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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Social Organisation & Micropolitics

How effective are collaborative movements, social organisation and micropolitical processes in this environment? Can they realistically succeed?

As Susan Cain (2012) argues, “most humans have two contradictory impulses: we love and need one another, yet we crave privacy and autonomy”. This paradox resonates with a contemporary society continuously experiencing a new-media revolution. On one hand, the sharing of information, and open-interactivity are championed as ways to move forward. Yet, on the other hand,  protection of privacy, and independence through media use are still essential. So what does this mean for collaborative movements in media and society?

Collaboration vs Independence – Is one better than the other? Can they co-exist?

As Cain (2012) explores in her New York Times article ‘The Rise of The New Groupthink’, team work, brainstorming, think tanks, group meetings – these are the key fundamentals needed in play towards success in organisations and places of education on a global scale. “Most of us now work in teams, in offices without walls, for managers who prize people skills above all” Cain (2012) explains, and seating arrangements, activities, and assessment guidelines  in schools and universities require collaborative work and discussion.

However, “research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption…introverts are comfortable working alone…solitude is a catalyst to innovation” (Cain, 2012). As Romantic William Wordsworth wrote of Sir Isaac Newton, “the statue stood of Newton…a mind for ever voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone” (Wordsworth 1850, lines 59-63, The Prelude, Book III) Yet, as 17th century English poet John Donne famously wrote, “no man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;” (Donne  1624, Meditation XVII)

Wordsworth makes the point that Newton’s solitude is what allowed him to be great, to succeed, to discover gravity.What we have here is a conflict between collaboration and independence. Must we focus entirely on collaborative efforts because, from a technological determinist view, it is what the affordances of new-media technology want us to do? Or, from a cultural imperialistic stance, because it is what society has deemed essential through use of new-media? What does this mean for the individual achiever?

Collaboration or Independence? Which is more effective?
(Images by Andy Rementer. Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company)

Perhaps, collaboration and independence co-exist effectively.

Collaboration and Autonomy In Journalistic Practice

Journalists strive to be autonomous while working within the confines of their organisational and editorial goals. Not only are they individual actualisers of the media’s ‘Fourth Estate’ role, but they must function as the ‘Fourth Estate’ as part of and in the context of an editorial team. Furthermore, they must function in accordance with organisational hierarchy.

Interestingly, journalists are now encouraged to be Multiplatform Journalists, who are able to photograph, film, interview, write for print, online or broadcast, create online and broadcast content, and establish a strong and diverse presence in society.What this shows is that despite the premise that new-media encourages collaboration, the individual is required to know how to complete tasks that would usually be undertaken by a team of journalists and editorial staff.  On the other hand, multiplatform capabilities allow for more dynamic projects to come to fruition within and through news organisations, such as open journalism and dynamic coverage of events.

One emerging Journalism collaborative movement is “#media2012”, in which a “people-powered” newswire is aiming to cover the Olympic games and brings stories to fruition that may not always make the headlines. One of the organisation heads Prof. Andy Miah, who worked as a citizen journalist at the Sydney 2000 games, was interviewed for Journalism.co.uk, He said:

“This is the kind of language we use – less editors, more curators. There’s no doubt this will be the first Twitter Olympics for a Summer Games, but our hashtag #media2012 aims to filter content for people to watch, so they can get a community-led, focused insight into the games”  – Professor Andy Miah (McAthy, 2012)

By nature, the project aims to not only organise collaboration between independent and citizen journalists, invites collaboration between the social organisation AND mainstream media organisations.

“”It’s important to stress that I believe citizen journalism is not wholly oppositional to professional journalism. Many professional journalists will come to London for the games without any accreditation and we want to help them find stories and learn from them.”  – Professor Andy Miah (McAthy, 2012)

The practice of journalism is moving towards more collaborative, “open” practices, such as #Media2012, and The Guardian’s open-journalism initiative, which has been addressed in previous posts, and it is clear that both collaboration and individual autonomy are adapting and modifying as the journalism and media industry continues to change.

