoving bias media headlines down Australians throats and one sided arguments is surely going to affect polling as Bob Hawke stated, “The corrosive effect of having derisory front page treatment of the Government every second day and flattering treatment of the Opposition every other day is very real,” (Bob Hawke 2013).

This example shows why it is so important for the public to have a diverse array of people in control of the media. The very backbone of democracy stands on the belief that everyone should be free to express their own opinion and elect who they see fit to run their country, if this opinion has been warped by a select few wealthy, powerful people, then do we have the freedom to real factual information at all?.

References

1. 2012, Fraser Malcolm, “Malcolm Fraser: Does it matter who owns our papers? Yes it does”  https://theconversation.com/malcolm-fraser-does-it-matter-who-owns-our-papers-yes-it-does-7738 accessed 31.3.14

2. 2013, Hawke Bob, “Former PM Bob Hawke slams ‘terrible bias’ of News Corp election coverage”   http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-28/hawke-joins-chorus-against-news-corp27-election-coverage/4917014 accessed 31.3.14

3. Werner A. Meier “Media Ownership- Does it matter?” http://lirne.net/resources/netknowledge/meier.pdf accessed 31.3.14

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Controversy Creates Conversation

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What do you see when you look at this image? two men kissing? two representatives of whole nations kissing? Paramount Leader of the People’s Republic of China and the President of the USA kissing? Does it disturb you? is it confronting? is it offensive? is it in a way a sign of peace? This ad is designed to make people feel or think anything outside their comfort zones. All interpretations depend on personal knowledge, myths and ideologies.
Images represent something, in this case, breaking barriers, love, universality, peace and the campaigns objective, “unhate”. Alessandro Benetton, the deputy head of the company this campaign was made for, said in a statement, “The central theme is the kiss, the most universal symbol of love, between world political and religious leaders,” showing that the connotations of this image can be taken as positive, promoting an attitude we can all embrace, unity and toleration.

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However the connotations of this image can also be negative, a huge outburst arose from another picture from the same campaign of the Pope kissing Ahmed el Tayyeb, an Egyptian imam and a prominent figure in Sunni Islam. Many catholics claimed it was disrespectful, an offence to the feelings of believers and the Pope himself. The image connotes homosexuality, something that is historically frowned upon by the Catholic religion. Displaying the Pope himself as homosexual in this quite intimate embrace, connotes a value and belief that traditionally Catholics have fought against.

These two public figures are also on opposite ends of the political and religious scale and have had serious conflicts in the past. The Muslim world severed ties with the Catholic Church in 2006. Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned spring 2013, discussed an incident in which Islam’s prophet, Mohammed, was described as a warmonger who spread evil teachings. Obviously this would have a negative reaction from all Muslims. With the new pope, Pope Francis in late 2013, Al-Azahr has offered to renew relations by suggesting, Pope Francis should publicly declare that “Islam is a peaceful religion.”

This image is much more than just two men kissing, its a representation of beliefs, history, religion all being put aside to “make a statement of brotherhood with a kiss,” Benetton said in an interview.

Social Problems vs The Media

It is juvenile to suggest that the media has NO effect on consumers. Humans are not robots, we can not come away from being exposed to a media form completely unresponsive. However it is also naive to suggest that the media is the only and main cause of societal problems such as obesity, eating disorders, violence and the classic problem of poor self-image amongst young women. The way an individual receives a piece of media is completely dependent on how the person interprets it and whether they are aware that what they are seeing is a representation, not reality. This can then decide whether or not it effects them negatively or positively.

The media effects model says that the sole cause of social problems like the ones mentioned previously, is the media. However when pinning the cause of the problem down to “the media”, people often make the mistake of over looking how much the individual/s personal background e.g poverty, unemployment, housing, family and peers effect them. For example in the case of the murder of Jamie Bulger 1993, two young boys who came from very dysfunctional back grounds murdered another child named Jamie Bulger. In the trial it was found that the way the two boys had carried out the murder had similar traits to the movie Child’s play 3 and so started the debate of how much violent media effects young children. This is also seen when young women develop eating disorders and a lot of people may argue that this is partly the media’s fault for generating photos of skinny, beautiful girls on the covers of magazines and advertisements. However these girls are most likely to have extreme problems with their self image and their ability to accept themselves for who they are before the media is even brought into the equation.

We can not blame the media for our own personal issues, because take away the media and the individual would still be vulnerable to it, so maybe the media just exposes whats already there….

The first of many..

Hello avid readers, and fellow bloggers!… So, why the guinea pig generation? Ever since I was a child, growing up and going to school, my year was always the first to experience the experiments some institution would come up with and their idea on how things ought to be done and the next thing you know we were the guinea pigs of the idea. Innovation requires a certain play between trial and error, being the only way to realistically conclude whether the concept successfully does what it was created to do. The biggest issue with such trial and error guinea pig testing is that you go into the experiment knowing that there is a certain likelihood of the project resulting in error — there is a chance that the entire project does more damage than is acceptable. Technology advanced when it did and we were the generation that grew up learning and utilizing all the latest technologies. We are yet to see how they will effect us in the long run.

I am a first year student at the University of Wollongong currently undertaking the long and strenuous but (hopefully) rewarding 4 and a half year journey of a double degree in International Studies and Communication and Media. I’ve decided to major in marketing and advertising and learn the beautiful language of Spanish and hopefully become fluent and learn enough to study overseas in the next year or two. I’m passionate about history, politics, international affairs, and have a BIG dream of one day working for the United Nations. Blogging is unfamiliar territory for me, as much as I may love to browse some of my personal favourites, this is the first time sharing my opinions, insights and knowledge in the form of a blog.