Micropolitics

Global collaborative projects are heavily encouraged in a contemporary society that has embraced new-media technologies and social networking practices. Yet, while collaborative efforts are encouraging, can they work effectively? Can they survive in a modern mediascape?

One collaborative movement that can rapid attention as the Kony 2012 campaign. While  Kony 2012  was successful in creating awareness in of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, the worldwide ‘Cover The Night’ initiative on April 20 failed to meet the Invisible Children organisation’s expectations due to several important factors:

  • a lack of control of media and press reporting
  • a lack of network maintanence, and
  • primarily, the rise of an organisational and campaign ‘face’.

We can draw slight comparisons with Wikileaks to identify how “non-leaderless” organisations are challenged by both media interpretation and social interpretation. Although each respective collaborative project are extremely different in terms of media use, control, platforms, and purpose, both projects have been impacted negatively as the result of having a clear “face” or “leader” – Jason Russell and Julian Assange. Negative reporting on Assange reflects negatively on Wikileaks. Similarly, negative reporting on Russell damaged the ‘Cover The Night Campaign’ on April 20. Furthermore, the instantaneous nature of the internet along with lack of media penetration by Invisible children meant that the movement dramatically lost momentum.

On the other hand, leaderless movements such as the Coatlition of The Willing climate change project may have a chance of surviving:

The Coalition of The Willing’s envisioned network consists of the following:

  • Green knowledge trust – green wikipedia – online repository of practical knowledge – low carbon societies – information central
  • Open innovation centre – organisations post problems and ask for solutions – anyone can answer.
  • Catalyst system – social networking site – designed to put you in touch with real-world projects on different scales – link up with people & not-for-profit organisations.

While the goals seem clear, the challenges it faces is to maintain this network and continuously build on it’s “swarm politics” basis by carefully controlling it’s spread through multimedia, harnessing technology, and by drawing away from a clear leader.

References

Cain, S. 2012, ‘The Rise of the New Groupthink’, The New York Times, January 13, <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/opinion/sunday/the-rise-of-the-new-groupthink.html>

Knife Party and Rayner, T. & Robson, S. 2010,  Coalition of the Willing <http://coalitionofthewilling.org.uk/>

Manning, E, 2009, ‘From Biopolitics to the Biogram, or How Leni Riefenstahl Moves through Fascism’ in Relationscapes, pp. 137-139

Rushkoff, D. 2011, ‘The Evolution Will Be Socialized’, Shareable: Science and Tech <http://www.shareable.net/blog/the-evolution-will-be-socialized>

Terranova,T. 2004,  ‘From Organisms to Multitudes’ In Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age London: Pluto: 101-106

McAthy, R. 2012, ‘#media2012: How a ‘people-powered’ newswire is finding Olympic stories beyond the headlines’, Journalism.co.uk, last accessed 28 April 2012, <http://www.journalism.co.uk/news-features/media2012-olympics-citizen-journalism-newswire/s5/a548988/>

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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Week 9 Tutorial 8

 

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Framing vs. Transversality

Stepping Outside The Frame & Thinking Transversally – Are Industries & Professions such as the Music Industry and Journalism ‘Dying’ in the Digital Age? How has their Transformation kept them very much ‘Alive’?

The field of “new media studies” has a shifting nature, whereby continuous changes and transformations in the the development, appropriation and actual use of new media technologies, along with the way they impact industries, means that producer and consumer practices continue to change (Murphie, 2006).

As such, a defining feature of the “field” is transversality. Essentially,

“…a transversal is a line that cuts across other lines, perhaps across entire fields – bringing the fields together in a new way, recreating fields as something else”. (Murphie, 2006)

The media issue this post will explore is how we step outside the frame and think transversally.

Framing vs. Agenda Setting

When media scholars talk about the process of ‘Framing‘, what they are referring to is how the media ‘frames’ both what and how we think, feel and do. The media creates limitations and foundations through which we “we come to think what’s true, what’s useful information, what we know, [what we] first perceive, feel, sense [in] the world – and how all these might come together” (Murphie, 2012). In terms of news media and journalism, framing defines how news media coverage shape mass opinion (Wikimedia, 2012).

So how does differ from what’s known as agenda setting,  in which the media doesn’t tell us what to think, but tells us what to think about? Are they different processes, or are they the same?

Scheufele & Tewksbury (2007) argue that framing and agenda setting differ in terms of accessbility and applicability effects. Framing evokes the notion that how an issue is characterised in news reports influences how it is understood (applicability effects) as opposed to just making the issues prominent and salient (accessibility effects) (Scheufele & Tewksbury 2007; Wikimedia 2012).

On the other hand, McCombs (1992) argues that “the news not only tells us what to think about; it also tells us how to think about it”. As such, framing is seen as “second-level agenda setting”, in which “first-level agenda setting determines issue importance, while second level agenda setting draws on repeated discussion of specific issue attributes” (McCombs 1997; 2004; Wikimedia, 2012).

Framing vs. (or, “and”) Transversality

“If framing is the attempt to build a zoo, transversality is when the animals are set free …” (Murphie, 2012).

Essentially,transversality is “what moves/connects dynamically across/through frames” (et al. 2012). For example, when events occur, the process of framing can only partially capture what takes place. Events themselves are more dynamic, not static, unpredictable, and thus reflect the creation of transversals.

The way in which media and industries continue to transform, and altering “typical” practices  can be examined through framing and transversality. Two particular areas that will be briefly examined are the music industry and journalism.

The Music Industry

The music industry, since the advent of digital technology and the internet, two key issues have emerged (Murphie, 2012):

  1. “capitalist exploiters/creative supporters” VS.  “pirates/sharers in a new world of collaboration”
  2. “business models that work” VS “no one makes money”, with both sides claiming to be better for “creativity” etc

iTunes has changed not only how people can legally purchase music - in terms of digital vs physical copies - but has altered the whole music production process, in which iTunes itself receives 20-30% of the income from sales through only serving as a platform to sell music.
Artists now get 61% of the sales income, but they are still being set back by more expenses they look after.

Is iTunes a platform that can counter musical piracy? Or should musical piracy and file-sharing be capitalised upon? Here are two contrasting views on musical piracy by successful musicians Jack Black and Dave Grohl:

“I would rather have a venue filled with people singing every word to every one of our songs than making sure that everyone of them bought the record to do so” – (Dave Grohl 2012).

News Journalism

News organisations and the media exemplify multiple frameworks in the way in which news is conveyed. Firstly, news is framed though the presentation and/or layout of newspapers, websites, digital platforms or broadcast packages.

News websites such as The Daily Telegraph website frame what and how to think about news stories through the way they are positioned and placed on the webpage layout.

The following Charlie Brooker video presents a satirical representation of how broadcast news reports follow the same production presentation, almost like a musical “refrain” if you will, that is repeated every time because it has become standardised practice:

But journalism and news is transformed when it is experienced transversally, for example, when people interact with the news organisations via their Twitter or Facebook platforms for instance, and decide what they choose to read. Furthermore, Twitter trends and the abundance of info will also influence what is consumed.

Another avenue we can explore are issues such as Traditional Journalism vs. Non-Traditional Journalism. Professional journalists are concerned about getting the accurate facts, getting valid sources of information, and providing a balance article. In comparison, non-professionals aren’t the same. There is the debate as to whether digital journalism is “killing” traditional journalism, or rather creating more opportunities for journalism.

You can say that “specialty” journalism styles are being lost to the online, digital world, such as thorough, in-depth investigative journalism. But, on the other hand, you could say that the transformation in the way in which news is accessed (such as through various platforms) and the increase in multiplatform journalism means that new specialties can develop.

References

McCombs, M. 1992 “Explorers and Surveyors: Expanding strategies for agenda-setting research”. Journalism Quarterly 69 (4): 813–824.

 McCombs, M. E.; Shaw, D. L., Weaver, D. H. (1997). Communication and democracy: Exploring the intellectual frontiers in agenda-setting theory. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

 McCombs, M (2004). Setting the Agenda: The mass media and public opinion. Maiden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Inc. ISBN 9780745623139.

Murphie, Andrew (2006) ‘Editorial’, [on transversality], the Fibreculture Journal, 9 <http://nine.fibreculturejournal.org/>

Murphie, A. 2012 ‘Lecture Seven/Eight Slides – Framing and Transversality’, for the ARTS3091 Advanced Media Issues course as part of the University of NSW B Media (Communications & Journalism) degree.

Scheufele, D. A., & Tewksbury, D. 2007. Framing, agenda setting, and priming: The evolution of three media effects models. Journal of Communication, 57(1), 9-20

Wikimedia 2012, ‘Framing (Social Sciences’, Wikipedia, last modified 10 April 2012, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Framing_(social_sciences)>

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Week 7 Tutorial 6

 

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Data and Media – An Unrequited Love?

What Types Of Journalism Have Emerged From The Continuous Publishing Of Increasing Data? How Do These Digital Assemblages Function?

Much like news develops and is disseminated continuously on a 24-hour cycle through multiplatform journalism, data is continuously produced, collected, and disseminated via invisible flows made visible by various platforms such as traditional graphs or dynamic visualisations. In a contemporary media scape where web platforms such as Twitter and media forms such as iPhones and ‘Smart Phones’ afford producers and consumers with instantaneous sharing of information, to say that the relationship between data and media is “an unrequited love” is a misconception.

Data and media have always had close-knit relationship. In fact, news media is data. While modern tools such as Twitter have heavily exemplified how flows of data are integral to contemporary journalism, data gathering and publishing has always been an intergral to the practice. The journalist conducts interviews and researches through different pools of data in order to provide a balanced, truthful and factual report. Feature writing involves a more ethnographical experience as the journalist obtains more experiential data through ethnographic research. Investigative journalism combines both ethnographic and statisitcal data research in which journalists sift through lots of data to expose misconduct.

Yet, what we are seeing in the contemporary mediascape is that new-media platforms are accentuating this relationship and making it more transparent and prominent in different ways because data availability has risen exponentially since the beginning of the digital age .

Data Journalism

According to Tim Berner-Lee, the founder of the internet, analysing data is the future of journalism:

“Journalists need to be data-savvy… [it’s] going to be about poring over data and equipping yourself with the tools to analyse it and picking out what’s interesting. And keeping it in perspective, helping people out by really seeing where it all fits together, and what’s going on in the country” (Arthur, 2010).

Data-driven Journalism is based on analysing and filtering large sets of data in order to find a story. It deals with freely available, open data and is analysed using open source tools. The primary goal is to transform the data into journalistic news stories (Lorenz 2010; Wikimedia 2012).

The process of data-driven journalism involves finding data, filtering through it, representing it through visualisations, and then using the data to make a news story (Lorenz 2010, Wikimedia 2012)

Coincidently, the process of data-driven journalism can be described through an ‘inverted pyramid’ understanding, similar to how the structure of a news report is described as being an inverted pyramid structure. Bradshaw’s (2011) model is summarised as follows:

  • Find: Searching for data on the web
  • Clean: Process to filter and transform data, preparation for visualization
  • Visualize: Displaying the pattern, either as a static or animated visual
  • Publish: Integrating the visuals, attaching data to stories
  • Distribute: Enabling access on a variety of devices, such as the web, tablets and mobile
  • Measure: Tracking usage of data stories over time and across the spectrum of uses (Wikimedia, 2012)

Simon Rogers of The Guardian provides a 10-point guide to data-journalism in the blog ‘Data journalism at the Guardian: what is it and how do we do it?‘:

  1. Data is “Trendy, but not new”: essentially, data has always been published, but now it can be published in various digital and online platforms.
  2. Open-data means Open-data journalism: data is available for anyone to take and make a story out of. There is a diversity of sources.
  3. Curation: Data is sometimes curated as journalists have to sift through large amounts of data, which is a lengthy process.
  4. Bigger Datasets, Smaller Things: large amounts of data available about small things.
  5.  Data journalism is 80% perspiration, 10% great idea, 10% output
  6.  Long and Short-Form: new short-form data journalism emerging where only the key points are extrapolated from research and readers are guided by it while it is still in the news.
  7. Anyone Can Do It: there is a wide range of data collecting and publishing tools available across the internet for people to search and present findings of research.
  8. Looks Can Be Everything: the way data is visualised and presented is important. Clarity and good design makes data more appealing and easy to understand
  9. You Don’t Have To Be A Programmer: Think about data like a journalist, not an analyst.
  10. It’s All About The Story/Stories: Data-journalism is not about graphics and visualisations, but the storytelling, and how the story is told. (Rogers 2011)
What enhances data journalism is when the data presented is interactive – allowing audiences to interact and immerse themselves in the story that the data conveys.

Open Journalism

In my previous posts I’ve spoken about the premise of open journalism, and The Guardian’s Open Journalism initiative. Essential to the concept of open journalism is the of encouraging an active audience who get out there and obtain primary data and raw footage from events in order to convey the most accurate, factual and rich news reports, and to encourage public debate.

The practice of journalism allows journalists the opportunity to decrease their data searching and sifting workload by letting the public get involved. Furthermore, with the advent of Twitter and use of multimedia, various perspectives on events can be conveyed, which can be then used to find out what is spin and what is truth.

Not only does data increase, but the avenues from which we obtain data expand. This actants in this assemblage are the news organisations, the journalists, the public, and the various media used in order to collect, analyse, distribute, and visualise data (just to highlight a few). This ecology reflects both notions of technological determinism and cultural imperialism, as technology affords the people the ability to convey information and data in a certain way, and at the same time, it is the way in which we use these media that determines how data is produced and consumed.

References

Arthur, C 2010, ‘Analsying data is the future for journalists, says Tim Berners-Lee’, The Guardian, 22 November, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/nov/22/data-analysis-tim-berners-lee>

Bradshaw, P 2011, ‘The Inverted Pyramid of Data Journalism’, Online Journalism Blog, posted 11 July,  <http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2011/07/07/the-inverted-pyramid-of-data-journalism/>

Charalambous, L. 2011, ‘Assembling Publishing Publics: What is the Relationship Between Different Publishing Tools & Techniques & The Social In “Publishing Assemblages”?’, Transitioning Publics & Publishing – ARTS2090, March 20, <http://publishingintransition.wordpress.com/tag/actor-network-theory/>

The Guardian 2012, ‘Guardian Open Journalism – Three Little Pigs Advert’, Youtube, published 29 Feb 2012, <http://youtu.be/vDGrfhJH1P4>

Hughes, N. 2011, ‘Data Journalism: The Story So Far’, Data Mining UK, Blog, May 3, <https://datamineruk.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/data-journalism-the-story-so-far/>

Rogers, S. 2011,  ‘Data journalism at the Guardian: what is it and how do we do it?’, The Guardian, Datablog, July 28, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jul/28/data-journalism>

Quilty-Harper, C. 2010, ’10 ways data is changing how we live’, The Telegraph, August 25, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/7963311/10-ways-data-is-changing-how-we-live.html>

Wikimedia 2012, ‘Data-Driven Journalism’,Wikipedia, last updated 29 March 2012, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_driven_journalism#Inverted_pyramid_of_data_journalism>

 

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